“Early one morning words were missing.” When I first read Short Talks, I had difficulty understanding why Anne Carson wrote about what she did, and thought that some words must have been missing. I was confused as to how they all fit together and it was only after further consideration that I came to see how the sections unite into one cohesive piece. Anne Carson’s Short Talks is a series of short reflections on different subjects that at first do not seem to be related, but through her use of cyclical images and consistent use of historical facts in fiction, the piece gains a cohesive quality that unifies the work.
Throughout this piece Anne Carson references many historical figures. She mentions many famous people, including Frans Kafka, Gertrude Stein, Prokofiev, and Sylvia Plath, and by referencing these people she borrows from the authority they hold in the readers mind to strengthen her own work. She even references Frans Kafka multiple times, which acts to reinforce her authority. She references him first in the short talk “On Rectification” about his life and wife, and then brings him up again in “On The Anatomy”. By having her texts refer back onto themselves in an authoritative way, she strengthens her reliability in the reader’s mind as well as the relatedness of the different Talks.
Anne Carson goes further than just bringing up historical figures. She also references many historical works of art as well as facts. The way in which she does this unifies her talks in a way that seems scientifically reliable. It appears as though she has facts to base her talks on, which stops the reader from wondering for too long if she is any sort of authority on the subject. She places these historical references throughout the text to curb the readers questions, as if to say “look, I’m not making this up, see this fact? I am talking about real things, go look it up if you want.” She starts off the talks with a fact asserted alongside her assumptions. In...
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