Archive for June, 2009

Three days ago, I graduated from university! It was an exciting, arcane ceremony involving holding someone’s finger (NB- not pulling it, like my father suggested) and then kneeling before the Chancellor’s representative and swearing silent fealty, all while wearing rather a lot more cloth than the hot day required (for more information, see the latest installment of Mary Beard’s blog). It was marvellous, and it was wonderful to have so many family members there from overseas to see me.

While leaving my place of learning for the past three years was strange, and I’m sure it will feel stranger in October when I suddenly find I’m not, in fact, going to the same room I’ve had for three years, I’m finding the break with no threat of reading lists and preparation for next year very liberating. For one thing, it means that I have time to read.

I rediscovered reading this Easter when I took a trip to Strasbourg as a research assistant for a Music PhD who can’t read Latin.  I bought two books to take with me on the trip and was pleasantly surprised by how much I had missed reading for pleasure and how hungry I was for it. I read ‘Persepolis’ in less than a day, and had finished ‘Revolutionary Road’ in only three or four. I should have been reading ‘Foucault’s Virginity’, but I wasn’t.  For once, I didn’t read text in order to glean tidbits to throw into my exam essays- I was reading because it is something I love, and have loved since I learned how to read in the first place.

Reading for pleasure also allows me to re-connect with the reasons why I started to study Classics in depth (as does watching Disney’s ‘Hercules’, but that’s not pertinent now). I’ve begun reading snatches of Ted Hughes’ reworking of Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ to my Classics-deprived boyfriend, and it’s a wonderful book. For a start, though the sections share a common theme, they also stand alone as stories and can be dipped into and out of as I like. Hughes’ poetry also brings back Ovid’s own poetry- as I have commented before, many translations of ancient texts do not preserve the poetic format in which the texts were composed for the sake of accuracy, but in this case, as with Heaney’s ‘Beowulf’ or ‘Antigone’ or Christopher Logue’s ‘War Music’ (which I highly recommend), the poetry is returned.

Mind you, I’ve been reading non-Classical texts as well, and finished Zoe Heller’s ‘The Believers’ only an hour or so ago, and I strongly recommend it. I’ve bought a few more to take on a trip to Naples with me next week, so hopefully I should return with much to say about the city and about literature.

P.S.  I highly recommend reading Mary Beard’s book ‘Pompeii’– I have, and I know it’ll be in the forefront of my mind when I go travelling.

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