Longus: Daphnis and Chloe

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Longus: Daphnis and Chloe

Inläggav Sheriffen » lör 23 jul 2016, 12:18

Not: Liksom annan litteratur från antiken innehåller romanen Daphnis & Chloe vad vi i dag kallar fantastiska inslag, så som gudar, nymfer, och andra märkliga väsen. I kraft av sina mytologiska inslag hör den därför hemma i denna avdelning. Min anmälan är skriven på engelska, för jag är inte ens säker på att boken finns översatt till svenska. Om den gör det, så får någon gärna ange titel, bokförlag, översättare etc. i tråden.

Här är min anmälan:

Romeo & Juliet are certainly the most famous. Tristan & Isolde are not exactly unknown. Even Tony & Maria are rather well-known. And so are thousands of other loving couples in myths, folk tales, fairy tales, and legends, not to mention magazine short stories, romance novels, films, operas, plays, and comic books.

But in Western civilisation, the first were the Greek Daphnis & Chloe. They are the archetypal couple that inspired all the others, their story is the the original, the story from which all the other love stories in literature stem.

Written by an author called Longus (actually Lóngos - otherwise it would be Latin, not Greek) in the 2nd century, and set on what was supposedly his home island of Lesbos (actually Lésvos), Daphnis & Chloe is a novel strikingly modern in style and content, although fascinatingly set in a society very different from ours, that of Greece of long ago.

The characterisation of the protagonists is remarkable, and not often, if ever, seen in other ancient works of fiction, and even though Daphnis's and Chloe's circumstances and the world in which they live differ so vastly from the circumstances and the world in which we find ourselves in this day and age, it is very apparent that love - or, the romanticised form of love celebrated by authors and poets, but based on real love in the real world - was exactly the same then as it is now, both in fiction and reality.

I find it rather remarkable that all the well-known ingredients of the love story, from the fairy tale versions to the modern film versions and every variety in between, are to be found in the story of Daphnis and Chloe. All the unexpected twists and turns, sometimes in the form of very dramatic events indeed, presenting the loving couple with apparently insurmountable stumbling-blocks, the least of them not being the morals and rules of the society in which they live, and the fairy tale from-rags-to-riches idiom, and - maybe most interesting - the misunderstandings between the young, inexperienced lovers themselves, to mention just a few. This if anything is ample proof that the love story, no matter how banal it often is in its thousands upon thousands of re-tellings (and how brilliant in its very few, more original versions), remains basically the same throughout the millennia, always having something important to tell us about ourselves as human beings and what many of us regard as the most important thing that life has to offer.

But apart from this, the well-told story of Daphnis and Chloe also provides the reader with a fascinating insight into life in Greece at the very beginning of the Common Era. Lóngos himself unreflectively - and quite naturally - uses the society in which he lived as the backdrop for his story, but for a modern reader this is a lively, fascinating account indeed of life in those long gone days. More than once, one involuntarily gasps at the similarities - and the differences! - between life then and life now. Sometimes the ancients were strikingly modern, sometimes most emphatically not.

But I think that one can safely say that human nature has basically remained the same and thus the story of Daphnis and Chloe still has as much to tell us about ourselves as it did when it was written. I am not ashamed to admit that I had tears in my eyes when reaching the end. It turns out that the female poet Sapfó of Lésvos had her male counterpart, the novelist Lóngos of Lésvos. It really does appear that Lésvos is the Island of Love.

Like the poems by Sapfó, the beauty of the story of Daphnis and Chloe is most remarkable, and the rest of the love stories of Western civilisation remain its footnotes.

Longus: Daphnis and Chloe
Translation: Phiroze Vasunia
Penguin Little Black Classics, 2016
Inlägg: 4415
Blev medlem: tor 09 nov 2006, 02:50
Ort: Athen/Stockholm

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