Catullus Not For Curates

Barbara Pym, Some Tame Gazelle (Chp. 14):

Belinda laughed rather uncomfortably. ‘What are you reading?’ she asked, hoping to change the subject.

‘We were reading Catullus. I really don’t know how we got on to it,’ said Harriet merrily. ‘Mr. Donne’s so good at Latin, but of course it’s quite thirty years since I read a word of it.’

‘Oh, come,’ said the curate playfully. ‘I can’t believe that.’

Belinda took up her knitting. She remember Dr. Parnell saying that he thought Catullus rather too indelicate for a young girl to read. If this were so, for Belinda’s scanty knowledge of Latin would not enable her to find out for herself, how much more indelicate must the great Roman poet be for a young curate! ‘There is a pretty translation of one of his poems by Thomas Campton,’ she said vaguely, ‘but I suppose it’s not like reading the original.’


Leave a Reply