Adventures Among Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 217 pages of information about Adventures Among Books.

is not precisely musical.  Why is Hermes “The Flitter”?  But I have often ventured to remonstrate against these archaistic peculiarities, which to some extent mar our pleasure in Mr. Morris’s translations.  In his version of the rich Virgilian measure they are especially out of place.  The “AEneid” is rendered with a roughness which might better befit a translation of Ennius.  Thus the reader of Mr. Morris’s poetical translations has in his hands versions of almost literal closeness, and (what is extremely rare) versions of poetry by a poet.  But his acquaintance with Early English and Icelandic has added to the poet a strain of the philologist, and his English in the “Odyssey,” still more in the “AEneid,” is occasionally more archaic than the Greek of 900 B.C.  So at least it seems to a reader not unversed in attempts to fit the classical poets with an English rendering.  But the true test is in the appreciation of the lovers of poetry in general.

To them, as to all who desire the restoration of beauty in modern life, Mr. Morris has been a benefactor almost without example.  Indeed, were adequate knowledge mine, Mr. Morris’s poetry should have been criticised as only a part of the vast industry of his life in many crafts and many arts.  His place in English life and literature is unique as it is honourable.  He did what he desired to do—­he made vast additions to simple and stainless pleasures.

CHAPTER VI:  MRS. RADCLIFFE’S NOVELS

Does any one now read Mrs. Radcliffe, or am I the only wanderer in her windy corridors, listening timidly to groans and hollow voices, and shielding the flame of a lamp, which, I fear, will presently flicker out, and leave me in darkness?  People know the name of “The Mysteries of Udolpho;” they know that boys would say to Thackeray, at school, “Old fellow, draw us Vivaldi in the Inquisition.”  But have they penetrated into the chill galleries of the Castle of Udolpho?  Have they shuddered for Vivaldi in face of the sable-clad and masked Inquisition?  Certainly Mrs. Radcliffe, within the memory of man, has been extremely popular.  The thick double-columned volume in which I peruse the works of the Enchantress belongs to a public library.  It is quite the dirtiest, greasiest, most dog’s-eared, and most bescribbled tome in the collection.  Many of the books have remained, during the last hundred years, uncut, even to this day, and I have had to apply the paper knife to many an author, from Alciphron (1790) to Mr. Max Muller, and Dr. Birkbeck Hill’s edition of Bozzy’s “Life of Dr. Johnson.”  But Mrs. Radcliffe has been read diligently, and copiously annotated.

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Adventures Among Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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