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Antigonick [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Anne Carson , Bianca Stone
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.00
Price: 12.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

24 May 2012
Winner of the Criticos Prize 2012

Antigonick is a comic-book presentation of Sophokles' Antigone in a new translation by Anne Carson, with text blocks hand-inked on the page by Carson and her collaborator Robert Currie. On separate translucent vellum pages, the artist Bianca Stone has created stunning drawings to overlay the text. Anne Carson has published translations of the ancient Greek poets Sappho, Simonides, Aiskhylos, Sophokles and Euripides. Antigonick is her first attempt at making translation into a combined visual and textual experience. Sophokles' luminous and disturbing tragedy is here given an entirely fresh language and presentation: it will provoke poetry readers, classical scholars, theatre people and comic-book aficionados.

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Antigonick + Nox + Autobiography Of Red (Cape Poetry)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Bloodaxe Books Ltd (24 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852249390
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852249397
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 15.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 358,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

The comic-book translation is zingy and modern...Carson has perfectly captured Antigone's moral fervour and her almost erotic desire for death. The snappiness of her translation hits a different note from Sophocles, but this edition is a treat none the less. --Natalie Haynes, Observer

Unlike versions of Antigone that try to capture the drama's grandeur (such as Robert Fagles's translation for Penguin) or to make it relevant (including Don Taylor's version, currently at the National Theatre), Carson's aims to show the difficulty of translation, the truly unbearable nature of tragedy. --Emily Stokes, Guardian

Antigonick questions what it means to translate Greek drama...For Carson, her uncompromising solutions are little kidnaps in the dark, a trail of softly glowing lamps that mark the way through the centuries and out of the shadows.' - Josephine Balmer, Times

'Antigonick by Anne Carson; everything this classicist-poet writes is worth repeated close reading. This is also a beautiful book.' --Candia McWilliam, Sunday Herald, Books of the Year 2013

About the Author

Anne Carson was born in Canada and teaches ancient Greek for a living. She is author of The Autobiography of Red, The Beauty of the Husband, Decreation, Economy of the Unlost, Eros the Bittersweet, Glass, Irony and God, Grief Lessons, If Not, Winter, Men in the Off Hours, Nox, and Plainwater. Antigonick, her version of Sophokles' Antigone, won the 2012 Criticos Prize for an original work, written in (or translated into) English, inspired by Greece or Greek exploits, culture or history.

