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Antigonick Hardcover – May 28, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0811219570 ISBN-10: 0811219577 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; 1 edition (May 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811219577
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811219570
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“She is one of the few writers writing in English that I would read anything she wrote.” (Susan Sontag)

“Carson is nothing less than brilliant—unfalteringly sharp indiction, audacious, and judicious in taking liberties.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Reading Anne Carson is to experience aeuphonious, mystical sort of perplexity.” (Richard Bernstein - The New York Times)

“Her poetry is light, swift, and beautiful.” (The New Yorker)

“The reader, the listener is provoked and challenged to the utmost.” (The Times Literary Supplement)

“It is a cry of grief posed in question form, emphatic, handwritten, excessive and abbreviated and, in this sense, a measured scream that gives us some sense of who or what lives on when it is all too late.” (Judith Butler - Public Books)

“Such light-handed scholarship is characteristic of Carson, a poet interested in those moments when precedents can't be found and normal translations fail.” (The Guardian)

“Ms. Carson does more than just update the language and quicken the pacing–she rewrites the play, mines its subtleties, its absurdity and its strangely comic timing and manages to produce a unique text out of a story that goes back much further than the fifth century when Sophocles wrote his version.” (The Guardian)

“Carson's poetry convinces. Carson's work is irrepressibly modern and provoking.” (The Oxonian Review)

A beautiful, bewildering book, wondrous and a bit scary to behold, that gives a reader much to think about without making it clear how she should feel.

” (Slate)

“[Antigonick] is both riveting and humorous. Bianca Stone's illustrations are immediate and visceral, and Robert Currie's overall book design has elegance and strength.” (The Globe and Mail)

“Stone's illustrations and the hand-lettered text make Antigonick a beautiful object.” ( & The Wall Street Journal)

“Carson and Stone have crafted something of an entirely new spirit.” (Guernica)

“In Carson's hands, this small, familiar Greek volume takes on a thunderously fresh rhythm, a satisfying blend of poetry and prose.” (KGB Bar Lit Magazine)

“Her poetry at it's best, like Antigone's character, is a thrilling combination of hot-blooded instinct and dispassionate resolve.” (National Post)

Antigonick plays extensively with the conventions of narrative form, translation, and the physical presentation of literature.” (The Rumpus)

Antigonick is as much a re-telling as it is a testament to the importance of Antigone in Western art, of re-tellings, and of refiguring narrative.” (Critical Mob)

“The experiment's a fascinating one, and this interesting, risk-taking book is unignorable.” (The Independent)

“Her poetry is expressionistic (you see this in Antigonick), shot through with a spiritual turbulence and an almost violent sensitivity to experience, and the barbed edges of her lines can send shocks through you.” (Full Stop)

“Carson's Antigonick is wildly unorthodox. But it's also captivating, in a brash, pop culture-inflected way.” (

“This is where Carson's best work is staged: in the uncanny gateway between the temporal and the timeless; in the nick between the world of powerboats and the sublime, terrifying realm of the dead and the still lively gods.” (New Statesman)

Antigonick has arrived at the right cultural moment.” (The New Inquiry)

“One of the best designed books of the year and a unique reading experience.” (Suicide Girls)

About the Author

Anne Carson was born in Canada and teaches ancient Greek for a living at New York University. Her awards and honors include the Lannan Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Griffin Trust Award for Excellence in Poetry, a Guggenheim fellowship, and the MacArthur “Genius” Award. She is the author of Nox; Glass, Irony and God; The Autobiography of Red; The Beauty of the Husband; Decreation; Economy of the Unlost; Eros the Bittersweet; Grief Lessons; If Not, Winter; Men in the Off Hours; and Plainwater.

