I am rereading Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, and although I have only begun the first chapter, ‘Red Meat: What Difference Did Stesichoros Make?’, already the conversation is thrilling, fresh. It begins:
“He came after Homer and before Gertrude Stein, a difficult interval for a poet. Born about 650 B.C. on the north coasat of Sicily in a city called Himera, he lived among refugees who spoke a mixed dialect of Chalcidian and Doric. A refugee population is hungry for language and aware that anything can happen. Words bounce. Words, if you let them, will do what they want to do and what they have to do.”
Entering the book again, and the mind of the poet, is like seeing a not-forgotten lover.
Also this morning I remembered that Anna S and I are going to read The Iliad and The Odyssey (Robert Fagles’ translations, recommended by Alberto Manguel).
In our book club of two, we sit curled up in armchairs miles apart, hours apart, reading in lamplight. A few years ago we read Middlemarch together in this way, and texted each other (‘please tell me i’m not Rosamond!’) and wrote postcards. After that, The Golden Notebook. Both books are linked in my mind with Anna, loveliest of reading companions.