When to stay MIA

From Sebastian Faulks’ review of Stuart Kelly’s The Book of Lost Books:

One of the best stories in Stuart Kelly’s excellent account of all the great books that have been lost to posterity concerns the 4th-century BC Greek dramatist Menander. He was revered by Julius Caesar and Quintilian among others as second only to Homer — a sort of early realist, witty, humane and profound. He was the source of the only non-scriptural quotation in St Paul’s writing, and, although all his work had been lost, he enjoyed a holy place in the critical pantheon for more than two millennia.
Then, in 1905, fragments of five of Menander’s plays, including Dyskolos, turned up in Egypt; 50 years later the rest of Dyskolos surfaced in Geneva. The masterpiece was lovingly pieced together, translated and, finally, produced and broadcast by the BBC in 1959. It was awful.





One response to “When to stay MIA”

  1. tyger Avatar

    I’ve read the book and while it makes great cases for literature as entertainment — ipso facto making lost literature lost entertainment, one wonders whether such a list shouldn’t also try to convey some of the passion that “lost” texts might inspire a la Aristotle in “The Name of the Rose”…

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