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4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  894 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
Simone Weil described “decreation” as “undoing the creature in us”–an undoing of self. In her first collection in five years, Anne Carson explores this idea with characteristic brilliance and a tantalizing range of reference, moving from Aphrodite to Antonioni, Demosthenes to Annie Dillard, Telemachos to Trotsky, and writing in forms as varied as opera libretto, screenplay ...more
Paperback, 245 pages
Published October 10th 2006 by Vintage (first published 2005)
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Apr 18, 2012 Szplug rated it really liked it
Shelves: canada-eh

I don't quite get all of this.

A mother's heavy lovecripplingly coldwombed moon.
Selenian slices of operatic allurelinedvolleys.
Probing Longinus' Dream for Weil's God
Who fell asleep whilst her passionSapphic
feasted unto surcease.starving.

Don't fully understand every significance.

This aureately-adept, inwardly-tunneling wordplay
in all of its crystalline loveliness
and Penrosian falling away upward.

But I'll be damned if I don't findit fascinating.

A slinky tonic for these
Barnaby Thieme
Aug 13, 2010 Barnaby Thieme rated it it was ok
Carson is like a centaur without the horse. She has such a prodigious command of style and form that one is tempted to overlook the lack of passion. After initial enthusiasm I increasingly feel oppressed by this claustrophobic book, which evokes an apophatic language of transcendence to articulate what is ultimately a human failing -- her failure to make contact with her own animal nature.

The intellect is depicted again and again as a point of departure, but it leads only to alienation. Humans
Mariano Hortal
Este libro, mezcla de poesía y ensayo es una absoluta maravilla. Complejo, poético, clarificador por momentos. Decreación sería la respuesta femenina a la deconstrucción si tuviera que definirlo de alguna manera. Dejarse sumergir en la poética de Carson es entrar en un universo literario donde tu cabeza solo puede explotar. Derruir las formas de los géneros para encontrar a otra persona, la persona decreada
Oct 27, 2013 Pewterbreath rated it liked it
Whatever Anne Carson touches she makes entirely new---you feel like your reading something space aged (if space age wasn't a throwback term in itself).
However, how succesful this book is depends explicitly on which section you're reading at the time. It's a segmented creature, with each section loosely related to the others---for me Carson's confessional pieces are not as interesting as her academic excursions, however I know many people who only know how to read confessionally, so I can't blam
Apr 11, 2009 Arielle rated it it was amazing
I do love Carson's work, but this is giving me a bit of a headache. Not that her headaches don't carry some pleasure with them, but this book is rigid in a way that halts the organic content. There's a sterility here, reaching into words like "radio" and "blood" - There is something chilling but not haunting. It feels like so much is being held back, and I am only to assume Carson means to do so. She does nothing in her work accidentally, everything is primed and calculated. I like this and don' ...more
Jan 22, 2016 yarrow rated it really liked it
The variations of form make the book a little difficult at times, but the two major essays are wholly hypnotic and mindblowing. Her writing on sleep is almost enough to let you slip into an altered state, and the eponymous essay left me speechless. I also really enjoyed the poems entitled /Gnosticisms/ and found them to be really succinct articulations of immanence and clarity.
Oct 11, 2013 Red rated it really liked it
Shelves: la-femme
in short decreation starts telling about the mother of anne carson who had recently died. so what comes is something like what her relation to her mother has ment to her (i suppose). the bigger part is then dealing with three woman from three parts of history namely saphoo, marie la porette and simone weil. giving them a place for introduction and even admiration. in the core of this book lies a small abstract play by samuel becket. also monica vitti is introduced in relation to red dessert by a ...more
Aug 16, 2014 Tra-Kay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, thebook
I have never read anything remotely like this before.

For example:

An Opera in Three Parts
Love's Forgery

Cast: Hephaistos: lame god of the forge and husband of Aphrodite
Aphrodite: goddess of love and wife of Hephaistos
Ares: god of war and lover of Aphrodite
Volcano Chorus: 7 female robots built by Hephaistos to help him at the forge"

This collection melds beauty, mystery, philosophy, psychology, ridiculousness, wit, hilarity, the sublime, love, and more in darkness and almost rando
Sep 28, 2009 Alice rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, poetry
Ok I am reading this again.

