06 June 2012

Skiathan Addendum & Immoderate Quotation

I realised there were two more things I’d like to post but which didn’t really fit with today’s earlier post (even though one concerns Papadiamandis) and weren’t likely to fit with anything else anytime soon either.

First, I would like to post something I came across some time ago but of which I was only recently reminded. Concerning Papadiamandis, George Pappageotes tells us that the Skiathan ‘became a very competent translator of French and English, although he could not speak either language’. [1] The ‘Biographical Note’ in Boundless Garden gets more specific though:

Many of these hours [working for various newspapers] were spent in translating major European novels, such as Crime and Punishment, Quo Vadis, Dracula, and The Manxman, which appeared in daily instalments, as well as numerous short stories by such writers as Chekhov, Bret Harte and Jerome K. Jerome, in addition to translating works of non-fiction. [2]

Papadiamandis translating Crime & Punishment, Dracula, and Jerome K. Jerome? [3] This has thrilled me to no end since I first discovered it!

The other thing I wanted to post was something I just came across the other day. I finally got round to reading C.S. Lewis’s essay, ‘The Literary Impact of the Authorised Version’, and was encouraged by the following comments:

It would seem to me reasonable to say, for example, that my own habit of immoderate quotation showed the influence of Hazlitt, but not the influence of the authors I quote; or that Burton’s [4] habit of immoderate quotation might be influenced by Montaigne, not by the authors he quotes. Frequent quotation is itself a literary characteristic; if the authors whom we rifle were not themselves fond of quotation, then, in the very act of quoting, we proclaim our freedom from their influence. [5]

I was touched to see Lewis admitting to a ‘habit of immoderate quotation’, a habit to which I realise that I too am prone, but then to find him placing the two of us, himself and me, into the midst of such further distinguished company, nearly brought a tear to my eye. As Lewis himself has written of the ‘typical expression of opening Friendship’, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’ [6]

[1] Pappageotes, George C., The Story of Modern Greek Literature: From the 10th Century to the Present (NY: Athens, 1972), p. 168.

[2] Kamperidis, Fr Lambros, & Denise Harvey, ‘Biographical Note’, The Boundless Garden, by Alexandros Papadiamandis, ed. Fr Lambros Kamperidis & Denise Harvey (Limni, Evia, Greece: Denise Harvey, 2007), p. xi.

[3] I have fond memories of reading Three Men in a Boat—mostly in the toilet—at the behest of my Oxonian neighbour in Greece, who was also incidentally the translator of a couple of books by Elder Paisios the Athonite as well as the big collection of homilies by Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra.

[4] I have had a hankering for a copy of Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy ever since first reading about it in the Eighth Day Books catalogue, but alas! I have yet to acquire one, and have to be satisfied with the excerpts printed in Seventeenth-Century Prose & Poetry, 2nd ed., ed. Alexander M. Witherspoon & Frank J. Warnke (NY: Harcourt, 1963), pp. 132-95, and Seventeenth-Century Verse & Prose, Vol. 1: 1600-1660, ed. Helen C. White, Ruth C. Wallerstein, & Ricardo Quintana (NY: Macmillan, 1965), pp. 169-82.

[5] C.S. Lewis, The Literary Impact of the Authorized Version, rev. ed., Facet Books Biblical Series—4 (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1967), p. 16. Thank you to my good friend, Lee Webb of OCU’s Dulaney-Browne Library, for furnishing me with this little gem!

[6] C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (Orlando: Harcourt, 1988), p. 65.

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