Castor and Pollux walking naked, side by side, past Kafka
January 5, 2005 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Guy Davenport is dead. The irrealist writer, translator of Archilochus, friend of modernists, and influential teacher has joined Hugh Kenner in whatever lies beyond this mortal coil. More links at today's wood s lot, where I learned the sad news.
posted by languagehat (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sad to hear this. Thanks for posting, languagehat.
posted by jokeefe at 2:37 PM on January 5, 2005

Sad news.

And, I think the first link(s) (two mashed up in post) is supposed to be for here and here.
posted by safetyfork at 3:09 PM on January 5, 2005

D'oh! Yes, they were. Administrator please hope me...
posted by languagehat at 3:24 PM on January 5, 2005

Thank you, languagehat. I was composing an FPP myself when you posted this.

Guy Davenport's "The Geography of the Imagination" is one of the most essential and lively books on literature written in the last hundred years. He was one of the secret geniuses of our age.

His voice, from a review of Melville books in Harper's, where Davenport was a frequent contributor:

"William Morris admired Moby-Dick, and T. E. Lawrence took it as his model
for his Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Ezra Pound never bothered to read it.
William F. Buckley Jr. discovered it at sixty and demanded to know why no
one had told him about it before. Gide was praising it in France well
before Jean Giono's translation in 1941. Camus ranked Melville with Kafka
as a modern mythologist, preferring Melville's sensuous reality to Kafka's

Nor has Melville aged. A novel by Cooper is now an antique, and his
Leatherstocking is all but extinct as a type; Irving's world is under
glass in a museum. A few fine-tuned intellectuals can still enjoy Lowell
and Longfellow, and four or five people have heard of Bayard Taylor (the
poet in Melville's day). But Ishmael can be stumbled upon in the Peace
Corps and on every campus; the crew of the Pequod works on offshore oil
rigs. And in Dr. Strangelove we have seen Captain Ahab riding a hydrogen
posted by digaman at 3:31 PM on January 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

When I'm not condour online, I'm often Archil0chus. Sad to see his translator go. My favorite fragment:
I don't give a damn if some Thracian ape strut
Proud of that first-rate shield the bushes got.
Leaving it was hell, but in a tricky spot
I kept my hide intact. Good shields can be bought.
posted by condour75 at 6:55 PM on January 5, 2005

The translation I memorized in college:
Some lucky Thracian has my shield,
For being somewhat flurried
I dropped it in a wayside bush
As from the field I hurried.

Thank God, I made it clean away—
To blazes with the shield!
I'll get another just as good
When next I take the field.
Still with me, decades later!
posted by languagehat at 7:38 PM on January 5, 2005

posted by OmieWise at 5:23 AM on January 6, 2005

Reviews of some of Davenport's fiction, such as this, reminded me of this. Who wants some orange juice? Don't forget your crowbar!
posted by davy at 9:24 AM on January 6, 2005

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