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The Wheeler Centre
Mary Norris: From Comma Queen to Greek Geek
Copy editor and grammar nerd Mary Norris has seen the fabled linguistic traditions of the New Yorker up close – she has worked at the magazine for 40 years, most famously as query proofreader and Comma Queen. That experience forms the backbone of her first book, Between You & Me. ‘I hope writers will see that we are not the enemy,’ she has said of her profession. ‘We love the language.’
In her latest book, Greek to Me, Norris shares her love of all things Greek. Of course, it’s about language – how the Greeks adapted the Phoenician alphabet, and the surprising ways Greek informs English – but it also documents Norris’s encounters with Greek gods, wine, men, and olive groves. Myths are reinterpreted; landmarks are sought out; beautiful coincidences of word and symbol are excavated.
Mary Norris returned to Melbourne for a chat about her travels through Greek language, culture and art (and, of course, so much more) with Penny Modra.
Penny Modra and Mary Norris
The Pen Pal Project
Dear Mr Toad,
Don't be afraid to cull toxic and negative friendships. Mole, Rat and Badger are dull, draining and irrevocably basic. You can do so much better.
What would you say if you could write to your favourite literary character? What advice would you offer to Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights or Toru Watanabe from Norwegian Wood? How would…
Stories from Home
Layla and Majnun: A Persian Love Story
An ancient, epic tale of star-crossed lovers, Layla and Majnun is more than 1000 years old. The story is revived at this year’s Melbourne International Arts Festival, in a magnificent dance production choreographed by Mark Morris.
As a complement to these performances, the Wheeler Centre is hosting a conversation about the significance of the Layla and Majnun legend, in the…
Emily Wilson: The Odyssey Retold
Bizarre, brutal and beautiful, Homer’s The Odyssey is a story of adventure and revenge. It’s one of our oldest stories and an enduring source of obsession for readers, scholars and storytellers.
In Australia, if you studied The Odyssey at school or at university, you probably read it in English and in prose. How much of the rhythm, pace and spirit…
Invasion of the Pod People: Emperors of Rome on Cleopatra
Podcasts, when done right, have a unique way of getting into our heads and infusing us with passions and fascinations we never thought we had. At their best – Stuff You Should Know, or Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, for example – history podcasts can act like a museum of the mind’s eye, providing an absorbing audio guide to…
Ring True: Music, Identity and Obsession
It took 25 years for Richard Wagner to write Der Ring des Nibelungen (the Ring Cycle); presumably he was hoping people would like it. But did he anticipate that his masterpiece would be an enduring source of obsession for people in the 21st Century?
For this conversation, we bring celebrated American radio producer, former film composer and Ring Cycle devotee Jad…
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