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The Beast, Birds, And Bees Of Virgil
From the PREFACE:
NO book of classical antiquity makes quite such a strong appeal to Englishmen as the Georgics. For the average educated Englishman has in him something of the sportsman, something of the naturalist, and often at the back of his mind an inkling of the poet; long ago he had also in him a good deal of the farmer, and it looks as though this might be so again in the next generation. The Georgics, if he has the luck to come across them, are pretty sure to attract him in one way or another. I well remember, in the days of my college tutorship, having to push a sporting youth through the thorny hedge of Responsions - one who was totally incapable of understanding the rhetoric of Livy, with whom we first tried him; then in despair I put him on the Georgics, and adroitly began with the third. When he came to Virgil's description of the horse's points, his face and his mind at once brightened; to use his own language, he 'found,' and thereafter took all his fences without a fall.
I think it was not only that he found things in the poem about which he knew a good deal - more, in fact, than I did - but that he unconsciously felt the life of the animals just as Virgil felt them. The mere fact that they have eyes and ears and feet and tails, and do certain things with them, showing the active mind within, is to the sportsman-naturalist a continual delight, and so I think it was to Virgil.
Every animal in the Georgics is full of life, constantly in action for some definite end. Open them anywhere, and you find at once this intensity of life, sometimes expressed in a single wonderful word. The reason of this is that the poet had in an unusual degree the true Italian feeling that there is something mysterious or divine in all life, even in that of plants - a feeling at the root of the religion of the early Italians, though less recognizable among those of to-day.
It is because Mr. Royds in this little book seems to me to give us substantial help in understanding this life as Virgil and the old Italians felt it, that I heartily welcome it, hoping that it may make its way among all English-speaking peoples, and lead them to a better knowledge of our beloved poet. It is, I think, the best commentary we have for the naturalist, the farmer, or the sportsman. I have learnt from it much that I did not know before, and feel that I may confidently recommend it to all scholars.
W. WARDE FOWLER
A Festival Of Dolls
After the death of his wife, Jhonen Blackwell is content to pass the years of his dotage reading books while anticipating the birth of his great-grandson. When he finds an ancient book buried beneath the dust in the attic of his newly bought home, he soon becomes transfixed by the bizarre Inuit writings and rituals scrawled on the pages between its mildewed, leather-bound covers. He begins reading its dark messages, and he learns how the past can affect the future and how words have great power that can span the ages.
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