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May 18, 2010

Today’s literary pop quiz
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:05 PM * 153 comments

The New Testament is to the Old Testament as the Aeneid is to the Iliad and the Odyssey: discuss.

Comments on Today's literary pop quiz:
#1 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 05:14 PM:

I dunno, I thought the Aeneid was Iliad fanfic.

#2 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 05:18 PM:

A sequel by a different author.* It would explain the non-cannon additions, the retcons and the changes in style.


_________
*Unless you're a Trinitarian, than it's the same author using a pseudonym.

#3 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 05:21 PM:

They're all rilly rilly old books.

#4 ::: Brad J ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 05:23 PM:

[Aeneid as Iliad fanfic] I've described the New Testament elsewhere as Old Testament fanfic, so that strengthens the comparison in my book.

#5 ::: Vance Maverick ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 05:28 PM:

The followup modeled explicitly on the original, to serve as an identity story for a new group. Works for me.

Does this make The Faerie Queene like the Book of Mormon?

#6 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 05:43 PM:

And then Dante wrote a massive crossover AU. Dunno if it's up on the AO3 yet.

#7 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 06:05 PM:

Keith Kisser #2 "It would explain the non-cannon additions." Like ballistæ?

#8 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 06:08 PM:

Vance Maverick #5: No, no. The Book of Moron* is Authorised Version fanfic.


*Has anyone done a count of the number of verses that begin "And"?

#9 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 06:11 PM:

I'm rather fond of the comparison between the "These characters do not belong to me" disclaimers at the beginning of fanfic and the invocation of the muses in ancient Greek/Roman poetry.

...wait, does that mean I just compared modern fanfic to the Bible?

#10 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 06:13 PM:

TexAnne @6: Self-insert crossover fanfic, even! With a lot of character-bashing for his unfavorite characters from the crossover series, including the RPS fandoms.

#11 ::: ianracey ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 06:31 PM:

I'm fond of comparing the Old and New Testaments to Graeco-Roman mythology generally. Whenever I hear that Roman mythology is basically just the same as Greek mythology but with the names changed, I respond that that's like saying Christianity and Judaism are pretty much the same thing because the Christian Bible is mostly the Hebrew Bible with short additional section at the end. It's true about their shared mythology, but as with Christianity, it's very often those facets that Roman religion doesn't share with the Greeks that are most relevant to understanding Roman history and society.

(Of course, there's a distinction to be made between "mythology" and "religion", but it's not my experience that most people who talk about the similarity of the Greek and Roman pantheons are thinking in those terms.)

#12 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 06:34 PM:

Fade, 9: Yes you did!

...10: Someone who is not me should write a paper.

#13 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 06:40 PM:

@11
(Of course, there's a distinction to be made between "mythology" and "religion",

... of the "Mine is truth, yours is religion, theirs is mythology" variety?

(I get in a lot of trouble saying things like this, but I say them anyway.)

#14 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 06:45 PM:

All works of fiction, perhaps loosely based on actual events, written well after the fact by folks who did not witness the events they wrote of.

#15 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 06:48 PM:

So, with the current sequel fad, we should be looking forward to Father and Son and Ghosts?

#16 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 06:57 PM:

The Homeric poems and the Old Testament don't have definite authorship (at least the Pentateuch doesn't), while the newer works do. The New Testament is a collection of works by different authors, while the Aeneid is a single effort.

Have I mentioned my idea that book 5 of the Iliad is fanfic of books 20-21? The overarching plot requires the Akhaians to be defeated while Akhilleus is off by himself...but before that happens we get Diomedes as a Gary Stu, driving off the Trojans by himself (and the Trojans specifically say, "We are more afraid of Diomedes than we ever were of Akhilleus"). Akhilleus overcomes Aineias in single combat; so does Diomedes. (Both times Aineias is saved by divine intervention.) Akhilleus fights a river god, so Diomedes gets to fight Ares himself. Diomedes even steals Akhilleus' best line: "Unhappy those whose children face my might."

#17 ::: Vance Maverick ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 07:00 PM:

@13: a bit of that perhaps, but "religion" is in any case broader, including the temple and the rituals as well as the myths.

#18 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 07:35 PM:

Tangentially off topic, I just had to explain to someone on my blog that the title of one of my next books comes from Greek mythology and not from Cartoon Network's "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy."

I secretly wept.

#19 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 07:36 PM:

I think midrash is closer to traditional OT fic than the NT is (please excuse the abbreviations; sleeping baby on one arm), though that then moves us to the discussion of different of kinds of fic. Midrash is fill-in-the gaps sort, the Aeneid is the "take one minor character and continue his story sort," and the NT is an unauthorized sequel.

#20 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 07:39 PM:

Vance Maverick @17: Mythology is all the stories they teach you in Sunday school; religion is what you actually do in the church. As a rough first-apporximation talking points soundbite, anyhow. :->

Noah and the rainbow/loaves and fishes is Christian mythology; Catholic schoolchildren (as I did) crowning a statue of Mary in May and releasing balloons with 'please mail me back' cards on Good Friday at the moment of Christ's death is religion.

#21 ::: ianracey ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 07:46 PM:

@13

Oh not at all. Religion, to me, includes all the various elements that make up a person or society's relationship with divinity--mythology, ritual, clergy and clerical hierarchy, whatever else you care to include. The suckling of Romulus and Remus and the wedding at Cana would both fall under mythology; the reading of auspices in the liver or consubstantiation/transubstantiation would not.

#22 ::: ianracey ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 07:47 PM:

Ah, I see others have beat me to it.

#23 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 08:07 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 15:

I think we're more likely to see a reboot of the series. Maybe a musical revue ("The Gnosticks") or a western ("Demiurge Rides Again"). Or perhaps ecumenical dance ("Seven Faiths for Seven Sects").

#24 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 08:49 PM:

ianracey, #11: A mythology is just a religion that's lost most of its followers.

Joel, #15: Y'know, that's a book I might actually buy.

#25 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 09:20 PM:

Yeah, but the NT is such a Mary Sue! More so than the Aeneid....

#26 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 09:45 PM:

The New Testament's books don't attempt to replicate the genres of the Old (with the small exception of the Apocalypse, which echoes Daniel and intertestamental apocalyptic in its structure and tropes). The Aeneid stands in a strong genre relationship to the Odyssey and the Iliad (in that order, half and half).

