A translation at arm's length

Yesterday I finished Disarmed: The story of the Venus de Milo by Gregory Curtis.

Curtis does a good job of describing the events of the finding of the sculpture and what happened to it and who was involved, but somewhere half way he gets focused on the sexual deviations of some of the figures (e.g. Winkelmann and Reinach).
It doesn't really add anything to the history of the Venus. After a few paragraphs you start to wonder when he's going back to the sculpture. It is always nice to read about some of the interesting figures of early art history research and about the attitudes of the 19th century, but it starts to drag somewhere.
The last chapter of the book is unimaginatively titled 'The Last Chapter' and should really have been omitted. And the second to last one, about the different types of Veni and iconography should have appeared somewhere in the beginning of the book.
You can tell Mr Curtis is not a historian and tends to drift off in an unguarded literary moment, but all in all the history on the handling of the statue and the people involved with it is reasonably ok. So a good read for the lay person, some interesting items for the amateur, and some titbits for the pro.
On one item I absolutely agree with Curits: the way he has a go at the departure point and some methods feminist art historians employ in their research and writings (p 246 in my translation). It goes along the lines of my blog post 'A critique on feminist contextual approach of Art History'.

I own a Dutch translation of Mr Curtis' book (by Guus Houtzager) and it is absolutely awful. It is riddled with hideous spelling mistakes (e.g. 'verast' where it should have been 'verrast': verast = cremated, verrast = surprised) and some very badly translated words (or rather: badly chosen ones). Sometimes it seems as if the translator was not at all familiar with some words and has just plucked the most fancy sounding one out of a dictionary.

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