Notice Of New Editions Of Classics -- By: Anonymous
BSac 5:20 (Nov 1848) p. 771
Notice Of New Editions Of Classics
Association of Gentlemen
This is a formidable title and volume for the first four books of the Metamorphoses, for that is all of the fifteen, and even the four are curtailed somewhat by the judicious omission of objectionable parts. The letter press of the octavo page is also large, and the type small both of the text and notes. The quantity of matter to be read, or which may be read, is therefore considerable. We must, however, think this a fault in a school-book, for students in the early stages of Latin, as unnecessarily increasing the expense. The apology, doubtless, is a desire to make the book attractive; but as the editor informs us in the Preface, the book is designed to follow Caesar’s Commentaries, we doubt if the object is attained by the copious extracts from ancient and modern writers, given for illustration—students at that stage will not appreciate them.
We think better of the pictorial embellishments. These are numerous and large, well executed and for the most part chaste. Yet here are some unfortunate exceptions—how can the pursuit of Daphne by Apollo, of Syrinx by Pan, of Coronis by Neptune, represented pictorially, be called chaste? These with several others, remind one of a recent advertisement in Punch— “A new art of printing, by a designing Devil,” etc. These faults aside, which however are inexcusable, the embellishments are the greatest merit of the book.
A great fault of the book is the excess of help, which, therefore, becomes no help, given to the student. We refer particularly to the clavis, the superabundance of notes, and translation of words and phrases, and the redundance of the explications. The first two relieve the student from just that labor necessary and beneficial, in
BSac 5:20 (Nov 1848) p. 772
awakening his own powers of research and discrimination. The last, by the uncertainty and contradiction in which the fables are involved, hopelessly, tend only to confuse the juvenile mind. These helps come in the place of specific references to principles, rules, and exceptions in the Grammar which, at this stage, it is the great business of the student to fix in his memory and contemplate in individual application. The editor is not alone in these faults; many editors of classics are now helping students in the same way—by dispensing with dictionaries and grammars—to learn as little as possible of the language they study. Those who adopt this method, of course, will be offended with these criticisms.
But we have graver objections to this work. The Preface states, “Since many of the fables are corrupt traditions of Scriptural truths, I have traced them back to the great fount of purity, the Biblical record, and ha...
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