#27 ::: hapax ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 11:00 PM:

"Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans."

Hmm. Minor human failings leading to massive universal catastrophes, competing God[s] with their own agendas, fantastic adventures while wandering in exile, major plot arcs left uncompleted... OT, check.

"Arms and the man I sing, who first made way, predestined exile, from the Trojan shore
to Italy, the blest Lavinian strand."
Human - divine crossbreeds predestined to be exiled in order to accomplish glorious destiny, upstart culture co-opting ancient culture to burnish its own legitimacy, the female supporting characters steal the show... NT, check.

Probably the differences are greater than the similarities, but I can see it.

#28 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2010, 11:41 PM:

And this is why I read Making Light. This conversation makes me feel, in a very nice way, as if I were back in undergrad (where I did a minor in classics).

I would contribute to the conversation beyond this, but I put in an eleven hour shift at the lab today, and only left the scanner bay at 9:30p

#29 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 12:01 AM:

Carrie V @ 18: This only was wanting. Now falls the Long Night.

#30 ::: Vance Maverick ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 12:07 AM:

There's some contagion from the negative sense, but the descriptive sense of "myth" is worth preserving. I've read books by American Buddhists speaking frankly of the stories they use in this way as myths; and I think there are plenty of liberal Christians, including some of the Episcopalians I grew up among, who'd be comfortable using that term for the stories in either of the Testaments.

#31 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 12:34 AM:

Vance: I'd describe myself as a pretty straightforward Catholic, and I find the use of "myth" as a descriptive term perfectly acceptable as long as the user understands what it means. Of course, I was taught by Jesuits, so my use of the term "straightforward Catholic" is automatically suspect.

(Yes, I did take some grad-level philosophy. It was fun!)

#32 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 12:39 AM:

Carrie V. @18: Tangentially off topic, I just had to explain to someone on my blog that the title of one of my next books comes from Greek mythology and not from Cartoon Network's "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy."

Ye Gods. Really? Really? Eris wept! (And so should we all.)

#33 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 02:44 AM:

Fragano @8: Based on the Project Gutenberg version, 3842 of a total of 6604, or 58% of the verses begin with "And".

#34 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 02:46 AM:

Furthermore, 1032 (16%) of those start "And it came to pass".

#35 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 02:58 AM:

For the purposes of comparison, the Gospel of Matthew has 393 out of 1071 (37%) "And" verses, and 6 "And it came to pass"es. Luke is more similar with 645 of 1151 (56%) and 35 "And it came to pass"es. Acts, which I had expected to be a worse offender, is actually lower (491/1007, 49%, 12).

#36 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 03:11 AM:

The New Testament and Zombies. Lazarus wasn't alone.

#37 ::: sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 03:45 AM:

@19:

I'm with you. The Midrash (the aggadic midrashim in particular) is the OT's fanfic, if by fanfic we mean people picking on inconsistencies or curious bits of a work and trying to figure out what the hell the author was thinking.

#38 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 04:15 AM:

Hmm. The Aeneid was a self conscious piece of nation building propaganda. I'm not sure the Homeric poems were, for all they were later adopted for that purpose.

The Old Testament (large parts of) is several pieces of self conscious nation building propaganda - nice job, Ezra. I don't think the New Testament is.

So maybe they're mirror images, rather than parallels?

#39 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 06:56 AM:

There is an argument (which I'm in no position to evaluate) that the Gospel of Mark was written as a reworking and inversion of Homer.

#40 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 07:18 AM:

the new testament is to the old testament as new coke is to coke classic.

the new testament is to the old testament as java is to fortran.

the new testament is to the old testament as andorra is to lichtenstein.

the new testament is to the old testament as chicken little is to t-rex.

the new testament is to the old testament as reeling is to writhing.

the new testament is to the old testament as long as ye both shall live.

the new testament? is too the old testament!

the new testament is too, too, the old testament.
(darling, it's just de trop).

the new west infant eschews the old tegument.

the nude mentalist stews the alt-vestment.

the newt's testing meant his uzis sold esther mint.

sorry--need coffee. more. or less.

#41 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 08:26 AM:

KB: The caged whale knows nothing of the mighty deeps.

#42 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 08:36 AM:

@41--

your words intrigue me. do you know why the caged whale sings?

and if it sang in key, could it unlock the cage?

#43 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 08:52 AM:

Jules 34:

Even divinely inspired auhors can't avoid infodumps from time to time.

#44 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 10:30 AM:

Carrie V. writes in @18:

Tangentially off topic, I just had to explain to someone on my blog that the title of one of my next books comes from Greek mythology and not from Cartoon Network's "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy."

Cut them a little slack. People are born into culture, and it's like being dropped into the deep end-- they must assimilate thousands of years of cultural references, often arriving in a haphazard fashion. So don't hold this against them.

In my time, many of us encountered Boris Badenov well before encountering Boris Godunov. I'm not ashamed to admit it.

#45 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 10:37 AM:

the new testament is to the old testament as boris badenov is to boris godunov.

but anyway, this is different from carrie v.'s case: rocky and bullwinkle was *high art*.

for that matter, bugs bunny's version of rossini's barber of seville made zombie wagner sit straight up and yell "gesamtkunstwerk!"

(to which bugs replied, "and gesundheit to you!")

#46 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 11:45 AM:

#41: The ill-built tower trembles mightily at a butterfly's passage.

#47 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 11:51 AM:

kid bitzer @ #40: the new testament is to the old testament as andorra is to lichtenstein.

Er, in what way? (Just curious about your reasoning)

#48 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 12:00 PM:

the NT is such a Mary Sue!

I don't now recall where it started (there's a good chance it started on Making Light somehow), but for the last few years I keep finding myself thinking of John's Gospel as fanfic on the preceding gospel tradition. It's got the rewording or tweaking events to make them fit the interpretation that the author considers self-evident, and the remarkable feats attributed to characters who appear in no other version. Not to mention all that stuff about "the disciple whom Jesus loved", which many regard in the light of transparent self-insertion...

#49 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 12:16 PM:

@47--

no reasoning whatsoever, roy. i can't make heads or tails out of any of them. for my day job, i get paid to reason. here's, it's just free-associative babble. sometimes rhymes. never reason.

but now i'd love to hear what reasoning you imputed to me for the other ones! (fortran? reeling? t-rex?)

