The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos

by Anne Carson

Paper Book, 2001





New York : Vintage Books, 2002, c2001.


The Beauty Of The Husband is 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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member dawnpen
Quick. Before everbody gets here with their foaming and fawning, I'll tell you that the book is still a book. It has its confines and it doesn't really try to release itself from the constraints that are laid out in the beginning. That its pulped in a way. That its sadnesses are very hard and while
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it's not about mastery, it's about something akin to the suffering that comes from mastery. That the thinking takes the poem hostage in parts and yeah, that's sort of the point, but that point doesn't really matter now does it?
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LibraryThing member drbrand
All myth is an enriched pattern,
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
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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.
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