Ailz had a podiatry appointment this morning. For the first time in several days I didn't have to de-ice the car before we took off. I took my book with me to read in the waiting room. My current book is (or was- I've finished it now) Anne Carson's Autobigraphy of Red- a novel in verse. I like Anne Carson a lot- to the extent that I bought the book with my own money-- but I'm not sure this really works. A novel is one thing and verse is something else. There are lots of great lines, but the chapters don't function as poems because they also have to be chapters in a novel. Besides, the story isn't terribly interesting. The novel as a form is discursive and realistic- baggy- like one of those stretchy suitcases- whereas poetry is to the point and realism isn't any of its business. The great thing in the Autobiography of Red is the set of translations from Stesichoros- whose fragmentary epic The Geryoneis provides Carson with some sort of jumping off point.
Has there ever been a novel in verse that really worked? Elizabeth Browning's Aurora Leigh comes to mind, but I haven't read it. Have any of you? Her husband's Ring and the Book is sort of like a novel- a big, bad, bold, experimental novel- and I have read some of it- and some of it is brilliant- but taken as a whole it's fatiguing. You keep thinking, why, apart from habit, didn't he write this in prose?
After the podiatry we went and put some petrol in the car. We're paying 86.9 a litre . Ailz was listening to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2. He was talking about this latest fraudster- Mr Bernard Madoff. "Merdle," said Ailz when I rejoined her after paying in the shop. "Respected, owned his own golf course- and you had to have an introduction before he'd do you the favour of taking your money." Only difference is Merdle cut his throat in a bath house (one of Dickens' greatest couple of chapters) whereas Mr Madoff is- last time I checked- still with us. According to an article I was reading in the Times, people like Madoff only prey on the intelligent. I don't know how that works, but apparently you have to be intelligent to understand how this sort of pyramid scheme is supposed to pay. Intelligent and greedy. Don't forget the greedy. If you're not greedy no-one is ever going to fool you nohow.