True Love: Bookstores

The other afternoon, I was idly perusing new books at the bookstore. Chain store, a distant number two in national sales. I like the underdog. Always have.

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I was looking at the latest “critically acclaimed” Aneid. But my original search? I was looking for a Roman writer.

Manilius: Astronomica (Loeb Classical Library No. 469) (Hardcover). Desire.

However, not being a common text, no store had it on hand so I could check it out before I bought it. Made me think, though I have a copy of Ulysses (James Joyce), and I never made it past the first hundred pages or so. Tough text. Critically acclaimed. I did read all of the Odyssey but I bogged down maybe a third of the way through that Illiad.

Classical Studies was shelved right next to Medieval Lit. I thought about a new Chaucer book, maybe the Viking Portable Chaucer, which threw me back to the Classical, and thinking about the Loeb Classical Boethius. I thought I had a copy of Boethius, but the little green one would be ever so cool. Probably a different translation. But at the university, I never finished reading the original text, and while I’ve referenced its material, I don’t know that I would ever finish reading it. Waste of my limited shelf space.

For Marcus Aurelius, I tend to use a more recent translation, although, I do have the Loeb Classical version, and I do use it from time to time. The point and counterpoint in translations makes as much sense as the quotes themselves. Although, with interlinear notes, sometimes I an revert to the original. It’s less about what each word means and more about getting a sense of the text.

Reminds me of looking at I-Ching books. I flipped through at least a half dozen of them. I would reference the same stanza, chapter and verse, and I compared the translations. As much as I respect a body of knowledge, I had to wonder at how the various translations could come up with such varying definitions.

While going to a bookstore is an adventure that I enjoy, especially when Mercury is retrograde, there’s the leavening and weighing. Measuring and assessing if a text is really going to be consumed, or if I should let it be so others may partake.

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