Visions of Lucian 3: Remarks Addressed to an Illiterate Book-Fancier / In Spite of Your Art: A Word with Lucian




By 175AD the literary satirist Lucian of Samosata was at the peak of his powers. He was wealthy, famous, wildly popular, and — we may assume — contented. Until, that is, he made the acquaintance of a fellow Assyrian in Athens possessed of a remarkable collection of books. Lucian’s disgust on discovering that these books were less for reading than for show resulted in him composing, and then publishing, a poison pen letter so vicious that it stands as a blot on even his rogue’s legacy.

Today we know that letter as Remarks Addressed to an Illiterate Book-Fancier. In this new tête-bêche edition, Nicholas Jeeves first reproduces the Remarks in full, and in the companion piece In Spite of Your Art, goes on to interrupt Lucian’s afterlife to address him with a few choice remarks of his own…

Text: Nicholas Jeeves
Design: Nicholas Jeeves
Typeface: Minion Pro by Adobe
Format: 128mm x 210mm, 48pp
Print: Mono digital
Binding: Tête-bêche, saddle-stitched
Language: English
Edition: 20
Publisher: Mulita Small Editions, January 2020

Translation of Lucian by F. Fowler (1905)

Buy the book here

Read the full text online here




Remarks Addressed to an Illiterate Book-Fancier

From Lucian of Samosata to a countryman in Athens, c.175AD

“I have often wondered, though I have never been able to satisfy myself, what it is that makes you such an ardent buyer of books. The idea of your making any profitable use of them is one that nobody who has the slightest acquaintance with you would entertain for a moment. Are you merely seizing an opportunity of displaying your wealth? Or is it just your way of showing the public that you can afford to spend money even on things that are of no use to you?”





In Spite of Your Art: A Word with Lucian

From Nicholas Jeeves to Lucian of Samosata, 2019

“As your advocate I suppose I should at least attempt to defend your Remarks. I am not sure it is worth bothering. You make your point as surely as ever, but it is made dull: gone is the sharp needle of your art, brought to a fine point by the whetstone of your wit, readied to prick and puncture swollen egos; in the Remarks it has become a cudgel, wielded by a maniac, to club your subject, and your readers, senseless.”