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Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera Hardcover – September 6, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (September 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400043492
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400043491
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,149,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 13 intricately related, supple and confident works in verse and prose, eminent poet and classicist Carson (Autobiography of Red) takes on the meaning and function of sleep; the art and attitudes of Samuel Beckett; the last days of an elderly mother; guns; a solar eclipse; "Longing, a Documentary"; the films of Michelangelo Antonioni; and the vexing, paradoxical projects of women mystics, among them Simone Weil and the medieval heretic Marguerite Porete. Porete, Sappho and others are subjects for brilliant prose essays. The volume's unusual length, though, comes mostly from one-act operas, closet dramas, and other work with stage or film components. "The Mirror of Simple Souls," a short opera and artist's book about Porete, already has an underground reputation: here it takes its place among other works for dramatic recital, including "Hunger Tango," "Stroke and Dye Aria" and a teasingly brief verse screenplay about Abelard, Heloïse and chickpeas. For all its variety, though, the strongest work in this strong collection may be the short, spiky, individual poems, which certainly provide the best single lines: "Your glassy wind breaks on a shoutless shore and stirs around the rose." (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Count on Carson, brilliant and larky, to dance you out of the quotidian. A frolicsome and philosophical poet who channels voices both mythic and historical as she opens new portals onto the human psyche, Carson tinkers expertly with form and complex concepts in her ninth highly original book. Here are shaped lyrics that trace a troubled relationship between the narrator and her mother, an oratorio, a libretto, and an archly minimalist screenplay about Heloise and Abelard. Carson is at her electrifying best when she pairs incisive essays with piercing poems to explore the magical properties of sleep, to explicate the sublime with help from the first-century Greek critic Longinus and filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni, and to grapple with "spiritual daring." The latter inspires commanding portraits of three poetic women martyrs--Sappho; Marguerite Porete, who was burned at the stake as a heretic in Paris, 1310; and Simone Weil, who declared, "We participate in the creation of the world by decreating ourselves." Carson's inquiry into the paradoxical "decreation" of the self in the quest for the divine exemplifies her gift for joining erudition with feeling, insight with wit, and a sense of cosmic continuity with personal liberation. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By fishbola on June 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Decreation is coy, playful, obscure, difficult & profound. In other words - it is experimental, like other works by Anne Carson. Where is the tiny give that begins to give you entry? The book is transparent - yes, but slippery (note the undergarment photographed like a jellyfish on the cover). In the book are tableaus of different approaches to annihilation featuring Sam Beckett and God, Marguerite Porete and God, Simone Weil and God. In the interludes, witness Sokrates and Demosthenes the orator "who knows how to make his nouns rain like blows", Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bishop together in a sleep-assay that describes To the Lighthouse as a "novel that falls asleep in the middle". Decreation also contains an hommage to Antonioni, as strange and beautiful as Antonioni's films. Perhaps the "give" you're looking for is on page 46, where Carson recounts Antonioni directing Lucia Bose in Story of a Love Affair - "To obtain the results I wanted I had to use insults, abuse, hard slaps." Then again maybe not. But just when you think you're in here's another clue from AC - "If God were knowable, why would we believe in him?" Slap!
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Avant-Captain_Nemo on October 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Intelligence has no other name than Anne Carson. And "Decreation" proves that Ms. Carson has not lost the good of intellect as she pursues an incomphrehensible sublime through the intricate paths that connect the uber-sublime Simone Weil, Margerate Porete, Longinus, the negative theology of Samuel Beckett, and a thousand other things, themes, and people. Though not all of the pieces in this volume are verse all are pure poetry shifting through an intense tesseract where things that are most traditional are radically re-interpreted in direction that is surreal, avant-garde, and yet classical.

This kind of work is an example of what strong poets should be attempting to do today and it is one reason why Ms. Carson is the brightest bard of our hour, worthy to stand on the heights with Emily Dickinson and Paul Celan.

As I read these poems and essays I feel that my own imagination and intellect are struck by a light that is feminine and precise, strong, even rutheless, breath taking in its wilful ascents and descents, and firmly dedicated to its own unique spiritual quest.

There are passages in the poems in which I encountered the truly indescribable. Few are the poets these days that will dare to take on such possiblities and labors. Most poets writing are grinding out stuff that sounds like the slightly piqued pseudo-spiritual musings of third-rate diarists. But not Ms. Carson.

I must confess I can hardly wait for her next volume but for now I have too much to ponder as I watch my own mind quietly re-organized by Anne Carson's on-going aesthetic triumphs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amber Ellis on October 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anne Carson is an artist whose craft is so fine that it has departed the shore of known art, known poetry, and is headed into the deepest place, as she says in "Seated Figure with Red Angle (1988) by Betty Goodwin":"If body is always deep but deepest at its surface"

This is a woman not only in contact with her animal body, but in contact with the guide on the journey to knowing. Her deep questioning alone is worth reading this book, to bear witness to her bearing witness--an infinitely real human, an infinitely real poet--perhaps what the negative reviewer was picking up on was the sense of sadness that penetrates through her intellect as she investigates love and loss.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Barnaby Thieme on December 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
Carson has such a prodigious command of style and form that one is tempted to overlook the lack of passion and humanity in these poems. After initial enthusiasm I increasingly felt oppressed by this claustrophobic book, which evokes an apophatic language of transcendence to articulate what I take to be Carson's difficulty in making contact with her own animal nature. The intellect is depicted as a point of departure, but it leads only to alienation. Humans pass through this book like the shades of the Odyssey who generate speech but not warmth. Sexuality estranges, never unites.

It's a rather dismal view of life, and one that does not impress me. It strikes me as the work of a writer who would rather read of the rage of Achilles than stake her own heart in the bungled human comedy.

Carson is the greatest translator of Sappho that one can imagine, and in matters of elegant expression she lacks nothing.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By annabel leia on November 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
Everyone should read this book! It examines Simone Weil, Stevens, and other Modern and Contemporary Poets.

I adore this book.

"Nothing that is not there and
THE nothing that is."

Beautiful, moving, thrilling, lucid and sublime.
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More About the Author

Anne Carson was born in Canada and teaches ancient Greek for a living. 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.

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