La Caverna De Las Ideas/ The Cave of Ideas by Jose Carlos Somoza, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. Be the first to ask a question about The Athenian Murders .. La caverna de las ideas ist bislang das einzige Buch, das ich von Somoza gelesen habe, und so. The Athenian Murders is an historical mystery novel written by Spanish author José Carlos Somoza. Originally published in Spain under the title La caverna de las ideas (The Cave of Ideas) in , it was translated into English in by Sonia Soto. The Athenian Murders is Somoza’s first novel to be published in English.
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We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure. The complete review ‘s Review:. First, unavoidably, a note on the title. In the original Spanish the book was published as La caverna de las ideas. This is also the title of the book at the centre of the novel, called The Cave of Ideas in the English version. Set in ancient Athens, and having to do with Plato’s Academy, as well as his teachings, The Cave of Ideas is a clever and appropriate title.
The Athenian Murders is not. Yes, there are murders in the book too, and they happen in Athens — but could any title be more bland or unevocative?
Will it sell more copies with this least inspired and inspiring of titles? Perhaps “murder” in the title will entice more people to pull it off the bookshelves — though the epigraph from Plato and the many footnotes might scare that particular audience off if they happen to flip through the book, hoping only for Greek gore.
The Cave of Ideas might not sound quite so sexy to your average mystery-buff possibly the targeted audiencebut is far richer, better, and more joae — and, to an intellectual audience admittedly: Surely there are still a few potential readers out there who get the Platonic allusion The title of the British and American editions is an embarrassment and the publishers should be ashamed of themselves.
La Caverna De Las Ideas/ The Cave of Ideas
The Athenian Murders is a very clever book. It is presented as an authentic Greek text, a murder-mystery of sorts from classical times. From the first, however, a translator also peeks through — and he gets far more involved with the text than he could have imagined. The translator appears essentially only in footnotes, beginning with the first which comes before the text proper starts.
These aren’t your usual dry, academic footnotes: There also aren’t too many of them: The novel being translated is called The Cave of Ideasapparently by an unidentified author. The translator is using the one known version of the text, which was prepared by a scholar named Montalo. The Cave of Ideas begins as a fairly straightforward mystery: He was a student at Plato’s Academy, and one of the teachers there, Diagoras, is a bit concerned about what happened to the youth.
He enlists the help of Heracles Pontor, “known as the Decipherer of Enigmas”, and the two of them look into the death, which turns out to be more puzzling than originally imagined. The two are contrasting figures, especially in their philosophies. Heracles Pontor has little use for abstractions or ideas: Platonic Diagoras, of course, relies almost entirely on airy abstraction.
This conflict between the abstract “the cave of ideas” and the tangible is central to the novel — something Somoza, apparently unfamiliar with the concept of subtlety, sledgehammers home at every possible point. The reader is also made aware of the fact that the novel is an “eidetic text”.
As the translator explains, eidesis is: It consists in repeating, in any text, metaphors or words that, when identified by a perceptive reader, make up an idea or image that’s independent of the original text. And so the contrast between appearances and reality, abstraction and the tangible, arises again. As it turns out, this is the mother of all eidetic texts, packing one hell of a punch — as the translator finds out.
Odd things start to happen: Another, very different, philosophical acquaintance of Heracles, Crantor, recounts a “widely held belief in many place far from Athens”: And Someone is reading the scroll right now, deciphering our thoughts and actions, and finding hidden keys to the text of our lives.
That Someone is known as the Interpreter, or Translator. And, as if that weren’t enough, a prime suspect and general seducer of Academic and other youths — or ephebes as they are annoyingly if authentically referred to here iddas, the sculptor Menaechmus, is working on a piece called Some of this is very cleverly done, and the layers and layers of abstraction, reality, and interpretation that Somoza piles on are largely entertaining.
The murder mystery itself plods on.
The Athenian Murders – José Carlos Somoza
There are additional deaths. There are Dionysian rituals.
There is a visit to the Academy. There are dangers from unexpected corners, and slowly an explanation emerges. There is a decent explanation for the murder-mysteries. More fun, however, is the fact that it doesn’t quite end there: The Athenian Murders is filled with very clever ideas and twists — just the sort of thing we generally love.
Unfortunately, Somoza’s presentation and, perhaps, Sonia Soto’s translation can’t keep up with the goings-on. Stripped of the extra-textual frills the Athenian murder-mystery is rarely better than pedestrian. The story stumbles along, and little of the writing rises above the merely tolerable.
Only in combination with the footnotes do pieces stand out — especially some of the fancier eidetic images. Unfortunately, the writing in most of the footnotes is even worse. Somoza doesn’t have a delicate touch, and his footnote-writing translator doesn’t convince most of the time.
Many of the comments are forced, pointing out the obvious, or apparently irrelevant, while much that one might expect to find annotated isn’t. Only when the translator gets more closely and personally involved with the text does Somoza manage to convince, almost redeeming himself. Despite the relatively poor presentation The Athenian Murders is worth reading.
It’s just a shame the very fine ideas couldn’t have been better realized.
The Athenian Murders
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