Lost in Translation
by Rosel George Brown
  

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson
Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 1959
  

collected in —
A Handful of Time (1963)

October 2006

  
The time for Classics

"Lost in Translation" is a cute and funny short story by Rosel George Brown, an arch-humored Classicist herself. Her heroine, Mercedes, is inveigled into a brief time-machine trip back to the Greece of Aristophanes' plays and the courtesan Aspasia.

Mercedes had particularly preserved her chastity, as her adenoids, out of intellectual conviction. The difference was that she had had an opportunity to be rid of her adenoids. ...

When other girls were out experimenting with hasheesh, and swimming naked in mixed groups, Mercedes reclined neurasthenically on her violet plush sofa, reading the Bifurcate Review. In her adenoidal way, she was a Humanist, a Classicist, and a Graecophile (in translation, of course). As a further refinement, she read only Victorian translations from the Greek, a matter of keeping in step with the avant-garde neo-Victorian revival.
  

Brown weaves her own learning deftly into her plot. If you enjoy thinking about the influence of the earthy as well as intellectual Greek legacy in Victorian times — or upon neo-Victorian sensibilities — the small but delightful "Lost in Translation" is well worth seeking out.
  

The proposal by the time machine's co-inventor is not at first well-received by Mercedes:

"You like Greeks?" he asked innocently.

"Ancient Greeks, you ninny," she shouted and, like someone (probably Prometheus) suddenly released, she threw the paperweight. It missed him and demolished an innocent shepherdess.

  

  
© 2006 Robert Wilfred Franson


  
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