Bryn Mawr Classical Review 02.03.17: Supplement 2

From the Editor's Disk:

BMCR 2.3 will start creeping off through the snail mail in the next week or so; this note precedes the last review that will be sent forming part of that issue. It precedes that last review so that I can warn recipients that the last bump is a biggie, Harry Barnes's review article on Carolyn Higbie's Measure and Music: it runs to about 55K on the PC, so prepare to swallow hard. The book is a technical study of enjambement in Homeric poetry and the evidence it can provide for such things as the oral and literate composition of different sections of the poems; Barnes's review is detailed and arises out of his own work on parallel lines. I'm thinking of beginning to rate our reviews G, PG, R, and NC-17, where scholarly density, not sex, is the defining criterion. This one is definitely NC-17.

The reviews themselves as they pour in and we edit them continue to fascinate. The editors and their most heavily involved co-conspirators have been discussing lately issues of length and specialization, and those subjects will continue to preoccupy us for a while. It occurs to me to ask for reactions to the reviews (either specific reviews, or BMCR in general) from the numerous non-classicists who have subscribed to the e-version. God may not gi'e us the gift to see ourselves as others see us, but e-world is not alien to a kind of candor that can be as refreshing as a good water balloon dropped on one's head.

e-BMCR is full of surprises for us all. Devotees of the work of A.C. Dionisotti (and their number is growing) who compare closely the e-form and the hard copy will find a puzzling disparity of genders attributed to this distinguished author; e-world is a little ambiguous sometimes, but we're pretty sure that the relevant given name is Carlotta.

There have been some e-murmurs suggesting that the name of the author of the review should appear higher up. There's a problem with squeezing it into the subject line: on many mailers, very little of that line appears before you call up the whole message, and I think that the author of the book rightly has pride of place, and even a bit of the title is useful information. But should perhaps the review be preceded somehow: 'Review by Smathers Longstretch, University of Ulan Bator'? I confess to inclining to leave the name at the end: in that way, you read the review more open-mindedly and curiously, do you not? But that is only an inclination and opinion and comment is hereby solicited: most efficiently sent to JODONNEL@PENNSAS/JODONNEL@PENNSAS.UPENN.EDU.

These editorial supplements will appear irregularly on e-BMCR and will not always be matched exactly by what appears in the paper copy (and so should not strictly be called part of BMCR: whether we deserve one or two ISSN's for this enterprise is an issue that I have been advised by somebody from the office that decides these things will call for close study); and sometimes what appears here will appear later, edited down, on paper. There is the opportunity for a slightly less formal mode of discourse: not e-chat (there are plenty of lists for that), but oddities, curiosa, and whatnots. Submissions to the address just given, with full peremptory editorial prerogative reserved to junk what seems junkable and resend, edited and no doubt with the glory stolen. The aim is enlightenment and amusement, not necessarily in that order. For where else would you go to pass on to a witting audience the discovery, made by Jack Collins, editor of Einhard and Erasmus in the Bryn Mawr Commentaries series, that film-maker Spike Lee apparently began his career as a harmless drudge in an Oxonian ergastulum? The evidence is plain as pikestaff in the OLD s.v. frugi 1.b.

This next note, as it happens, will already appear in BMCR 2.3, a further invitation to apply to the worthies of modern classical scholarship the same methods that traditional literary history has brought to bear on the ancients:


Wilamowitz' Handbibliothek:

A bit under 300 volumes made up the Handbibliothek of Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (1848-1932). These were those editions of Greek and Latin authors which he regularly consulted and include all volumes with annotations by him. Some volumes, e.g., Manilius, he acquired from the library of Otto Jahn and they contain Jahn's annotations as well. The marginalia contain numerous unpublished emendations and interpretations. Often slips of paper, postcards or letters containing exegetical material have been inserted into the volumes. Most Greek authors are included and Latin ones that interested him: e.g., Catullus; Cicero, de finibus; Tacitus, de oratoribus. The volumes have been rediscovered and returned to the newly restored Institut für Altertumskunde der Humboldt-Universität, Unter den Linden 6, 0-1086 BERLIN, BRD/Federal Republic of Germany. The value of these annotations cannot be exaggerated. They must be consulted by any competent editor or commentator. I hope that editions of the important scholia will appear. For a descriptive catalogue of the volumes available see William M. Calder III, Dietrich Ehlers, Alexander Kosenina, Wolfgang Schindler, "Katalog der Handbibliothek von Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, nach einer anonymen Bearbeitung herausgegeben," Philologus 138 (1990) 254-285. Photocopies of requested items may be ordered. This is a treasure that ought to be exploited.

William M. Calder III, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign


Finally, this voice from, depending on your age, the land of lost youth or the early dark ages, passed on by Jim Halporn:

Q.D. Leavis, "The Case of Miss Dorothy Sayers," Scrutiny (1937) in F.R. Leavis, comp., A Selection from Scrutiny, 2 vols., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968, I. 141-146.

146 (after a discussion of Sayers' version of the scholarly life in her novels Gaudy Night and Busman's Honeymoon):

"I once conversed on these or similar lines with a Professor of Classics, a man of genuine but diffident literary tastes. He remarked that it seemed unaccountable to him that the writings of a fellow Classics were so highly esteemed by his colleagues. He himself, he said modestly, had an unconquerable aversion to them, they seemed to him empty, the man's 'style' cheap and his wit puerile, but none of his friends agreed with him, it was so discouraging and he felt he must be in the wrong. I said, Not at all, his colleagues' insensitiveness to their native literature seemed to me an illustration of the evident fact that you could spend a lifetime in the study of any language ancient or modern, or any branch of the humanities, without acquiring the rudiments of literary taste or any apparatus for forming a just estimate of a piece of writing. And I added, no doubt brutally, 'What's the good of Classics, what justification for a Classical training can there be if it doesn't form a decent taste?' My friend was taken aback. But he was a conscientious professor and he tried to find an answer. After a bit, he brought out hopefully, 'Well, some people are interested in philology.' I have always tried to bear that maxim in mind. After all, philology is as legitimate a study as mathematics, and every branch of the humanities has its philological aspect, so to speak. I recommend anyone at a loss before the spectacle of the scholar's bedside reading to adopt the above explanation. Miss Sayers, who might evidently have been an academic herself, is probably quite sound on the philological side."


This is the place to remember that I had meant to attach the following blurb to all reviews going out on the net. I'll start again momentarily, but in the meantime it contains the essentials. At last count there were 176 e-subscribers, for whose interest we are most grateful.

Jim O'Donnell (6/91)