‘Merry Christmas from Hegel’ by Anne Carson

Another Christmas story, and another story by a poet, and another story that many may just think is a poem, but I would argue again it meets the definition I go by as having a beginning, middle, and an end, and there is a point of tension within it. Carson is one of my favourite writers, and I don’t often think of her as a poet, more of an adventurer, an explorer, and language is her forbidden planet. I think ‘Merry Christmas from Hegel’ is one of the most effecting and lingering explorations of grief and loneliness that I have ever read. Just like the narrator, you don’t have to understand Hegelian philosophy to get what is being done here. Language, its knots and strands, is being used to push a boulder up a hill, not, necessarily, to unpick and explicate existential critical theory (did I just call Hegel an existentialist? – see, I told you you didn’t need to understand any of it to get the point). What blows me away about this story is the emotional journey we go on, from grief to quiet exuberance, all via a deep dive in Hegelianism and the art of building snowmen. 

First published in Float, Cape, 2016. You can hear Carson read it here

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