Bianca Stone, author of the chapbook Someone Else's Wedding Vows, received her MFA from New York University in 2009, and is the editor of Monk Books. Besides writing poetry Bianca is a visual artist, often combining verse and image, for which she is a 2011 NYFA fellow.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but puzzling 28 April 2013
Format:Hardcover
It's difficult to decide what audience this book is aimed at. It is really three books in one: a English language version of Sophocles' Antigone by Anne Carson, a designed book (non-standard, artistic layout, paper, binding, printing) by Robert Currie, and a book of illustrations by Bianca Stone. Though each aspect of the book considered in itself is well and professionally done, the three don't really seem to gel. The book is handsomely produced, to be sure, especially considering its reasonable price, but I found the design distracted from the text and kept wishing I were reading a plain, standard font -- somehow the stylized, hand-printed letters made it difficult for me to visualize the play in performance. The illustrations are of good quality and excellent reproduction, but they seem to have only a vague, and often not even that, relation to the text. Maybe the idea is for the illustrations to work against expectation by not meeting the reader's expectations of what illustrations should do, reflecting the way the text works against the reader's expectations of what a translation of Sophocles should be; if so, I for one found that the technique didn't work. As for the translation, it's an interesting experiment in using a diction radically different from the standard "translationese" to engage the audience's interest and to breathe new life into the text. In this aspect, and occasionally even in its style, it's reminiscent of Ezra Pound's Sophokles: Women of Trachis. I don't know if Anne Carson has read that book, but I wouldn't be surprised if she had, especially since it is published by the same publisher. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tracing paper! 31 Oct 2012
By ANV
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Tracing paper pages are lovely! The art is wonderful! Exciting story too! Yay! Easily as good as Nox! Pretty accessible considering.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but puzzling 27 Nov 2012
By Jon Corelis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It's difficult to decide what audience this book is aimed at. It is really three books in one: a English language version of Sophocles' Antigone by Anne Carson, a designed book (non-standard, artistic layout, paper, binding, printing) by Robert Currie, and a book of illustrations by Bianca Stone. Though each aspect of the book considered in itself is well and professionally done, the three don't really seem to gel. The book is handsomely produced, to be sure, especially considering its reasonable price, but I found the design distracted from the text and kept wishing I were reading a plain, standard font -- somehow the stylized, hand-printed letters made it difficult for me to visualize the play in performance. The illustrations are of good quality and excellent reproduction, but they seem to have only a vague, and often not even that, relation to the text. Maybe the idea is for the illustrations to work against expectation by not meeting the reader's expectations of what illustrations should do, reflecting the way the text works against the reader's expectations of what a translation of Sophocles should be; if so, I for one found that the technique didn't work. As for the translation, it's an interesting experiment in using a diction radically different from the standard "translationese" to engage the audience's interest and to breathe new life into the text. In this aspect, and occasionally even in its style, it's reminiscent of Ezra Pound's Sophokles: Women of Trachis. I don't know if Anne Carson has read that book, but I wouldn't be surprised if she had, especially since it is published by the same publisher. Though Antigonick can be called only a very free translation, the reader familiar with the Greek text will notice that, like Pound's version, it has a closer relationship to the original than might at first appear. The language of the translation is vivid, even racy, and will certainly engage a modern audience, though there are some mis-steps, or things which may or may not be mis-steps: for instance, Antigone's address to Ismene as "O one and only head of my sister ..." has an ineluctably comic effect for those who remember Housman's parody of Aeschylus ("O suitably-attired-in-leather-boots head of a traveler ...") If the comic effect is unintentional, it's inept; if intentional, it's a joke few members of a contemporary audience are going to get. And does the author really intend the bathetic potential of the lines given to various chorus members at a particularly poignant juncture of the action: "Here comes Creon ..." "Dragging his ..." "Dragging his ..." "Dragging his what ..."? I'm all for working against expectation, but this seems rather over the top. Despite these strictures, I thought this version is worth reading and at its best (again like Pound) points the way to a form of poetic diction which can be an effective solution, or partial solution, to the notoriously intractable problem of presenting the mood of ancient tragedy to a modern audience. I'd be interested in seeing how a performance of it works. Recommendation: if this book were the standard text of the play alone, I'd probably give it four stars, and I'd recommend it for the text to people interested in ancient drama in modern translation. But as it is, my three star recommendation is for a book that seems less than the sum of its parts: three different good books which don't succeed in working together closely enough to make one excellent book.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Superb 28 Jun 2012
By Kevin Hill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Not so much a translation as an interpretation. This is probably not for someone who is unfamiliar with Antigone. It is a very stylistic, aphoristic retelling of the tale for a contemporary audience, done in a radical style. The daughter of Oedipus and his mother-wife, Jocasta, Antigone comes into life with some baggage. When her brother Polynices declares war on Thebes, the city is defended by her other brother Eteocles. Both die and their uncle Creon declares that Eteocles shall receive a proper burial, while Polynices, a traitor, must lie unburied, to be eaten by birds and dogs. But Antigone believes leaving her brother unburied is so utterly wrong that she must break the law to bury him and be condemned to death herself.

The print is in the form of Carson's own handwriting, with little or no punctuation, giving the tale a frantic, nervous feel. Bianca Stone's illustrations are a surreal assortment of images, printed on transparent pages that overlay the text, and which relate only occasionally to what is happening in the text. The result is delightful mixture of wit and irony. The characters of the play even comment on various interpretations that have been offered by Bertolt Brecht and G.W.F. Hegel. Carson is one of our literary treasures and this is Carson at her best.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Antigone Resonates in the Present Moment 18 July 2012
By JMB1014 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Antigonick," Anne Carson's new translation of Sophocles' tragedy, "Antigone," is verbally and visually striking. The book is printed with handwritten words in black and red ink, not necessarily in an orderly arrangement on the blindingly white pages but in irregular chunks, often with gaps. This invites you to read and often reconsider the text based on the unusual arrangement of the words. In some places, it's like reading a text without punctuation. Reading this way becomes an active process of construction of meaning. I think readers pay more attention when they are forced to interpret the text this way.

Carson does not translate everything in the play. Another reviewer called her translation "aphoristic." That is accurate as far as it goes. It is also sometimes contemporary and slangy, making it immediate. I felt the action was happening next door or in the next room, not in a book written at a safe remove. At some places, her prose is simply exquisite - so abrupt and terse, so evocative, that you are yanked into thought, into feeling. Carson also interpolates discussion about Hegel, Virginia Woolf, and other more modern writers to illustrate or make the characters' ideas resonate with us in ways we might not have considered. Like the unusual breaking up of the text, the addition of other writers' ideas calls on us to think and consider the play from more perspectives than we might otherwise. There are many dimensions to Carson's version.

