Antigone Undone: Juliette Binoche, Anne Carson, Ivo van Hove, and the Art of Resistance

Will Aitken. Univ. of Regina (IPS, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $19.95 (210p) ISBN 978-0-88977-521-3
Aitken’s inspiring autobiographical odyssey, which centers on Sophocles’s tragedy Antigone as translated by poet Anne Carson, is a testimony to the power of art. Carson invited Aitken (Glass Rain) to attend rehearsals in Luxembourg for a production of the play, directed by Ivo van Hove and starring Juliette Binoche. The first section of the book is a diary in which Aitken shares his experience of the rehearsals and text and their profound effect on him: “Antigone opened my eyes to the constancy of human suffering and said to me, ‘Nothing changes, nothing ever will.’ And this is how I tumbled headlong into despair.” The book’s second part interweaves conversations and correspondence among Aitken, Carson, van Hove, and Binoche, giving readers glimpses behind the scenes, such as Binoche’s story of visiting a morgue to prepare for her role. In the final part, Aitken compares the ideas of philosophers and writers, including G.W.F. Hegel, Søren Kierkegaard, and Virginia Woolf, who share his obsession with Antigone. He explores common themes such as feminism, depression, and the intersection of art and politics, effectively connecting the personal, the philosophical, and the artistic. Aitken champions a way of making and seeing the arts that heightens their relevance and brings Sophocles’s 2,500-year-old play into readers’ contemporary lives and world. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 02/05/2018
Release date: 01/01/2018
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