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The Beauty Of The Husband is an essay on Keats’s idea that beauty is truth, and is also the story of a marriage. It is told in 29 tangos. A tango (like a marriage) is something you have to dance to the end. This clear-eyed, brutal, moving, darkly funny book tells a single story in an immediate, accessible voice–29 “tangos” of narrative verse that take us vividly through ero The Beauty Of The Husband is an essay on Keats’s idea that beauty is truth, and is also the story of a marriage. It is told in 29 tangos. A tango (like a marriage) is something you have to dance to the end. This clear-eyed, brutal, moving, darkly funny book tells a single story in an immediate, accessible voice–29 “tangos” of narrative verse that take us vividly through erotic, painful, and heartbreaking scenes from a long-time marriage that falls apart. Only award-winning poet Anne Carson could create a work that takes on the oldest of lyrical subjects–love–and make it this powerful, this fresh, this devastating.


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The Beauty Of The Husband is an essay on Keats’s idea that beauty is truth, and is also the story of a marriage. It is told in 29 tangos. A tango (like a marriage) is something you have to dance to the end. This clear-eyed, brutal, moving, darkly funny book tells a single story in an immediate, accessible voice–29 “tangos” of narrative verse that take us vividly through ero The Beauty Of The Husband is an essay on Keats’s idea that beauty is truth, and is also the story of a marriage. It is told in 29 tangos. A tango (like a marriage) is something you have to dance to the end. This clear-eyed, brutal, moving, darkly funny book tells a single story in an immediate, accessible voice–29 “tangos” of narrative verse that take us vividly through erotic, painful, and heartbreaking scenes from a long-time marriage that falls apart. Only award-winning poet Anne Carson could create a work that takes on the oldest of lyrical subjects–love–and make it this powerful, this fresh, this devastating.

30 review for The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos

  1. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    4.5/5 Good thing I don't have Keats on hand, else there I go. A lie, for I have a form of it in nightingale, third from the top of a section labeled 'Poetry' in some chimera thing brewed for the last six years if the transcribed origin date does not lie. Six hundred pages passed just this week, the cut and paste accumulating in smallish fur, micro soft for the consumer, so pardon my crankiness whenever the adulation for paper and pen and etc grow a bit much. I chomped the bit in typing school on t 4.5/5 Good thing I don't have Keats on hand, else there I go. A lie, for I have a form of it in nightingale, third from the top of a section labeled 'Poetry' in some chimera thing brewed for the last six years if the transcribed origin date does not lie. Six hundred pages passed just this week, the cut and paste accumulating in smallish fur, micro soft for the consumer, so pardon my crankiness whenever the adulation for paper and pen and etc grow a bit much. I chomped the bit in typing school on the digital plane, pitter pattered in trepidation of tendonitis across the backs of books wedged to the height of the keyboard, and when the time came to write my thought has never been on good terms with my penmanship, so why shouldn't I make use of the time I was born in? If not for that, I would never have my Keats, and what a pity that would be. Carson frightens me. She's a single focus to an extraordinary extent, run run run after a solitary author till she can write a work even I can recognize as totally immersed, something I have spent year and page in six and six hundred outrunning in an effort to find my 'self'. Whereas Carson is those respectives reversed, reminding me too much of that dread of being on the cusp of graduating to engineer to a single celled slice of idea pitted and potted to pieces with all the money in the world riding on a single bloodying calculation and not a blessing of literature and/or diversity to be found. I'd sacrifice the span of my attention in a heartbeat to forgo being stuck, and that's a line on which I've stood both sides. How does she compose, I wonder? I do so in fluid stutters never looking back, so the fact she feels the same is suspect. Then I think on the more obvious references and the even more damning bibliography and I wonder just how much of an academic is she? I'm a fair hand at the journal article myself, judging by the published results, but my current train of composition is different, no matter how long I must go. Try as I might, I can't imagine careful checking beyond the interspersed quote (instinct, now) without a full throated cringe, although I do so admire the sheer density of allusion woven with play. For, despite all the Greek and French and English, she is playing; a trickster tonguing our supposed truth, beauteous as the shine and twice as likely to slit our throats for that's the only way to talk of love. She looks up from her work, deep/ in the pleasure of it as he can see, something about her/ blinds him. Excuse this digressive brevity as inadvertent incentive to try your own hand.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Troy

