|One Canto short of an epic
||[Oct. 13th, 2014|07:34 pm]
Our only foray into this year's Book Festival was on Sunday afternoon, to hear Andy Croft and his fellow conspirators talk about A Modern Don Juan, a collaborative updating two centuries after Byron's original. To be fair to the Book Festival, I'd have stayed on to hear Linda Grant, had we not been expecting our weekend guest to return from his day's outing (as it was, he was home shortly before us, which was fine).
Last time I heard Andy Croft read, he was talking about the Pushkin sonnet; but even then, he was plotting his next move, to the ottava rima. Now the collaborative attempt to match Byron canto for canto is complete - or almost, as one unnamed contributor escaped, hence the title of this post, which I have stolen from Andy - and the task of promoting it falls to the various members of "this fifteen-piece Lord Byron tribute band" (yes, I stole that, too).
Sunday's readers were Andy Croft himself (always an entertaining reader), Claudia Daventry and WN Herbert: Claudia Daventry was entirely new to me, arrived late and slightly breathless after driving down from St Andrews and hitting delays on the Forth Road Bridge. Her reading was less emphatic than Andy's, more narrative, and I look forward to reading what happened next to her version of DJ, whom she takes off in an unexpected but inevitable direction. Bill Herbert gave me a new perspective on the entire exercise when he said - and I paraphrase, but don't, I hope, distort - that he was less interested in saying anything about Don Juan than in the opportunity to play with a complex verse form (when I write it down, it's obvious, isn't it?). He also claimed that his canto was poetry to be read rather than heard, and its complexity and allusiveness made me feel this was likely to be true. We shall find out -
- Yes, of course I bought the book...