Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Understanding Roman Lyric
But for nothing are we more indebted to you, great SIR! than for your Recovery of that inestimable VASE, in which the divine HORACE deposited his Fœcal Burdens, which Vase the silly Vulgar are pleas'd to misname an URN. Oh! could you but in the same Manner bestow on us some Part of the Treasure that Pot once contain'd, what Improvements might then be made in critical Learning: The Roman Lyric would then be perfectly understood, and B——tl—y (if he can be asham'd) wou'd blush at his Comment.Cf. Julian Barnes, Something to Declare: Essays on France (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002), p. 150 (on Sartre's biography of Flaubert, L'Idiot de la famille; ellipses in original):
"We recognize at the outset that we cannot know the vicissitudes of his intrauterine life." Not even Sartre will invade Mme Flaubert's womb. And there are some other frustrations for the investigative psychobiographer: "the nursing, the digestive and excretory functions of the infant, the earliest efforts at toilet training ... about these fundamental givens, nothing." If only Gustave's parents had had the foresight to preserve one of Gustave's earliest stools; if only the fossilized excrement had been passed down to the Musée de Rouen ...
Labels: noctes scatologicae