[ilds] Agathou daimonos

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 27 11:20:54 PDT 2016


Richard, thanks for the clarification.  I note, however, that in a previous email you stated, “[Durrell] is not wishing her good fortune.  He is recognising her as HIS good fortune.”  This, of course, is your interpretation of Durrell’s intent, which is always tricky to recover.  Thanks for the two literal translations of the Greek.  I have very limited knowledge of Attic Greek, but from what I recall, that dialect has a fondness for deleting the copula (to be).  So, the English translations might read, “To Claude, [who is] the name of the good spirit” or “To Claude, [who is] the name of the presiding genius.”  Those two senses in English emphasize a direct relationship and might better bring out your interpretation of Durrell’s intent, which I agree with.

Also, I don’t know if Claude-Marie Vincendon knew Greek.  Unlike Yvette Cohen, who did know the language (according to Haag, I believe), Claude’s knowledge of the languages spoken in Alexandria (other than French and English) was apparently not as extensive as wife No. 2’s.

Bruce



> On Apr 27, 2016, at 10:41 AM, Richard Pine <durrelllibrarycorfu at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> 
> 
> 
> In a roundabout way we have received this from Bruce - because it seems the moderator of this list does not accede to requests to register this as the receiving address of the Durrell Library of Corfu, despite repeated requests from our Secretary to do so.
> 
> I am not in fact 'a speaker of modern Greek' - merely someone living in Greece who was able, a whole lifetime ago, to speak and write classical Greek and is therefore more puzzled than most by the difficulties of speaking or reading modern Greek. The vocabulary is almost unchanged, but the grammar is totally different. I suppose my ability in modern Greek could be described as 'taverna Greek' - limited to the necessities.
> 
> So, to answer Bruce's question, Greeks will argue the meaning of almost any word you care to offer, because of ambiguities, multiple words with nuances that distinguish one inflexion from another, regional variations (these are very acute between north and south, east and west, rural and urban, 'Greek Greeks' and Pontic or Anatolian blow-ins, the Aegean islands and the Ionian islands (where the Durrell Library of Corfu is based) etc.
> 
> I take Durrell's meaning to be:
> 
> To Claude
> the name of the good spirit
> 
> Alternatively
> 
> To Claude,
> The name of the presiding genius
> 
> It depends entirely on a) what Durrell really intended and b) how one interprets subjectively from Greek to English, which an anglophone will do differently from a hellenophone.
> 
> I am fairly sure that he was saluting Claude, not invoking her or paying her any tribute, and certainly not offering Claude good fortune, but acknowledging that SHE was HIS good fortune, his inspiration (in the sense we use 'daemon' ourselves). 
> Considering that LD was a) misogynistic, b) that we know from personal testimony that he occasionally assaulted her but also c) that she was probably the one wife whom he really respected as a true artist, one could of course argue a different meaning, but I stick with the two I have offered above. It's a statement, not an invocation.
> RP
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------
> For the sake of brevity, perhaps Richard, a speaker of modern Greek, can summarize his translation/interpretation of the 1962 dedication in Mountolive.  Does the following reflect his considered view (avoiding all the other possibilities)?
> 
> To
> Claude
> [my] good fortune
> 
> So, Durrell addresses his beloved Claude in French but compliments her in Greek.  It’s not unusual to find dedications in another language, often classical and untranslated.  But code-switching I find interesting.
> 
> Thanks,
> 
> Bruce

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