Saturday, April 01, 2006


Posthumous Publication

From Motoko Rich, "New Elizabeth Bishop Book Sparks a Publish-After-Perished Controversy," New York Times (April 1, 2006), on Helen Vendler's criticism of Alice Quinn for publishing Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments by Elizabeth Bishop:
In some ways Ms. Vendler's argument reflects a long-running debate about what to do with the unpublished work — ranging from manuscripts and drafts to letters and diaries — of dead writers, from Keats to Kafka and beyond.
The controversy goes back to classical antiquity, if we can believe Suetonius' Life of Vergil 37-41 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
[37] He named as his heirs Valerius Proculus, his half-brother, to one-half of his estate, Augustus to one-fourth, Maecenas to one-twelfth; the rest he left to Lucius Varius and Plotius Tucca, who revised the "Aeneid" after his death by order of Augustus. [38] With regard to this matter we have the following verses of Sulpicius of Carthage:

"Vergilius had bidden these songs by swift flame be turned into ashes,
Songs which sang of your fates, Phrygia's leader renowned.
Varius and Tucca forbade, and you, too, greatest of Caesars,
Adding your veto to theirs, Latium's story preserved.
All but twice in the flames unhappy Pergamum perished
Troy on a second pyre narrowly failed of her doom."

[39] He had arranged with Varius, before leaving Italy, that if anything befell him his friend should burn the "Aeneid"; but Varius had emphatically declared that he would do no such thing. Therefore in his mortal illness Vergilius constantly called for his book-boxes, intending to burn the poem himself; but when no one brought them to him, he made no specific request about the matter, [40] but left his writings jointly to the above mentioned Varius and to Tucca, with the stipulation that they should publish nothing which he himself would not have given to the world. [41] However, Varius published the "Aeneid" at Augustus' request, making only a few slight corrections, and even leaving the incomplete lines just as they were. These last many afterwards tried to finish, but failed owing to the difficulty that nearly all the half-lines in Vergilius are complete in sense and meaning, the sole exception being "Quem tibi iam Troia." [Aen. 3.340]

[37] Heredes fecit ex dimidia parte Valerium Proculum fratrem alio patre, ex quarta Augustum, ex duodecima Maecenatem, ex reliqua L. Varium et Plotium Tuccam, qui eius "Aeneida" post obitum iussu Caesaris emendaverunt. [38] De qua re Sulpicii Carthaginiensis extant huiusmodi versus:

"Iusserat haec rapidis aboleri carmina flammis
  Vergilius, Phrygium quae cecinere ducem.
Tucca vetat Variusque simul; tu, maxime Caesar,
  "Non sinis et Latiae consulis historiae.
Infelix gemino cecidit prope Pergamon igni,
  Et paene est alio Troia cremata rogo.

[39] Egerat cum Vario, priusquam Italia decederet, ut siquid sibi accidisset, "Aeneida" combureret; at is facturum se pernegarat; igitur in extrema valetudine assidue scrinia desideravit, crematurus ipse; verum nemine offerente nihil quidem nominatim de ea cavit. [40] Ceterum eidem Vario ac simul Tuccae scripta sua sub ea condicione legavit, ne quid ederent, quod non a se editum esset. [41] Edidit autem auctore Augusto Varius, sed summatim emendata, ut qui versus etiam inperfectos sicut erant reliquerit; quos multi mox supplere conati non perinde valuerunt ob difficultatem, quod omnia fere apud eum hemistichia absoluto perfectoque sunt sensu, praeter illud: "quem tibi iam Troia."

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?