John Taplow Quotes in The Browning Version
TAPLOW: (Protestingly.) I’m extremely interested in science, sir.
FRANK: Are you? I’m not. Not at least in the science I have to teach.
TAPLOW: Well, anyway, sir, it’s a good deal more exciting than this muck. (Indicating his book.)
FRANK: What is this muck?
TAPLOW: Aeschylus, sir. The Agamemnon.
FRANK: And your considered view is that the Agamemnon of Aeschylus is muck, is it?
TAPLOW: Well, no, sir. I don’t think the play is muck – exactly. I suppose, in a way, it’s rather a good plot, really, a wife murdering her husband and having a lover and all that. I only meant the way it’s taught to us – just a lot of Greek words strung together and fifty lines if you get them wrong.
TAPLOW: (Mimicking a very gentle, rather throaty voice) “My dear Taplow, I have given you exactly what you deserve. No less; and certainly no more.” Do you know, sir, I think he may have marked me down, rather than up, for taking extra work. I mean, the man’s barely human. (He breaks off quickly.) Sorry, sir. Have I gone too far?
ANDREW: However diligently I search I can discover no ‘bloody’ – no ‘corpse’– no ‘you have slain’. Simply ‘husband’–
TAPLOW: Yes, sir. That’s right.
ANDREW: Then why do you invent words that simply are not there?
TAPLOW: I thought they sounded better, sir. More exciting. After all she did kill her husband, sir. (With relish.) She’s just been revealed with his dead body and Cassandra’s weltering in gore –
ANDREW: I am delighted at this evidence, Taplow, of your interest in the rather more lurid aspects of dramaturgy, but I feel I must remind you that you are supposed to be construing Greek, not collaborating with Aeschylus.
TAPLOW: (Greatly daring.) Yes, but still, sir, translator’s licence, sir – I didn’t get anything wrong – and after all it is a play and not just a bit of Greek construe.
ANDREW: (Momentarily at a loss.) I seem to detect a note of end of term in your remarks. I am not denying that The Agamemnon is a play. It is perhaps the greatest play ever written –
TAPLOW: (Quickly.) I wonder how many people in the form think that?
ANDREW: (Murmuring gently, not looking at TAPLOW.) When I was a very young man, only two years older than you are now, Taplow, I wrote, for my own pleasure, a translation of The Agamemnon – a very free translation – I remember – in rhyming couplets.
TAPLOW: The whole Agamemnon – in verse? That must have been hard work, sir.
ANDREW: It was hard work; but I derived great joy from it. The play had so excited and moved me that I wished to communicate, however imperfectly, some of that emotion to others. When I had finished it. I remember, I thought it very beautiful – almost more beautiful than the original.
TAPLOW: Was it ever published, sir?
ANDREW: No. Yesterday I looked for the manuscript while I was packing my papers. I was unable to find it. I fear it is lost – like so many other things. Lost for good.
TAPLOW: I didn’t have a chance with the head here. I rather dashed out, I’m afraid. I thought I’d just come back and – and wish you luck, sir.
ANDREW: Thank you, Taplow. That’s good of you.
TAPLOW: I – er – thought this might interest you, sir. (He quickly thrusts a small book into ANDREW’S hand.)
ANDREW: What is it?
TAPLOW: Verse translation of the Agamemnon, sir. The Browning version. It’s not much good. I've been reading it in the Chapel gardens.
ANDREW very deliberately turns over the pages of the book.
ANDREW: Very interesting, Taplow. (He seems to have a little difficulty in speaking. He clears his throat and then goes on in his level, gentle voice.) I know the translation, of course. It has its faults, I agree, but I think you will enjoy it more when you get used to the metre he employs.
He hands it to TAPLOW who brusquely thrusts it back to him.
TAPLOW: It’s for you, sir.
ANDREW: For me?
TAPLOW: Yes, sir. I’ve written in it.
ANDREW: […] “God from afar looks graciously upon a gentle master.”
Pause. MILLIE laughs suddenly.
MILLIE: The artful little beast –
FRANK: (Urgently.) Millie –
ANDREW: Artful? Why artful?
MILLIE looks at FRANK who is staring meaningly at her.
Why artful, Millie?
MILLIE laughs again, quite lightly, and turns from FRANK to ANDREW.
MILLIE: My dear, because I came into this room this afternoon to find him giving an imitation of you to Frank here. Obviously he was scared stiff I was going to tell you, and you’d ditch his remove or something. I don't blame him for trying a few bobs’ worth of appeasement.
ANDREW: If you think, by this expression of kindness, Hunter, that you can get me to repeat the shameful exhibition of emotion I made to Taplow a moment ago, I must tell you that you have no chance. My hysteria over that book just now was no more than a sort of reflex action of the spirit. The muscular twitchings of a corpse. It can never happen again.
FRANK: A corpse can be revived.
ANDREW: I don’t believe in miracles.
FRANK: Don’t you? Funnily enough, as a scientist, I do.
ANDREW: Your faith would be touching, if I were capable of being touched by it.