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The Beauty of the Husband

by Anne Carson

You need to read this book more than once to start to get an inkling of what Anne Carson wants you to understand. The narrative of a failing marriage and a passionate physical bond makes the 29 short sections immediately accessible but, at the same time, frustratingly elusive. She uses the word 'tangos' to describe each of the sections which evokes the image of a couple locked in a complex dance, but may also refer to the mix of fluid and staccato rhythms of the words on the page. She prefaces 'tango' with a small, enigmatic quote from Keats to whom she dedicates the book. The echo of his sentiment - Beauty is truth and truth beauty - seems to underpin the Beauty of the Husband both literally and metaphorically, though on two readings this reader would be hard pressed to say how!

Extract


What was he thinking to bring her here?
Athens. Hotel Eremia.
He knew very well. Detente and reconciliation, let's start again,
Thinking oysters and glace fruits, it needs a light touch,
Narrow keys
Not very deep.
Hotel gardens at dusk are a place where the laws governing matter
Get pulled inside out,
Like the black keys and the white keys on Mozart's piano.

from Homo Ludens

Parallels

The Large Glass - the painting by Marcel Duchamps
  • In the Mood for Love - the film
  • Tango Lesson - the film
     

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