Best Reads 2013. V: Anne Carson, Antigonick

Anne Carson, AntigonickThis is Anne Carson’s translation (and adaptation) of Sophocles’ play Antigone. Following on from Nox, an epitaph written on the occasion of her brother’s death, Carson here revisits the theme of mourning a lost brother, for the heroine of Sophocles’ play is condemned to nothing less than a living death in a sealed cave, all because she wished to bury her dead brother.

Anne Carson, AntigonickAntigonick is a powerfully compelling work, beautifully executed while at the same time, in typical Anne Carson fashion, bordering on the incomprehensible. The text is presented in handwriting (apparently Carson’s own), in capital letters and with hardly any punctuation. It is interlaced with rather surreal illustrations by Bianca Stone, printed on transparent vellum that overlays the text. It is not always clear how the illustrations relate to the text, but they contribute significantly to the beauty and appeal of the book as well as to its overall impact by heightening the absurdity of the world that Carson’s rereading presents.

Anne Carson, Antigonick
Illustration by Bianca Stone

Not an easy read this, but a fascinating one. Like Nox, it left me intrigued and deeply touched by Carson’s creative and harrowing ways of mourning her brother’s death.

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