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Transformations 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
knittingfreak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't really know where to start with this collection of poetry by Anne Sexton. I liked it, but I'm not sure why or what to say about it. I'm a virtual poetry novice and don't really feel qualified to critique it. From the blurb on the back of the book, "The poems collected in this astonishing volume are reenactments, parodies, what Anne Sexton described as transformations, of seventeen Grimm fairy tales. . ." The first poem is The Gold Key. I've never heard of a fairy tale by this name, and I'm not sure if this is a retelling of a fairy tale or not. It almost seems to me as if this is an introductory poem by Sexton describing what she's going to do with the rest of the poems in the collection. See what you think.The Gold KeyThe speaker in this caseis a middle-aged witch, me --tangled on my two great arms,my face in a bookand my mouth wide,ready to tell you a story or two.I have come to remind you,all of you:Alice, Samuel, Kurt, Eleanor,Jane, Brian, Maryel,all of you draw near.Alice,at fifty-six do you remember?Do you remember when you were read to as a child?Samuel,at twenty-two have you forgotten?Forgotten the ten P.M. dreamswhere the wicked kingwent up in smoke?Are you comatose?Are you undersea?Attention, my dears,let me present to you this boy.He is sixteen and he wants some answers.He is each of us.I mean you.I mean me.It is not enough to read Hesseand drink clam chowderwe must know the answers.The boy has found a gold keyand he is looking for what it will open.This boy!Upon finding a nickelhe would look for a wallet.This boy!Upon finding a stringhe would look for a harp.Therefore he holds the key tightly.Its secrets whimperlike a dog in heat.He turns the key.Presto!It opens this book of odd taleswhich transform the Brothers Grimm.Transform?As if an enlarged paper clipcould be a piece of sculpture.(And it could.)I like the idea of the gold key as a metaphor, admitting the reader into new worlds through books and storytelling. Sexton transforms all of the most famous fairy tales, including Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood. She also includes some that are lesser known (at least to me), such as Iron Hans, The Maiden without Hands, The White Snake and others. For the most part, she begins each fairy tale with a poem about the fairy tale and then gives a version of the fairy tale. I apologize if that doesn't make much sense, but that's what she does. In many cases, these fairy tales are even darker than the original tales. Sexton also interjects much of her own feelings and life into the tales, as well. Sexton suffered from depression for most of her life and committed suicide in 1974 just seven years after winning the Pulitzer Prize. I read this book as part of The Year of Reading Dangerously, and I'm glad I did. Even though I haven't always been successful with my reading challenges, I'll keep joining them for this reason -- it forces me to read books that I would never have picked up otherwise. I really did enjoy this book of poetry even though I find it difficult to describe. However, after reading the foreword to this edition by Kurt Vonnegut I feel somewhat better about my lack of ability to describe these poems. He says, "How do I explain these poems? Not at all. I quit teaching in colleges because it seemed so criminal to explain works of art. The crisis in my teaching career came, in fact, when I faced an audience which expected me to explain Dubliners by James Joyce. I was game. I'd read the book. But when I opened my big mouth, no sounds came out." So, as you can see, I'm in good company.
veevoxvoom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this collection of poetry, Anne Sexton retells seventeen Grimm fairy tales.I adore fairy tale revisions. I gobble it up as fast as I can. I especially love revisions that are darker and more sensual than the original tales (although that¿s hard to do; the original Grimm stories were pretty bleak stuff). Anne Sexton¿s poems certainly fit that bill.She has a pattern. She usually starts each poem with a prologue about general life which then segues into the actual tale. Thus, in each poem, there are actually two stories: the frame and the tale-within-a-tale. It¿s a clever use of meta narrative and works really well with the collection¿s theme of fairy tales.Sexton¿s language is tricky, sharp, and utterly memorable. She has such perfect metaphors that each one of them is a little masterpiece in and of itself. Her fairy tales are both a homage to the original Grimm versions but with a mixture of the modern and the personal. They bite, and that¿s a good thing.Also worth mentioning is Kurt Vonnegut¿s fantastic preface. He explains poetry better than I can.
andreablythe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Anne Sexton retells seventeen Grimm fair tales. Essentially, each story is the same, except they are not. Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger and wakes up 100 years later with a Prince's kiss. Red meets a wolf who cross dresses in her Grandmother's cloths and then gobbles her up, only to be released later by a passing hunter. And so on. What makes each retelling unique to Sexton are two things. First, each poem/tale is first introduced with a kind of preface, the author's poetic commentary that introduces the tale she's about to retell. Secondly, she uses modern flare to the metaphor used to describe and detail the tales. The thirteenth witch in "Birar Rose" (Sleeping Beauty) has "eyes burnt by cigarettes" and her "uterus is an empty tea cup". Snow White has "china-blue doll eyes" and Cinderella "walked around looking like Al Jolson."The lines are simple and clean, plain lines, like the original tales she's retelling, but reading them you find there's something more, as though you've just spotted something out of the corner of your eye while walking in the woods. It's wonderful, and I want to keep it always, so that I can come back to it again and again.
paisley1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Haunting, funny, naughty, compassionate retelling of fairy tales...beautiful and deceptively simple.
EdwardC on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For my taste this book of Sexton's is far and away her crowning achievent. Each poem retells a Grimm's fairy tale. They are tender, cruel, laugh-out-loud funny, political, feminist, and often so so clever.
NativeRoses on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brilliant, and, at times, erotic re-telling of standard fairy tales. You can't help but read them outloud. Sometimes funny or sad, often bawdy, very enjoyable and very highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful! Anne Sexton adds a twist to already twisted tales. It is a collection of dark pieces both mocking and pitying "the problem that has no name." Ladies read this if being a princess no longer or never did suit you. Read it if you would prefer to be(come) the witch in your own stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago