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Blog entries on '02 November 2006'

Thursday 02 November 2006


The new November/December issue of World Literature Today is now online (see the table of contents (PDF); note lots of Orhan Pamuk coverage). Via the Literary Saloon.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 02 November 2006

New Aeneid

A new translation of The Aeneid by Robert Fagles (retired Arthur W. Marks 1919 Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University) is due out from Penguin today. Quoted in the Independent yesterday, Fagles said:

"To begin with, it's a cautionary tale," Fagles told The New York Times, "about the terrible ills that attend empire - its war-making capacity, the loss of blood and treasure both. But it's all done in the name of the rule of law, which you'd have a hard time ascribing to what we're doing in the Middle East today."

"In a sense, all translations are unfinished. One thing I have learned is that no one will have the final say, that each generation needs its own translation. Some translators, like Dryden, hoped that their work would last longer than a generation. That may be a vain hope."

His publisher Penguin says:

The city of Troy has been ransacked by conquering Greeks and lies in smouldering ruins. A warrior, Aeneas, manages to escape from the ashes. He will go on to change the history of the world ... This is the much-anticipated new version of Virgil’s epic poem from the translator of the Odyssey and the Iliad. With this stunning modern verse translation Robert Fagles reintroduces the Aeneid to a whole new generation, and completes the classical triptych at the heart of Western civilization. It retains all of the gravitas and humanity of the original, as well as its powerful blend of poetry and myth. With an illuminating introduction to Virgil’s world from noted scholar Bernard Knox, this new Aeneid gives a vibrant, contemporary voice to the literary achievement of the ancient world.

For more on Virgil, there is a nice primer on the BBC History site:

Publius Vergilius Maro, known in English as Virgil (or occasionally Vergil, as closer to the Latin), is the greatest of all the Roman poets - and the author of Rome's national epic poem, the Aeneid. He was closely associated with Octavian, who, under the name of Augustus, was the first emperor of Rome; Octavian/Augustus looms large in Virgil's poetry.

Virgil was born near Mantua and spent his early life in northern Italy (with perhaps a period at Naples). His first work was the Eclogues (Selections), originally known as the Bucolics, published around 39-38 BC; it is a book of ten pastoral poems that relate to the Idylls of the Hellenistic Greek poet Theocritus (third century BC).

Virgil himself died of a fever in 19 BC. He had hoped to spend a further three years revising the Aeneid, and may have ordered its destruction on his death-bed. But it was saved, and was published to immediate acclaim. It has ever since been regarded as the classic encapsulation of the Roman spirit and of the Augustan age, and also, like Homer's epics, as a profound and sympathetic exploration of humanity.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 02 November 2006

Breathturn back

Pierre Joris's translation of Breathturn by Paul Celan has just been reprinted by Green Integer. (Pierre has translated, quite wonderfully, three volumes of Celan's late poetry: Breathturn, Threadsuns, and Lightduress, all with Green Integer.)

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Thursday 02 November 2006

Fisher and McCarthy events tonight

Two wee reminders ... as I mentioned on Monday, the poet Roy Fisher is reading at Manchester Metropolitan University (in the Geoffrey Manton Building, on Oxford Road, Manchester, opposite the Aquatics Centre; £5/£3 concessions) tonight at 6.30pm.

And Tom McCarthy (worth checking-out is Tom's recent talk on Trocchi) will be reading from and discussing Remainder with Simon Glendinning of the Forum for European Philosophy at Borders, 120 Charing Cross Road, London also tonight at 6.30pm. This event is free.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Thursday 02 November 2006

Impotent anger

Jenny Diski, author of Skating to Antarctica and On Trying to Keep Still amongst many others, angry about Bush and Blair's criminal mendacity, from her blog Biology of the Worst Kind:

So I am furious that Blair, Bush and the network of self-interested parties who have caused such havoc in Iraq that no one seems to have a solution for it, are going to get away with it. Again and again and again. I am also furious with myself for not having grown up enough to understand that they will always get away with it and for finding no better response than to be furious. It's the anger of the impotent, but impotence is no excuse.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Memorial Tablet

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

-- Siegfried Sassoon
Collected Poems (Faber and Faber)

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Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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