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Glass and God Paperback – 9 Apr 1998

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Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (9 April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224051172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224051170
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

For her first British publication, the Canadian poet Anne Carson has chosen to collect five sequences combining modern and classical themes, "short talks" and theological allegory. Glass and God opens with the moving long poem, "The Glass Essay", a series of meditations on the tensions between the public and private life of Emily Brontë, as well as her own sense of loneliness and despair after the ending of a love affair.

Reflecting on the intense, obsessional, even demented, anger of Brontë's private, imaginary life, Carson sees an analogue between that life and the lives, more generally, of women artists caught between the demands of love and work, belief and unbelief. She wonders whether "anger could be a kind of vocation for some women", embodying what they both hate and fear about themselves, acting as a powerful source for both the release of repressed energy and revenge for "that life withheld". Even though "the vocation of anger is not mine", Carson's indication is that anger, despite its unnerving presence, can be a profound emotion for freeing "this soul trapped in glass". Other poems address the costs of such exorcism, of what it means to purge one's spiritual and psychological demons when there is still "the terrible sex price to pay".--David Marriott


"Anne Carson is a daring, learned, unsettling writer. Both in poetry and in prose (and the nimble mixtures of both that are characteristic of her work) she offers and upholds exceptional pleasures and standards. A unique figure in the North American literary landscape and not nearly as well known as she should be" (Susan Sontag)

"Anne Carson's poems are like notes made in their pristine urgency, as fresh and bright as a series of sudden remarks... A real poet whose poems are unfailingly memorable... [whose] powers of invention are apparently infinite" (Guy Davenport)

"Anne Carson is a new and brilliant talent making her English debut with this volume" (Peter Porter)

