De Vertroosting van de Filosofie

By Boëthius

It’s Lent, and I thought I’d give this book another try. And again I foundered.

  • Author: Boëthius
  • Title: De Vertroosting van de Filosofie
  • Pages: 192 + notes
  • Published: 2000 (1990)
  • Publisher: Ambo/Amsterdam

Not because Boëthius is unreadable or unsuitable or anything. I do not have an opinion on the Consolatio Philosophiae. I still haven’t read it. I haven’t read it because the translation I have is horrible.

Boëthius’ Latin is beyond my meager skills, so I am dependent upon a translation. R.F.M. Brouwer, Classics teachers at a well-known high school in Amsterdam, the Vossius Gymnasium, is the worst kind of translation I can imagine.

He is pedantic and he has a very stilted style; I also have a feeling that he is inimical to his author. The stilted style makes is hard, or even impossible, to progress much beyond the horribly rendered poetry at the beginning. The pedanticity is clear from his using accents acutes over all the stressed syllables in those bits of poetry. This is a work by a schoolmarm.

In his very pedantic, very stilted, very formal foreword Brouwer thinks it necessary to stress that Boëthius wasn’t a Christian, fortunately, so we can still read his work, even though those foolish Christians have thought that Boëthius was a Christian. In this, Brouwer is a true child of Compte and White.

More fool to him.

But I’m still stuck with an unreadable translation of a book I need to read. I guess I’ll try the Penguin Classic next. Perhaps that one will be better. Or the online translation by W.V. Cooper.