At The Paris Review Online.
Teaser quote: The Tale of Genji, too, puts the adult reader right back where he or she was, in childhood, facing the Greek myths—but with a difference. Not for a microsecond does one think that Ovid (for example) has any resistance to the Cult of Beauty. You can see he’s a pervert through and through. The suffering involved in all that love stuff is part of why, according to him, the shit is good. Ovid—and the Romans in general—saw absolutely nothing wrong with gladiatorial combat, even if the weapons involved were people’s genitals. Whereas, one can never comfortably class Murasaki in that same category. With her, you’re closer to Milton Mind or Dostoyevsky Mind. She is able to disagree with something she idolizes; she doesn’t make herself agree with it ’cuz she idolizes it.
[originally posted Wednesday 5 June 2019]