#50 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 12:54 PM:

#41: "The caged whale knows nothing of the mighty deeps."

The Pelagic Argosy Sights Land.

or Swordfish.

One of those has *got* to be the password.

(And now I have to go read Wolfe and Pratchett again...)

#51 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 01:13 PM:

I own a paperback copy of The Book of Job as a Greek Tragedy by Horace Kallen, which I've never read, so I can't say how convincing his case is. The parallels between Bible and Greek lit are venerable litcrit material.

As for the question at hand, I haven't read enough of either end of the argument to have an opinion. You wanna ask about, say, Sherlock Holmes vs. Nero Wolfe, and I may know enough...

#52 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 01:58 PM:

The Aeneid is composed and written by a single author, Virgil. It is widely held that The Iliad and The Odyssey,though attributed to a poet named Homer, this 'Homer' is many poets, who over maybe even centuries created the cycles that became these epic poems.

What this has to do with the relationship of the New to the Old Testment though, is beyond my limited information, as both of these groups of texts were created by very many aggregations, inclusions, deletions, discussions, by very many people, over long periods of time.

Love, C.

#53 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 03:32 PM:

Clearly the Old Testament and New Testament are two unrelated stories put together into a Ace Double, though as the old joke has it, they would've been retitled "War God of Israel"/"The Thing with Three Souls"...

#54 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 03:59 PM:

Perhaps the genocidey bits could be made more palatable by rewriting them in the style of Homeric epic poetry.

#55 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 04:29 PM:

Chris Q @ #51, You wanna ask about, say, Sherlock Holmes vs. Nero Wolfe, and I may know enough...

Ah, canons with which I too am much more conversant.

#56 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 04:45 PM:

Jules #34/35: Thanks. I thought that Joe Smith was slavishly imitative. I'd no idea how much.

#57 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 04:51 PM:

@57--

he was unimaginative, alright. i mean, for a pseud he chose "joe smith". please.

#58 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 06:17 PM:

kid bitzer @ #49:

but now i'd love to hear what reasoning you imputed to me for the other ones! (fortran? reeling? t-rex?)

Ah, I got a feeling you were mentioning things that had evolved, or been superseded in some way.

So I wondered if you were making an obscure comment on politics in Andorra and Liechtenstein. (Liechtenstein has a Fürst, Andorra has the wackiest arrangement ever with a Spanish bishop and the French head of state being co-rulers. This means Andorra has a head of state who is democratically elected by foreigners.)

Keep up your good work, sir or madam!

#59 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 06:21 PM:

wait; so the leader is a spaniard and/orr a frenchman?

#60 ::: Louisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 06:32 PM:

@Jules 33-35

Interestingly, the frequency of "and" in the New Testament comes from the Ancient Greek in which it was originally written. Greek uses words that approximately translate to "and" much more frequently than we would use them in English. This is simply a characteristic of the language, but in translation it creates a sense of polysyndeton which is not present in the original

In the Gospel of Luke, the particle "de" makes up more than 2% of all the words. This is a postpositive particle - meaning, in Greek, it never begins the sentence - and is essentially meaningless. It is used for contrast and emphasis; it doesn't change the meaning of the sentence or even indicate that a particular idea is in addition to the one preceding it. However, through various translations, this particle has come to be represented in English with the frequent use of "And" to begin sentences.

#61 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 06:55 PM:

Louisa @ 61:

There's actually a similar reason for all the sentences beginning with and in the Tanakh (or, at least, the Torah; it's been a while since I studied any of this so salt my explanation to taste). In Hebrew, the letter vav as a prefix means "and", but it also appears to have been used to flag the beginning of a sentence. Combine with a lack of punctuation, and you get an awful lot of sentences beginning that way.

Are there an awful lot of sentences beginning with "and" in translations into other languages?

#62 ::: ianracey ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 07:53 PM:

@60

The two leaders are one Spaniard and one Frenchman. Andorra was established as a territory shared between the diocese of Urgell (Spain) and the county of Foix (France) in the Middle Ages; eventually the Count of Foix's claim passed to the King of France, and from thence to the President of France. Today the President and the Bishop of Urgell are both titled Co-Princes of Andorra.

#63 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 08:14 PM:

@63--
thanks for more detail.

i actually had understood from #59 that there are two distinct leaders of disjoint nationalities, but i could not resist the traditional pun on andorra's name. probably tedious for andorrans by now, all the originality worn off years ago.

fascinating, though, that there are several experts here on the constitutions of small european nations.

#64 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 08:50 PM:

I once actually saw a book called "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?" asserting that said Book was originally intended as a work of fiction by some author who was working on it until the guys stole it and founded a religion on it. Or something like that.

#65 ::: buddy66 ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 09:55 PM:

At uni I took a course in Greek and Roman lit (in translation of course, it being a Yank uni) and caught a load of crap from the prof when I doubted that Virgil would have written a passage under consideration that bad-mouthed Caesar Augustus, his contemporary, since it would likely have cost him his head. The prof haughtily explained that Professor Fitts, the translator, no doubt knew what he was doing and we would just have to trust him on that.

Being the sort of student I was I high-tailed it to the library and snagged a copy and — yep! — there it was : "Julius" After the next class meeting, text in hand, I pointed this out to the prof when we were alone. His embarrassed acceptance of the evidence was reward enough, and I still don't believe I actually deserved the final grade of A+ that I received for the course.

#66 ::: buddy66 ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 10:15 PM:

Oh, the subject of the quiz ... mmm, Virgil tries to dignify the Romans by tracing their descent from the Trojans, specifically the semi-divine Aeneas? Much as congeries of Christian proselytizers validated their heretical cult by tracing the carpenter prophet to the Hebrew tradition? I dunno -- something like that.

#67 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 11:11 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 65: I once actually saw a book called "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?"

Well, I wonder, wonder, mm boh buh doh boh, who (BOMP!) who wrote the Book of Mormon?

#68 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2010, 11:26 PM:

@25: the NT is such a Mary Sue!

Um, Virgin Mary Sue, wouldn't it be?

@40 the new testament is to the old testament as new coke is to coke classic.

So Jesus is HFCS?