    What is it that binds one person to another? Why does beauty have such sway? How is it that one is bound to someone who is destructive, or faithless, or fickle, or deceitful, or who constantly disappears, or who can never love you the way you want or need? Or all of the above, and yet the bond persists: Why? How is it that you can not escape? What cruel trick of fate or nature can give you over to such a creature? "Don't call it my choice, I was ventured: by some pure gravity of existence itself, consp What is it that binds one person to another? Why does beauty have such sway? How is it that one is bound to someone who is destructive, or faithless, or fickle, or deceitful, or who constantly disappears, or who can never love you the way you want or need? Or all of the above, and yet the bond persists: Why? How is it that you can not escape? What cruel trick of fate or nature can give you over to such a creature? "Don't call it my choice, I was ventured: by some pure gravity of existence itself, conspiracy of being!" "and I do not apologize because as I say I was not to blame, I was unshielded in the face of existence and existence depends on beauty. In the end. Existence will not stop until it gets to beauty and then there follow all the consequences that lead to the end. Useless to interpose analysis or make contrafactual suggestions." Is this convincing? Not as such, but the book is convincing, but also, like the beautiful husband, seductive and intoxicating. The protagonist, she loved him so. Despite everything, and we understand why she can't move on. Sure, the husband, he's an asshole. Deceitful, destructive, disappearing, faithless, fickle, and unable to love her as she needed. But his appeal wasn't his physical beauty, but in the way he created worlds, wove words into stories (or lies), and how those worlds and words spun dependence and love, and how with those worlds and words he pushed her boundaries, but all in a way that was tied to her; that tied her; that ties us: we and she, enthralled, entwined, enraptured. What is it that binds one person to another? Why does beauty have such sway? How do people get power over one another? This book is a stab; an attempt to understand how love works its spell. The book stabs at the phenomenon of obsession and love from different directions; using different rhythms, styles, meters, techniques. It's a painful book that draws blood from old wounds. Your old wounds. And yet, when the wounds recur, does that help illuminate the invisible ties? Does the new blood glow? Or do we just remain wounded; simply reliving the pain of broken love? And those old wounds, they just throb. And hurt. But at least in this book they hurt beautifully. A whole world of pain, but a whole world that is created in lies and love; that tie us, we and she: enthrall, entwine, enrapture. In the end, Carson gives no real answers, and maybe it's useless to interpose analysis or make contrafactual suggestions. In the end love binds; beauty has sway; and there is no escape, just wounds after bloodletting.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This entire book is one progressive poem, told from the point of view of the wife. She is a totally unsympathetic figure, except for maybe when she is remembering how she first met her husband, how she was first ensnared. Carson has written a complex and melancholy tale of the pitfalls of beauty, presented in 29 Tangos, or interconnected poems. The poems build upon eachother, grow from eachother, and I would gladly be rating this 5 stars if the final poem had not felt so limp when compared to th This entire book is one progressive poem, told from the point of view of the wife. She is a totally unsympathetic figure, except for maybe when she is remembering how she first met her husband, how she was first ensnared. Carson has written a complex and melancholy tale of the pitfalls of beauty, presented in 29 Tangos, or interconnected poems. The poems build upon eachother, grow from eachother, and I would gladly be rating this 5 stars if the final poem had not felt so limp when compared to the previous entries. I had a similar problem with Carson's Autobiography of Red. Both books blew me away and both endings were lacking. This is a very brave book. Carson has taken the famous Keats quote of Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' - that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know and questioned it, furrowed around inside, and, in my opinion, proven it in the context of the relationship between the husband and the wife. The husband is beautiful to the wife and continued to be so no matter what hell he put her through, the letters (oh, the letters were perfect), the separations, the cheating, the brutal honesty. That last bit is what really convinced me. I feel that the husband was incapable of lying. He was so beautiful that his honesty was off the charts. No matter what, this book deserves a reread. Maybe my feelings or opinions will change. I will be reading more by Carson. Really, anything I can get my hands on will do. Edit: changed to 5 stars. How can I not?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Her lady shadow mounted the stairs ahead of her experimentally. Fiction forms what streams in us. Naturally it is suspect. What does not wanting to desire mean?