Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nero’s Fiddle, Gaddafi’s Fiction by Ross Perlin - Roundtable | Lapham’s Quarterly

Nero’s Fiddle, Gaddafi’s Fiction by Ross Perlin - Roundtable | Lapham’s Quarterly

Legislators are more often the unacknowledged poets of the world than vice versa. The Victorian literary world turned up its nose at Disraeli’s youthful romance novels (perhaps with good reason). The Athenian politician Solon, when he wasn’t laying the basis for the Western democratic tradition, tried his clumsy hand at martial hexameter, exhorting Athenians to “sentence hubris to obscurity and make the flowers of mischief wither.” The psalms of King David have outlasted his bloody conquests. The last of the Mughal emperors, Bahadur Shah II (pen name Zafar), lamented the collapse of his authority in well-formed Urdu ghazals.

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