Writer’s Writer Revisits Authorship

Iteration in Anne Carson’s Decreation


  • Helena Van Praet Universite Catholique de Louvain




This essay explores how Anne Carson’s Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera (2005) engages with the notion of authorship by reappropriating critical voices and rewriting central ideas. It accordingly takes Carson’s alleged name-dropping as a starting point to argue that Decreation is a project of re-engagement that is underpinned by synthetic disjunctions of competing viewpoints. To this end, Carson relies on the principle of intratextuality, which instils a blurring of the speaker’s identity in the reader, while her use of echoes ingrains the notion of decreation in the reader's mind. Since both aesthetic strategies hinge on the principles of creative reproduction and recognition, they are capable of evoking a sense of iteration. In this way, Carson’s collection instigates a critical re-evaluation of the notion of agency in literary production while still providing the reader with an—albeit paradoxical—centre of conceptual gravity, which is therefore better conceptualized as a network of relations.

Author Biography

Helena Van Praet, Universite Catholique de Louvain

Helena Van Praet is a PhD candidate and assistant in Dutch Literature at Université Catholique de Louvain. She studied English and Dutch Literature and Linguistics at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and University College London (UCL), and is the 2018 laureate of the BAAHE Thesis Award for her MA dissertation on Canadian author Anne Carson. Her research focuses on contemporary experimental poetry.