Bianca Stone, the author of Someone Else’s Wedding Vows, received her MFA from NYU in 2009 and is the editor of Monk Books.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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I read the book in one sitting and then reread it immediately.
Isabel Porter
Classicists may say its a rogue translation, but I think that's what makes it delicious!
walter stone
The illustrations are bizarre, though some of them are very beautifully fitting.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jon Corelis on November 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It's difficult to decide what audience this book is aimed at. It is really three books in one: a English language version of Sophocles' Antigone by Anne Carson, a designed book (non-standard, artistic layout, paper, binding, printing) by Robert Currie, and a book of illustrations by Bianca Stone. Though each aspect of the book considered in itself is well and professionally done, the three don't really seem to gel. The book is handsomely produced, to be sure, especially considering its reasonable price, but I found the design distracted from the text and kept wishing I were reading a plain, standard font -- somehow the stylized, hand-printed letters made it difficult for me to visualize the play in performance. The illustrations are of good quality and excellent reproduction, but they seem to have only a vague, and often not even that, relation to the text. Maybe the idea is for the illustrations to work against expectation by not meeting the reader's expectations of what illustrations should do, reflecting the way the text works against the reader's expectations of what a translation of Sophocles should be; if so, I for one found that the technique didn't work. As for the translation, it's an interesting experiment in using a diction radically different from the standard "translationese" to engage the audience's interest and to breathe new life into the text. In this aspect, and occasionally even in its style, it's reminiscent of Ezra Pound's Sophokles: Women of Trachis. I don't know if Anne Carson has read that book, but I wouldn't be surprised if she had, especially since it is published by the same publisher.Read more ›
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Hill on June 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not so much a translation as an interpretation. This is probably not for someone who is unfamiliar with Antigone. It is a very stylistic, aphoristic retelling of the tale for a contemporary audience, done in a radical style. The daughter of Oedipus and his mother-wife, Jocasta, Antigone comes into life with some baggage. When her brother Polynices declares war on Thebes, the city is defended by her other brother Eteocles. Both die and their uncle Creon declares that Eteocles shall receive a proper burial, while Polynices, a traitor, must lie unburied, to be eaten by birds and dogs. But Antigone believes leaving her brother unburied is so utterly wrong that she must break the law to bury him and be condemned to death herself.

The print is in the form of Carson's own handwriting, with little or no punctuation, giving the tale a frantic, nervous feel. Bianca Stone's illustrations are a surreal assortment of images, printed on transparent pages that overlay the text, and which relate only occasionally to what is happening in the text. The result is delightful mixture of wit and irony. The characters of the play even comment on various interpretations that have been offered by Bertolt Brecht and G.W.F. Hegel. Carson is one of our literary treasures and this is Carson at her best.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By JMB1014 on July 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"Antigonick," Anne Carson's new translation of Sophocles' tragedy, "Antigone," is verbally and visually striking. The book is printed with handwritten words in black and red ink, not necessarily in an orderly arrangement on the blindingly white pages but in irregular chunks, often with gaps. This invites you to read and often reconsider the text based on the unusual arrangement of the words. In some places, it's like reading a text without punctuation. Reading this way becomes an active process of construction of meaning. I think readers pay more attention when they are forced to interpret the text this way.

Carson does not translate everything in the play. Another reviewer called her translation "aphoristic." That is accurate as far as it goes. It is also sometimes contemporary and slangy, making it immediate. I felt the action was happening next door or in the next room, not in a book written at a safe remove. At some places, her prose is simply exquisite - so abrupt and terse, so evocative, that you are yanked into thought, into feeling. Carson also interpolates discussion about Hegel, Virginia Woolf, and other more modern writers to illustrate or make the characters' ideas resonate with us in ways we might not have considered. Like the unusual breaking up of the text, the addition of other writers' ideas calls on us to think and consider the play from more perspectives than we might otherwise. There are many dimensions to Carson's version.

When I got this book, I could not put it down. It demands attention. Certainly the illustrations may be ironic. Their subjects are sometimes surreal, sometimes merely quaint, sometimes just obscure. Again, however, the idea seems to be to jar the reader into contemplation.

I read this alone at first, then along with two other, far more conventional translations of "Antigone." I got a lot out of this one and enjoyed it far more than the others.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeremiah Gilbert on July 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been following Anne Carson since The Autobiography of Red and always look forward to her next book, be it poetry, prose, or translation. I know it will be challenging but rewarding. However, with Antigonick, I find the form takes away from the story. First off, it's a beautiful book that I'm surprised can still be made in this digital age (and for the price). That said, I found the handwriting to be a bit distracting and the graphics puzzling as they don't appear, with rare exception, to have anything to do with the story. This continually pulled me out of the story to scratch my head and wonder if I was missing something. I did not encounter this with Nox, which was in some ways presented in a similar manner and is one of the favorite books by Carson. I fully admit that it may be me and I will reread this in a few months to see if I get it then.
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