Pg. 957 of David Markson’s copy of The Complete Greek Drama: Volume One by Various (Ed. Whitney J. Oates & Eugene O’Neill, Jr.):
On which Markson bracketed the first two paragraphs of the Introduction to Euripides’ The Trojan Women, and also placed underlines under the following three ideas:
1) “The poet’s thought is increasingly marked by a pervading sense of disillusionment.”
2) “The whole episode is treated brilliantly by Thucydides, who is unmitigated in his condemnation of the crime.”
3) “Not strictly speaking a play, but rather a tragic pageant.”
The Trojan Women gets quite a bit of mention in Markson’s masterpiece Wittgenstein’s Mistress, some of which I will relay below…
“Irene Papas would have been an effective Electra, however.
In fact she was an effective Helen, in The Trojan Women, by Euripides.
Perhaps I have not indicated that I watched a certain few films whle I still possessed devices, also.
Irene Papas and Katharine Hepburn in The Trojan Women was one. Maria Callas in Medea was another.” (Pgs. 25-26).
“Once, when I was listening to myself read the Greek plays out loud, certain of the lines sounded as if they had been written under the influence of William Shakespeare.
One had to be quite perplexed as to how Aeschylus or Euripides might have read Shakespeare.
I did remember an anecdote, about some other Greek author, who had remarked that if he could be positive of a life after death he would happily hang himself to see Euripides. Basically this did not seem relevant, however.
Finally it occurred to me that the translator had no doubt read Shakespeare.
Normally I would not consider that a memorable insight, except for the fact that I was otherwise undeniably mad at the time when I read the plays.
As a matter of fact I only now realize that I may not have been cooking after all, when I burned that other house to the ground, but may well have burned it in the process of dropping the pages of The Trojan Women into the fire after I had finished reading their reverse sides.” (Pgs. 38-39).
“All of the books in the store were actually in Greek, naturally.
Possibly some few of them were actually books that I had even read, in English, although naturally I would have no way of knowing which ones.
Possibly one of them was even a Greek edition of William Shakespeare’s plays. By a translator who had been under the influence of Euripides.” (Pg. 45).
“But what I am actually now thinking about, for some reason, is the scene in The Trojan Women where the Greek soldiers throw Hector’s poor baby boy over the city’s walls, so that he will not grow up to take revenge for his father or for Troy.
God, the thing men used to do.
Irene Papas was an effective Helen in the film of The Trojan Women, however.
Katharine Hepburn was an effective Hecuba, as well.
Hecuba was Hector’s mother. Well, which is to say she was the baby boy’s grandmother also, of course.
Just imagine how Katharine Hepburn must have felt.” (Pgs. 93-94).
“Although now what I tardily might wish I had done, while I was at the other house, was to see if any of the versions in that one-volume selection from the plays were by the translator who made Euripides sound as if he had been under the influence of William Shakespeare.
In spite of that, one has a fairly acute inkling as to when Medea is having her period also, incidentally.” (Pg. 101).
“Yesterday I took the books out of the carton.
With only one exception, every single one of them was in a foreign language.
Most were in German, in fact, although not all.
The one book not in German or in another foreign language was an edition of The Trojan Women, by Euripides, which had been translated from Greek into English.
By Gilbert Murray.
I believe the person who had translated it was Gilbert Murray.
As a matter of fact I am not now certain I looked.
One finds that many of the Greek plays have been translated by Gilbert Murray, however.” (Pg. 164).
“Downstairs they go, every last one of the troublesome things.
Granting that this would in no way explain why the translation of The Trojan Women happened to be included, although surely this can be dismissed as an oversight.
When one comes down to it there are easier things to do than filling eight or nine cartons with books.
Filling eleven cartons with books not being one of them, in fact.” (Pg. 180).
“Although what one doubts even more sincerely is that Helen would have been the cause of that war to begin with, of course.
After all, a single Spartan girl, as Walt Whitman once called her.
Even if in The Trojan Women Euripides does let everybody be furious at Helen.
In the Odyssey, where she has a splendid radiant dignity, nothing of that sort is hinted at at all.
And even in the Iliad, when the war is still going on, she is generally treated with respect.
So unquestionably it was only later that people decided it had been Helen’s fault.
Well, Euripides of course coming much later than Homer on his own part, for instance.
I do not remember how much later, but much later.” (Pgs. 194-195).
“And which furthermore now makes me realize that if Euripides had not blamed Helen for the war very possibly I would not remember Helen, either.
So that doubtless it was quite hasty of me, to criticize Rainer Maria Rilke or Euripides.” (Pg. 196).