Finished! I must say that my only real criticism of this book is the highly personal experience of finding it very hard to fit into my life. This didn’t work well as subway reading. It is just too dense and meaty. I guess I could also say that reading this book highlighted for me that I will never be as smart as Anne Carson, but for the most part I am ok with that. In contrast to Autobiography of Red, Decreation lacks an explicit narrative, but Carson does an excelle
May 13, 2008 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Well, I've finished reading it but I wouldn't say I'm "done" with it. What an odyssey, with many different voices and faces, which I guess is part of the aim in "undoing the creature in us". I don't feel as close to this one as I do to others of Carson's books (like Autobiography of Red or Plainwater), but the scope is vast and I look forward to digging into its pieces later, particularly the essays (which I think would then lend greater meaning to the rest, and vice versa). This idea of decreat ...more
Aug 23, 2009 Cami rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, essay
There was a lot of 5-star stuff in here. I love the poems in the beginning and loved the essay on Sleep. I enjoyed how she brought her own thoughts together with others' thoughts to make some really great points come alive.
However, near the middle she lost me. You couldn't pick and choose as you can with most poetry books. The essays or liberetto had to be read in order to understand the context of the poetry and it became a lot less enjoyable to me.
Nov 14, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it
It's all so good, but some lyric poems just really sing. The essay on sleep and the title essay kill it. The genres are all wild n great
Jul 24, 2016 amal rated it liked it
Dec 27, 2008 Farren rated it liked it
Anne, I've left you for Fanny.
Dec 26, 2015 Maria rated it really liked it
Mostly liked it because of the Decreation essay and the opera that followed
Alex Robertson
Nov 13, 2014 Alex Robertson rated it really liked it
rating weighted heavily by the two essays, which are 6/5 stars
Jan 02, 2017 Zeiya rated it liked it
4 for the back half, the essays & the opera, 2 for the front, liable to rise on a re-read
Sep 22, 2016 Greta rated it really liked it
"What does sleep see when it looks back at us?"


"You are now inside the moon’s shadow, which is a hundred miles wide and travels at two thousand miles an hour. The sensation is stupendous. It seems to declare a contest with everything you have experienced of light and colour hitherto."

That essay on sleep makes me move Virginia Woolf higher up my to-read list. A truly great read.

May 25, 2016 Ellen rated it really liked it
I'm on a journey to read everything Anne Carson has ever written, and it's really working out for me so far.

So it's a poetry/essay/documentary script/public performance art piece script collection, with many of the seemingly discrete categories woven together by theme or character or turn of phrase, and it's really lovely to see the pieces connect. (I don't think I got all of it, you know, and I'd love to see Anne Carson write an essay on Anne Carson, but that might get too meta-- anyway, even t
This one confused me, and not only in a bad way. I wasn't overly keen on the operas (and if I'm honest, that's probably because I'm not sure how to read them--or, indeed, if the operatic form works at all on the page), though it goes without saying that each essay is hypnotic and brilliant (especially, 'Every Exit is an Entrance, on sleep). I also particularly enjoyed the opening poems, especially 'Sleepchains' (Pity us, pity the ocean, here we go). Also worth noting are the final paragraphs of ...more
Jun 09, 2013 Maryjoamani rated it it was amazing
Anne Carson is one of my favorite writers even while I struggle with many of her books, this in particular. Based on The Glass Essay and The Autobiography of Red, I would recommend anything she writes...but this book is difficult. Sometimes Decreation is so simple it feels like it's written by a highly precocious intelligent group of fifteen year olds in a girl's boarding school and yet despite the distraction of that idea, I find everything written strangely alluring. It feels experimental, dar ...more
May 01, 2008 Lightsey rated it it was amazing
I am rereading this in preparation for teaching it. . . sigh. I'm sure we're all familiar with "the teaching read," in which the book invariably becomes more confusing and less interesting, and the marking pen hovers over the page, looking for something "teachable". I'm speaking of teaching a creative writing class; teaching literature I generally have the opposite reaction. Something about method vs. "content," surely, craft vs. experience.
I have to admit that I am rather pleased with myself f
Dec 02, 2013 P. rated it liked it
Shelves: half-read, nonfic, pomes
I skipped the essays. My brain rejects academic essays, especially when there's some good poetry to get to. I thought the oratorio stuff was pretty exciting. I would have liked to see it staged or try to write music for it as a creative exercise.

