Cras Amet Qui Numquam Amavit…

So, how’s your Latin? Mine was never good. Failed it at school – although I remember enough to get the gist of some bits.

Which is why I’m absolutely furious with John Fowles. I recently plodded my way through The Magus – all 656 pages.

It was a hard task; some of the book was very turgid and over-blown. It was also full of literary allusions, some of which I understood, some of which went way over my head.

Nevertheless, I kept going hoping because some of the writing was wonderful and – although frequently baffling – it was intriguing. Plus I didn’t want to admit defeat.

Then, after a pretty obscure and inconclusive seeming climax, I finally got to the last two lines: cras amet qui numquam amavit quique amavet cras amet.

Make sense to you? I knew it was about love but it was otherwise pretty much all Greek to me. Particularly infuriating as I’d been really hoping for some kind of final illumination and resolution.

What made it worse was that the version I was reading had a foreword by Fowles in which he wrote: ‘…its general intent has never seemed to me as obscure as some readers have found it – perhaps because they have not given due weight to the two lines… that close the book…’

I almost threw the novel across the room at that point – only restrained by the fact it wasn’t my book.

But… to finally come to the point of what’s turned into a bit of a diatribe… why do some authors insist on using foreign languages in their books? Whether it’s Latin, French or Japanese this has always struck me as pure showing off.

The odd word, particularly if the meaning is obvious in context (or not important) is fine. But a sentence that’s crucial to the plot? Please! Have mercy.

I mean, okay, you know another language. Well done. But you’re supposed to be telling a story so why alienate that large proportion of the world out there who don’t?

Anyway, not sure if that rant has helped but at least I’ve got it off my chest. Any other pet hates out there?


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