Saturday: July 26, 2008
Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti, collects examples of asyndetic, privative adjectives. Here is a possible bilingual example from the Younger Pliny (Epistulae 2.3.8), writing of those who can’t be bothered to go see the orator Isaeus:
Aphilókalon inlitteratum iners ac paene etiam turpe est, non putare tanti cognitionem qua nulla est iucundior, nulla pulchrior, nulla denique humanior.
P. G. Walsh (Oxford World’s Classics, 2006) loses two out of three privatives, and (like Shackleton Bailey in Cicero’s letters) substitutes French for Pliny’s Greek:
To fail to regard as worthwhile an acquaintance which is as pleasant, charming, and civilized as can be, is an attitude which is malappris, uneducated, sluggish, and virtually degrading.
Betty Radice (Penguin, 1963) also loses two out of three privatives (unless you count ‘ignorance’ as well as ‘apathy’) and combines Pliny’s four adjectives into two phrases:
Only a boorish ignorance and a shocking degree of apathy could prevent you from thinking it worth an effort to gain an experience which will prove so enjoyable, civilized and rewarding.
Her Loeb translation (1969) is the same except that it expands the second phrase to “a degree of apathy which is really rather shocking” and adds an Oxford comma after “civilized”.
Too bad Pliny tacks on a fourth, non-privative adjective with an ac. Does that make the whole list non-asyndetic? And would the word be ’syndetic’?
Friday: July 25, 2008
At least that’s what some of the other generals say.
Tuesday: July 22, 2008
“Where is he from?”
Bracoletti answered without hesitation, lowering his voice, and with a gesture indicating the most complete disenchantment:
“He is a Greek from Athens.”
My interest sank like water absorbed by sand. When one has traveled in the Orient and through the ports of the Levant, one readily acquires the habit, perhaps unjust, of viewing the Greeks with suspicion. The first time one meets any of them, especially those who have been to the university and have classical educations, one’s enthusiasm is somewhat aroused; one thinks of Alcibiades and Plato, of the glories of a free and artistic people, and in imagination one recalls the august proportions of the Parthenon. But after being with a number of them at the tables d’hôte and on the decks of the Messageries steamers, and especially after having heard the legends of rascality that they have left behind from Smyrna to Tunis, one’s reactions to the others one meets are likely to take the form of buttoning one’s coat quickly, of crossing one’s arms tightly over one’s watch chain, and of racking one’s brains to guard against some escroquerie. The cause of this unfortunate reputation is that the Greeks who emigrate to the Levantine ports are an infamous crowd, part lackey and part pirate, a clever and unscrupulous gang of robbers.
(Eça de Queiroz, “A Lyric Poet”, in The Mandarin and Other Stories, tr. R. F. Goldman, 1964, pp. 135-36)
Tuesday: July 15, 2008
I wish I’d known about Barney Greenglass the Sturgeon King when I worked for six months just a few blocks away: very tasty. But if I were in the lox business I would call myself the Sturgeon General.
Sunday: July 13, 2008
There are no trees in the “Luft Bad.” It boasts a collection of plain, wooden cells, a bath shelter, two swings and two odd clubs — one, presumably the lost property of Hercules or the German army, and the other to be used with safety in the cradle.
And there in all weathers we take the air — walking, or sitting in little companies talking over each other’s ailments and measurements and ills that flesh is heir to.
A high wooden wall compasses us all about; above it the pine-trees look down a little superciliously, nudging each other in a way that is peculiarly trying to a debutante. Over the wall, on the right side, is the men’s section. We hear them chopping down trees and sawing through planks, dashing heavy weights to the ground, and singing part songs. Yes, they take it far more seriously.
What about the vegan? Here she is:
Opposite to me was the brownest woman I have ever seen, lying on her back, her arms clasped over her head.
“How long have you been here to-day?” she was asked.
“Oh, I spend the day here now,” she answered. “I am making my own ‘cure,’ and living entirely on raw vegetables and nuts, and each day I feel my spirit is stronger and purer. After all, what can you expect? The majority of us are walking about with pig corpuscles and oxen fragments in our brain. The wonder is the world is as good as it is. Now I live on the simple, provided food” — she pointed to a little bag beside her — “a lettuce, a carrot, a potato, and some nuts are ample, rational nourishment. I wash them under the tap and eat them raw, just as they come from the harmless earth — fresh and uncontaminated.”
“Do you take nothing else all day?” I cried.
“Water. And perhaps a banana if I wake in the night.” She turned round and leaned on one elbow. “You over-eat yourself dreadfully,” she said; “shamelessly! How can you expect the Flame of the Spirit to burn brightly under layers of superfluous flesh?”
(Katherine Mansfield, In a German Pension, chapter “The Luft Bad”)
The text is on-line here, but the Hesperus edition is very handsome and reasonably priced.
Saturday: July 12, 2008
What are the two (2) ingredients in a Hirtius salad, and why do I call it that? If it helps (it probably won’t) I just had one with a can of kippered herring and some crackers.
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