"She is a rare talent - brilliant and full of wit, passionate and also deeply moving. Her long poem 'The Glass Essay' is oen of the best of our time" (Michael Ondaatje)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Larry Lee Snow on 18 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Read this and make your own assessments, but I think she's a powerful voice in the poetry of our time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 19 reviews
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
The professor sets a high standard 7 Dec. 2001
By The Hammer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is some darned fine and aggravating poetry. The Glass Essay is a kind of hybrid of verse and essay; poetry with a point to make. The last piece, The Gender of Sound, is an essay --but you're not the sort of reader who reads reviews at Amazon if you're the sort who'll make it all the way through that sucker. I was with her for "the haunting garrulity of the nymph Echo" and could follow her assertion that Hemingway was afraid of Gertrude Stein the meat-eater because of her voice. Where I lost her, and bet you will too, though I admire and am jealous of those who won't, is when she veers into "lyric fragments of the archaic poet Alkaios" which she reproduces in the original language and explicates with words I am absolutely unfamiliar with. But here's the rub. Just because I can't follow where this Canadian classics professor's brain can go in an essay doesn't mean I can't read her poetry, slap the ground, say holy cow, and want to go out and be a better man because of it. The rigorous scholarship she shows off in the essay informs the poetry and prods along my reading of it. The Truth About God, TV Men, and The Fall of Rome are poetry nobody's written before.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Innovative form 8 July 2001
By M. J. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book contains one traditional essay, a fascinating study of language and gender (classical Greece to Freud), and five poems which blur the line between essay and poetry. The net result is the exploration of very complex thoughts in a very readable form - a form that hides the complexity behind very concrete, common life images.
In "The Glass Essay" grief over a lost relationship, the relationship between the Bronte sisters, the relationship between mother-daughter, and the writings of Emily Bronte are explored in a seamless manner.
"The Truth About God" is a search for the meaning of God in our era. The opening stanza sets the tone for the exploration: "My religion makes no sense / and does not help me / therefore I pursue it." It draws from Beethoven's life, from Teresa of Avila, from the apophatic theology ...
"TV men" mixes Greek heroes and Gods with filming - meet Hector and Socrates in a new environment. "The Fall of Rome: A Traveller's Guide" explores personal relationships (or lack thereof) when language becomes a barrier not a bridge. "Book of Isaiah" explores the mindset behind the Biblical text of Isaiah.
The strength of this book is that the vast knowledge behind the writing is made accessible to the reader rather than being required of the reader. This is a book that makes the reader want to read more of the author's work.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Grand Experiment 23 April 2003
By Gianmarco Manzione - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While experimental verse often risks feeling contrived or convoluted, Anne Carson's ambitious voice builds on accomplishments of previous works such as "The Life of Towns"-always feeling genuine and purposeful, yielding moments of intense irony, rhythm, and blade-sharp line breaks facilitated by Carson's idiosyncratic punctuation.
Aside from grammatical and linguistic devices, though, another successful experiment is Carson's capacity for engaging in biography and autobiography simultaneously in "The Glass Essay," as Emily Bronte's life becomes a mirror for the speaker's own predicament and contributes an additional layer of complexity and pathos.
Where Emily Dickinson uses dashes to reveal the full power of a particular word or line, Carson resorts to an unusual frequency of periods, creating abrupt shifts of focus that help the poem encompass as much subject as possible within just a few sparse lines. In "The Glass Essay," she resorts to this device immediately and often:
She lives on a moor in the north.
She lives alone.
Spring opens like a blade there.
Already, in just three short lines of the 38-page poem's fourth stanza, we encounter loneliness, landscape and season, distinctly echoing past triumphs such as "The Life of Towns," as in "Town of Spring Once Again," for instance:
Rain hissed down the windows.
Longings from a great distance.
Reached us.
Despite the periods, the enjambment of these lines is obvious, and more startling. Drops of rain become "longings from a great distance" but, at the same time, the origin of these "longings" remains mysterious. From where are they "reaching" the speaker? The reader is left to imagine and savor.
It is in Carson's skill for weaving Emily Bronte's persona together with the speaker's, however, that "The Glass Essay's" abundant despair becomes most compelling. Like Bronte, whose storied alienation and seclusion comprise much of the poem's focus, the speaker identifies deeply with the moor's landscape. "My lonely life around me like a moor," she says, going on to describe the moor as "paralyzed with ice" in a moment of pathetic fallacy.
Similarly, just as Bronte is described as a "soul trapped in glass" and a "wacher" who "wached the poor core of the world," the speaker becomes just as imprisoned and secluded, obsessively noting the minutest observations as she gazes into "the curtainless morning" like someone under a life sentence. By poem's end, though, the speaker emerges from the malaise that Bronte only escapes through death. "I gave up watching," the speaker confesses, "I lived my life." Finally, in the speaker's own inability to endure the intense loneliness under which Bronte lived (and died), Emily Bronte's own life struggle becomes that much more palpable.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Amazingly Beautiful Poems 7 Aug. 2011
By Marion - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book of poetry is purely amazing. It's worth every cent I paid to discover the delightful poetry of Ms. Carson. My favorite poem is "God's Justice" which I share below. Buy this book and experience the magic of her words.

God's Justice
By Anne Carson

In the beginning there were days set aside for various tasks.
On the day He was to create justice
God got involved in making a dragonfly

and lost track of time.
It was about two inches long
with turquoise dots all down its back like Lauren Bacall.

God watched it bend its tiny wire elbows
as it set about cleaning the transparent case of its head.
The eye globes mounted on the case

rotated this way and that
as it polished every angle.
Inside the case

which was glassy black like the windows of a downtown bank
God could see the machinery humming
and He watched the hum

travel all the way down turquoise dots to the end of the tail
and breathe off as light.
Its black wings vibrated in and out.

From: "Glass, Irony and God" page 49
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Sui Generis 27 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"The Glass Essay," the long poem sequence that begins "Glass, Irony and God" is a great poem: lost love, moms, Emily Bronte are its main topics; an ambitious, one-of-a-kind poem from an ambitious, one-of-a-kind writer.
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