Sunday, August 30, 2009
It is a shame that Inger Christensen passed away just fourteen days before her 74th birthday in January of this year. The Danish poet, novelist & essayist has been an inspiration to many. Now New Directions Press has released a new translation of her 1967 novel Azorno by Denise Newman.
Azorno is a complicated (though very readable) almost schizophrenic tale that may or may not have 6 characters...maybe there are five women and then two men...it may be narrated by one...by all...or by none. Each woman merges from one to the next so we never really see who is telling the truth & who is not...who is writing the novel...or even who Azorno is.
We are misled from the start...
"I've learned that I'm the woman he first meets on page eight. It was Azorno who told me. Come to think of it, I've never dared asked him why he's called Azorno."
Some of the more impatient readers may have to jump immediately to page eight. Others will hold it in the front of their mind, as I did, to see who this woman is. That is the beauty of this book. Each turn in story & plot becomes more mysterious & more real, a very visceral experience.
"Inger Christensen manages to make wit, passion & questioning, & astonishing design serve each other's ends as one, & she does it in a way that is utterly her own." - W.S. Merwin
"Like Hesiod, Inger Christensen wants to give us an account of what is-of everything that is & how it is said & what we are in the midst of." - Anne Carson