Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The punters speak

A few weeks back I heard from a good friend in Paris, Dr Jula Wildberger, who was once a colleague of mine in the Pictish wastes beyond the Roman Wall (Glasgow). Jula is now Professor Wildberger at the American University in Paris, and she'd been introducing some American visiting students to the joys of classical antiquity by way of two epigrammatists - my old doctoral buddy Lucillius, in a verse translation, and Martial, in my prose version. The students - who aren't classicists, just interested in finding out about that kind of thing - had read the authors and written up their reactions as short blog posts. So this was pretty much the first feedback I've had on what readers (as opposed to one or two reviewers - thanks guys) are making of it all.

I don't want to say much more, because I'd like their responses to speak for themselves. I got in touch with them through Jula, and they're happy for their names to be included. What's more, I'm optimistic that a couple of them will offer me guest blog posts!

'I was, perhaps unfairly, surprised by how very funny these epigrams were... Nisbet's translation reads wonderfully and is extremely acccessible. I appreciate his use of more contemporary language, particularly his use of 'as fuck'.' (Alfredo Renteria)
  • I had wondered about that bit; thanks for liking it. :-)
 'Martial’s Epigrams were a surprising amount of fun to read, but I found they really came to life when read aloud. I passed the evening on Monday going back through and reading the harshest of burns and the quickest of quips to my co-workers, who found them just as hilarious. The humor, we found, was in the similarity to our own lives or the modern media we consume. When I read Book 1, Epigram 34 aloud (Lesbia), a passer-by asked it if was an erotic novel, which led to a multitude of questions about what the point of this book was from my co-workers. I responded that it was something like an ancient roman publishing their entire twitter feed in a book.' (Audrey Michels)
  • It's the next Fifty Shades of Grey, I tell you! Seriously, though, I am so chuffed that my epigrams were being read aloud and laughed at in a modern workplace. Martial is so NSFW. I'm sure he'd have been the king of Twitter (if he could tear himself away from Googling himself every five minutes...).

'While reading to myself the layout and structure of the piece, or the order of epigrams in each book, intrigued me. Part of me wished they were more logically organized, however I liked finding an explicit piece about a sex next to one about a schoolteacher (Book 9, 67 & 68) with no apology or explanation. It certainly made the text more open, as if it were equalizing all of these aspects of roman life in the eyes of this poet.'  (Michels again)
  •  The 'josting' effect of the poems (William Fitzgerald's term, not mine) is someting a lot of us enjoy and it does create peculiar effects, I agree - you never quite know (though you sometimes horribly suspect) what might be coming next.
 More another time. What excellent blog-collaborators!

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