Rodney's Reviews > The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus

The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus by Catullus
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's review
Feb 21, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: poetry

Brown’s Catullus is an experiment in translation, really an intervention to save translation from the academic taxidermists who empty, re-stuff, and try to fix the classics into their original positions. His method “resists the binary of fidelity and treason which haunts the apprehension of the activity called translation” by “[acknowledging] the fact of detour” as “the preceding writing is absorbed by the body of the translator in the act of reading.”

That’s about all the theory you’ll need to get into the funhouse, where commentary, exegesis, autobiography, prosody, etymology, somatic exercises, homophonic ear jazz, celebrity sightings, letters to and collaborations from the coterie, urbane academese and a brilliantly charged vernacular become mirrors for Brown to watch himself perform Catullus in, the centuries stretched and blurred till you can’t tell one’s lovebird from the other’s, his crumbling republic from ours.

When’s the last time a book this important was also so hard to put down? Brandon, this will embarrass you, but surely not since Zukofsky, or Rodefer’s Villon, maybe not since “the two thousand years that slipped between Catullus writing Sparrow and me writing The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus.”

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 2012 – Finished Reading
February 21, 2012 – Shelved
February 21, 2012 – Shelved as: poetry

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