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Reader, I Divorced Him Identify the source of the following passage: Coward. I know. Betrayer. Yes. Opportunist. I can see why you would think that. Slave. Go on. Faithless lecherous child. Okay. Liar. What can I say. Liar. But. Liar. But please. Destroyer liar sadist fake. Please. Please what. Save me. Who else do you say that to. No one. Is it from: A) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen B) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte C) The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson or D) Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding? The correct an Reader, I Divorced Him Identify the source of the following passage: Coward. I know. Betrayer. Yes. Opportunist. I can see why you would think that. Slave. Go on. Faithless lecherous child. Okay. Liar. What can I say. Liar. But. Liar. But please. Destroyer liar sadist fake. Please. Please what. Save me. Who else do you say that to. No one. Is it from: A) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen B) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte C) The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson or D) Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding? The correct answer is C, The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos by Anne Carson. A tango here—most of which are written from the wife's point of view—seems to be a clipped entry in a random ledger, an entry stripped of pronouns and commas wherever possible a la Bridget Jones. Much in The Beauty of the Husband is a la Bridget Jones: Imagine that Bridget loses her sense of humor; ends up with her dishonest, two-timing, two-bit boss instead of the upright, faithful Mark Darcy; reads Greek and Latin instead of self-help books; and starts her entries with a few enigmatic words from the poet John Keats instead of a rundown of calories consumed and cigarettes smoked: You now have a text where the husband in question says of his deceptions to his wife, "please I never lied to her. When need arose I may have used words that lied," a statement so baldly shiftless and banal that even Bridget would cringe to hear it (v. bad). The Beauty of the Husband is inspired by the final lines of "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,"—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. Critics disagree about the meaning of Keats' declaration that "Beauty is truth, truth beauty": whether it functions as a profound statement of a metaphysical reality, or an ironic overstatement uttered at the dramatic and fevered pitch poetry brings one to, or is simply inane nonsense. Inanity is as much a part of The Beauty of the Husband as truth or beauty: In an interview in the March/April 2001 Poets and Writers, Carson states that she liked "the absolute inanity of calling anything a fictional essay." It is that inanity—the cheatings and errors in this work, as opposed to its interest in truth and untruth—that makes it second-rate. Bridget Jones's Diary is based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, which begins with a famous first sentence: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Jane Austen is not the author of Jane Eyre, though the notes to The Beauty of the Husband identify her as such: someone bothered to check the publication date of Jane Eyre (1847), but no one at Knopf bothered to check (or simply knew) the author—? [note: A longtime Carson fan, I bought the first edition almost as soon as it was available and read it right away. I was so bothered by this that I wrote a letter to the publisher. I hope they fixed it in reprints.] Jane Eyre is cited by Carson because she wants to make use of Mr. Rochester's jealousy; jealousy is a common enough topic in Austen's novels. Austen was an ironist; Bronte wrote in deadly earnest. Austen explored the ways that particular lies could reveal particular truths, and the works of both Austen and Bronte underscore the ugliness of certain realities. In this work, Carson doesn't get at truth or irony or beauty or ugliness nearly as well as Austen, Bronte, Fielding or Keats. The Beauty of the Husband is poorly conceived and hastily written. We are informed on the fly-leaf that "A tango (like a marriage) is something you have to dance to the end." Why? Why must a tango or a marriage be danced to the end, any more than, say, the hustle, the hokey pokey or the Lobster Quadrille? The assertion should come with a caveat: Tangos and marriages must be danced to the end if they are to be successful, just as successful books must be written to the end. This is a hurriedly written book of failed tangos and a failed marriage. It's as if Carson got tired: we're reading along at a fair pace, listening to the wife's complaints, meeting the husband's friend Ray the painter, hearing Ray try to comfort the raging wife—we even spend time with the husband's ancient grandfather—when suddenly things fast-forward to the husband saying of the wife, "She fought me. She lost. I am married again now." The wife loses, as does the reader. The few moments of eloquence and insight in this work cannot compensate for its inanity, triteness and tired conventionality. Sit these tangos out, and spend your time reading any of the works mentioned earlier, or, for a work by Carson that does deliver the goods, try her tour-de-force Plainwater instead. [Yes, this is an old review. I wrote it in the spring of 2001. I added it here because I like it about as much as I loathe the book.]

