Sunday, August 05, 2012

After that evening, tonight

The whole day feels like it's been wasted. I sat around, ate,  smiled when I didn't feel like smiling, dressed up, waited. Then we read when we should have performed and were rewarded most unjustly for it.

I feel so annoyed and restless. I feel like throwing things. Instead, I am reading If not, Winter.

Here's Carson on marks - specifically brackets - scattered through the text, and other things:

I emphasise the difference between brackets and no brackets because it will affect your reading experience, if you allow it. Brackets are exciting. Even though you are approaching Sappho in translation, that is no reason you should miss the drama of trying to read a papyrus torn in half or riddled with holes or smaller than a postage stamp - brackets imply a free space of imaginal adventure.


Then she talks about how some fragments of Sappho survive because lines have been quoted by other writers of the time. But these quotations, decontextualised to suit the purpose of the writer, are tantalising and tell us nearly nothing of what the verse itself might have been. Such as this line found in Appolonios Dyskolos' On Conjunctions: 'Do I still long for my virginity?'


Give a thought, those of you who quote indiscriminately and because you like the jewel and can't be bothered to keep the setting; some day, some scholar will reconstruct someone else's work from your worthless one.


I have known for some time now that my eyes are not what they used to be. I am fairly certain I need reading glasses but since that would mean bifocals, I just prefer to take the damn glasses off and read. Typing these quotations now** I realised I was doing what we laughed at our history teacher for doing back in Class 8: I put my glasses on and removed them a second later only to need them back on immediately after. I am glad there were no children in front of me giggling into their notebooks, though that day can also not be far behind.


For all these reasons, I need Carson. Or maybe I mean, I need Sappho.


* Otherwise known as 'a free space of imaginal adventure'. Also, brackets are exciting.

** Some Carson scholar some day is bound to curse me for being so heedless of the needs of posterity.

1 comment:

Vincent said...

I need Sappho too. For all Anne Carson's renown as poet classicist & scholar, I don't think you can beat Mary Barnard's "new" translation of 1958. I bought a copy in 1961, & remembered it with such affection as to seek out another copy not so long ago, & splice on a facsimile of the original cover. I've uploaded a page from the Introduction for you here