Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Stephen Berard And Capti

I finished a recent post on this blog thusly:

I also have not yet been able to find any mention of any novels published in Latin between Iter Subterraneum in 1741 and Stephen Berard's Capti, published in 2011. All I know yet about Capti is that about a half-dozen people quoted on the book's Amazon page are extremely well-pleased by it.

I now know a little more: I know that Berard is a professor who has taught German and Spanish as well as Latin, and who may be a bit of a polyglot. I know that Berard is in favor of teaching spontaneous Latin composition and speech -- the active language activities -- in addition to reading and writing, the passive skills which along with translation -- semi-active? -- make up the substance of many courses in the Classics. I know that he, and a few other instructors, hope that Latin will spread as a living, spoken, spontaneously written language, and that teaching the active skills will aid in this spread (I don't see how it could possibly be anything but a big help).

I now know that Capti, Fabula Menippeo-Hoffmanniana Americana, is a little more or a little less than 580 pages long, depending on whether or not you count the dedication, preface, table of contents, acknowledgements, ad lectorem and mottos from ETA Hoffmann and Heraclitus, and that it is the first of series of 7 Latin novels which Berard has planned.

So like -- wow.

I haven't yet found any reactions to Berard's work from anyone I know. And I've only just started to read Capti. So I don't really know yet what to make of Berard as an author. But I have to admire his ambition, and I fervently hope that his work is not just immensely ambitious, but also brilliant. Brilliant or not, I hope it inspires a flood of new Latin literature and marks the start of a new Renaissance, but this time without all the imitation of Cicero.

It is published by AuthorHouse, which, as you might guess from the name, is a vanity publisher. That is, Berard is paying for the publication, rather than being paid royalties by a publisher. It'd be great if Capti, or any other original fiction in Latin, had been published by some big publishing firm like Knopf or Random House -- but original Latin material doesn't seem to be a high priority with the big boys in the publishing biz right now. Although they do seem to love translations into Latin of things like Le petit prince and the Harry Potter monstrosities. I'm not surprised that Berard published it himself. I don't take that as any reflection on the quality of the novel.

PS, 16. September 2015: I like this: 2 poems by Derek Sheffield, and a translation of the 2nd one into Spanish by Stephen Berard.

No comments:

Post a Comment