  6. 4 out of 5

    Khashayar Mohammadi

    Great concept, lovely poems and beautiful presentation. A must-read by one of Canada's most ingenious poets.

  7. 4 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    xxiv. and kneeling at the edge of the transparent sea i shall shape for myself a new heart from salt and mud

  8. 5 out of 5

    Vartika

    I have never felt any particular enjoyment in Lana Del Rey’s music, but that, strangely, is what this book reminded me of – no, not really, that’s all just the work of a freely associating mind, just another product of a time that’s raining cats and culture. And especially when it comes to Anne Carson, cultural artefacts such as this book are much less classifiable, much more genre-defying, than ever – which is all to say: it shouldn’t be surprising that I finished reading this, and then immedia I have never felt any particular enjoyment in Lana Del Rey’s music, but that, strangely, is what this book reminded me of – no, not really, that’s all just the work of a freely associating mind, just another product of a time that’s raining cats and culture. And especially when it comes to Anne Carson, cultural artefacts such as this book are much less classifiable, much more genre-defying, than ever – which is all to say: it shouldn’t be surprising that I finished reading this, and then immediately read it again. The Beauty of The Husband is a self-proclaimed ‘Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos,’ presenting a deliciously bold take on Keats’ idea of beauty as truth (and truth as beauty) through the story of a deceitful, difficult marriage. With a full-bodied and brutal lucidity, Carson writes here of the dilemma of love and desire brewed together with analogies from classical mythology, linguistics, poetry – and, ofcourse, the epigrammatic appearances of Keatsean thought. There is immense beauty in these tangos that flow into and shape each other – in the white and red roses of Tango VI and the soft winegrapes of Tango IX, amongst the vividness of many others. There is, too, beauty in the way characters have been fleshed out in verse – of the mother, for instance, and Ray, a diner cook by night and painter by day. Beauty is not merely the trap this book lays for the reader, it is also the entrapment laid out within it. Indeed, it is his beauty that tethers the wife-narrator to the husband, a beauty both physical as well as creative, poetic – beauty, rather than choice: Why did nature give me over to this creature—don't call it my choice, I was ventured : by some pure gravity of existence itself, conspiracy of being! I was not to blame, I was unshielded in the face of existence and existence depends on beauty. In the end. Existence will not stop until it gets to beauty and then there follow all the consequences that lead to the end. Useless to interpose analysis or make contrafactual suggestions. Is the explanation and exploration of love here enough? Certainly not, but it is an essay, layered and beautiful, and masterfully written with the same blind force of battle as Epipolai, where people on the same side hurt each other. And in that it is true and unsympathetic, it is certainly better than Lana Del Rey – unless I've taken interpretation too far.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia Hobbet

    The New York Times magazine recently ran a profile of Anne Carson. Despite having read much of her work over the last decade, I hadn't read much about her as a person, and the piece made me start grabbing her books off the shelves again. I had forgotten just how intense an experience this is. The Beauty of the Husband in particular makes me grope for words other than, You have to read it. It's painful and stark, the story of a woman's obsession with a man she should never have married but would The New York Times magazine recently ran a profile of Anne Carson. Despite having read much of her work over the last decade, I hadn't read much about her as a person, and the piece made me start grabbing her books off the shelves again. I had forgotten just how intense an experience this is. The Beauty of the Husband in particular makes me grope for words other than, You have to read it. It's painful and stark, the story of a woman's obsession with a man she should never have married but would love again if he came close. We readers talk sometimes about an author who manages to capture a whole character in a few words. Carson does it in a few syllables, and those few syllables bloom out in your mind as you read them: you see the whole world of that marriage, its delights and all its tortures. Is it autobiography? Despite hating this question, I ask it myself--because this piece draws so much blood, and it still flows. How can it not be true? Stupid question. "A true lie," she says. "It is no longer the event," she says. And I understand all over again, until I don't--because the doomed couple in this book stand out in such stark, living light in my mind. To me, it's not only real, it's happening now.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alejandra Arévalo

    Wow Some tangos pretend to be about women but look at this Who is it you see reflected small in each of her tears Watch me fold this page now so you think is you. Wow

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lee Kofman

    I missed a lot in this book, I'm sure - allusions, subtleties - because Carson is too smart and erudite for me. But this doesn’t mean I didn’t love the book. The rawness of it, the 'politically incorrect' praise of beauty and admission of the power of Eros, the stunning language, the delicious rhythm. A lot of it went over my head, but then went straight into my viscera. Carson is a woman I’d have loved to have a Campari with in some dark bar that plays tangos.

  12. 5 out of 5

    hayden

    Just divine. Transformative. Will reread ad infinitum.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    This is my favorite Anne Carson, hits me on a far deeper level than Autobiography of Red. Jealousy, beauty, sex...

