Anne Carson: Herakles Junkie

November 5, 2021 | 2 books mentioned

At The New Yorker, Casey Cep takes a closer look at Anne Carson’s H of H Playbook, the poet’s brilliant and bizarre take on the Greek tragedy Herakles by Euripides. Cep calls H of H Playbook a “cross between a dramaturge’s dream journal and a madman’s diary,” which features a Corvette-stealing demigod clad in overalls. “The flow of time in her writing feels bidirectional,” Cep writes, “it is not clear if old heroes are being swept into the present, if current readers are being swept into the past, or if all of us are simply aswirl in time together. But it is also because her work is unfailingly emotionally astute, the references, like those overalls, resonant rather than arbitrary.”

During a time when it seems a new retelling pops up every second, Carson’s work never comes off as derivative or unoriginal. “Carson is writing not only about the persistence of violence but about the possibility of redemption,” Cep writes, “and in this respect “H of H” isn’t just a playbook for the past. It is also, in the other sense of the word, a playbook for the future.”

is an assistant editor at The Millions. She is a graduate of the Inkluded Academy 2021, a summer publishing course for graduates from BIPOC communities, and works as a freelance writer and uploading specialist.