A few months ago, I read a brief description of The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl, so I did a bit of online research about the novel, and uncovered the first chapter at the author’s website. After reading a few reviews of the work, I felt that I should read the entire thing, but first I had to wait for its publication. Each of the protagonists in this work appeals to me. They are American historical figures who lived and worked in Boston during the 1860s. These fellows notice a literary pattern in a rash of local killings, so they are compelled to discover the criminal’s identity. The bulk of the work is fictitious, of course, but the novel’s premise intrigued me. Later, I ordered it and read the whole thing over a rainy weekend.
So it is with no immoderate disbelief that I heartily commend an anonymous poet to the modern reader. This poet’s work is extremely powerful, and Seamus Haney has translated it to excellent effect. Simply put, Haney has breathed life into this remarkable work for me. It is a delight to read (I’ve read it twice now). Haney’s publisher has prepared his text, and on the opposing page, has reproduced the original text itself. The Old English is exhilarating–I enjoy nothing more than conquering a few words in this tongue. I cannot vouch for Haney’s accuracy–I am no expert in Old English, but his language has the touch than only a poet could lend to this work. He has also composed an introduction to the text, which I was glad to read, and has produced genealogies that are quite useful for the reader, in order to unravel the snarled lineages of the Scandinavian clans.
(Written for amazon.com)
I finally completed Brothers Karamazov, and I needed to share my thoughts. I will try not to insult anybody’s intelligence by outlining this book–Cliff Notes and the like abound, so if somebody wants a full explanation of Dostoevsky’s plot, they can simply pick up one of these. What I want to say is much more difficult to define–whether or not I would recommend it to others, and why.