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Antigonick - Winner of the Criticos Prize

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It's a powerful contemplation on the right to resist the ruthless tyrant and his wars of conquests, the right to remain true to one's own human values and defy the appropriation of "patriotism" by corrupt and brutal rulers. This really can only be half true, because if it appeared that Carson and Stone both intended that effect, it could have worked: the pictures could have been intentionally shallow, dissonant with the text, and hard to read. Rather, as the scene switches between the textual and the graphic, a temporal shift takes place between the past and the present: something is gone, and something is caught, and vibrates still. I have seen enough student drawings of things like horse's legs entangled with threads and punctured by nails (as in one picture) to know that those images stem from from the artist's previous studio experiments, not from "Antigone.

Rather, she reminds us that the imperative is to refuse to turn away from the suffering exacted by oppression and injustice, to bear witness and hold up the words of those who have been silenced. With text blocks hand-inked on the page by Anne Carson and her collaborator Robert Currie, Antigonick features translucent vellum pages with stunning drawings by Bianca Stone that overlay the text. Her testament that “I am born for love not hatred” is a response to his “Enemy is always enemy, alive or dead.I felt like giving thanks the entire time I was reading it, that Anne Carson has written a translation of Sophocles's Antigone that manages to be very beautiful and very funny and utterly surprising, all at the same time. There is a bizarre, almost frenetic disarray throughout Antigonick, a chilling sense of how easily democracy can slip to tyranny when citizens are paralyzed into silence and inaction. She does not allow us the cleansing outpour of emotion that, in classic tragedy, results in restoration and a way forward.

Translation seems loosely applied, as it is more of a metatextual retelling in minimalism, often humorous, beautifully bizarre and explosively emotional. In Sophokles’s version (as per the 1939 translation by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald), Antigone is respectful in her speech, willing to argue her case. Carson's translation makes a mockery of translations – that seems to be half its point, the other being a kind of aesthetic experiment that I found irritating throughout. It is better to learn too late, she implies, than never at all, yet the body count is now high, Kreon has abandoned himself entirely (‘ he no more exists than someone who does not exist’) and yet Nick--or time--goes on unbothered, always measuring. Readers who are not familiar with ancient Greek texts will most likely feel a bit alienated by all this, but unfamiliarity is, perhaps, the point.

and such) as if written by an adolescent barely familiar with the CliffNotes version of the original play.

A timeless classic that is frighteningly relevant as ever: the dispute between religious and secular laws, authoritarianism and its depredation on culture and faith, and the perils any type of extremism brings. Other fun plays on words is Antigone mentioning she is lonely inside herself, poking at her fate of being sealed alone inside a cave.

I was the fool, not you,” he cries out, addressing his dead son, “to trample out the thing I held most dear. S. Eliot Prize, Plainwater: Essays and Poetry, and Glass, Irony and God, shortlisted for the Forward Prize. When the blind prophet, Teiresias, enters he looks to the Chorus instead of Kreon to declare ‘ Hail, King of Thebes’ as a reminder the power is in the people and not the King, lest he is a tyrant. And together with a brilliant supporting cast, this is a sure delight for Greek mythology and Anne Carson enthusiasts alike. Carson, a poet influenced by authors as diverse as Sappho, Euripides, Emily Brontë, Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf, is known both for innovative translations of ancient texts and for her restrained but searing confessional poetry (try " The Glass Essay" or The Beauty of the Husband).

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