Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nox: Anne Carson

I've been reading Anne Carson's new book Nox. It's a very unusual book: a photo-facsimile of a book she made by hand for her brother after he died in 2000. It comes in its own box, and is an accordion style book: you can flip through the pages, and unfold it and lay it all out. Apparently, she was working on a translation of a poem by Catullus when he died -- a poem which is, ironically, for Catullus' own dead brother -- and Carson uses this as the framework for the book. Each word of the Catullus poem has a page long exploration of the definition/etymology of the word, with all of its nuances and alternate readings, cut out and pasted on as if in a scrapbook, along with family photos, fragments from old letters, and other ephemera. And she weaves in the family history, the story of her brother's life & death, and other vignettes, within this framework of the translation project.
It's a very moving read. Translation, history, remembering, creating: they are how we deal with love and loss, to come to terms with it, to understand it, or at least accept it, in a sense. And the book itself is quite an interesting objet d'art in its own right. I can only guess how amazing the original is. And in this day of "Kindle" books, and "iPad Winnie the Pooh" books, it is so refreshing to see this kind of "book-art" being published.

Highly recommended.

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