  14. 4 out of 5

    mwpm

    Anne Carson continues to impress me with her style and use of formal experimentation. The book is first and foremost "an essay on Keats’s idea that beauty is truth, and is also the story of a marriage", told in 29 Tangos (I'll address that later) that begin with a quote from Keats, often utilizing obscure passages from journals or drafts (or, in one case, something found by Keats scratched on the glass of his lodging in Newport), and then a Chapter (or Tango) heading that is best characterizes a Anne Carson continues to impress me with her style and use of formal experimentation. The book is first and foremost "an essay on Keats’s idea that beauty is truth, and is also the story of a marriage", told in 29 Tangos (I'll address that later) that begin with a quote from Keats, often utilizing obscure passages from journals or drafts (or, in one case, something found by Keats scratched on the glass of his lodging in Newport), and then a Chapter (or Tango) heading that is best characterizes as being long and allusive (XXIV. AND KNEELING AT THE EDGE OF THE TRANSPARENT SEA I SHALL SHAPE FOR MYSELF A NEW HEART FROM SALT AND MUD), and then the Tango itself, which follows a narrative related but not limited to the relationship of a Husband and Wife (in a style comparable to Carson's Autobiography of Red). Carson's use of the term "Tango" is best explained in a dialogue from TANGO XXV... She had to unlock him. Meaning sex. I guess. You know what's good for that is tango. For unlocking? Cures the digestion too. And later in the same chapter... It was like a beautiful boiling dance where your partner turns and stabs you to death This second example relates the tango (dance) to the Battle of Epipolai in 413 BC, a battle fought by moonlight in which the soldiers of one side confused their enemies with friends and inadvertently shared their password. The Husband further relates this battle to his relationship with the Wife, stating: "We need a new password..." The dialogue between characters is predominantly presented this was: without the line attributed to either of the speakers, and without punctuation (for which she is indebted to Gertrude Stein). In the same Tango, Carson stresses the importance of the use of dialogue to the Husband... Philosophers say man forms himself in dialogue. As this relates to the book, it is not just the dialogues but reminiscences of the Wife (from whose perspective the Husband is most prominently portrayed) that form the Husband, but her reminiscences have the quality of a dialogue - a dialogue with the reader.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    VIII. IT WAS JUST NIGHT LAUNDRY SNAPPING ITS VOWELS ON THE LINE WHEN MOTHER SAID WHAT'S THAT SOUND Poets (be generous) prefer to conceal the truth beneath strata of irony because this is the look of truth: layered and elusive. Was he a poet? Yes and no. His letters, we agree, were highly poetic. They fell into my life like pollen and stained it. I hid them from my mother yet she always knew. Lover, merciful one you write me but you do not come to me. This one my mother did not read. Rabbis liken the T VIII. IT WAS JUST NIGHT LAUNDRY SNAPPING ITS VOWELS ON THE LINE WHEN MOTHER SAID WHAT'S THAT SOUND Poets (be generous) prefer to conceal the truth beneath strata of irony because this is the look of truth: layered and elusive. Was he a poet? Yes and no. His letters, we agree, were highly poetic. They fell into my life like pollen and stained it. I hid them from my mother yet she always knew. Lover, merciful one you write me but you do not come to me. This one my mother did not read. Rabbis liken the Torah to the narrow sex of the gazelle for whose husband every time is like the first time. This one my mother did not read. This is a case where he has to arouse her. This is a case where he does not have to arouse her. There is no difficulty [see illustration]. This one alas my mother read. If it is true we are witnessing the agony of sexual reasoning in our age then this was one of “those original machines” that pulls libidinal devices into a new transparence. My mother ran counter to him as production to seduction. When I refused to change high schools she looked at my father. Within a year we moved to another town. and of course distance made no difference, he was at his best in letters anyway. Secrecy, an early habit, “blackmail of the deep” a molecular law. Let’s look at this. Repression speaks about sex better than any other form of discourse or so the modern experts maintain. How do people get power over one another? is an algebraic question you used to say. “Desire doubled is love and love doubled is madness.” Madness doubled is marriage I added when the caustic was cool, not intending to produce a golden rule.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor

    A painfully courageous exploration of Keats’ mantra that “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” of a wife about a(n ex) husband. Despite his lying and cheating, she cannot deny his beauty, in part due to his b e a u t i f u l letters, as excerpted below. We have this deep sadness between us and it spells so habitual I can’t tell it from love. You want a clean life I live a dirty one old story. Well. Not much use to you without you am I. I still love you. You make me cry.

