Louise Gluck’s Marigold and Rose Review – A Children’s Tale | imagination

wIt was the American poet Louise Gluck He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature In 2020, the Swedish Academy praised her “voice that makes individual existence universal with stark beauty”. They may have added that it makes the individual female experience universal, including it in the canon of masculine mythology in ways that even its epithets make clear. The Seven Ages, from 2001—a stunning reflection on human destiny—was preceded by both The Triumph of Achilles (1985) and Ararat (1990), for example, and was followed by Averno (2005), named after the traditional site of the entrance to Hell. While her previous work explored familial psychodrama, these books depict emotional violence in middle age. In 13 collections of poetry and two volumes of essays, Glück’s emotional intelligence never succumbs to warm consolation, and yet the writing remains exquisitely beautiful.

None of this changes in her first published novel. Marigolds and roses can be devoured in one sitting, and this is perhaps the best way to enter her tonal world, which is oddly hypnotic, partly because the mood never swings to violent intensity, and partly because of the orderly rhythms of Gluck’s prose. Ten short chapters tell – though not in exact chronological order – about the first year in the lives of twins, Marigold and Rose. During this period their grandmother dies, their mother experiments with getting back to work, and they are “dispersed, like all children, by feelings of triumph. First, crawling, then walking and climbing, then talking.”

The book may seem limited or even, given its subject matter, twice as good. Being a Glock, he is not like that. Instead, like her poetry, she gains her power from sharp observation. In the final act, for example, as the film’s protagonists attend a celebration of their first birthday, “Marigold… looks at the party from her high chair. The mess and inaccuracy, she thought. The grown-ups were grinding… meanwhile the people they didn’t know They touch them and call them lambs and chickens though it was quite evident that they were human children. Old age children thought Marigold.”

Which is funny, in a silly way. But humor is not the end game for this book. Readers familiar with Gluck’s writing will be reminded of the effervescent poetic story she developed in her brilliant second collection, The House on Marshland (1975), with its nuanced accounts of family life. As if to emphasize the similarity to her poetry, each chapter of Marigold and Rose is not divided into paragraphs that run discursively from one to the next, but into linked blocks of text separated by what we call elsewhere in her work sectional breaks. Indeed, these blocks of text act somewhat like separate stanzas of a poem. Each acts as a kind of freeze frame designed to dance within the story: they are like a frieze side by side.

This method of writing brilliantly evokes the timelessness of early childhood, indeed childhood, before a child adapted to their daily rhythms. There is this sense of suspension, of living without past or future, which is the great power of childhood: “Outside kindergarten there was night and day. What did they add? It was time that they added… At the other end of time your formal life began, which means it will end someday “.

All of this creates a disruptive vision in which adults are imprisoned by time, as well as by language. Here the author dresses the delicate reactions of children in sophisticated language – even acknowledging that they do not have such words. In fact, Rose had only learned to speak by the end of the book: “Since she began talking, Rose has felt herself turning into a tyrant. And Marigold was calmer than ever…she studies the alphabet book for clues.” Readers stuck to realism might find this strategy Annoying, but a way to explore the linguistic life of an infant without reducing it to a state of incoherence. And after all, dressing up in words the hidden inner lives of others is what all imagination does.

We learn, piecemeal, that the marigold is the younger and weaker twin, as well as the second born, and that the couple has begun life in an incubator. There are meditations on loneliness and exclusivity: on their first birthday, monozygotic twins wonder how they can “turn into one” when they knew Marigold. A long time ago, when they were an egg.” Rose is an extrovert, while “beside the name Marigold, there were a lot of specific needs improvement boxes.” But the book isn’t about the mysterious nature of twins. Instead, the identical twin girls feel like a way of imagining two versions Two synchronicities of the (female) self.

The twins notice each other’s weaknesses and win by protecting the allies. Rose worries about Marigold’s dislike. “And then, being like her name, steadfast and true, she was united with her sister, as if they were one story, of which father and mother were mere witnesses.” This novel provides a close examination of alternative paths to childhood, one of which is via being a writer. “Marigold was writing a book. Her inability to read was a hindrance. Still, the book was taking shape in her head. The words would come later.” A picture of the artist as a twin baby? I think so. And for this remarkable dive into the many possibilities of the self, we should be grateful.

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