#69 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 06:11 AM:

Roy G. Ovrebo #59: Among other things, the existence of Andorra means that the president of France automatically becomes a prince on taking office. That's a rather odd situation for the head of a republic.

The Andorran national anthem is the only one in Europe to reference Charlemagne ('El gran Carlemany'), btw.

#70 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 07:05 AM:

46: The good mother makes bean soup for the errant boy.

#71 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 07:07 AM:

@71--
the lyrics have now been changed to "la gran carlabruni", btw.

#72 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 07:34 AM:

my "@71" really should have been "@70", since i was replying to fragano.

i blame ajay. no bean soup for you!

#73 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 08:49 AM:

Wait -- -- -- there was a Boris Godunov?

(. . . . . . goes to Google . . .)

There should be a word for the sense we have that we are watching parody or derivative material, and yet we can't tell what the original was. And a variation for the times when we get that sense and yet there is no original . . . okay, actually, pastiche may be that second word.

And on the lower frequencies, nothing is original.

#74 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 09:16 AM:

There should be a word for the sense we have that we are watching parody or derivative material, and yet we can't tell what the original was.

There are a lot of parodies out there that have outlived their targets. Cold Comfort Farm is still great fun, even though no-one reads the Mary Webb soil-and-suffering novels that it is explicitly taking the mickey out of. Don Quixote has lasted a lot better than most of the chivalric romances. I'm sure there are a lot of people reading Pratchett who've never read any Robert Howard or Fritz Leiber.

#75 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 09:30 AM:

@75--

mary webb? very interesting--i haven't heard of her. i had always assumed that gibbons was extracting the michael from d.h. lawrence. surely seth is a laurentian figure?

so are the mary webb books any good on their own terms?

#76 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 09:37 AM:

kid bitzer @ #64: fascinating, though, that there are several experts here on the constitutions of small european nations.

No expert, me, just fascinated with weird historical and geographical trivia.

#77 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 09:59 AM:

kid bitzer #72: "La gran Carlabruni mon mare" delivers Andorra from the Arabs anew? You may be onto something.

#78 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 10:16 AM:

76: yes, so did I, but the introduction to the edition of CCF I have explicitly says that Stella Gibbons got fed up with writing the "The Story So Far" bits for weekly newspaper serialisations of Mary Webb novels, because the plots seemed even more ridiculous when you had to summarise them in two column inches, and wrote CCF in response.
Though I am sure you're right and there's some Lawrence in there too - how could there not be? The mock-dedication to "Anthony Pookworthy" I've always read as aimed at Lawrence.

I've never read any Mary Webb - no idea if they're any good or not. Very few people have, but back when Gibbons was writing they were hot stuff. There was quite a vogue for soil-and-suffering novels.

#79 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 10:30 AM:

Here's a pretty cool site for the Iliad (among other things):

Homer, Iliad on Perseus

It let's you look at the Greek text with dictionary references and/or English translations.

#80 ::: hapax ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 11:32 AM:

There should be a word for the sense we have that we are watching parody or derivative material, and yet we can't tell what the original was.

Or for the sense I had when first seeing TWELFTH NIGHT in high school: "This play is made entirely of quotations!"

(Later got that same feeling from CASABLANCA)

#81 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 11:40 AM:

Ajay #75: There are a lot of parodies out there that have outlived their targets.

A nice example is the 'instructional' poems that are parodied by Lewis Carroll ("You are old, Father William", etc) and Hilaire Belloc ('The chief defect of Henry King'), where lots of people don't even realize that they were parodies of something.


hapax #81 Or for the sense I had when first seeing TWELFTH NIGHT in high school: "This play is made entirely of quotations!"

When we sang Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky there were a lot of people in the choir who regarded it as full of film-music cliches.


#82 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 11:40 AM:

hapax (81): I had that reaction on first reading Hamlet: "What are all these cliches doing here?! Shakespeare's better than that!"

rm (74): I had heard of Boris Godunov but never made the connection with the Rocky and Bullwinkle character until this thread. Doh!

#83 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 11:46 AM:

if you come face to face with an original work of art, but believe you are in the presence of a parody or knock-off, then you might be suffering artistic capgras syndrome.

that's the delusion where people think that their relatives have been replaced by impostors.

weird disease. i had it once. the only trouble was, that my doctors all suffered from medical capgras syndrome, so they thought i was just faking it. there they were, face to face with a authentic case of capgras syndrome, and they thought it was an impostor!

#84 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 12:05 PM:

KeithS @ 62

In Hebrew, the letter vav as a prefix means "and", but it also appears to have been used to flag the beginning of a sentence. Combine with a lack of punctuation, and you get an awful lot of sentences beginning that way.

Are there an awful lot of sentences beginning with "and" in translations into other languages?

It's extremely common in older Indo-European langauges to have a class of sentence-initial particles that, similarly to the Hebrew item you note above, often seem to function solely to mark the start of the sentence. But while these langauges will usually have at least one entirely semantic-free particle in this class, most of them will add some sort of meaning (negation, contrastive, etc. -- roughly the same sorts of meanings that conjunctions typically can have).

But these particles often have another function as the crutch on which to lean assorted clitic particles that obligatorily fall in second position in the sentence (the "Wackernagel position", named after Jakob Wackernagel who first made general observations of the phenomenon). In systems that have these, other classes of words may start the sentence (e.g., for emphasis), but if nothing else serves, you can always grab an otherwise meaningless sentence-initial particle.

The Indo-European penchant for sentence-initial particles hung on in various branches of the family for quite some time. The medieval Celtic languages do some amusing and confusing things with them.

But I also suspect that our distaste for sentence-initial "and" in modern English is one of those artificially prescriptive rules that comes from expecting natural languages to follow the rules of formal logic. Just because "and" can be used as a conjuction doesn't mean that it must always conjoin things.

#85 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 12:16 PM:

In Hebrew, the letter vav as a prefix means "and", but it also appears to have been used to flag the beginning of a sentence. Combine with a lack of punctuation, and you get an awful lot of sentences beginning that way.

Thus, a wholly accurate modern English translation of the bible would have a lot of sentences starting "Like".

#86 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 12:20 PM:

like, yea: though i, like, walk through the, like, valley....

#87 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 12:48 PM:

Ajay @79

There's a reference to that sort of novel in Tey's The Daughter of Time.

