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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Download “the most beautiful book in English”

Eric Wagner’s AN INSIDERS’S GUIDE TO ROBERT ANTON WILSON mentions that Ovid’s METAMORPHOSES is one of the books that RAW recommended in his “Brain Books” list in Wilson’s magazine “Trajectories.” Wagner then notes that Ezra Pound called METAMORPHOSES a “holy book” and that Pound considered Arthur Golding’s translation of it “the most beautiful book in English.”

An online version of Golding’s translation into Elizabethan English is here. Downloadable copies (in various formats) are available here.

In the “Brain Books” article, Wilson wrote, “I wish everybody would read Ovid. The great myths of our particular culture - the Greek and Roman myths - can't be found in any one book, except Bullfinch or Ovid, and Ovid has a much better style than Bullfinch. So read Ovid and get the whole panorama of classical myth. Classical myth has so much meaning that it permeates every bit of modern psychology. The myths of other cultures have much to offer, but we still need our myths. So we might as well face up to them. It's our culture; let's not lose it. And let's find out something that happened before 1970.”

I should note that metamorphosis is hardly an alien element in Wilson’s fiction. Many of the characters in the SCHROEDINGERS’S CAT trilogy undergo radical changes -- Epicene Wildebloode from a man to a woman, Simon Moon in THE HOMING PIGEONS changing from a gay man (the “Sincerity in Spelvins“ chapter) to a straight man who likes redheaded women (the “Symposium” chapter), and so on. (Note: All references in this blog to SCHROEDINGER’S CAT refer to the three original separately-published novels. I don’t even have the truncated omnibus edition.)