Columbia Library columns (v.9(1959Nov-1960May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.9,no.1(1959:Nov): Page 24  

Editor's Comment on the
Golding Manuscript

IN THE May issue of Library Columns notice was taken of
the generous gift by the Class of it)2j of the original manu¬
script of Arthur Golding's A Morall Fabletalke, a series of
tales paraphrasing Aesop^s fables presumably written by Arthur
Golding. Professor William Nelson in an accompanying article
in the present issue further discusses the manuscript and its great
importance, and assigns a much more probable date to it than had
heretofore been considered ("before i^yo," instead of "about

The late F. O. Matthiessen described translation as "an Eliza¬
bethan art," referring to the surge of English interest in classical
and current foreign writings during the sixteenth and early seven¬
teenth centuries. The relative youth of the English language in the
Elizabethan period, and the unhampered flexibility which reflected
that youth, contributed to the literary greatness that was achieved
by men like Shakespeare, Spencer, and Lyly. And many of those
who devoted their talents to translation—Thomas North, Phile¬
mon Holla7id, John Harington, among a host of others—were
equally productive of fine style and felicity of phrase which were
dependent more on their own literary mastery than on the text of
their originals.

As Professor Nelson points out, Golding too could turn a vivid
Elizabethan phrase, although in his later years, as he concerned
himself with the soba- task of translating Calvinistic polemics, he
became more staid in his rhetoric. But this Aesop belongs to his
greener years; it is a re-telling rather than an exact translation of
any known Aesop text. The strength of his imagination and the
ease of his pen are well exemplified in the accompanying compari-
  v.9,no.1(1959:Nov): Page 24