Though people such as Mary Webb had probably read Thomas Hardy.

#88 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 01:17 PM:

Martin Wisse @ #54:

I am reminded that there's a short-short by Stephen Dedman built on the premise that the Bible was a shared-world fantasy anthology, and that the Revelation was commissioned at the last minute because

(a) the last few writers had turned in thinky episolatory pieces, and they needed something more dramatic to close on; and

(b) the marketing department wanted an excuse to have a seven-headed dragon and a scantily-dressed woman on the cover.

#89 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 01:24 PM:

kid bitzer @ #84: capgras syndrome. that's the delusion where people think that their relatives have been replaced by impostors.

As a Neil Gaiman character once asked, what makes you so sure they haven't? It's not like anybody ever bothers to check...

#90 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 01:45 PM:

#74, 75, 79, 82, etc.:

I always enjoyed Eddie Lawrence's routines about "The Old Philosopher," despite lack of exposure to the sappy inspirational (radio?) speeches (Edgar Guest, perhaps?) which he is apparently demolishing.

#91 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 02:15 PM:

I had a literary pop quiz nightmare last night: each student desk had a copy of a hefty, vaguely-familiar, lavishly illustrated literary classic and an iPad; the desks were too high, the chairs too low, and we were "docked points" for standing. There was also a single crosscut handsaw in the corner of the classroom, and an unknown amount of time given to solve "the problem", with no other instructions issued.

#92 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 02:19 PM:

Earl #92:

"The problem" would best be stated: "Where's the hawk? What's the difference? Is the reference in this classic?"

#93 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 03:06 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 85:

I'm learning stuff! That's absolutely fascinating (what you wrote, not that I'm learning).

ajay @ 86 and kid bitzer @ 87:

I nearly snarfed my tea. Well done.

#94 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 03:43 PM:

In poking around, it turns out that I was incorrect in my statement about the use of the letter vav as a sentence marker. I can find no evidence for that use, however I did find something even more fascinating. Apparently, there's a construction called the vav-consecutive which (among other things) inserts a vav to flip a verb from imperfect to perfect or vice versa.

I have no time to research this at the moment, but thought I should toss a correction out there in case anyone is foolish enough to take my completely unqualified blatherings as something actually informative.

#95 ::: hapax ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 04:48 PM:

@92 -- am I being excessively pedestrian to assume that the solution was to use the handsaw to chop up the book into four bits, place under the chair legs so they would be an appropriate height for the desks, and then use the iPad to access the internet and comment on this thread?

#96 ::: Dr. Psycho ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 05:04 PM:

Joel Polowin @15, Father and Son and Ghosts wouldn't be a sequel, it would be a rewrite of one of the Gospels with wailing spooks in shrouds and chains popping up to take part in or divert the plot.

Maybe Banquo's ghost would crash the wedding at Cana....

rm@74, I always had the feeling that Mister T was a distillation of a particular type of character, like Pecos Bill or Buzz Lightyear, except that he'd actually invented the character type himself.

Ajay @75, I firmly believe that a hundred years from now, Marvel Comics' "Secret Wars" saga will be known only through footnotes in the latest edition of Cerebus.

hapax @81, another story that suffers from "This is nothing but quotations!" is Stagecoach -- all those Western movie cliches actually started there.

Paul A @89, I would so love to see an edition of the Bible with the Scarlet Woman and the Beast of the Sea on the cover.

#97 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 05:14 PM:

Another (nightmarish) solution is to use the handsaw as a weapon against the other students to manipulate the grading curve by attrition (attacking the fellow students who appear to be the most intelligent, or ultimately, leaving oneself as the sole remaining student if everyone in the room appears to be smarter). iPad shards may also be fairly effective for this type of solution (especially if some other student closer to the handsaw has figured things out first).

#98 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 07:39 PM:

Earl Cooley #92: reminds me of this Final Exam Question series (passed around since mimeo days; I re-found it on a blog here:)

http://komplexify.com/epsilon/2009/05/21/ultimate-test/

#99 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 07:54 PM:

Dr. Psycho, #97, There's already going to be a TV show repeating "The A Team" this year. "Hawaii 5.0", too.

#100 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 07:58 PM:

Hawai'i 5.0? Now with volcano control add-on?

(as opposed to "Hawaii 5-0" , the old TV show....)

#101 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2010, 11:28 PM:

ajay @ #86 : Thus, a wholly accurate modern English translation of the bible would have a lot of sentences starting "Like".

I presume the German translation would have every other sentence starting with "also":

Also... und ob ich schon wanderte im finstern Tal, fürchte ich kein Unglück;

#102 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 12:00 AM:

The discussion of and and like reminds me of the substantial amount of discussion that went into Seamus Heaney's translation of the first word of Beowulf:

Conventional renderings of hwæt, the first word of the poem, tend towards the archaic literary, with ‘lo’, ‘hark’, ‘behold’, ‘attend’ and – more colloquially – ‘listen’ being some of the solutions offered previously. But in Hiberno-English Scullion-speak, the particle ‘so’ came naturally to the rescue, because in that idiom ‘so’ operates as an expression that obliterates all previous discourse and narrative, and at the same time functions as an exclamation calling for immediate attention. So, ‘so’ it was:
So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by
and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those princes’ heroic campaigns.
#103 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 12:18 AM:

Buddy66's story in #66 reminds me of the academic legend of a philosophy final in which the essay prompt is "What is courage?," and a student writes "This is courage" -- period. In the legend, the student gets an A.

#104 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 01:56 AM:

Our local CBS affiliate is going bonkers with the promos for the new Hawai'i 5-0; I'm reserving judgment. It's got an Aussie (Alex O'Loughlin) playing the McGarrett role (as Jack Lord's son), for one thing. One hopes he can do an American accent.

None of the other major roles are Hawai'i actors, either, unless you count Daniel Dae Kim as a Hawai'i resident. "Lost's" Jin made it pretty clear to the film/TV industry he wanted to find a role in Hawai'i so he wouldn't have to move; he likes it here too much to go away for work.

#105 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 06:37 AM:

@102--

the people at balloon-juice have taken to appending "also" to random clauses as a way of imitating one of sarah palin's bizarre idiolectic twitches. or "also too."

for some reason i had not put it together until your rendering of psalm 23 that this means "also" sprach sarah-"too"-strut.

