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If Golding's Ovid is not, "the most beautiful book in the language," it's among the top two-dozen "most beautiful books" you can find in English. I've searched for a second-hand copy of the 1965 Simon and Schuster edition since the late sixties, ever since I read Pound's ABC of Reading. I never had any luck finding it, though I did come across a non-circulating copy in a university library once. Its title page explained that only 2500 copies had been printed and that the previous edition -- the one Pound must have used -- was a small, deluxe Victorian production, itself unattainable by 1965.
After all my years lurking in second-hand bookshops, Paul Dry Books has finally done the decent and brought Golding's Ovid out again, this time as a beautifully printed, well-bound, but inexpensive paperback. I grabbed up my copy at first sight.
Is this an "accurate" translation of Ovid? As a previous reviewer has said, if you really want accuracy, you should read Ovid in Latin and leave the wild Elizabethan translators alone. Unlike that reviewer though, I'd say that, if you want Ovid in perfectly accurate modern English, with his poetry and voice included, you should read him in Mandelbaum's beautifully rendered version; but if you want an accurate modern English translation -- the type of thing your Latin prof would give you excellent marks for -- then read him in Melville's able, though sometimes sightly flat translation.
But if you love Elizabethan literature, then you should read Golding. You read his Ovid for the ripe, quirky, full-on Elizabethan English, deployed in his long, rambling fourteeners. Golding's metre was becoming antiquated in his own day but, as with a good deal of his rustic vocabulary, he didn't seem to care much about literary fashion. Reading him now, I find it's his joy with his original that matters. Open the volume anywhere -- at the Cyclops Polyphemus singing to the Nymph Galatea for example -- and there is Golding rolling magnificently on:
"More whyght thou art then Primrose leaf, my Lady Galatee.
More fresh than meade, more tall and streyght than lofy Aldertree.
More bright than glasse, more wanton than the tender kid forsooth.
Than Cockeshelles continually with water worne, more smoothe."
Where "forsooth" is outrageous metrical padding, and "forsoothe/smoothe" was probably a forced rhyme even in 1567. But who cares? Golding's music carries the reader past any such concerns, and the beauty and energy of the thing are undeniable.
So buy the book! Make sure it sells tens-of-thousands of copies! Give the publisher a reason to keep reprinting, so it never disappears again.
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Occasionally Guardini is off target (e.g., about all future wars being world wars), but mostly he is penetrating and prophetic in his analysis of contemporary society. After a brief review of the major epochs in Western history, he focuses on power as the defining problem of our age, and proposes that virtues such as humility, self-control, and faith are more crucial than ever.
After more than 50 years, this thought-provoking book still serves as one of the best introductions to the fundamental ethical and theological issues of our times.
However, just to clear up a little historical inaccuracy.
Pope Honorius lived 2 centuries after the Council of Nicea. The Vulgate was translated a century after the Council of Nicea. The earliest post-biblical Christian writers attested to Jesus's claims of divinity, and Arius was the inventor of Arianism. Perhaps one ought to consider reading the Apostolic Fathers.
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This biography is another in the series of finely produced, copiously researched "Opera Biographies" by Amadeus Press. Tons of pictures, letters, reviews, apperance annals, and a discography make up this enjoyable book on the life of the ultimate prima donna of the 19th century. This book could, in fact, be subtitled "Everything you wanted to know about Dina."
However, like many prima donnas, Patti was probably a creature of the stage and song. She came alive the most when she was singing -- she even built a private theatre in her home to entertain guests with her singing. Her personal life, although much discussed, comes across as rather shallow and artificial. She married three times, the first time to a Marquis who flirted with Patti "lookalikes", the second to the tenor Nicolini (which caused a scandal in Victorian England) and the third time to a Baron half her age who both pampered and isolated her. There is no evidence she was ever in love though -- indeed she seemed mainly attracted to fawning eccentrics. Her last years seem to have been lonely. Thus, despite the research and well-written style of this biography, ultimately Patti is still a mystery. Her recordings, made when she was in her 60s, tell more of the story -- the charm, the emotional involvement, the uniquely haunting sound.
I greatly enjoyed this book because I had heard so much about Patti and wanted to 'know' her better. But as with most opera singers, really "hearing, one can believe."
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There is about a three or four page segment at the end of the chapter entitled "Civilization and Its Discontents," in which Turner presents what appears to be a sea change in America's conception of itself. The change is fundamental in that it consists of a shift from the intellectual and human promise of America as seen through the eyes of Emerson and Thoreau, to the promise of power, wealth, and machines. That is, at one point, people, and their potential for growth and good, were at the center of the American dream. Yet, at some point in the Nineteenth century (possibly at the time of the Civil War) money and wealth became the American dream.
Turner is the not the first person to present this argument, as he himself notes. Nor am I certain that his take on this cultural shift is entirely accurate. However, I do think it points out the value that Muir had, and his intellectual descendants have, in directing the national attention back in the direction from which it came--not so much that we should live for nature, but that we should live for people.
As for the rest of the book, I found it enjoyable if not without problems. Turner's presentation of Muir's life, including the emotions and conceptualizations that he imagines for him, is thoroughly engaging and seems quite complete. The only problems I encountered are that Turner seems to run out of steam at the end, seeming to skip years of Muir's life at a time, and that Turner has an interesting use of commas in that he doesn't use them very often.
If you read this, and I think you should, you'll probably be as interested in reading Muir's own writings as I am.
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Do yourself a favour and take a trip back into Nineteenth century where technology is just a blink in everyone's eye. What you will discover, however, is that human beings have not really changed, just the conventions have.
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While wild adventure, humor, and a real sense of the Old West permeate the book, there is a certain sadness, too. The Native Americans whom Dellenbaugh encounters are people clearly already defeated -- fearful, distrusting, sad. We catch glimpses of the Navaho trying to accommodate themselves to the new reality of white (especially Mormon) settlement, creating new networks of trade focused on growing frontier towns. But the seeds of the end are planted already in the irrigated fields of the Mormon settlers, and sometimes it seems as if the natives knew this too. Also, the topography through which the explorers travelled has now partly vanished behind the dams that have ruined Glen Canyon and other stretches of white water and canyon scenery. No one can now do what Dellenbaugh and his companions did; the sense of loss hovers unintentionally about every page.
Dellenbaugh was a keen observer (though perhaps a bit naive) with a talent for making even the monotony of running rapid after rapid spellbinding. One does feel that he may have veiled some of the conflicts that must have arisen in two (non-continuous) years of isolation, though if so this trait is refreshing in a world where we now expect everyone to tattle on everyone else. Every now and then just a shimmer of impatience with one of the crew seeps through. But the real hero who emerges from this book, somewhat surprisingly, is not the leader Powell -- the young Dellenbaugh seems never to have gotten close to him -- but rather the Prof., who rises to every challenge with decency and humaneness, and of whom Dellenbaugh seems to have been genuinely, and for good reason, in awe. Like Powell he is buried in Arlington Cemetery. He deserved that honor, but where he lives is in the pages of this book.
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What this man goes through is unbelievable and makes for a heck of a page turner. Great historical/fiction mountain man story.
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P.S. The book "In The Palm of Your Hand" fits up against this one nicely.