Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Gossip Guy"

At the Poetry Foundation, Alice Boone has a nifty Q&A with Sophie Gee, whose novel The Scandal of the Season recreates the milieu and the writing of Pope's The Rape of the Lock. I especially like these thoughts on the tension/problem of animating the inanimate—

Gee: One of the most exciting parts of The Rape of the Lock is when Belinda heads up the Thames on the boat and the sylphs are playing around the sails and blowing on the sails. What I love about it is, if you had a videotape of that scene in real life, obviously it’s not the sylphs, it’s the breeze that’s blowing on the sails. But he manages to give the breeze a kind of translucid materiality, and the sylphs occupy the space of wind. What Pope does that’s very innovative is to assign a kind of animate spirit to inanimate materialism. The sylphs are the obvious way that he does that, but he does it less obviously with the slipper, the bell, and the things on the dressing table. What Pope is giving us is a personified inanimate world, and that explains for me why a poem that’s really rather stiff and not very lively in terms of the quantity of animation nonetheless feels very volatile and fluid and shifting.

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