#106 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 06:57 AM:

Erik Nelson @99, thanks for that link. I'd misplaced my copy of that years ago, but "Do not suture until your work has been inspected" is one of our family jokes.

#107 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 07:21 AM:

96, 98: this is a sort of a Rorschach test, clearly. What do people instinctively think is the "problem" here and how do they then proceed to solve it?

#108 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 08:27 AM:

The Andorran national anthem is the only one in Europe to reference Charlemagne ('El gran Carlemany'), btw.

On the other hand the Dutch national anthem is the only one in Europe to reference the King of Spain. The Spanish one doesn't, these day.

#109 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 09:23 AM:

109: and, weirdly for a nation whose origin story is a successful rebellion against the King of Spain, the first line is "I have always honoured the King of Spain". abi, no doubt, will now explain the reason. (My theory: attempt to confuse the enemy.)

#110 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 12:23 PM:

ianracey@63: I'd always wondered where Foix was. I'd previously only encountered it in the following short piece of fiction,which my wife used to wheel out when my daughter requested a fourth or fifth bedtime story:

'Il etait une fois un marchand de foie qui vendait du foie dans la ville de Foix. Un jour il dit: 'Ma foi! C'est la derniere fois que je vends du foie dans la ville de Foix.'

#111 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 12:32 PM:

ajay @110--Confuse the enemy? Perhaps not--maybe more of an effort to explain where they're coming from, with this rebellion against Spain and all. Really, they've tried to be reasonable, but enough is enough. (Lyrics with translations at the link!)

It would appear, if you are part of a foreign navy, to be a bad idea to annoy Dutch sailors enough that they start singing the Het Wilhelmus spontaneously. Bad things seem to happen after they finish the last verse.

#112 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 01:03 PM:

@111--

that is awesome, praisegod. i love it.

ma foi--cette phrase est farci de foie!

#113 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 01:12 PM:

If wars were won by feasting,
0r victory by song,
Or safety found in sleeping sound,
How England would be strong!
But honour and dominion
Are not maintained so.
They're only got by sword and shot,
And this the Dutchmen know!

#114 ::: Michael Straight ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 01:22 PM:

Vance @ 30, Even more-orthodox Christians following the lead of C.S. Lewis, are happy to talk about myth as a term that describes the function of a story in a community, unrelated to whether the story is true or false, and talk about the Old and New Testament stories as myths.

Was the Aeneid ever bound together as a second half to the Illiad? The whole idea that the Gospels and other Letters constitute a unit called the New Testament is pretty bound up with attaching them as a sequel to the Hebrew scriptures.

On the surface, the main recurring characters are Satan, Gabriel, and Michael, with non-speaking cameos from Moses and Elijah. Enoch and Abraham get some retcons in the narration of Jude and Hebrews (respectively), the latter attributing Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac to a belief that he would be resurrected.

YHWH himself seems to be relegated to a couple real speaking parts, at the Baptism and Transfiguration of Jesus, a line of dialogue from off stage in John's gospel (and that may be his v voice in Peter's vision in Acts might also be him or Jesus or the Holy Spirit). He can also be seen, seated on his throne, in the background of the visions of Stephen and John, and then makes some of the climactic proclamations in the Revelation of John directly after delivering most of them via angels. But in a twist straight out of Gene Wolfe's playbook, newcomers Jesus and the Holy Spirit may not be as new as they seem...

#115 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 01:22 PM:

Foix was historically transpyrenean although it was part of the mediaeval Kingdom of Aragon, and I suspect it was sliced in two with the rest of Catalonia under the treaty of Utrecht. But I've visited Torrelles de Foix, which is deep into Barcelona province (and which was at the time a very attractive little village). 'Foix' is pronounced like 'Foche' in Catalan.

#116 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 02:45 PM:

Ken @39 -- wow, that looks pretty fascinating.

#117 ::: April Grant ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 02:52 PM:

#75--Nice to see Precious Bane getting some love from people who aren't me. Sometimes I think I'm the only one who still reads that book.

#76--The only attention Mary Webb seems to attract these days is on account of her work inspiring Stella Gibbons's parody. For my money, Precious Bane is her best work. It's a novel of rural tragedy, a la Thomas Hardy, but it's better than anything I've ever read by Hardy. The wise, well-characterized, observant first-person narration is what really makes the book, for me. Also, the world in which it takes place is not unrelentingly doomed, cruel and painful, which is something that always put me off Hardy.

The rest of Webb's output never did much for me, and probably deserves all the scorn that Stella Gibbons poured on it (mind you, I like Cold Comfort Farm too). I guess that is what they call the loam-and-lovechild school of literature. But Precious Bane is very well-written and a great deal of fun.

#118 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 04:29 PM:

In #116 chris y writes:

But I've visited Torrelles de Foix, which is deep into Barcelona province (and which was at the time a very attractive little village).

That was you in the bearskin?

#119 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 09:30 PM:

Tom Whitmore, #101, LOL, I never watched it. Apparently the new one is "Hawaii Five-0". The actual paper column showed skeletal girls in bikinis, too.

#120 ::: szzzt ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2010, 11:26 PM:

Fade Manley @9:
I'm rather fond of the comparison between the "These characters do not belong to me" disclaimers at the beginning of fanfic and the invocation of the muses in ancient Greek/Roman poetry.

...


Know ye, patrons and passersby, that though the happenings herein spring from my muse,
Not all the characters do; and though the writing richens me, it weights my wallet not one whit,
Nor would I wish it to. Partake then freely as I in the same spirit took--yet ask before archival, friend--
And know again the bitter/sweet unfettered flights of whimsy, hollow-boned and too fleet
Ever to pin to canon--so singeth my Muse, my story teh lone star fronting a multitude--and do not sue.


*relurks*

#121 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2010, 08:11 AM:

szzzt, 121: That's brilliant! I hope you feel like re-delurking again soon.

#122 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2010, 08:53 AM:

Speaking of Hawaii 5-0... I've been going thru episodes of "The Invaders" (in color!) and got a kick out of the episode where Jack Lord plays an industrialist who has willingly and knowingly made a Pact with the Devil.

