Nox by Anne Carson

Although it will not provide a representative introduction to Carson’s work for those who haven’t read her before, fans will love Nox for its honesty, occasional brilliance, and physical beauty.


Anne Carson’s Nox is a high quality, full color reproduction of a scroll dozens of feet long, to which the author glued and taped all the elements that compose the work. On the back of the box that contains the scroll, Carson writes that she composed Nox as an epitaph to her brother, and the published book “is a replica of it, as close as we could get.”  Because of the unique nature of the project, it is worth taking a moment to look at some images of it.  The cover of the book features a childhood photo of Carson’s brother, Michael, who died in 2000:


The cover of Nox.


The “scroll” that makes up the book is printed in such high-quality color that it often seems as though you could reach out and lift the collage elements off the page, as with this torn letter from Carson’s brother, pieces of which appear in several places:



A letter from Carson's brother, the only one that he sent to his mother after leaving home in 1978.


A stamp collage represents the distance between Carson and her brother as he travelled the world for two decades without a permanent address or phone number:



Carson's stamp collage.


Nox begins with the Latin text of an elegy that poet Catullus wrote for his brother centuries ago:



Catullus' elegy for his brother, in Latin.


Throughout the book, Carson translates Catullus’ poem into English, word by word, until her completed translation appears near the end.


Over the course of Anne Carson’s career, which now spans three decades, the poet, essayist, and scholar has published collections of disparate poems; collections of essays; book-length poems; books that mix essay with poetry (sometimes blurring the lines between the two); and books of work translated from ancient Greek.  Nox contains brief essays, fragmentary poetics, Latin dictionary definitions, photographs, the torn letter pictured here, and numerous copies of childish drawings.  The result is a work that displays Carson’s facility as a scholar of classical antiquity, her abilities as a poet and essayist, and the playful personality that underpins her strongest work . . . .


Read the full review at Web Del Sol Review of Books.


Nox, New Directions, 2010.  Reviewed by B. Lussier.



More Anne Carson:

Read one of Carson’s most famous works, “The Glass Essay,” at

Visit Carson’s page at

Visit Carson’s Wikipedia page.


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