  17. 5 out of 5

    mar *:・゚✧

    your dreams are a mess. they are my masterpiece.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Myllena

    Here's my advice, hold. Hold beauty.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Eva Lucia

    Also posted on Eva Lucias blog First of all, the form and structure of the poetry collection consist of dialogue, fragments of flashbacks and memories, journal form, letters and literary references. As Carson truly possesses the art of writing, she does not reveal everything, so the reader is left with questions and in some instances confusion. Although, Carson’s literary universe is filled with symbolism, metaphors and literary references, her poetry appears readable because it consists of ever Also posted on Eva Lucias blog First of all, the form and structure of the poetry collection consist of dialogue, fragments of flashbacks and memories, journal form, letters and literary references. As Carson truly possesses the art of writing, she does not reveal everything, so the reader is left with questions and in some instances confusion. Although, Carson’s literary universe is filled with symbolism, metaphors and literary references, her poetry appears readable because it consists of everyday-language. The language is only simple on the surface because it deals with universal paradoxes and issues of human life. As mentioned, certain elements in language create meaning. The question is now; how does one classify Anne Carson’s poetry? There is no doubt that she is experimental in relation to form, structure and the general idea of poetry. She breaks away from traditional poetry and creates unique and experimental poetry. Carson challenges our expectations of the form of traditional poetry. Would her experimental literary work be considered as poetry, novels or another un-defined medium? After showing several examples of how Carson differentiates from the traditional form, it is obvious that her literary work is poetry, prose and is influenced by other mediums, e.g. journal form, flashbacks and memoirs that decide the pace of the literary work. From a contemporary point of view, one might say that the idea of poetry is not only based on structure, genre and discourse, but rather sensuous language, feelings, the reading experience and the subjective experience that it is to read a lyrical and creative piece of poetry. A modern reader would most likely base a reading on his or her own feelings, experience or status in life, and thereby; not supporting the formalistic approach to the analysis of the text. Another important aspect of a modern reading would be Sten Pultz Moslund’s (2015) emphasis on sensuous language and the effect of poetry on the senses of the reader. Terry Eagleton claims that it is a matter of value and “the fact that we always interpret literary works to some extent in the light of our own concerns” (Rice, 2001: 402). For the modern reader, it is important to be able to identify, emphasise and put oneself in the main character’s position. Contemporary literature is without boundaries or borders. In 2015, literature is allowed to differentiate, mix several genres or the language can be filled with slang or internetlanguage. Even though, Carson’s work was published earlier, a modern reader would define it as experimental, modern and a renewal of the traditional form of poetry. Blog ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Youtube ~ Spotify

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    * to what extent does TBOTH succeed as a book-length piece of fiction? I had difficulty sympathizing with the protagonist, who seemed to love her spouse for no other reason than his alleged "beauty." The character for whom I felt the most sympathy was Ray, and I felt that he was under-utilized. But perhaps I'm not supposed to approach this work the way one approaches a novel -- Achilles is one of the least sympathetic protagonists in all of fiction, but that doesn't make "The Iliad" a bad book. * to what extent does TBOTH succeed as a book-length piece of fiction? I had difficulty sympathizing with the protagonist, who seemed to love her spouse for no other reason than his alleged "beauty." The character for whom I felt the most sympathy was Ray, and I felt that he was under-utilized. But perhaps I'm not supposed to approach this work the way one approaches a novel -- Achilles is one of the least sympathetic protagonists in all of fiction, but that doesn't make "The Iliad" a bad book. And Carson strongly hints that the fictional aspect of this book should be approached as allegory, with various characters representing Sorrow, Mercy, a Ray of Light, etc. Which brings us to... * how well does this book work as an essay, with the characters functioning as allegorical symbols to further the essayist's argument? I'll need to postpone answering this question until I feel I have a better grasp of what Carson's argument *is*. How can a person be both dishonest and beautiful, if beauty=truth? Is Carson arguing that this paradox can be resolved only if we take into account the *subjective* nature of beauty, a subjectivity symbolized here by romantic love? What are the consequences of this? In "A Room of One's Own," Virginia Woolf started a dubious tradition: implying that straightforward logical argumentation is an inherently "masculine" mode of expression, Woolf encouraged female essayists to couch their thoughts in meandering fictional narrative structures, rather than old-school "A implies B"-style argumentation. Since Carson had a point to make, I almost wish she'd just written a straightforward essay rather than furthering this Woolfian tradition. As it is, I fear some of her points were lost on me, and I don't feel very illuminated. * how well does this book work as poetry? For me, some lines are hits, others misses ("He could fill structures of/threat with a light like the earliest olive oil" and "abandon themselves/like peacocks stepping out of cages into an empty kitchen of God" are a couple of my less favorite effusions, and the phrase "droplets of luminous sin" is not my cup of tea, either). I feel she's at her best when she's using her left brain (analytical, incisive, pithy) rather than her right (self-consciously "poetic").

