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Ladies' GreekVictorian Translations of Tragedy$
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Yopie Prins

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691141893

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691141893.001.0001

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The Spell of Greek

The Spell of Greek

(p.35) Chapter One The Spell of Greek
Ladies' Greek

Yopie Prins

Princeton University Press

This chapter analyzes Virginia Woolf's 1925 essay “On Not Knowing Greek” as part of the longer Victorian legacy of Ladies' Greek and places it within the context of Woolf's earlier Greek studies. Focusing on Woolf's Agamemnon notebook, the chapter examines how the strange utterance of Cassandra (otototoi, a series of stuttering syllables that sounds foreign to the ear) appears in Greek letters on the page and also how it was made to appear in two dramatic productions staged in ancient Greek at Cambridge University in 1900 and in 1921. In the process of transcribing and translating Cassandra's utterance, the chapter shows that Woolf confronts the mad literality of dead Greek letters: a scene of reading that is repeated again and again in translations of Greek tragedy by other women, both before and after Woolf.

Keywords:   tragedy, Virginia Woolf, On Not Knowing Greek, Ladies' Greek, Greek studies, Greek, Agamemnon, Greek letters, Cambridge University, translation

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