Autobiography of Red

by Subodh Gupta

Last night, I started reading Autobiography of Red, a novel in verse, by Anne Carson. I’m only 40 pages in and I can tell you that Carson’s masterpiece is already burning through me. From the beauty of her sentences to the brilliance of her ideas to the myth she retells to the little red heart that breaks and the arrow that kills it. Here’s an excerpt from the book’s opening, but be warned: It, in no way, prepares you for the rest of the book.

“What is an adjective? Nouns name the world. Verbs activate the names. Adjectives come from somewhere else. The word adjective (epitheon in Greek) is itself an adjective meaning “placed on top,” “added,” “appended,” “imported,” “foreign.” Adjectives seem fairly innocent additions but look again. These small imported mechanisms are in charge of attaching everything in the world to its place in particularity. They are the latches of being.”

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3 responses to “Autobiography of Red

  1. jessiecarty

    i love the picture you chose to go along with discussing the book. i think i need to go back and read Anne Carson because i seem to be the only one who just didn’t fall in love with it… 😦 i feel bad about that!

  2. I’ve been frequenting your blog for the past few months now, and I do enjoy your musings.

    I had to comment this, for I love Anne Carson and, particularly, Autobiography of Red. I read it this past summer. I remember being angry while reading it, angry that no one had told me of its brilliance before-hand and hadn’t forced me to read it earlier. It wasn’t play-pretend kind of anger either . . . lol.

  3. It, along with Glass, Irony, God, is her best book of poetry. And it’s also a novel. And it’s also insistently queer. And it also defies categorization. And it also has some of the most powerfully dramatized metaphors and symbols of any poetic work of the last 20 or so years. And you have it in your hands. Enjoy!

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