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Antigone and The Watch: A Comparison: Background information when reading The Watch

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The Watch

A Novel

by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya

The Watch
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2012, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2013, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Mark James

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Beyond the Book:
Antigone and The Watch: A Comparison

The Greek classic, Antigone (written by Sophocles around 440 BC, based on the older Theban legend), serves as the basis for the modern-day Afghan war story, The Watch. Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya makes no attempt to hide the fact and even invites comparisons, titling two chapters "Antigone" and "Ismene" after the two sisters in the tragedy. A lieutenant in the story lends the classic text to his captain, urging him to read it because "it's about as cogent an analysis as anything you'll find about where we are today." But how alike are the two works?

Antigone by Frederic Leighton, 1882 Antigone and her siblings are the offspring of Oedipus and his mother/wife, Jocasta. Antigone's brothers take opposing sides in a power struggle over the throne of Thebes and kill each other, "each smitten by the other, each stained with a brother's blood." Creon, who ascends the throne after the death of Antigone's brothers, is also her uncle. Creon orders his dead ally buried, "crowned with every rite that follows the noblest dead...

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