[ilds] Loeb Classical Library

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Fri May 9 15:34:42 PDT 2008


Some interlinear comments to some of your questions.

-----Original Message-----
>From: James Gifford <odos.fanourios at gmail.com>
>Sent: May 9, 2008 12:06 PM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] Loeb Classical Library
>> so on which margins are the marginalia?
>> On the Latin poetry or on the English 
>> prose?  
>That, I'm afraid, is something only a reader can answer -- there's no 
>record of a book of Horace poetry in Carbondale, and I don't have any 
>note of it in Nanterre, though I suppose it's possible.  My hunch is 
>that Eve didn't read Latin, so she likely would have written in the 
>English margin, but that all depends on whom we cast as the lover here.

Eve?  Why not Nancy?  I take the woman addressed in the poem as some fictional composite, who may know some Latin, thus giving plausibility to the choice of the Loeb edition.  As I noted before, the choice of this edition allows Durrell to allude to the Latin.

>> Why would Durrell choose a dual language 
>> text over any number of English translations,
>'Cause that's the one Eve wrote in, unless that's a conceit.  Maybe 
>that's the translation that bugged him the most...  More to the point, 
>the poem tells us at the very outset that this is not the poet's own copy:
>   I found /your/ Horace with the writing in it;
>This is not Durrell's Horace, if we even equate Durrell with the poet (I 
>do in this instance).  This is someone else's Horace that has been left 
>with messages for a future reader.

This is Durrell's Horace.  Calling it the lover's is a convenient fiction.  I doubt if Eve or Nancy or any other of his previous lovers ever knew Latin and would bother with a dual-language translation, indeed, if they would even bother reading a Latin poet.  (Not intended as a sexist remark.)  Durrell as poet has chosen which edition to use in his poem, and he knows enough about Horace to comment extensively on the poet's life.

>> Durrell surely knew some Latin (how could 
>> he get through an English public school 
>> without studying it?).
>MacNiven says he was second in his class for Greek (albeit a class of 
>8), so it would seem highly likely at St Edmunds.  He has Latin jokes in 
>/Pied Piper of Lovers/ and /Panic Spring/.

We agree here.  Durrell knew some Latin.

>> I argue that you have the Loeb text with its 
>> Latin because Durrell wanted to make pointed 
>> reference(s) to Horace's language, and that 
>> was part of his debunking strategy.
>Unless, of course, he's looking at the marginalia written in English by 
>a woman who doesn't know Latin and who is writing the note for the poet 
>to find...

The lover's knowledge of Latin is irrelevant.  She can read the English translation.  The poet/speaker's knowledge of Latin is what is important.

>I'm curious though about the fourth stanza and Horace's relation to the 
>"dead, his stainless authors" who apparently lead him to rest his reed 
>in the margin of his sheet of paper.  "This" Horace (though not "the" 
>this poem) ruminates over the shadow his predecessors throw over his pen 
>and paper, just as Durrell seems to be doing, until the moment of 
>rupture appears through the curt marginalia someone left.

Latin poets revered their Greek predecessors.  In Ode 3.30, Horace claims as one of his major achievements the adaption of Aeolian meter into Latin verse.  Durrell's use of "stainless" is consistent with this Roman attitude.  I agree that the choice of "stainless" is odd, but then Durrell's diction is often odd and sometimes downright weird.  "Stain" and its sisters also have an Elizabethan ring.  Cf. Shakespeare's "Suns of the world may stain when heaven's sun staineth" (Son. 33).

>Moreover, "this" Horace's predecessors are "stainless," and I'd have to 
>ask why Durrell's Horace must then be presumed to be "stained" by this 

I don't see this.  Why make the "presumption?"  I make the declaration, "My noble ancestors."  Does this make me "ignoble?"  I think not.  If you want to go this route, however, then you should ask, why is Horace "stained?"  My answer:  Durrell doesn't like him.  I take a shot at the "why" in my essay.

I particularly like, however, the way that the poet reading the 
>book and marginalia revised and corrects the unjust and cruel comments 
>made in that margin, yet another margin, by the woman who left her book 
>behind.  Horace's poets are stainless, yet her Loeb edition of Horace 
>has stained margins -- it's as if Horace could contemplate and she could 
>only put her pen down in the margin to leave a stain.

Durrell was obsessed with marginalia and palimpsests, i.e., the Interlinear, and here we are dutifully following in his footsteps.  The old guy must be laughing somewhere.


>More than that, Durrell has only a "barbarian grammar" for his poetry, 
>and even that is derivative of Horace's "mason's tongue."

Durrell's tree metaphor of language gives me big problems.  Horace's Latin is presumably a "suffering limb" on that tree, while Durrell's English makes up the "roots" of a "barbarian grammar" (here "grammar" = language).  Visualize that.  I can't, unless trees grow from leaves to roots.  The linguistic/arboreal comparison doesn't make sense.  I take "mason's tongue" as another allusion to Horace's Ode 3.30:  "Exegi monumentum." 

>Bruce, I'd like to know more closely how you see the debunking of Horace 
>here.  We'll surely disagree, but wouldn't it be nice to disagree more 
>precisely -- that said, I don't want to steal the thunder from your 
>forthcoming piece, which I'll look forward to adding to the bibliography.

Thanks for the kind words, but I don't think you'll like the essay.


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