Mostly I think I wasn't in the mood to read poetry, even though I enjoyed what I read, I wasn't reading as closely as I'd like. I want to come back to it or read some of her other work first.

The pairing with the essays also made me feel like a lot of emp
Sep 01, 2007 Seth rated it it was amazing
Amazing intellectual breadth. Carson is great in every genre, and they're all found here: screenplay, opera, lyric, you name it. Also included are a few illuminating critical essays, some of which are concluded not with scholarly summations but with lyric poems that restate and take flight from the contents of the essays they tie up. The books is particularly great because if you get bored with one piece, wait a few pages and you'll not only be reading another section, but a whole different lite ...more
Decreation is explored through fragmentation or a range of competing genres. The concept itself is fascinating: "to undo the creature in us", but this concept belongs to Simone Weil and is borrowed from her work. Carson's poetry, essays and opera satisfy in places: "The Essay on Sleep"; "Lots of Guns: An Oratorio for Five Voices"; "H & A Screenplay" and the Decreation opera and screenplay are thoughtful. The rest is less captivating. Sticking to one genre might be a better approach, but I gu ...more
There are a lot of elements to this book that have flown over my head.

"Decreation" holds so many references and vocabulary that had me searching all sorts of sources in order to understand.

It's possibly odd to say that being confused by a book and having to do research to understand it makes me enjoy "Decreation" very much. I like books that make me think. I like books that have the sort of lines that ring well together like a series of synchronizing bells.

Anne Carson has an enthralling mind
Heather Fowler
Aug 17, 2012 Heather Fowler rated it it was amazing
Anne. Carson. Blows. One. Away. LOVELY, as always. I'm binge-reading my way through as many of her books as I can this summer. The lovely thing about her work is its erudition coupled with her fascination with loss and mystery--history, literature, mothers, brothers, and lovers. :) There is not one book of hers (I have devoured) that I have not paused in admiration to revel quietly in her use of the unsaid, to consider the telling nature of her questions and her silences. Brava! This particular ...more
Dec 21, 2012 K.m. rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, form
Carson is a poet, but this comes out most in her essays. 'Every Exit is an Entrance (A Praise of Sleep)' and the essay "Decreation', 'Foam (Essay with Rhapsody)' were poetic and elusive in form, style and content. I was drawn in, enticed, by her comparisons of disparate ideas, and her mellifluous turns of phrase, but not necessarily completely satisfied by a black and white resolution. (Which is as it should be). Her operas, while I admired their playfulness, were more to be slogged through than ...more
Heidi Mckye
May 29, 2008 Heidi Mckye rated it really liked it
So here is the thing about Anne Carson: She's my hero. And not just because she's a serious academic in a way that I wish I was or she can pull the strangest and most beautiful associations together. It isn't that she's a Canadian or that she sometimes rides the same train line between Montreal and Toronto that I did throughout my childhood and adolescence. No. It's more than that, it is a deeper odder longing than that and it comes from somewhere inside of me, and has a great deal to do with th ...more
Jul 24, 2013 Jeca rated it really liked it
Half of this book was breath-taking. I especially loved the sections on film (Antonioni and Monica Vitti); the Sublimes; the essays on sleep - which, being a poor sleeper, fascinates me - and total eclipses (a particular favorite) and the final, brief piece, "Longing, A Documentary." I mostly struggled through the other half. Throughout, however, I marveled at Carson's imagination. Her strangeness unlocks something. Who else gives us so much that's learned and fun? Plus, she gives me the Greeks ...more
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Anne Carson is a Canadian poet, essayist, translator and professor of Classics. Carson lived in Montreal for several years and taught at McGill University, the University of Michigan, and at Princeton University from 1980-1987. She was a 1998 Guggenheim Fellow. and in 2000 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She has also won a Lannan Literary Award.

Carson (with background in classical language
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“Here we go mother on the shipless ocean.
Pity us, pity the ocean, here we go.”
“What is a quote? A quote (cognate with quota) is a cut, a section, a slice of someone's orange. You suck the slice, toss the rind, skate away.” 44 likes
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