Tenth Commandment Explained
Madame Bovary could cheerfully have carried
on adultering if she had not run out
of money, which is something you can’t do without
when having an affair with someone who is married.
Money helps support adultery, that’s why
the people coveting their neighbor’s spouse
will also covet things they own, their house
a means to pay for the adultery they play.
Inspired by Margaret Atwood, who told Deborah Solomon in an interview in the NYT Magazine, September 28,2008 that Madam Bovary that it was overspending that caused Madam Bovary’s adultery to come to a premature end:
As one of Canada’s most esteemed novelists and poets, you are about to deliver a series of public lectures on a seemingly nonliterary subject, “Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, ” which is also the title of your latest book. Your timing is perfect. Well, I didn’t do it on purpose. It’s not my fault. I didn’t make those banks collapse.
I thought maybe you made the banks fail in order to help your book sales. I didn’t even consider it. When I came up with the idea two or three years ago and planned out the lectures, this was not on the horizon. Everybody was happily buying subprime-mortgage vehicles.
So what led you to take up the subject of debt? Long ago, I was a graduate student in Victorian literature. When you think of the 19th-century novel, you think romance — you think Heathcliff, Cathy, Madame Bovary, etc. But the underpinning structure of those novels is money, and Madame Bovary could have cheerfully gone on committing adultery for a long time if she hadn’t overspent.
Are you saying we should view her as a pioneer of deficit spending? You can examine the whole 19th century from the point of view of who would have maxed out their credit cards. Emma Bovary would have maxed hers out. No question. Mr. Scrooge would not have. He would have snipped his up.
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