Thursday, April 03, 2003
Roger Kimball on Juvenal and his Satires.
Johnson seized upon the moral core of Juvenal. Others responded to different aspects of the Satires. Flaubert’s “rage” for Juvenal was based partly on Juvenal’s searing tone and his sharp, contrarian spirit: Emma Bovary could have won a starring role in the sixth Satire. But Flaubert was also intoxicated by Juvenal’s style (“Quel style! quel style!”), his astonishing mastery of diction, meter, and sound, his ability to use sound to mimic, to adumbrate sense. When Juvenal describes a belching courtier, he captures the eructation in his alternation of open vowels and percussive consonants. When a woman sobs, Juvenal’s verse does, too. It’s a wonderful feat and also, as one scholar crisply observed, “a translator’s nightmare.”
Good stuff. Juvenal is one of those classic authors, you know, the ones you always think "I really must read that one day" then never actually do. Reading this reminds me that I evidently must get around to Juvenal sometime. No reason why I shouldn't, I mean, God, I'm fairly sure my local library has the Satires so I don't even need to expend money...