#123 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2010, 10:57 AM:

I'm just amazed that CBS is doing a Hawaii Five-0 reboot, because the character of Horatio Caine on CSI:Miami (as played by David Caruso) is a transparent fanboy-level homage to Jack McGarrett, if you've seen even two episodes of each show. The Sunglasses of Justice are an exaggeration of Jack Lord's linereadings.

That said, A-Team is getting a movie this summer, which is probably meant to serve as a pilot/lead-in for the show premiering in fall. The part of Mr. T (I mean, B.A. Baracus) will be played by another former wrestler/mixed-martial-artist, Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson. Poster and link to trailer. Liam Neeson is playing Hannibal, which is one of the few reasons I might actually consider watching it. Also, the guy they have on Murdock gives me mild reassurance that they'll do him right. Face just isn't pretty enough, though. Dirk Benedict FTW. :->

#124 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2010, 11:25 AM:

#118: Surely Precious Bane is Mount Doom?

#125 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2010, 11:39 AM:

szzzt @ 121: That's marvelous! If I ever get around to writing fanfic again, I'll be quite tempted to steal that. (With attribution, of course, though I suspect my attribution wouldn't be nearly so impressive.)

#126 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2010, 03:16 PM:

Elliot Mason @ 124...

"It's Steve McGarrett. Book 'er, Dano!"

#127 ::: Johnny Pez ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2010, 04:17 AM:

#74 There should be a word for the sense we have that we are watching parody or derivative material, and yet we can't tell what the original was.

Over at TV Tropes, they call it the Weird Al Effect.

#128 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2010, 09:56 AM:

JP @ 128 -- Thank you, sincerely, for dispensing that little candy-brick of wisdom. It's nice to have a name for things. My son discovered Weird Al on YouTube, though of course he doesn't know most of the originals of the songs.

I see that TVTropes is about more than TV. I didn't know that.

#129 ::: clarkemyers ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2010, 02:40 PM:

Martin Gardner, who died over the weekend, could have written annotated guides?

#130 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2010, 11:26 PM:

...to damn near anything.

#132 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2010, 11:41 AM:

Oh come on John -- he probably could have written an annotated guide to just about anything.

Some of them would not have been very good. Some would have been, in fact, terrible.

#133 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2010, 12:53 PM:

@ praisegod barebones #111

I used to get:

I'll tell you a story
About Jack O'Nory,
And now my story's begun.
I'll tell you another
About his brother,
And now my story is done.

Moms always have this stuff stored somewhere.

#134 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2010, 01:47 PM:

Sarah S #134: You must be thinking of this.

#135 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2010, 02:22 PM:

Fragano @#135

I'm delighted to know the origins of the nursery rhyme. Mom doubtless came across the rhyme somewhere when she was growing up and then recited it to us when we plagued her for stories at bedtime.

But there's no way she ever saw the show. The BBC hadn't made it to Cleveland, Ohio in the 70's.

#136 ::: szzzt ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2010, 03:02 AM:

Texanne @ 122, Fade Manley @ 126: Thank you kindly! For the compliments and also teh invitation to delurk. I will keep it in mind; I read ML in odd moments at work, but as a rule never post anything from there, and the internet at home is full of other distractions.

If anyone would like to use the muse invocation disclaimer, I consider it open source share-and-share-alike (it's for fics, after all), so please feel free.

#137 ::: Dorothea ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2010, 06:17 PM:

@ajay #75:

Don Quixote wasn't just going after chivalric narrative. It also rings changes on a peculiarly Spanish genre called in English the picaresque. French and English literature boast a few picaresque novels (Defoe's Moll Flanders fits fairly neatly), but the genre began with a little-known Spanish gem called Lazarillo de Tormes which I highly recommend to those who can read Spanish -- it's short, punchy, and hilarious.

(Don't bother with Guzmán de Alfarache, though. For my sins, I had to read that one in grad school. It has some good moments, but not enough to redeem the long stretches of pure dullness in between.)

#138 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2010, 06:58 PM:

Dorothea (138): It looks as if Lazarillo de Tormes has been translated into English, for those of us who don't read Spanish.

---------------
We had a few zillion books at home, plus the ones from the library. Among other sources, my parents subsidized purchases of children's books from the Scholastic catalog. And the local used bookstore got a lot of our custom. My cousin (then about nine) once observed, in tones of awe/bafflement, "They have books in every room!" (not quite literally true, even discounting the bathrooms, but darn close).

#139 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2010, 07:40 PM:

I do have books in literally every room, if you count the instruction booklet for the electric toothbrush.

#140 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2010, 08:50 PM:

There are people who don't keep books in the privy? Really?

But I thought surely that's what collections of essays were for! Where else are you likely to sit for five minutes at a time on a regular basis?

#141 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2010, 10:36 PM:

Mark @141, what I've got in the bathroom now is a mid-20th-century book on wedding etiquette (picked up off those tables at the Mountain Road Stop & Shop for 50 cents). Fascinating bit of social history, and it's easy to flip open to a random page and get astonished by the absolute necessity of entrance awnings or some such.

#142 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2010, 01:17 AM:

The early-21st-century edition of that wedding etiquette book will probably declare the absolute necessity of on-site wifi.

#143 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2010, 01:26 AM:

Earl Cooley III @ 143: I was aghast to see a guest at a wedding fiddling with a Blackberry, but my indignation subsided when I realized he was getting it out to take a picture.

#144 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2010, 02:19 AM:

Is reading in the bathroom considered multi-tasking? :-)

#145 ::: individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2010, 05:38 AM:

@95 KeithS: You've got it, that vav doesn't mark the beginning of a sentence as such, it marks the fact that the next verb phrase is connected to the previous verb phrase. A new sentence can be connected to the previous sentence this way [1] and indeed there are whole books that start with a vav consecutive (the much-maligned Leviticus, for example). There's some sense in translating it as "and", because and definitely does have that connotation in English: these two ideas are connected. But there's also an argument which says it's just a particle, there's no real English equivalent. "Then" or "so" or occasionally "but" can work in some contexts. [2]

And yes, it does flip the tense of the verb between perfect and imperfect. (Like many Hebrew particles, it's a prefix, not a word on its own.) I suspect this is because in spoken language, simply pronouncing a "v" sound at the beginning of a verb wouldn't be audible, so you need some other marker to show that the particle is there, but that's pure speculation.

