Thursday, July 05, 2007

Stegner and the Lacrimae Rerum

There is a nice oblique reference in Wallace Stegner's novel Crossing to Safety to Aeneas' reaction to the depictions of Troy in Book 1 of the Aeneid. At this point in the novel, the narrator, Larry Morgan, has just received a letter informing him that his first novel has been enthusiastically approved for publication:

I pass her the letter. It says that Harcourt Brace and Company have found my novel provocative and touching. They think my characters are cut from the real, unassuming stuff of everyday life. They like my combination of irony and pathos, they like my feeling for the tears of things. They want to publish my book in the fall, and can offer me an advance of five hundred dollars against royalties. (p. 114)

Now Vergil:
Namque sub ingenti lustrat dum singula templo,
reginam opperiens, dum, quae fortuna sit urbi,
artificumque manus inter se operumque laborem 455
miratur, videt Iliacas ex ordine pugnas,
bellaque iam fama totum volgata per orbem,
Atridas, Priamumque, et saevum ambobus Achillem.
Constitit, et lacrimans, 'Quis iam locus' inquit 'Achate,
quae regio in terris nostri non plena laboris? 460
En Priamus! Sunt hic etiam sua praemia laudi;
sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.
Solve metus; feret haec aliquam tibi fama salutem.'

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