Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Odyssey
Homer (tr. Fagles)

"But the great leveler, Death: not even the g.ds can defend a man, not even one they love, that day when fate takes hold and lays him out at last" (3.269-71). ~~ Athena

"That is the g.ds' work, spinning threads of death through the lives of mortal men, and all to make a song for those to come..." (8.649-51).

"No winning words about death to me, shining Odysseus! By g.d I'd rather slave on earth for another man - some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive - than rule down here over all the breathless dead" (11.555-58). ~~ the ghost of Achilles admonishing Odysseus for admiring the former's high standing in the afterlife
"It goes against my grain to repeat a tale told once, and told so clearly" (12.490-91). ~~ Odysseus
"Homer makes us Hearers, and Virgil leaves us Readers" (p. 489) ~~ Fagles quoting Alexander Pope, himself a translator of Homer
Fagles' is the third or fourth Odyssey translation I've read, and the most poetic. In July, I read the Fitzgerald translation of the Iliad, and while I admire his translation, I much prefer Fagles' (however, not enough to reread the Iliad so soon).

I jotted down 20-odd pages' worth of quotations and my comments, but I'm not about to post long passages of cave descriptions here. :)

Next up is Hesiod's Theogony.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Caldecott & Co. : Notes on Books & Pictures
Maurice Sendak

Max is my bravest and therefore my dearest creation. Like all children, he believes ina flexible world of fantasy and reality, a world where a child can skip from one to the other and back again in the sure belief that both really exit. Another quality that makes him especially lovable to me is the directnesss of his approach. Max doesn't silly-shally about. He get to the heart of the matter with the speed of a superject, a personality trait that is happily suited ot the necessary visual simplicity of a picture book (152).

Where the Wild Things Are was not meant to please everybody--only children. A letter from a seven-year-old boy encourages me to think that I have reached children as I had hoped. He wrote: "How much does it cost to get to where the wild things are? If it is not expensive my sister and I want to spend the summer there. Please answer soon." I did not answer that question, for I have no doubt that sooner or later they will find their way, free of charge (154-55).
As a collection of essays, Caldecott & Co. is rather haphazard, but Sendak is such a passionate artist that the presentation can be forgiven. Besides Sendak's insights into his own works, his opinions of other illustrators are interesting to say the least, ranging from contemptuous to sycophantic.