When I got this book, I could not put it down. It demands attention. Certainly the illustrations may be ironic. Their subjects are sometimes surreal, sometimes merely quaint, sometimes just obscure. Again, however, the idea seems to be to jar the reader into contemplation.

I read this alone at first, then along with two other, far more conventional translations of "Antigone." I got a lot out of this one and enjoyed it far more than the others.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another success for Anne Carson 20 Jun 2013
By Underoo23 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Anne Carson really outdoes herself in her re-imagining of Sophocles' tragedy. The illustrations are bizarre, though some of them are very beautifully fitting. The formatting and typesetting is appropriate and there is a humor and playfulness (like a guest appearance in the dialogue by a certain Samuel Beckett) which makes the tragedy even more terrifying. She is one of our greatest living writers, and this is one of her great works.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nick of Time 2 Mar 2013
By E Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Anne Carson's Antigonick opens with a sweeping declaration: "We begin in the dark and birth is the death of us." It's the sort of thing we might expect from a traditional interpretation of Sophocles' Antigone--somber lines, death and destruction from the start. But, of course, this is Carson, and any sense of doom comes with a healthy dose of trickery. The poet/essayist/Classicist/translator-of-ancient-works immediately undercuts the mood with banter:

Antigone: We begin in the dark and birth is the death of us

Ismene: Who said that

Antigone: Hegel

Ismene: Sounds more like Beckett

Antigone: He was paraphrasing Hegel
Perhaps, we think, this Antigone has something new to say.

Carson's Antigonick is an art object unto itself, with the token handcraftsmanship readers will remember from Nox. Carson penned the whole work by hand in an all-capped scrawl with black ink, peppered throughout with fragments written in red. Loosely taking the form of a graphic novel, Antigonick features drawings on translucent vellum paper by Bianca Stone. Yet, rather than serving merely as a sideshow to the text, Stone's illustrations are devastating in their own right and are essential to completing the world of disarray in which Carson's nightmare interpretation of Antigone takes place.
Much of the drawings' magic comes from the complete anonymity of the figures depicted. While Stone portrays members of the Chorus with human bodies, their heads are replaced with cinder blocks. They are literal blockheads, robbed of agency, incapable of doing little more than offer observations as the destruction of the play unfolds. Elsewhere, human forms become amorphous: a lone figure sits at the end of an empty dining room table, two androgynous bodies scowl at each other at the end of a bed. Essentially faceless, these figures are unrecognizable as anyone from the text. Is that Antigone and Ismene holding hands in the second plate? Which character stands in solitude at the center of a ravine?

The images' anonymity is central to Carson's text as well. Antigonick documents a collapse of history, where narratives are no longer strictly linear, but repeat endlessly. The Chorus laments Antigone's death only insofar as she is a statistic: "Antigone Buried alive Friday afternoon / Compare case histories 7, 17 and 49 / Now I could dig up those case histories... / It wouldn't help you / It didn't help me / It's Friday afternoon / There goes Antigone to be buried alive." The horror is not simply that we allow the same atrocities to occur time and time again, but that we have resigned ourselves to this cycle and acknowledge our resignation half-heartedly.
It may be tempting to dismiss the illustrations as merely quirky--one of the Chorus bears the Star Trek insignia on its chest, while elsewhere a figure wears a football helmet. But these touches serve to heighten the absurdity and dark humor of the senseless world Carson has created. Take, for example, the dictator of Thebes and arguably the true tragic character of the work. Forever refusing to heed the wisdom of others, Kreon relents at the last, only to find his family dead and his city in despair. However, Kreon's is a tyranny beyond political power. He first enters the play with a decree: "Here are Kreon's verbs for today: ADJUDICATE LEGISLATE / SCANDALIZE / CAPITALIZE" and, "Here are Kreon's nouns: MEN / REASON / TREASON/ DEATH/ SHIP OF STATE / MINE." Kreon is an autocrat of language; his words are his people's words, because he declares it so. Indeed, when the Chorus reminds the despot that "mine isn't a noun," he replies simply, "It is if you capitalize it."

This is what a Carson-infused lyricism looks like. The residue of our English teachers' Antigone is there, but Carson and Stone have crafted something of an entirely new spirit. While the poet and her illustrator stray from the expected narrative, the tragedy of the work isn't lost on anyone. The Chorus utters what is perhaps the most terrifying line, isolated on its own page: "Your soul is blowing apart." It's hard not to shudder.
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