Anne Carson’s Dialogue of Grief

Anne-carson-credit5ada2576Gary Hawkins at the LA Review of Books:

With their clear references to the myth and their book-length scope, we might be inclined to approach these books as contemporary heroic tales, and so we’d take the broad perspective of an ancient Greek audience in the day-lit amphitheater of Dionysus, apprehending the outlines of a tragedy like Euripides’ Herakles from afar. Carson, who has herself translated Euripides in Grief Lessons (New York Review of Books, 2006), and also translated numerous other Greek plays, reminds us that from this perspective “you can read the plot of a play off the sequence of postures assumed by its characters.” A play becomes a series of “tableaus,” each telegraphing a specific pose, from prostrate supplication to upright championship to flattened death. Each of these Geryon-Herakles books holds us with an agile and inventive plot that moves its characters through a progression of revealing tableaus. We could follow Geryon as young antihero under the sway of Herakles through a coming-of-age trajectory inAutobiography of Red: a flattened exchange between a mother and an adolescent “monster” at the kitchen table; that red boy on an nighttime adventure with his new tough boyfriend, standing high and triumphant on an overpass above “blowing headlights like the sea”; much later, his sliding off of Herakles’ bed and slinking out the exit alone into “the debris of the hotel garden” where he is laid flat by a punch from Herakles’ jealous new boyfriend; and, finally, Geryon taking flight into a volcano with his camera.

more here.