The Beauty Of The Husbandis an essay on Keats’s idea that beauty is truth, and is also the story of a marriage. It is told in 29 tangos. A tango (like a marriage) is something you have to dance to the end. This clear-eyed, brutal, moving, darkly funny book tells a single story in an immediate, accessible voice–29 “tangos” of narrative verse that take us vividly through erotic, painful, and heartbreaking scenes from a long-time marriage that falls apart. Only award-winning poet Anne Carson could create a work that takes on the oldest of lyrical subjects–love–and make it this powerful, this fresh, this devastating.
a two-faced proposition,
allowing its operator to say one thing and mean another, to lead a double life.
Hence the notion found early in ancient thought that all poets are liars.
And from the true lies of poetry
trickled out a question.
What really connects words and things?
In spite of some great passages, The Beauty of the Husband left me feeling a little underwhelmed. Many readers described this book as Anne Carson's most accessible work, and that well may be true, but what was gained in accessibility was lost in complexity. Much of what was so compelling in Autobiography of Red and Eros the Bittersweet was lacking, or at least seemingly diminished, in Husband. Had this been the first book I read by Carson, I suspect I would have rated it higher, but much of the ground covered here feels more thoroughly worked through in Plainwater and Men in the Off Hours. In spite of these criticisms, I would still say it's worth reading, especially for fans of Carson.