Juvenal - The Sixteen Satires - ( Item 124106 )
Published in London by Folio Society. 2014. First Thus. Fine Hardback. No inscriptions or bookplates. Fine slipcase. The Sixteen Satires. Juvenal. Introduced by Simon Callow. Illustrated by David Hughes. The progenitor of modern satire, Juvenal crafted these 16 works of perfectly crafted vitriol in opposition to the darker mores of first-century Rome. With an introduction by Simon Callow, the poems remain as ingeniously disrespectful as ever. The Sixteen Satires. Who can sleep easy today? Avaricious daughters-in-law and brides are seduced for cash, schoolboys are adulterers. The traditional Roman world of literary histories and philosophies is far removed from that of Juvenal's merciless Satires. Sleazy politicians, male prostitutes, drunken aristocrats and usurping underlings replace eloquent orators and legendary generals. Juvenal's ironic and politically incorrect verse wages war against all that irks him in Roman society. Indeed, when considering a 'flabby eunuch' or a 'country of mutton-heads', he claims that it is harder not to write satires. The Sixteen Satires book. Quarter-bound in cloth with Modigliani paper sides, printed with a design by David Hughes. Translated by Peter Green. Set in Van Dijck. 296 pages; frontispiece and 8 colour illustrations. 9" x 61/4". An edition equal to Juvenal's merciless Satires. Although very little is known about Juvenal's life, it is generally thought that these 16 surviving works were written in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries, each castigating the perceived political and social stupidities of Imperial Rome. In his newly commissioned introduction, Simon Callow discusses his very personal connection with Juvenal as a fellow performer; how, like the greatest stand-up comics, Juvenal 'seems to be in the middle of a conversation .. His bottled rage suddenly erupting'. But within his seemingly uncontrolled diatribes, every barbed line is meticulously crafted, the comic timing precise, creating an effect that is not only deeply satisfying but also extremely funny. The subject matter is often controversial, even by modern standards, but the irreverent language is topical, reminiscent of today's sharpest and most ruthless cultural commentators. For this edition, we have used Peter Green's revised translation of 1998. It closely mirrors not only the structure but also the volcanic fervor of the original Latin. David Hughes's graphic illustrations brilliantly evoke the pleasure Juvenal takes in reviling his victims. Peter Green and the 'satirical rogue'. My odd relationship with Juvenal, Hamlet's 'satirical rogue', goes back a long way in fact, to 1941, when my school class of seniors, known as the Classical Sixth, was introduced to Satires III and X, in Latin, along with the English imitations of them by Samuel Johnson, 'London' and 'The Vanity of Human Wishes'. The Latin and Juvenal is a notoriously difficult author we were required to translate at sight, while committing to memory large chunks of both Juvenal himself and of the Great Cham's pompously Christianising adaptations. This was, though we certainly didn't realise it at the time, a most valuable baptism by philological fire. We grappled gamely with the nuts and bolts of Juvenal's colourful and allusive Latin; the passages that we learned by heart drove home, the hard way, his densely vivid rhetoric, imagery and sound effects (one of these, I note, the pulling down of Sejanus' statues at the time of his fall, which I can still recite in extensor, struck Simon Callow very much the same way). What I began to discover as a schoolboy was a troubled and elusive human being, with a bile-laden grudge against his society. Living with him for years as a persistent translator brought him closer. It took the theatrical insight of Simon and Richard Quick to provide that essential third dimension, and see him giving his stand-up performance as the savage satirist he was, a true ancestor of Mort Sahl. So the chance of this Folio Society edition, complete with David Hughes's creepily brilliant illustrations (as though Aubrey Beardsley and Egon Schiele had joined forces in the underworld), not only led to Simon's deadpan introduction, but, through an accident of theatrical timing, has made possible a resurrection of Simon's never-to-be-forgotten embodiment of Juvenal's own stand-up routine. To bring the dead to life, Robert Graves wrote dismissively in a famous poem, is no great magic. He was wrong. Juvenal redivivus needed all those happy accidents I've listed, and the result has been a minor miracle. A master of wordplay and comic timing. The Satires appeared in five books, four containing three or more individual satires, which anatomise different aspects of modern life; the longest, the sixth, with its hair-raising denunciation of the disgraceful behaviour of women, fills the whole of Book II. In some of the satires, the author seems to speak in his own person, in others he adopts a different character, but behind these personas, as in the novels of Dickens, is the unmistakable presence of the author, performing them. Naevolus, the male prostitute, is no more and no less real than Mrs Gamp's Mrs Harris in Martin Chuzzlewit. This technique of Juvenal's has caused scholars and critics a great deal of anxiety is the whole thing a performance? Who is the real Juvenal? For an actor, this problem is no problem at all. I recognised within seconds what the Satires were: stand-up comedy, with its multiplicity of voices, to say nothing of its surreal fantasies. What the reviewers of Juvenalia at the Bush Theatre discerned was true not just of our little show but of the original from which it was drawn: the Satires stand in a tradition to which Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce and Woody Allen, but equally Max Miller and Jackie Mason and Bernard Manning, all belong the comic improvisation on a theme. 'My wife, my wife,' says the end-of-the-pier comic, 'the other day I came home and the wife was crying her eyes out. I said, "What's wrong?" She said, "I feel homesick." I said, "This is your home." She said, "I know. I'm sick of it." ' This is wordplay, of course; but it is equally social commentary. . Juvenal, needless to say, ranges wider and digs deeper than Max Miller; his themes are explicitly political and social. But his technique is equally scattergun, his targets constantly changing, as, with supreme virtuosity, he binds his non sequiturs together by sheer brilliance of language and unerring sense of comic timing, each outrageous sally topping the one before. Introduction . An extract from Simon Callow's introduction. From the Folio Society description.
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