classics

4. A Classic In Translation: Fragments of Sappho

For the Classics in Translation I read Anne Carson’s If Not Winter a Translation of Sappho’s Poems and I highly recommend it.  The Greek is On the left page, in startling red ink while Carson’s translation is on the right page in a calmer black ink. Brackets note the missing lines.  It is a beautiful way to read these fragmented poems; the blank spaces fill you with wonder- what was the complete poem like? There was such intensity in the fragments!

spangled is
the earth with her crowns

Her poems have a sense of pagan piety and duty and yet others were soft, lyrical, feminine with striking imagery:

“Evening you gather back
all that dazzling dawn has put asunder:
you gather a lamb, gather a kid,
gather a child to its mother.” 

To read The Classics is to cross the chasm of time and even language, to experience the permanence of the written word; even an ancient author like Sappho feels close to us when we read. Thousands of years, the Enlightenment, the industrial revolution cannot change the human condition: love, hatred, pain, joy, suffering will always be a part of our lives.

Someone will remember us
I say
even in another time.

-Mrs Karl T. Cooper, Jr.

 

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Stack of Old Books

The other day I visited Karen’s Books and Chocolate for the details of the Back to the Classics challenge she is hosting this year.  Unfortunately, I had just missed the deadline to officially join the challenge.  But I couldn’t resist choosing books for each of her categories. It gave me a fresh perspective on my bookshelves (I already own eight of the 12 titles I selected) and lent a sense of adventure and direction to the reading months ahead.

Here is the stack of old books I’ll be rambling among during the rest of 2018:
1.  A 19th century classic.
Charlotte Bronte dedicated Jane Eyre to Thackeray. Thackeray considered Henry Esmond his true masterpiece.
2.  A 20th century classic.
All I can recall from the first time I read it is the family rosary scene at the beginning and a “wretched meal” of spaghetti dumped from the window of a decaying palace.
3.  A classic by a woman author.
Never read but it’s been on my shelf for ages.  An online review inspires me to dust it off.
4.  A classic in translation.
Investigating agrarianism, I think of this poem again.  A pity that the best translation I know of is not currently available.
5. A children’s classic.
Avoided this one as a child because I didn’t like the movie.  Always loved the title!
6.  A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction.
The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Knickerbocker Classics)
Or something Sherlocky by Conan Doyle.  These stories were beloved by my grandfather and he recommended them to us.
7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction.
Two Years Before The Mast
Read an abridged version as a kid.  The real thing will surely be worth the time.
8. A classic with a single-word title.
A “cold war classic” my dad recommends.
9. A classic with a color in the title.
Has been on my list.
10. A classic by an author that’s new to you.
As a Driven Leaf (Paperback) - Common
Picked up at a thrift store.
11. A classic that scares you.
Scares me so much I’m not sure I want to read it. But the other book that comes to mind is scarier still. . .!
12. Re-read a favorite classic.
It would be my fourth time through this one.
I will try to update with reviews as I finish these titles.  In the meantime, if these categories inspire you, please share which classics you’d like to read in the coming months.  I can’t offer any prizes but I’m sure it won’t be too hard to think of bookish rewards with which to spur yourself on!
-Mrs. Aldertree