Anne Carson

I am new to Anne Carson and her book, Autobiography of Red. I am also new to the Greek character, Geryon. I was immediately struck by the book’s form. The short and fragmented lines throughout Autobiography of Red reminded me of David Shield’s Reality Hunger and of course, I thought of Gertrude Stein. There were so many moments that I enjoyed and I’d like to highlight a few of them throughout this blog. But, before I do, let me also add that the book left me speechless. It was so inventive and new! Below are the moments I truly enjoyed because of their beauty, shock and associative leaps. Carson’s reinvented story on Geryon was also impressive and there was so much to pay attention to.

Major favorite moments in Autobiography of Red:

  • “Words, if you let them, will do what they want to do and what they have to do.”
  • “What is an adjective? Nouns name the world. Verbs activate the names. Adjectives come from somewhere else.”
  • “What is time made of?”
  • The images throughout

In her article titled, “Erotic Sufferings: Autobiography of Red and Other Anthropologies,” Sharon Wahl’s explains Carson’s brilliance with form and tone. She writes, “This form, and the book’s tone, seemed to give off a feeling of tenderness, almost like being rocked.” Wahl is correct. Carson is queen of tender writing, which explains why her language is so attractive.

Wahl says, “Carson’s books (and poems) are hybrids of poetic and critical form.” I admired Carson’s dedication to the Greek tale throughout the book and her serious focus and incredible attention to detail. Wahl also points out the book’s humorous tone. She writes, “Carson’s sense of humor is deeply embedded in the writing and shows up everywhere, from the surprise of parrot tricks in a wool blanket, to odd philosophical twists…”

Again, I am attracted to a lot throughout this work and I can see why it received so many different reactions. It is hard to classify and explores so much!

I frequently thought of Carson throughout Red and wondered about her writing process. How did she weave this book together? I did see that her attraction to the Greeks began in high school, but I wonder what exactly linked her to Stesichoros. I must say that I wasn’t attracted to the content, but I definitely appreciated Carson’s technique and extreme dedication to the hybrid.





2 thoughts on “Anne Carson

  1. Me too Ali. Me too. I was blown from this introduction to Anne Carson. I was green to her work and now am in love. Like you say, her form and tone hits a primordial cord in the soul and gets amplified by the structural layout. Succinct, powerful, quick, yet deep. So very exploratory is her work that it needs to be studied, not just read. There are lessons on there and many thought exercises. Her autobiography of red is an exquisite masterpiece of an adapted greek tragedy. Simply blown away and still reeling in shock.


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