Aside from grammatical and linguistic devices, though, another successful experiment is Carson's capacity for engaging in biography and autobiography simultaneously in "The Glass Essay," as Emily Bronte's life becomes a mirror for the speaker's own predicament and contributes an additional layer of complexity and pathos.
“The Glass Essay” was far and away my favorite poem in the collection, though the others were mostly good as well. There is also, though, a “real” essay in the book, which I did not much care for at all. I hope to get around to writing about why later this week.
Winged Ink: Anne Carson's 'The glass essay'
With titles such as "The Glass Essay," "The Truth About God," "TV Men," and "The Fall of Rome: A Traveller's Guide," Carson sets out the audacious breadth, themes, and obsessions of her book, meanings and musics captured and propelled by an equally audacious sense and use of forms. With
Glass, Irony, and God, one senses the personal vision and hand at work in, say, the finest auteur film, and one is also amidst a vast impersonality that lights up and orchestrates historical figures such as the Brontë sisters, Artaud, Socrates, Sappho, and others. These figures are not arcanely referenced for the footnoters among us, but brought alive again in the very actions of the poem.
“The Glass Essay” is, roughly, the story of the aftermath of a breakup between the narrator and her partner Law, after which she goes back home to spend time with her mother (her father is in an elder care home). There is a fair amount of narrative about her activities with her mother, her walks on the moor, and her dreams, many of which are disturbing and features “nudes” that she uses to help guide her on her way to recovery. All this is mixed in with anecdotes and musings on Emily Brontë, a woman with powerful emotions and plenty of sexual energy in her work, though she apparently knew nothing of men and hardly anything even of people outside her own family.In Decreation Carson identifies Michelangelo Antonioni—through his films and interviews—as an artist who has melded ancient truths as they manifest themselves in contemporary situations. His aesthetic posits a reality where primal energies are still present, even if repressed, in everyone who is alive. She focuses on an interview in which Antonioni discloses how he was forced to shake up an immature Lucia Bosé while directing the final scene of his first movie, Story of a Love Affair, by crossing a dangerous boundary: "She was not an actress. To obtain the results I wanted I had to use insults, abuse, hard slaps." Carson ends the "Spill" section of her essay "Foam (Essay with Rhapsody)" with this move: "‘Sublime natures are seldom clean!' is Longinus' way of putting it. Slap." This "slap" brings us back to a stark passage in "The Glass Essay."