Antigonick by Carson, Anne; Sophocles

By Carson, Anne; Sophocles

An illustrated new translation of Sophokles’ Antigone.

Anne Carson has released translations of the traditional Greek poets Sappho, Simonides, Aiskhylos, Sophokles and Euripides. Antigonick is her seminal paintings. Sophokles’ luminous and traumatic tragedy is the following given a wholly clean language and presentation. This paperback variation incorporates a new preface through the writer, “Dear Antigone.”

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Sample text

It’s not that we want to understand everything or even to understand anything we want to understand something else I keep returning to Brecht who made you do the whole play with a door strapped to your back a door can have diverse meanings I stand outside your door the odd thing is, you stand outside your door too that door has no inside or if it has an inside, you are the one person who cannot enter it for the family who lives there, things have gone irretrievably wrong to have a father who is also your brother means having a mother who is your grandmother a sister who is both your niece and your aunt and another brother you love so much you want to lie down with him “thigh to thigh in the grave” or so you say glancingly early in the play but no one mentions it again afterwards oh you always exaggerate!

Are you “Antigone between two deaths” as Lacan puts it or a parody of Kreon’s law and Kreon’s language — so Judith Butler who also finds in you “the occasion for a new field of the human”? then again, “an exemplar of masculine intellect and moral sense” is George Eliot’s judgment, while to several modern scholars you (perhaps predictably) sound like a terrorist and Žižek compares you triumphantly with Tito the leader of Yugoslavia saying NO! to Stalin in 1942 speaking of the ’40s, you made a good impression on the Nazi high command and simultaneously on the leaders of the French Resistance when they all sat in the audience of Jean Anouilh’s Antigone opening night Paris 1944: I don’t know what color your eyes were but I can imagine you rolling them now let’s return to Brecht, maybe he got you best to carry one’s own door will make a person clumsy, tired and strange on the other hand, it may come in useful if you go places that don’t have an obvious way in, like normality or an obvious way out, like the classic double bind well that’s your problem my problem is to get you and your problem across into English from ancient Greek all that lies hidden in these people, your people crimes and horror and years together, a family, what we call a family “one of my earliest memories,” wrote John Ashbery in New York magazine 1980, “is of trying to peel off the wallpaper in my room, not out of animosity but because it seemed there must be something fascinating behind its galleons and globes and telescopes” this reminds me of Samuel Beckett who described in a letter his own aspirations toward language “to bore hole after hole in it until what cowers behind it seeps through” dear Antigone: you also are someone keeping faith with a deeply other organization that lies just beneath what we see or what we say to quote Kreon you are autonomos a word made up of autos “self” and nomos “law” autonomy sounds like a kind of freedom but you aren’t interested in freedom your plan is to sew yourself into your own shroud using the tiniest of stitches how to translate this?

Ramsay who died in a bracket of To the Lighthouse she’s the wife of the man whose moods tensify the world of this story the world sundered by her I say sundered by her that girl with the undead strapped to her back a state of exception marks the limit of the law this violent thing this fragile thing try to unclench we said to her she never did we got her the bike we got a therapist that poor sad man with his odd ideas some days he made us sit on the staircase all on different steps or videotaped us but when we watched it was nothing but shadows finally we expelled her we had to using the logic of friend and foe that she denies but how can she deny the rule to which she is an exception is she autoimmune no she is not have you heard this expression the nick of time what is a nick I asked my son what is a nick I asked my son when the Messenger comes I set him straight I tell him nobody’s missing we’re all here we’re all fine why do you Messengers always exaggerate exit Eurydike bleeding from all orifices [Eurydike does not exit] Messenger: O beloved queen I wish I could say I did not see what was left of Polyneikes the dogtorn parts the parts lying the parts gathered the parts burned on a sacred pile I wish I could say I did not see the stones shrieking the girl hanging the boy a bloody lung the father on his knees the bolt leaving the wall the sword sinking up to its own mouth O my queen I did not see Death marry them at last oh so shyly but I did I did see it exit Eurydike Chorus: exit Eurydike Eurydike: exit Eurydike [exit Eurydike] Messenger: too big a silence [exit Messenger] FINAL EPISODE 1257–1353 Chorus: here comes Kreon dragging his dragging his dragging his what [enter Kreon with body of Haimon] Kreon: here is my crime it was my hard killing mind it was my deadly goings wrong O my child too soon dead O this sacrilege that I called public policy it was my child assassinated by my folly Chorus: you’re late to learn what’s what aren’t you Kreon: late to learn O yes I am late too late O then O then some god slammed down on me a heavy weight some god shook me out on those raw roads alas for the joy of my life that I’ve trampled underfoot alas for us all going dark [enter Messenger] Messenger: okay Kreon widen your eyes Kreon: what now what worse Messenger: Eurydike is dead Eurydike is dead Kreon: O filth of Death who can clean you out O laugh of Death you crack me you crack me open you crack me open again here comes Kill Kreon’s verb for today now he is perfectly blended with pain Messenger: Eurydike cursed you your wife cursed you assassin of your own child she said and she undid her eyes to the dark Kreon: yes yes of course of course she did Messenger: she blamed you Kreon: and then Messenger: stabbed herself in the liver Kreon: yes yes she did of course in the liver yes I am to blame take Kreon away he no more exists than someone who does not exist Chorus: briefest is best when evil is all around Kreon: I want Kreon’s death Chorus: that’s the future this is the present you deal with the present Kreon: to die is my only prayer Chorus: then don’t pray at all you don’t get to run this Kreon: take Kreon away please take Kreon away where can I look where can I turn everything I touch goes wrong an unbearable fate has loaded itself onto my head Chorus: last word wisdom: better get some even too late [exeunt omnes except Nick who continues measuring] Copyright © 2012, 2015 by Anne Carson All rights reserved.

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