Barnaby Thieme's Reviews > Decreation

Decreation by Anne Carson
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Aug 13, 10

Read from July 11 to August 13, 2010

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 pass through this book like the shades of the Odyssey who generate speech but not warmth. Sexuality estranges, but never unites.

It's really a rather dismal view of life, and one that does not impress me. It strikes me as the rarefied ennui of an intellectual who spends far too much time in the company of books, and who would rather read of the rage of Achilles than stake her own heart in the bungled human comedy. I don't make this kind of statement lightly, but I do actually believe she should retire from teaching and go live a little.

Incidentally, Carson is the greatest translator of Sappho that one can imagine, and in matters of elegant expression she lacks nothing.
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Szplug Insightful review, Barnaby. I at least discerned a passion in the opening verse composed around the formidable fetish object of her mother—albeit one drained, wearied, made acerbic in the face of the oceanic enormity prescribing the relationship.

With the caveat that I know very little about Anne Carson as an individual, I don't disagree with your whole, apart from that her arctic bleakness impressed me to a considerable degree.


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