A quick portrait of a marriage from of the verse letters in Clive James Fan Mail (1977).
I don’t know what my wife’s at, half the time:
Locked up with microfilms of some frail text
Once copied from a copy’s copy. I’m
Dead chuffed as well as miffed to be perplexed,
Contented neither of us has annexed
The other’s field. Though it’s conceit-sounding,
We Jameses think each other quite astounding.
But linked as they have been they are no longer living under the same roof.
In the introduction to his translation, which is really a love letter to his estranged wife, James recalls the first time, long ago in Florence, that she explained to him the complex subtlety of the Paolo and Francesca episode in canto 5 of Inferno. “Though it was assembled from minutely wrought effects,” he writes, “the episode really did have rhythmic sweep. Every moment danced and the dance was always moving forward.”
Worth remarking as we draw the curtain that Dante, moved upon hearing Francesca tell her story, faints.
And so for day 1280