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Translated by Frederic Raphael
Categories: Ancient Greek and Roman
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (320 pages)
(Pub. Jan 2009)
Thucydides? Hyperides? Who needs it? Unpretentious poetry? Not us; unless it's sick, forget it. Mature mastery? To do what with? Fine art; same story: why learn drawing when you get awards for painting by numbers?
Professor Agamemnon came out looking prickly... 'Listen kid,' he said, 'I dig your candour. Very unusual. You want the bottom line? I'll give it to you straight. ...When your market's crazy people, you have to act crazy... . I was listening so hard I never spotted my friend Ascyltus doing a runner...
Petronius lived during the reign of the notorious emperor Nero, a writer in a decadent empire, and in Frederic Raphael he finds a translator who brings his words vividly alive. Petronius' Rome is not the noble civilisation of classical ideals; his Romans are lascivious, amoral and stylish, inhabiting a louche world of ostentatious, nouveau riche extravagance and flirtation with the seductive menace of the Roman underclass. In Raphael's hands, the Satyrica becomes a modern novel, Petronius a contemporary. Freed of the weight of classical decorum, the Satyrica is racily subversive, scandalously entertaining. This work, writes Raphael, has always been excluded from the curriculum: it offers no improving pieties. Petronius' - and Raphael's - ancient Rome is recognisably the city of Pasolini and Fellini as much as of Virgil.
Cover drawing: A study for the Satyrica by Sarah Raphael, January 2009 (reproduced by permission of the Estate of Sarah Raphael). Cover design by StephenRaw.com.
Praise for Frederic Raphael 'A hilarious and disillusioned page-turner.'
Peter Green, The TLS
'Against the Stream offers many insights into Raphael's "double life". An American who made his career in Britain. A Jew who went to Charterhouse and Cambridge. A Hollywood script-doctor who read Ancient Greek for fun. Vain, sharp-tongued, but the sort of truth-teller Britain needed then and needs now.'
David Herman, Standpoint
'In these notebooks, Raphael shows himself alert to every vanity but his own, a shortcoming that, far from repelling a reader, becomes part and parcel of the their fascination. He is one of those writers who most reveals himself in his acerbic anatomy of others.'
Anthony Quinn, Telegraph 'Aphoristic, lapidary and sumptuously reflective by turns, Personal Terms is a joy to read both for Raphael's prose and mental powers. It is a book of iridescent intelligence, seductive charm, urbane temper and unflagging delight - indeed a minor masterpiece.'
Times Literary Supplement
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