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Autobiography of Red

3 Ratings: 4.0
A book by Anne Carson.

   "The award-winning poet Anne Carson reinvents a genre in Autobiography of Red, a stunning work that is both a novel and a poem, both an unconventional re-creation of an ancient Greek myth and a wholly original coming-of-age story set … see full wiki

1 review about Autobiography of Red

"Caught Between the Tongue and the Taste"

  • Jun 28, 2010

  “Total Facts Known About Geryon.
   Geryon was a monster everything about him was red. Geryon
   lived on an island in the Atlantic called the Red Place. Geryon's
   mother was a river that runs to the sea the Red Joy River Geryon's
   father was gold. Some say Geryon had six hands six feet
   some say wings. Geryon was red so were his strange red cattle.
   Herakles came one day killed Geryon got the cattle. (37)”
Anne Carson’s Autobiography is a metaphor for self-discovery.  The short autobiography that Geryon writes is the short myth that he places metaphorically onto his own life.  What Anne Carson does in the story to reinvent the myth is recreate it, give the myth a new and modern definition, a new amount of symbolism.  The events from the story bring great metaphorical light to the events written in the myth bringing once again the great allegories of mythology alive in our minds.  Carson does a brilliant job of writing a modern form of the mythology with great symbolism.
The red wings that the myth monster is known to have is a metaphor that Geryon places onto his own self-discovery as a homosexual, his passions, his loss, his emotions.  The color symbolism throughout Anne Carson’s novel is very strong and I believe that the color is in place as an aura, a mood setting, an emotion telling of the person, the people, the scenery. This novel doesn’t only consist of his self-discovery as a person but also as an artist, a photographer.  Photography is the second thing that dominates Anne Carson’s novel.  Geryon uses photography as a way to hold eternal time.  As Anne Carson’s novel is based on memory and time as well as incredible moments that are often missed.  His photographs represent a lot of those lost moments of time, a lot of the unforgettable scenes that are often forgotten about through loss of memories and through death and forgetfulness of people, but these forgotten moments explain in a simple manner the personalities of these figures as they are perceived by Geryon. 
Herakles loss to Geryon brought Geryon closer to Geryon’s self.  Geryon took all frustrations of abandonment and loss out in photography, so in a way the Herakles abandonment has grown to be his muse, his driving force, his own motivation to level these outputting emotions.  I believe that the myth of Geryon seen in the sense of relationship towards the common persons journey to self-discovery can be related to every other person’s sense of self-discovery through pain, loss, and leveling outputs of creativity.
As in the myth Geryon the monster lives on his own island, Geryon the person lives in his own island.  His island is one that he creates and journeys through within only his mind.  Physicality does not apply.  Geryon is an isolated lonely soul trying to find his niche in this world, and I think that through the island of self he learns to see that while still remaining peacefully “raising his cattle” or progressing through life, he can survive.  He battles with himself over the loss of Herakles as a teenager, but that loss brings about this great journey of himself as an artist.  As he grows to an adult, although he appears to be very alone but not lonely, busy occupied with his autobiography, which has developed into a photographic documentation from the original context of writing as a child, he has grown into a homosexual young man.  He’s not as free-spirited as Herakles but he has gained control of himself. 
The myth was written with heavy imagery and even heavier metaphors and I think that Geryon’s story, his autobiography of red is a great detailed list of how metaphorical it is, of how significant this myth is to Geryon’s life, to every persons life, towards everyone’s drive and endless search throughout life towards self-discovery from sexuality towards their purpose here in this world.  This was a heavy book; a book on romance and melancholy, an enlightening object that I believe everyone should read for every person can relate in one way or another to the modern interpretation of the myth of Geryon.
   “Geryon’s life entered a numb time, caught between the tongue and the taste. (72)”

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June 28, 2010
Very detailed review. I enjoyed the quotes you included as well.
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Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
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