29 April 2013
From The Evening Standard April 29 2013
Spears are being hurled in the classical world after a new book about Euripides was given a lukewarm write-up in the well-respected Classical Review.
Cypriot author Vayos Liapis had spent eight years researching the play Rhesus, attributed to Euripides, for his new academic work published by the Oxford University Press. Liapis concludes that it’s not by Euripides but the authorship issue is not the problem. It was the review by Donna Zuckerberg, a little-known classicist doing a PhD at Princeton, who bakes by night and also happens to be the younger sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Not many in the classical world share Zuckerberg’s opinion that Liapis “fails utterly” in writing a proper appreciation of the play, nor her view that he betrays “persistent and pervasive negativity”. The Classical Review has already received complaints about the quality of Zuckerberg’s review and dismissive comments. Another classical journal, the Bryn Mawr Classical Review, had given Liapis a rave write-up, saying he offered “ a wealth of intelligent, well-balanced discussion”.
Professor Colin Leach, formerly at Oxford University, whose enthusiastic review is due to be published in the Journal of Classical Teachers later this year, expressed his surprise that Classical Review did not allocate so important a book to a senior academic. He also notes: “Zuckerberg used the ‘word’ hapaces, which purports to be the plural of hapax. But hapax is not a noun, but an indeclinable adverb, meaning ‘once’, and hapaces does not exist. It may be a feeble joke, or even an Americanism.” God forbid.