Classics in action

From Dial "M" for Musicology on old Nonesuch records:
"There was a triumvirate: Nonesuch, Penguin Books, and Dover. Impossibly obscure stuff reprinted and made available to you—you! The impoverished student with bizarre interests! You have friends and benefactors!—for a song. Penguin: Bede, Celtic Miscellany, Chaucer (that one wasn’t a very good translation, actually), Dante, Virgil, Pliny the Younger, Adam Smith…for a song, folks. The stuff you only see cited elsewhere is yours! Dover: music availability, old books, Debussy’s M. Croche, Jamews Huneker on Chopin… Surely they’re taking a loss on this stuff! I worked fast food jobs for a while, and would bring Penguin classics to get me through. Remember Macchiavelli’s account, from his exile from Florence, about dressing in his best clothes every evening and dwelling among the Ancients and conversing with them? That was me at 19, minus the good clothes—Virgil and Pliny on my break, and the miserable Burger King on Holt Avenue in Pomona would fade into invisibility around me. I mean, come on! Pliny was talking about aqueducts!"
He's right about the translations, too.

1 comment:

Lisa Simeone said...

I have that recording. I have several of those recordings he's talking about. And he's right (oh, dear, maybe it's a she?) -- Nonesuch was a kind of "righteous corporation." Some of the most beautiful, memorable, transporting recordings ever made. And yes yes also to his evocation of reading the classics while taking a break from some god-awful job or unbearable task.

P.S. My Hotmail account is suddenly telling me that I have reached my limit as to how many messages I can send in a 24-hour period. !!!!! ???? WTF??! So I can't send some good stuff I've been meaning to. Of course, it's impossible to get in touch with an actual human being at Hotmail, so there ya go. God knows where this new rule suddenly came from. (I know -- maybe Hotmail is Republican . . . !)