[1] There isn't any punctuation in the Hebrew Bible; sentence breaks were originally a matter of oral tradition and sometimes debated, only later becoming fixed. Very fixed, once you have printing tech available.

[2] Egregious example: Song of Songs 1:5, which KJV gives as I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem. As far as I can see there's little justification for that "but", I would dearly like a less racist "and" in there.

#146 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2010, 10:23 AM:

Re: Barbara Hambly's New Orleans Benjamin January novels -

She refers more than once to horses or teams being bishopped. Wiki and Google are failing me.

The inference is that an elderly horse is snuck into a pair. Anybody know the derivation?

This might be more of an open thread comment, but I was just reading in the bathroom.

#147 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2010, 10:27 AM:

Mark @ 141 -- Actually, I've always been kind of creeped out by the hygienic aspects of handling a book or other reading material while using a toilet.

#148 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2010, 10:29 AM:

Carol Kimball: The OED has bishop with the meaning "To file and tamper with the teeth of (a horse) so as to make him look young; to improve his appearance by deceptive arts." Supposedly named after someone who did this.

#149 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2010, 11:35 AM:

75,138 Don Quixote:

I get the idea is that the humor is partly in the fact that he doesn't know that knighthood is obsolete in his time. But in order to fully put that in context, I need to know just how obsolete knighthood already was when the book was written, and I don't.

#150 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2010, 11:48 AM:

#148 ::: Joel Polowin
Actually, I've always been kind of creeped out by the hygienic aspects of handling a book or other reading material while using a toilet.

I was brushing my teeth (sonic toothbrush). Whatever else did you imagine?

#151 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2010, 12:51 PM:

Joel #148:

I expect you'd be really creeped out, then, by knowing that I always have the latest "Forthcoming Books" issue of Locus as bathroom reading.

#152 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2010, 01:18 AM:

I read Teresa's "I'm done explaining why fanfic is OK" particle, and I do have to take issue on one point:

While I'm perfectly fine with regarding the Aeneid as Homer fanfic, it does not constitute "taking a minor character and turning him into a Gary Stu." Aeneas is not a minor character in the Iliad; he is the second-most-important warrior on the Trojan side, second only to Hector1. (Paris/Alexander is a more important character in the larger story of the Trojan War itself, but he doesn't do a lot in the Iliad proper.) He has single combats with both Achilles and Diomedes, and it's established in canon there that he is destined to survive the fall of Troy and continue the line of Dardanos. Having him establish a kingdom that becomes the Roman Empire is a retcon, of course; Homer didn't put that part in for obvious reasons. But I don't think it constitutes making him a Gary Stu.

1Okay, he's not in the first rank of characters, but he's at the top of the second rank.

#153 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 04:20 AM:

The NT is to the OT as the Aeneid is to the Iliad and the Odyssey.. interesting. I'd say the Odyssey is as the book of Joshua (and the later histories) is to the Torah. The central story of Exodus leads into the central story of the promised land (how they gained it, how they lived in it, how they lost it, and how they got it back again).
The Aeneid starts a different story based on the Odyssey and the Iliad, but different so different. The world changes a great deal between the Aeneid and the Odys. and the Iliad. And Virgil is a different kind of poet and different ethnicity/nationality than Homer. Rome becomes the story of the republic and the Aeneid is the story of its founding, the story of a call and a leader and a city more than a story of a war and contest between leaders (the Iliad) and the journey home of an ingenius warrior, the hero-trickster of the good kind (the Odyssey). Homer's more oral style is different from the more literate style of Virgil, although of course both were written works and performed works.
The NT starts with a history of a particular man similar to the way that Aeneid starts with the history of a particular man, and it tells his story and his call as it moves towards its culmination and the founding of a new institution, a new "city" or "spiritual kingdom", and it turns into the founding story of the Church.
The OT seems to be more literary in style than the NT is, but yet there are more stories within the OT and community songs and connections. In this way, perhaps, the Torah and the Prophets and the Writings are like the Greek world's trilogy of The Iliad, the Odyssey, and Hesiod's Work and Days (the Greek farmers' calendar and story of the gods and history).
The OT has much to keep it connected to the community by way of stories as well as by the priesthood's rituals and their watching over the sacred laws and the king's chronicles and the secular royal court/governor/leader's guidance of the community.
The NT has the oral stories and community as well (and is literary considering the letters to be read aloud that dominate its latter 2/3), but it feels very much more individualistic and founding in nature, more "republican" as the congregation of the ch'ch is built up- though it has notable leaders and is not entirely "egalitarian", the NT's conception of the world seems to build on seeds in the OT towards a more universal and individualistic view of humanity within its families and communities. The OT has individualistic elements and historical elements, but the story is primarily a story of a community.
There is nothing inconsistent between the picture of the cosmos in the OT and NT but the historical setting of the world has changed from Middle Eastern, Semitic-oriented and Mizoritic-oriented civilizations [Arab, Assyrian, Babylonian, and Hebrew (Semitic) Persian (semi-Semitic) and Egyptian and Cushite (Mizoritic)] *
The Phoenician peoples and the Philistines are a major force in the OT world, but more at the edge of the civilizations than the center. By the NT world, the Greek and Roman civilization had overwhelmed from the edge and taken over the Semitic and Egyptian civilizations.
Though Jesus is of the same nationality as the peoples of the OT, he is in a mileui where Greek and Aramaic are the dominant languages, Latin is the imperial language. But like Aenaes, he belongs to a defeated peoples, a forgotten peoples, the losers, who goes on to found a new community, a people who go beyond his original group and incorporate people's from other groups.
Now intriguingly enough, I think the Vedas, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharatta, and the Vedas are to the Torah, Prophets and Writings (OT) as they are to the Works and Days, Odyssey and the Iliad. The Vedas are the sacred scriptures and laws and rituals and hymns of the Hindus (or better stated the Vendantas guided by the Brahmins). The Ramayana is a journey story of a hero-leader who finally wins his kingdom and regains his bride Radha. The Mahabaratta is the story of a great war, the one that decimated the people's of Bharat (India), and brought suffering and good both. Where is the Aeniad and NT among the Indian peoples? I do not know. Perhaps it is still to be made?

*Mizoritic is a word I made up based on the Hebrew word for Egypt, "Mitsrayim" or "Mizraim".


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