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Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse Hardcover – 1 May 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 May 1998
£45.77

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 149 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred a Knopf; 1 edition (May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375401334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375401336
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 16.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,597,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Anne Carson is a Professor of Classics as well as an innovative and well-regarded poet: Autobiography of Red draws on both in a highly original "novel in verse". But this is by no means a straightforward narrative poem--rather it is a formally inventive and diverse investigation into the nature of story, its inheritance from the past and its transformations of inherited materials. The foreword gives a brief account of the work of the Greek poet Stesichorus, of whose twenty-six books only a few fragments have survived. Stesichorus was a poetic innovator--he disrupted the stable descriptive traditions of oral Homeric poetry and, perhaps equally importantly, reinterpreted epic themes through the medium of lyric verse. It is this which gives the clue to Anne Carson's own reinventions, for concepts of the fragment, innovative language and formal revisioning are key elements of this long and ambitious book.

Among the Stesichorus fragments are parts of a poem known as the "Geryoneis" which deals with the slaying of the winged red monster Geryon by Herakles (Hercules). What is interesting is the fact that many of these fragments deal with the monster's own experiences: instead of the epic struggle, the fable of "culture versus mostrosity", we see Geryon, for example, as a child playing with his dog. Carson extends this frozen moment of youth: as well as translating passages from Stesichorus, she expands, reworks and invents a whole childhood for Geryon, relocating him into a more contemporaneous milieu with him and Herakles as young, strangely antagonistic lovers. The idea of the fragment is taken up in the pastime of the child-monster Geryon--photography, the art of snatching fragments from the real, the lived, the experienced-- and in the language given to Geryon, for Carson fuses the beast with the classical poet so that the fresh descriptive energies of the latter are grafted onto the naive eye of the creature outside of culture.

What Carson achieves is admirable: the book is an exploration of youth and a philosophical project while at the same time formally varied and challenging. In exploring ways of inheriting and responding to a literary past, it also invites us to be more generous with our freedoms and to be creatively ambitious--we should see naively and make the world anew, like Stesichorus, and like Carson's Geryon. --Burhan Tufail --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"This book is amazing--I haven't discovered any writing in years so marvelously disturbing." --Alice Munro
"A profound love story...sensuous and funny, poignant, musical and tender." --The New York Times Book Review
"A deeply odd and immensely engaging book.... [Carson] exposes with passionate force the mythic underlying the explosive everyday." --The Village Voice

-This book is amazing--I haven't discovered any writing in years so marvelously disturbing.- --Alice Munro
-A profound love story...sensuous and funny, poignant, musical and tender.- --The New York Times Book Review
-A deeply odd and immensely engaging book.... [Carson] exposes with passionate force the mythic underlying the explosive everyday.- --The Village Voice --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ultimately I was hoping for something a little more in tune with the classical world it invokes. Despite the character being called Geryon and Herakles, they really have nothing more in common with their mythical counterparts than the name. I also felt the world of the classics did not seem present. Other authors (such as Mark Merlis in his novel An Arrows Flight) manage to set the myths in the modern world whilst still keeping ancient Greece as an influence. Anne Carson leaves every trace of classicism behind. That isn't necessarily bad, but it raises the question of why she is using these myths at all when her poem has so little to do with them. it just feels like a waste, and is a little frustrating when the matter around the poem itself promotes the myth so heavily.

The poetry is solid but unexceptional. There were some nice passages, though nothing really memorable.

Ultimately, this is an enjoyable enough poem, but I couldn't recommend it at the price.
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Format: Paperback
A stunning, magnificent, warmly enveloping work - startlingly evocative imagery on both a grand and intimate scale.

Carson uses her boldly brilliant words to conjure an engaging involvement in the small things of Geryon's life, while effortlessly laying open the eternal themes of outsider experience and unrequited love.

Rewards multiple readings.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anne Carson is a part of the very rare numbers or elite poets. This book takes you on a journey, that no other prose poem can. Recommended read for poetry lovers, and those that appreciate fine art, through the medium of words.
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Format: Paperback
One of the most absorbing books I have ever read. As a non-academic type it was a bit strange at first, but once I got over that I was lost so deeply that I carried the character and his story around in my head all the time for weeks on end. Reading this was an emotional experience! I can't wait to buy the sequel.
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