Friday, January 21, 2011


et mūtam nēquīquam alloquerer cinerem (link) | "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put." | hyperbaton | [Kraus] wrote of the Germans generally: "They will have forgotten that they lost the war, forgotten that they waged it. For this reason it will not end." | Back in Berlin in December 1918, [Kessler] visited the imperial palace soon after it had been ransacked by mutinous German sailors. In the empress's private rooms, he walked through the hideous clutter of tasteless objects, past smashed doors and furniture and walls hung with trite paintings in the grand patriotic style; he saw vast armoires stuffed with kitschy plates, trinkets, souvenirs, medals and other knickknacks. He felt no anger at the looters, only "astonishment" at the mediocrity of the people who had collected this trash. "Out of this atmosphere was born the World War, or whatever guilt for the World War was the Kaiser's," he notes. (Amos Elon, "The Wanderer", NYRB, Oct 24 2002, pp.18-20) | It is a common experience of expatriates and travelers that, when you meet someone from another culture, you begin to act out a part you feel you have been assigned in an earlier life. Your persona goes into action, and you deliver the lines provided by some mysterious central scripting unit (Hilary Mantel, "Naipaul's Book of the World", Ibid. pp.10-12) | "noce fratris quam ipso fratre miserior: made sadder by the brother's night than by the brother himself" [...] "per noctem in nihilo vehi: to vanish by night into nothing". (P. Stothard, "Made sadder by the brother's night", TLS June 18 2010, p.13) | memories of green | In 1903, battles broke out on the streets of Athens between police and Classics students (instigated by their conservative professor) protesting against the use of a demotically tinged translation for a production of Aeschylus' Oresteia. Three people were killed. (M. Griffith, "Unseen Translations", TLS Feb 12 2010, p. 27)