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This article is taken from PN Review 139, Volume 27 Number 5, May - June 2001.

Anne Carson: Addressing the Wound David C. Ward

Here is Anna Akhmatova writing about herself in the Terror (in the 'Epilogue' of Requiem):

There I learned how faces fall apart,
How fear looks out from under the eyelids,
How deep are the hieroglyphics
Cut by the suffering on people's cheeks.
There I learned how silver can inherit
The black, the ash-blond overnight,
The smiles that fade from the poor spirit,
Terror's dry coughing sound.

Here is Anne Carson writing about Akhmatova in the Terror (in 'Akhmatova Comes to the Wall' in Men in the Off Hours (New York, 2000)):

She came to the wall to stand in line.
Inner prison of the NKVD on Shpalernaya Street,
Then Kresty Prison across the Neva.
Once a month a window opened in the wall.
Akhmatova for Gumilyov, she said shoving her parcel through the grate.

There is such an evident gulf in emotion and technique from the original to the copy that it is hard to understand how John Kinsella, writing in the Observer, can call Carson's 'Akhmatova' pieces 'stunning'. Yet Kinsella, despite this praise, is one of the few reviewers to be negative about the phenomenon that is Anne Carson. Recipient of multiplying honours and prizes (including a MacArthur 'genius' grant), Carson's brilliance is now established as fact. Harold Bloom, trading on his reputation as a critic even as he devolves into literary cheerleading, has passed ...


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