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How to Read a Latin Poem: If You Can't Read Latin Yet Hardcover – 21 Feb 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (21 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199657866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199657865
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 3 x 14.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

In this book William Fitzgerald acts as an expert guide through a carefully arranged selection of examples. ... the spirit of rediscovery which Fitzgerald invokes in his introduction will enchant the previously initiated. (Astrid Voigt, Museum Helveticum)

William Fitzgerald is a distinguished professor of Latin. He writes with charm and lucidity [...] This books helps remind one of how poetry can be incredibly rich without being incomprehensible. (Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph)

mercurial and bold. Fitzgerald animates the dead language, covering acres but often highlighting details, such as the expressive power of word order, or English derivations ... This attempt to return to Latin without being elitist and stuffy highlights a fault line in our discipline. The glass ceiling is still there; this book helps to demonstrate how we might smash it and why we should. (Roger Rees, Times Higher Education)

William Fitzgerald's book on Latin poetry for those who "can't read Latin yet" takes us right to the heart of Latin literature [...] Fitzgerald's book makes demands, but the dividends are immense. (The Scotsman, Michael Kerrigan)

The book can be warmly recommended to all curious about Roman poetry, even to those who have no intention of learning (or remembering) Latin any time soon. (Roy Gibson, Times Literary Supplemen)

About the Author

William Fitzgerald is Professor of Latin at King's College, London.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 23 Mar 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is an attempt to engage those without Latin or, necessarily, a background in Classics, in the reading of Latin poetry. The aim is admirable: `public engagement' is ubiquitous in academia at the moment, and Classics, especially, with its baggage of elitism and privilege, has benefited hugely in the last couple of decades of being opened up to scholars with less traditional viewpoints. However, as nicely democratic as this is, the growth of Classical Studies & Classical Civilisation at school and university, has meant that students are reading classical literature only in translation - and are missing something absolutely central about the texts with which they are engaging. One of the aims of this book is to put Latin back at the centre of reading Latin poetry.

Fitzgerald's subtitle is `If you can't read Latin YET' (his emphasis) - and this book is a plea to master at least some language skills. The pegagogical paradigm which this book follows models a scholarly, critical engagement with poetic texts to uncover how the Latin is being put to work within the text, and how it intersects with interpretation and meaning. Fitzgerald's close readings thus centre on Latin: metre, tone, register, syntax, allusion. He usefully compares the resources of the language with English and draws attention to the relative compression of Latin in comparison with an English translation.

The scope of the book pretty much covers the canon of Latin poetry, though we might all put our emphases in different places. At the heart of Fitzgerald's project are the chapters on Horace and Virgil, `the two great poets of the Augustan age' (Horace - really?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Love Books VINE VOICE on 29 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A couple of reviewers have wondered what sort of readership this excellent book is aimed at: I'd say it's people like me. I have always regretted not studying the classics, regretted knowing nothing about the ancient Roman poets and their work and knowing that so many references were passing right over my head.

As you see, I'm no expert, but this book has given me a great insight into the poets and how they wrote as well as the subtle meanings hidden behind the language of the poems. You don't actually have to know Latin, as each line of poetry is translated, but will you will learn a huge amount as you go through this book.

It's not one an easy book, you need to concentrate and you need to want to know. I think it's excellent. Thank you William Fitzgerald for educating me in an area I've always wanted to know about, but which I thought I was destined to miss.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Owen Hughes VINE VOICE on 26 Sep 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I picked up author William Fitzgerald's book as the title drew me in. I've never studied Latin or really ever needed to know how to read it, but it is a subject that has intrigued me. The lure of being able to read classic poetry in its natural verse appealed.

What the book makes clear in the introduction is that although the language will be explained to you as it goes along, you do need some knowledge of poetry (or even of Latin poems in general) to get the most out of it. Being the cultural philistine I (sort of) am, I lacked this in depth knowledge, which ended up making the book very difficult to engage with fully.

Not to discredit the author, as it is quite clearly a deeply researched piece of literature that takes very careful steps to ensure you understand why something is written the way it is, and how translations don't always work; either because they have to alter structure which was otherwise important to the flow, or because the translators interpretation changes the meaning etc. Fitzgerald clearly knows his stuff and writes in an interesting way that hooks you in.

However, the structure is what I had a problem with mostly. It may hook you in as it did me, but slowly those hooks loosen as you go on. With most non-fiction books that have a fascinating subject matter, it's hard to put them down once you get started. For me, How To Read A Latin Poem gradually stiffened as it went on. I found myself picking it up less and less making returning to the book after a certain amount of time more and more difficult. You really have to be committed to throwing yourself into this from the start right through to completion otherwise, like me, you'll probably also find it a struggle to finish.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul Fillery VINE VOICE on 13 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
To be honest, I'm not sure who this is aimed at - it seems to target classics buffs and poetry lovers, but I think it misses both. Despite the claim that you don't need to read Latin to enjoy Latin poetry this is far from being a book for the layman, and I would suggest a knowledge of at least some Latin basics would be of huge benefit. After a lengthy introduction, the author moves on to discuss the greats of Latin literature - and there is no denying the power, beauty and mystery that can be found in the works of Virgil (The Aeneid is one of my favourite Latin works), Horace, Ovid, and even Lucretius. Perhaps I am missing the point of this book, but I'm not sure I see the point of reading these works in the original Latin without understanding why the poems were constructed in that way, why a certain metre was used, why certain words were selected, etc.

If possible, you should try to learn enough Latin so that you can read and translate for yourself - the sense of achievement is fantastic. Failing that, I would suggest you look for a respected translation instead.

This book did achieve one thing - I've dragged all my old Latin textbooks out of the cupboard to give myself a refresher.
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