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The Folger Spotlight

Ovid, Shakespeare, and 'The Latinist' (Part Two)

Held on the first Thursday of the month, the Folger’s virtual book club is free and open to all. To spark discussion, speakers provide historical context, throw in trivia, and speak to relevant items from the library collection in a brief presentation to participants before small-group discussion begins.

Here, we revisit conversation between emma poltrack and Dr. Will Tosh as part of our discussion of The Latinist, the second of a two-part series. Discussion questions for the novel can be found here.

Catch-up with the first part of our conversation here

We would like to thank the Capitol Hill Community Foundation and the Junior League of Washington for their generous support of this program.

emma poltrack (Community and Audience Engagement Program Manager, Folger Shakespeare Library): I feel like there’s so much in this book that has to do with like morality and boundaries and what constitutes “good” is not always clear. Chris makes a lot of obviously very bad choices, but Tessa makes a lot of choices that are maybe not dealing with the same scale but are questionable.

Dr. Will Tosh (Head of Research, Shakespeare’s Globe): It’s fascinating isn’t it? The extent to which Prins wants us to see his protagonists as easily mapping on to Apollo and Daphne. The whole premise of the book sets up a fairly obvious parallel that we’re invited to see, and we’re invited to see early on. We’re told that Chris looks at himself in the mirror and says, “Not exactly Apollonian, but…” And there’s the moment where Tessa is in her apartment and the laurel tree is tapping against her window, and you go, okay, right, we’re seeing those overlaps, but it’s not wholly straightforward, and who is pursuing whom, and what Tessa is pursuing. She’s not quite pursuing Chris, but she’s certainly pursuing her intellectual pursuit of Marius and it becomes more ambiguous.

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