I broke from The Secret History so I could read Robert Galbraith’s (J.K. Rowling’s) latest novel, The Silkworm. A glorious second book following another adventure of the unusual P.I., Cormoran Strike.
So rather than a review – which I’ve had no time to formulate – enjoy an extract from The Secret History. Tartt’s prose are so wonderful I can hardly put my praise into words.
‘Aristotle says in the Poetics,’ said Henry, ‘that objects such as corpses, painful to view in themselves, can become delightful to contemplate in a work of art.’
‘And I believe Aristotle is correct. After all, what are the scenes in poetry graven on our memories, the ones that we love the most? Precisely these. The murder of Agamemnon and the wrath of Achilles. Dido on the funeral pyre. The daggers of the traitors and Caesar’s blood – remember how Suetonius describes his body being borne away on the litter, with one arm hanging down?’
‘Death is the mother of beauty’, said Henry.
‘And what is beauty?’
‘Well said’, said Julian. ‘Beauty is rarely soft or consolatory. Quite the contrary. Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.’
I looked at Camilla, her face bright in the sun, and thought of that line from Iliad I love so much, about Pallas Athene and the terrible eyes shining.