21 March 2009

Trip to Italy

If you don't know, I haven't posted in a week because I've been gone to Vercelli in Italy to view one of the oldest books written in the English language. It contains my very favorite poem, The Dream of the Rood, which is the story of the crucifixion told from the perspective of the cross. I can't, unfortunately, post pictures of the manuscripts we saw. You can ask me to see them if you see me in person.

Traveling with "foreigners" to a foreign country was a truly bizarre experience. Speaking Italian was much more difficult this trip, perhaps because my brain already tries to translate American English into British English before I speak. More so, though, I was amused by the English reaction to Italy. English Italian food usually involves abominably overcooked pasta, so I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the food my English group mates made and served for dinner each night. I went to the market with them one evening so they could buy ingredients for carbonara. They wanted to buy cream (which doesn't belong in carbonara unless you are English), but couldn't find any. They tried to ask the store attendant and she flipped out at them: "Cream! Cream! No! No! No!" before running around the store to give them the ingredients which were actually necessary.

The Italians themselves were characteristically wonderful. It's nice to be in a country with no apologies about its stereotypically loud and flamboyant culture. And the food! Our flat had a kitchen with the following essentials: a pasta pot, a stainer, a pasta spoon, a cheese grater, and two espresso makers.

That's all for now. I will say that Vercelli was absolutely beautiful! We also had the opportunity to travel to Pavia, where St. Augustine and Boethius are buried. I've posted pictures of Vercelli and Pavia here for your enjoyment.

Someday I plan to upload a nice, full edition and translation of The Dream of the Rood. For now, you can read my (uncorrected) translation of it here.

A Note from Your Host

As my time at Oxford comes to a close, I think I'll probably gradually phase out this blog. I restarted it so I would have to record some of the most spectacularly bizarre things about my life at Oxford, so I'll keep it up until June at least. But, most likely, the majority of my 'serious reflection' will migrate to ...and Enide.

A Momentous Occasion Unnoted

In my haste to finish the rest of my work, I forgot to note a most momentous occasion: the very last of my formal examinations, ever. (Unless I fail and have to resit, but let's not think about this.) I have to say that it was less climactic that expected.

Oxford examinees are required to wear sub-fusc, so I hope to appease you for my lack of posting a pictures of me in sub-fosc. Unfortunately, someone stole my hat before the photograph was taken. On the plus side, I was so stressed out during the exam that I wore my hat backwards.

You can read more about sub-fusc here and here.