21 February 2009


I've found it hard to find online any discussion of the textual integrity of the Cantos. Has anyone ever compared the various published editions and manuscripts to establish a reliable version? It's easy to see that any publisher could have made mistakes. It's always easier to make mistakes when copying an unfamiliar language, and a very large part of the Cantos is in an unfamiliar language for almost everyone. The first page of this canto seems to be like a hypnogogic salad of various themes, but includes these lines:
One man is dead, and another has rotted his end off
Et quant au troisieme
Il est tombé dans le
De sa femme, on ne le reverra
Pas, oth fugol othbaer:

Clearly there's a gap in the French (translated: and as for the third, he fell into the of his wife, will not be seen again). It could be a deliberate, Max Miller-ish, filth by silence, or it could be a genuine mistake omitting an innocent word. I think it's more likely to be the first, but am not sure if we can be sure of the reliability of the text. In the wider sense, though, it's not important. It's not important to understand every reference or every sentence.

[When I first previewed this post, I noticed that I had typed 'it est tombé'.]

The first page mentions science again, including M. Curie. Moving on to the second page we find another reference to the Bucentoro, and to people singing "Stretti" - as in Canto III, it's still in quotation marks. So, Venice again. Then we move on to references to 'tovarisch'es and Xarites.
These are the labours of tovarisch,
That tovarisch wrecked the house of the tyrants,
And rose, and talked folly on folly,
And walked forth and lay in the earth
And the Xarites bent over tovarisch.

And that tovarisch cursed and blessed without aim,
These are the labours of tovarisch,

I think there's a reference in the rhythm of these lines to the Old Testament. 'Tovarisch' sounds hebrew/jewish. It seems likely that Ez didn't like the Russian Revolution; might have seen it as a jewish conspiracy, as Hitler sometimes did, or like Nietzsche sees christianity as a kind of morality of slaves.

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