Thursday, October 03, 2013


Saved by Horace

Ferdinand Boyer, "Les Lectures de Stendhal," Editions du Stendhal-Club 14 (1925) 5:
Les poètes latins sont représentés par Horace et Martial. Furent-ils souvent lus? Nous sommes sûrs du contraire pour le premier; c'est un tout petit volume, relié en cuir marron, dont la couverture et les trois cents premières pages ont dû être trouées par la pointe d'une épée ou d'une baïonette. Nous lisons sur la feuille de garde:
Ce trou a été fait dans le campagne de Iéna. Ce volume ne m'a pas quitté et je ne l'ai guère lu.
I think this means something like:
The Latin poets are represented by Horace and Martial. Were they often read? We're sure the first wasn't; it's a very small volume, with a brown leather binding, of which the cover and the first three hundred pages must have been pierced by the tip of a sword or bayonet. We read on the endpaper:
This hole was made in the Jena campaign. This volume hasn't left me, and I've hardly read it.
Holbrook Jackson, Anatomy of Bibliomania (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1950), pp. 137-138, touches just briefly on the subject of books as "life-preservers against projectiles and other engines of war," without mentioning Stendhal. He says, "But it would seem that only Holy Books, and of our own Faith, are thus to be relied upon." For some, Horace is a kind of holy book. Holbrook Jackson, op. cit., p. 215 (footnote omitted):
Malherbe, the father of French poetry, had for sole favourite Horace, whom he called his breviary; Horace was his companion when out walking, and he laid him on his pillow at night...

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