WE RARELY KEEP OUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS. According to The New York Times, unclear resolutions are easily broken, especially when imposed from an external base. For example, dieting is a societal expectation, especially for women, despite our assertion that it is for our health. My own resolution? To watch my sugar intake. What I’ve learned: they put sugar in milk, even soy milk. One must read all the labels.
RESOLUTIONS I’VE BROKEN. Last year I declared it was the Year of Balzac. What a nice idea! But after I finished reading the Penguin editions, I turned to tatty copies of 19th-century translations by Ellen Marriage and Clara Bell. The flaking of old paper actually hurt my hands, so I abandoned the project.
LITERARY CALENDAR. The New York Times has posted a literary calendar for 2018. The most exciting event? Muriel Spark’s 100th birthday on Feb. 1. I love her books, and have posted about The Ballad of Peckham Rye (here), Robinson (here), and The Finishing School (here).
THE READALONG OF VIRGIL’S AENEID, JAN. 8- Feb. 26, at Mirabile Dictu.
Do join us. It’s a great read.
The famous line below is one of the reasons to read the Aeneid.
…forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabat.
Translation: “Perhaps someday we will be happy even to remember these things.”
In desperate times it is a comforting saying.
Does Aeneas believe this? No, he does not. He asserts it to hearten a band of Trojan refugees. Trauma lies behind them, trauma ahead. Aeneas tells us privately that he wished he had died at Troy: his personal life ended with the fall of Troy. He is a reluctant leader, destined to found Rome. The survivors of the Trojan war wander for years, welcome nowhere for long, not even in Italy, where the gods send them.
Is this an epic about empire, or an anti-war poem? All interpretations are right, supported by critics, historians, or common readers. Feel free to argue about it!
Here is the schedule for January:
Jan. 8-14: Book I
Jan. 15-21: Books II and III (the “short version” is Book II)
Jan. 22-28: Book IV
Jan. 29-Feb. 4: Books V and VI (the “short version” is Book VI)
The schedule for February, including the “short version,” will be announced later.
All the translations are very good, but if you want background, I recommend the excellent introduction, notes and glossary in the Penguin edition (Robert Fagles’s translation).
If you have questions, email me at email@example.com