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Venus Freeman wrote:

> I also appreciate the
> point (whoever made it first--forgive me for forgetting and thus being
> unable to give credit where it's due (was it Marcia?)) that it is the book
> that kills them. But is it really?  The problem, the reason for their
> death and condemnation is because, as Mandelbaum translates it, "they read
> no more that day."  I do see the point that it was the reading together
> that brought them to the moment of their sin.  And I have always loved the
> perfect understatement of the line: it conveys a great deal by simply
> telling us they put the book down.

Dear Venus,
    How nice to hear your voice again.
    I didn't say that the book killed them, I think Rick S did, but that Francesca
calls the book a pander -- that is, the story of Launcelot's being enthralled to
love excited (to be coarse) Paolo and Francesca to their own illicit acts.  They
resisted until their feelings were enacted in the story.  As you and Rick do, I
think it important that they were reading.  Compare this from Auden's “In memory
of W. B. Yeats”:

     For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
     In the valley of its saying where executives
     Would never want to tamper; it flows south
     From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
     Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
     A way of happening, a mouth.

I like the happy coincidence of Auden's mouth with the fatal kiss.  Anyway, Rick,
here's a paper waiting for you to write in your semester's leave.

    You make a nice point in your observation on the tact and power of «quel
giorno più non vi leggemmo avante» ("that day we read no more").

Marcia