  21. 5 out of 5

    John

    4.5 (of 5.0) INCREDIBLE. [From publisher's synopsis:] "An essay [in verse] on Keat's idea that beauty is truth, [as well as] the story of a marriage. It is told in twenty-nine tangos. A tango (like a marriage) is something you have to dance to the end." Excerpts from Anne Carson's writing, in, 'The Beauty of the Husband,' include: "My philosophy of life is that everything is as it seems- at a distance. Tanks on the edges of forests. Tanks on the edges of forests," (134). "Not since I skinned rabbits w 4.5 (of 5.0) INCREDIBLE. [From publisher's synopsis:] "An essay [in verse] on Keat's idea that beauty is truth, [as well as] the story of a marriage. It is told in twenty-nine tangos. A tango (like a marriage) is something you have to dance to the end." Excerpts from Anne Carson's writing, in, 'The Beauty of the Husband,' include: "My philosophy of life is that everything is as it seems- at a distance. Tanks on the edges of forests. Tanks on the edges of forests," (134). "Not since I skinned rabbits with my grandfather in the old stained sink behind the shed have I felt my perceptions so strong. Satiny red entrails. Clear splash of blood on white porcelain. Once we found unborn young just beneath the savage heart. 'Ah,' said Nono, 'apples in the dark.' He sliced them out. I was jealous. Tenderness flooded his voice. ....Whiteness slid on the air. ....'With horror I discovered that I belong to the strong part of the world.' He said this to me I think one night talking about the war. But I don't remember, I wrote it down. ....She fought me. She lost. ....I thought changes were holy. I spilled them like grain. How could I know. How could I know she would lose," (129-130).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos by Anne Carson is one of her more accessible books; a volume of poetic prose describing the painful breakdown of a marriage in which the major hold is, as said, the husband's beauty. Unfortunately, this beauty comes at a high price as he seems incapable of fidelity. Using Keats as a source (along with a host of others, including Thucydides and Beckett), Carson uses her always amazing language to weave a story of love and loss and the lure The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos by Anne Carson is one of her more accessible books; a volume of poetic prose describing the painful breakdown of a marriage in which the major hold is, as said, the husband's beauty. Unfortunately, this beauty comes at a high price as he seems incapable of fidelity. Using Keats as a source (along with a host of others, including Thucydides and Beckett), Carson uses her always amazing language to weave a story of love and loss and the lure of beauty. Each section is described as a tango: a dance of intense sexuality. These tangos must, apparently, be danced to the bitter end. Highly recommended for lovers of beautiful language.

  23. 5 out of 5

    natàlia

    some thoughts: - is it really worthy, relevant, okay that /we/ keep writing when there’s /anne carson/? - truth is beauty! beauty is truth! beauty does not rest. existence depends on beauty - an infinite poem - the husband saying “dear shadow, I wrote this slowly”: i can’t take any more pain - how brilliant how clever how special - i’m sorry for anyone who wouldn’t sleep with their copy of this book next to them in bed and who wouldn’t caress it the same way one takes care of a gun or a knife that k some thoughts: - is it really worthy, relevant, okay that /we/ keep writing when there’s /anne carson/? - truth is beauty! beauty is truth! beauty does not rest. existence depends on beauty - an infinite poem - the husband saying “dear shadow, I wrote this slowly”: i can’t take any more pain - how brilliant how clever how special - i’m sorry for anyone who wouldn’t sleep with their copy of this book next to them in bed and who wouldn’t caress it the same way one takes care of a gun or a knife that keeps them company that makes them feel safe - hold // hold beauty

  24. 4 out of 5

    Evie

    I bought this book around the time I got separated from my ex-husband. I didn't quite know what to expect. I just knew I liked the title and subtitle: husband and tango. It sat on my shelf for a while. I re-read it during my recent poetry streak, and this time I found it absolutely haunting and daring. I don't think it's a book you sit down to "understand"; rather, it's a work to feel, to resonate with, to weep with.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    With Anne Carson, you just have to be along for the ride, and what a rollicking good ride it is! This fictional account of a dissolving marriage, punctuated with fragments from Keats, is perhaps more intelligible than some of her other books of poetry (beautiful as they are, I often get happily lost in her poems) but no less wondrous and surprising for its logic.

