Anne Carson & Rosanna Bruno's The Trojan Women: a comic
The Trojan Women: a comic is a wildly imaginative collaboration between the visual artist Rosanna Bruno and the poet and classicist Anne Carson. It follows the fates of Hekabe, Andromache and Kassandra after Troy has been sacked and all its men killed.Both wacky and devastating, the book gives a genuine representation of how human beings are affected by warfare. All the characters take the form of animals (except Kassandra, whose mind is in another world).
Anne Carson collaborated with artist Bianca Stone on their Sophokles reimagining, Antigonick (Bloodaxe Books, 2012), winner of the 2012 Criticos Prize. For this hardback edition, Bianca Stone created drawings on separate translucent vellum pages to overlay the text. This new collaboration with Rosanna Bruno is very different - it's a large-format paperback in traditional comic-book style.
The Trojan Women: a comic was published on 25 May 2021 by Bloodaxe Books in the UK and by New Directions in the USA. It was launched at McNally's Boookshop in New York on 27 May. A film of the event is below.
FEATURE REVIEW COVERAGE
The Guardian, Saturday 15 May 2021
Rosanna Bruno and Anne Carson’s The Trojan Women: a comic was reviewed in Fiona Sampson’s best recent poetry round-up in The Guardian of 15 May. It was illustrated online with a detail from this book.
‘… it’s a joy to come across a mistress of the art taking rumbustious pleasure in revisiting the matter of poetry itself. Anne Carson’s new version of Euripides’ The Trojan Women (Bloodaxe), with artist and cartoonist Rosanna Bruno, is resolutely subtitled A Comic; and a graphic novel is exactly what it is. But of course the words are Carson’s. Simultaneously straight-talking and experimental, the Canadian has been reclaiming the classical tradition as an essential resource since the 1980s.’ - Fiona Sampson, The Guardian
Read the full review here.
Times Literary Supplement, Friday 21 May 2021
A double-page feature review of Rosanna Bruno and Anne Carson’s The Trojan Women: a comic is included in the Times Literary Supplement’s classics special of 21 May. Edith Hall, Professor in the Classics Department at King’s College London, was the reviewer. She was sceptical at first, thinking that the comic book format was ‘provocative and risky’, but Carson and Bruno won her round. Her piece was illustrated in print and online with a detail from book.
‘Carson and Bruno have risen to an unusual challenge. Their medium’s conventions could have flattened distinctive literary qualities, but their book instead refocuses our attention on Euripides’ styles. The format highlights this play’s outstanding quality, praised by Sidney as ‘sweet violence’. That phrase was borrowed by Terry Eagleton to entitle his own book on the tragic (2002), in which he said that tragedy can only survive as a twenty-first-century art form if it is metaphysically open, aesthetically beautiful and unflinching in its depiction of suffering. All three criteria are fulfilled by this innovative version of Trojan Women.’ – Edith Hall, Times Literary Supplement
Available in full by subscription. Read here.
Dublin Review of Books, 1 October 2021
Rosanna Bruno and Anne Carson’s The Trojan Women: a comic was featured in Sean Sheehan's essay on Euripides and Tarantino in the October edition of Dublin Review of Books.
'Demotic boldness, an extravagance of emotions and, as Aristotle notes, an ability to make characters sound like ordinary people is a characteristic of Euripides’ plays (as well as being a trademark of Tarantino’s cinema); Anne Carson’s translation and Rosanna Bruno’s graphics successfully reflect this.' - Sean Sheehan, Dublin Review of Books
Read in full here.
Broken Frontier, online 8 December 2021
Rosanna Bruno and Anne Carson’s The Trojan Women: a comic was featured in the online comics magazine Broken Frontier on 8 December. 2021. Illustrated with four spreads from the book.
‘The Trojan Women: A Comic uses visual metaphor, inventive panel-to-panel storytelling and the specific narrative tools of comics (particular mention for the effectiveness of the chorus scenes here) together to give us a treatment of the original play that will undoubtedly prove an entry point to the work of Euripides to the uninitiated, but will also allow those familiar with the text to see it through new eyes.’ – Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier
Read in full here.
One Hand Clapping, online 23 September 2022
Rosanna Bruno and Anne Carson’s The Trojan Women: a comic was reviewed in depth by classics scholar Josephine Balmer online in One Hand Clapping on 23 September 2022.
'And if at first The Trojan Women: A Comic might seem impenetrable, it is no more strange, no more "other", than its ancient source, which mixed ritual terror with everyday, lived experience and black humour to the discomfort of its original Athenian audience. Above all, Carson's extraordinary language and Bruno's hugely physical drawings compel us to enter its endless, primeval cycle of suffering and trauma with empathy and compassion, keeping it ancient but making it new.' - Jo Balmer, One Hand Clapping
Read the full review here.
Illustrated separately with seven spreads from the book here.
REVIEWS FROM OUTSIDE THE UK
World Literature Today, Autumn 2021
An excellent review of the US edition of The Trojan Women featured in the Autumn 2021 issue of World Literature Today.
'To classify Anne Carson's version of Euripides’ play The Trojan Women as a translation is to use the term lightly, for, in collaboration with Rosanna Bruno, she has transformed it into a graphic novel, fiercely experimental in both word and image... Carson’s aim in recent works is clearly to unsettle her audience—she offers straight talk one minute and madcap play the next. In The Trojan Women, her remarkably synthesizing imagination brings traditional Greek drama and the contemporary comic book into strange and wonderful balance.' - Rita Signorelli-Pappas, World Literature Today
Read in full here.
An in-depth review (in Dutch) is in the December 2021 issue of Dutch Review of Books here.
INTERVIEW WITH ANNE CARSON ON BBC RADIO 4
Anne Carson was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Front Row on 2 November 2021. She was speaking about her new version of Euripides' Herakles, H of H Playbook (Jonathan Cape), but talked more widely about translating the classics.
Listen here. Intro & from 10:28.
NEW YORK LAUNCH EVENT
Anne Carson and Rosanna Bruno read from The Trojan Women and discussed their new comic-book version of Euripides’ tragedy with bookseller Ryan Cook in this online launch event organised by New York’s McNally Jackson Books on 27 May 2021.
Anne Carson was at home in Ann Arbor, Rosanna Bruno in her studio in Saratoga Springs, and Ryan Cook at home in Brooklyn. They read two sections from the book and talked about how they worked on their collaboration, with pages from the book shared as they discussed their visual and translation choices.
[14 May 2021]