RESPONSE: Slavitt on Levitan on Slavitt
I recently received a print-out of your notice by one W. Levitan of my Seneca translations that Johns Hopkins published last year. With it, there was a printed slip inviting authors to "consider reviewing the enclosed review." I am not certain that there is any appropriate reply I could make to Mr/Mrs/Ms Levitan's animadversions about my deficiencies as a poet and scholar. The closing suggestion of Levitan's notice does allow for a reply however: "It certainly is not unreasonable ... at least to imagine what brilliant possibilities there are in a complete new Seneca by diverse hands -- a late twentieth-century version of the epoch-making Tenne Tragedies of 1581."
As co-editors of the Johns Hopkins Complete Roman Drama, Palmer Bovie and I have imagined this ourselves, and volume II, which will offer the rest of the Senecan corpus, will appear next year. Our "diverse hands" include Rachel Hadas, Stephen Sandy, Dana Gioia, and Kelly Cherry, as well as my own rendition of the two fragments of The Phoenician Women (one of these passages having appeared in a recent issue of Grand Street).
The Complete Roman Drama, which Johns Hopkins is publishing, was enabled in large measure by the success of my first Seneca volume. I only regret that Levitan's -- and presumably, BMCR's reaction to this effort is so unenthusiastic. Perhaps you will find less harsh things to say about my Fables of Avianus, which Hopkins is publishing in October, or my version of The Metamorphoses of Ovid, which they will do in the spring.
David R. Slavitt