April 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
I am not sure what to do with Mikolajewski’s Roman Comedy.
Half the book is a summary of the Divine Comedy which I do not especially care for.
Worse: it is replete with quotations from it, but also other Italian poets, in Polish translation, which has a limited appeal and even less usefulness. (A Jarmush hero goes about quoting Browning in Italian, and that’s mildly amusing, but Pasolini in Polish? Seriously — if poetry has any saving grace, it is its linguistic fireworks, which is why poetry in translation does not work). Perhaps in future editions Mikolajewski can leave the Italian alongside the Polish.
Further, although I find the idea of a connection between literature and geography fascinating (and always have, ever since Pausanias), the scheme seems forced — the Divine Comedy is not about Rome, has not been written by a Roman, has nothing to do with Rome.
Much of the Roman material is old to me — I have seen every Caravaggio in Rome, every Caracci, every Borromini — and their presentation in the book isn’t especially novel — or beautiful. I find a few interesting facti Romani — the death of Pasolini, the Museum of the Purgatory; the most interesting yet is a joke: Belli’s claim that between blasphemy and vulgarism, God hates more the latter since “He don’t give a ______ about blasphemy because blasphemy don’t reach up to His ______”. It’s OK in small doses, but 390 pages of it?
Noble effort on worthy topics, but I shall have to put it down — I am not getting enough out of it.
Incidentally, I read it as I read most books now, with constant reference to Internet for footnotes; and discover that Stendahl’s Promenades en Rome may not have been translated into English! Scare bleu, shall I have to read them in French??