From my diary

I’m still full of cold, but I have been trying to get back to the keyboard. In fact I have managed to proof the OCR output for the first chunk — very small chunk! — of Ibn Abi Usaibia, and confirmed to myself that it’s doable.  Working on this, therefore, will be a nice winter project. 

It’s not been too difficult, as there are not a lot of strange characters so far.  The translator has indicated long vowels with an overscore, and some t’s and d’s and s’s with a dot underneath.  I do wonder whether they are all necessary.  Is it really necessary to write “Allah” with an overscore over the second ‘a’?

An email has arrived from my friends at Les éditions du Cerf, confirming that they forgot to purchase from the editor the supposed copyright in the Greek text of the ecloge of Eusebius’ Gospel Problems and Solutions.  So I don’t owe them a royalty for using it in my book.  Not that the royalty was in any way oppressive — they were very decent folk, charged very little, and I highly recommend them to anyone who needs to reprint a text from the Sources Chrétiennes series.  But this scam among academic publishers, of claiming copyright of the original text of a modern edition of some ancient author, is so widespread that they doubtless feel obliged to do the same, and no blame to them.  It seems that Claudio Zamagni, the editor, retains ownership of any putative rights over the Greek text, and I know that he doesn’t believe that such a copyright should morally exist.  I agree with him there, as I have said before.  This also removes any legal obstacle to me placing the whole PDF of the book online when the time comes.  So everyone wins, and I will find some way to make a donation to the SC so they don’t lose out either.

Meanwhile I’m having some interesting times dealing with orders for the book via book-dealers.  One Italian bookshop ordered a copy ages ago, but has yet to pay.  Another Dutch bookshop seems better, but still no cash.  I think that I will go over to the system of requiring payment in advance, for anything else seems to make work and worry.  I’ve posted notices of the appearance of the book in a couple of online fora.

Annoyingly, I’m still too full of cold to sit at my computer much, and I am getting very tired of sitting around.  Isn’t it infuriating to be prevented from doing anything by a miserable cold virus?!  To have millions of useful, interesting and enjoyable things to do, and to feel too unwell to do any of them?  But I am mildly cheered to discover that during his 40’s C. S. Lewis — whose letters I am still reading — changed from having flu once a year to once a term, and started getting lumbago.  “At least I do better than that!” I thought to myself.  I think Lewis became old quite early, and indeed died at age 65 after ten years of illnesses.  In a letter he remarks that in his family this was normal.  Most of us will be more fortunate, I think. 

It is interesting that he allowed the ‘duty’ of correspondence with strangers to occupy so much of his time, after he became known through his broadcast talks on the BBC.  I think that he should probably have been rather more hard-hearted in this.  It is a warning to all of us, that we probably should ignore more emails than we do.  He also made the classic mistake of taking on domestic servants in order to find them a job — as being ‘deserving’ — rather than for their efficiency.  As a result he lived in continual discomfort.  The abolitionist William Wilberforce committed the same error, and with the same results. 

Talking of old age, I had a magazine come through my door from a professional organisation to which I belong.  This had an article on pensions, written by some financial advisor type.  It suggested, risibly, that to give the sort of income he thought adequate, most of us should be paying into our pensions something between 2,000-3,000 GBP a month.  I can’t imagine anyone in a position to do this, in these straitened times, and I certainly am not one of them.  But probably the man who wrote it hoped to gain a percentage commission of these vast sums, and chose his numbers accordingly. 

I’m currently still reading the collected letters of C. S. Lewis — volume 2, not volume 3, as I mistakenly supposed yesterday.  One author whom he quotes with great approval is Novalis.  I remember, many years ago, going into a German bookshop in Munchen-Gladbach and coming out with a copy of Heinrich von Ofterdingen.  But my German is wretched, and I could make nothing of it.  The interesting thing is that I don’t think Lewis’ German was that great either — although he refers to reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales in the original, and finding that there were about five times as many in that language, and many very sinister or sad.  But if so, how did he read Novalis?  Or is there an English translation, unbeknownst to me?

3 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. There’s the Macdonald translation of Hymns to the Night. I think Librivox did a reading of it, a while back.

  2. Now that I think about it, I’ve seen other translations of “The Hymn to the Night” in poetry volumes from Victorian times.

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