Essay on Anne Carson's Manipulation of Fragments of Sappho

1187 Words Apr 17th, 2012 5 Pages
Zaneh Williams
February 24, 2012
Manipulation of Sappho
Anne Carson’s presentation of Sappho’s surviving poetry, Fragments of Sappho heightens the eroticism and same sex-desirability that Sappho is well known for. In the text, Sappho never explicitly engages in any sort of sexual activity or intercourse, whether with a male or female. Therefore, it is unknown as to whether she ever acted on her clear sexual yearnings. Carson’s editorial choices and translation of the text, however, intensifies the already stimulating and controversial thoughts of Sappho, making them not only more sensual but more profound.
In the translation of the remaining fragments of Sappho, the readers of the text can only view Sappho through a narrow lens.
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In this scene, two women who are flirting casually bring up Anne Carson and how her books have “practically changed my [her] life” (“The L Word” Season 1 Episode 1). Within the next few minutes these two characters were engaging in sexual acts in a nearby bathroom. Here, Carson’s literature was the motivation for these women to engage in erotic behaviors. Due to the popularity of her texts, which depict the “extremes of passion and eroticism,” Carson has developed a large following that look to ancient Greek literature to support their views on same sex relations and eroticism (Smith par. 3). This following has made Anne Carson significant enough to discuss on the small screen.
Carson’s tendency to incorporate or enhance eroticism in her works is evident in her translations of the remaining fragments of Sappho. “129A but me you have forgotten.” “129B or you love some man more than me” (Carson 263). These two fragments were originally on two different columns on the original Greek papyrus, however, Carson intentionally places these two thoughts on the same page in the English translation to invoke emotion from the reader. Upon reading this translation, the average reader would believe that Sappho is heart-broken over someone who has forgotten her

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