  26. 5 out of 5

    lex

    Anne Carson blows me away every time. I am left ruminating on her utter disregard for punctuation. She has a knack for stealing my breath with her sentences. Such an inspiration. I hope to re- read this someday!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Allison DeLauer

    Amen, Sister. She captures it. She got it down: exactly how it feels to be betrayed by a lover and by the self for still loving the betrayer. The book was page after page of surprises on a not-so-surprising subject. I am amazed at how much she renders without a hint of sentimentality. It think this is because her images are brutally lucid. This helps because any abstract or intellectual investigation that happens subsequently are securely staked to the poem by such strong images. For example, I’ Amen, Sister. She captures it. She got it down: exactly how it feels to be betrayed by a lover and by the self for still loving the betrayer. The book was page after page of surprises on a not-so-surprising subject. I am amazed at how much she renders without a hint of sentimentality. It think this is because her images are brutally lucid. This helps because any abstract or intellectual investigation that happens subsequently are securely staked to the poem by such strong images. For example, I’m still tripping on Socrates dissecting a text at the joints, and then the Zen butcher correctly cutting the ox – which falls apart like a puzzle – and this is a metaphor for a 15 year old girl and how love isn’t chosen – but a girl is “ventured:/ by some pure gravity of existence itself,” She portrays a treacherous landscape with elegant integrity: its destructive capacity, its cold beauty, its blamelessness. I am so grateful for this book. It is gorgeous. The form was both interesting and anchoring. As a point of departure she uses quotes from John Keats– and let each poem represent a tango/ flavor / chapter of her narrative describing the relationship. Most sections were peppered with other references and found texts but not so much that it confused. Each epigraph or reference was clarifying rather than additive of unnecessary complexity. This book was deftly executed. It is such a satisfying read. Other powerful bits: “A cold ship/ moves out of harbor somewhere way inside the wife/ and slides off toward the flat gray horizon, / not a bird not a breath in sight.” to describe the wife spying on her husband and his mistress. OR “And at the heart of it all/ the lure that makes war an addiction for some people— that hot bacon smell of pure contradiction.” HOT BACON SMELL of pure contradiction!? I sincerely wish I didn’t know what she’s talking about.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Peter Landau

    All unions dissolve. Time or circumstance take their toll. But there’s always a residual bond that may dissipate by it never disappears. Reading Anne Carson is a marriage of sorts, and reading Anne Carson in THE BEAUTY OF THE HUSBAND is to witness a marriage break, even as she joins the reader with her words. They’re simple words, but then so are Keats’ and Plato’s and Aristotle’s and the handful of other minds she processes in her own to render the end of her marriage. It’s a hard and moving re All unions dissolve. Time or circumstance take their toll. But there’s always a residual bond that may dissipate by it never disappears. Reading Anne Carson is a marriage of sorts, and reading Anne Carson in THE BEAUTY OF THE HUSBAND is to witness a marriage break, even as she joins the reader with her words. They’re simple words, but then so are Keats’ and Plato’s and Aristotle’s and the handful of other minds she processes in her own to render the end of her marriage. It’s a hard and moving read, harder and more moving if you have a lover in whatever state of being, for it charts the unpacking of attraction and beauty and the joy and pain inherent in their collision. But, as she notes, you hold beauty.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rohan

    Never have I read a book similar in either syntax or form to The Beauty of the Husband. Where initially I thought we would move languorously through the marriage and its inevitable end the 'tangos' as Anne Carson describes them pick up speed and seem to skim through years at a breakneck speed much like a crescendo toward which the dancers feverishly move. It leaves you just as a good book should- slightly breathless, with the taste of certain lines still lingering on your tongue, and wanting to Never have I read a book similar in either syntax or form to The Beauty of the Husband. Where initially I thought we would move languorously through the marriage and its inevitable end the 'tangos' as Anne Carson describes them pick up speed and seem to skim through years at a breakneck speed much like a crescendo toward which the dancers feverishly move. It leaves you just as a good book should- slightly breathless, with the taste of certain lines still lingering on your tongue, and wanting to read it all over again.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Aran

    My only regret is that my copy is paperback and not hardcover, because I'm definitely going to be reading it again... and taking it with me whenever I move. Read August 1, 2007

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