Anne Carsons Autobiography of Red is particularly fascinating because it blends myth with modernity. Carson uses a lost poem, “The Tales of Geryon” from the Greek poet Stesichorus, and expands upon the myth of the little red monster Geryon with her own flare. In Stesichorus’ version, Hercules, (or Herakles, in Carons version) kills Geryon. Whereas in Carson’s version, the tale of Geryon is almost a coming of age story of someone who feels that he does not belong in the society around him, and the killing of Geryon is actually the breaking of Geryon’s heart. It is in this way that Carson manages to modernize a monster, personifying something that would otherwise not feel what we feel.
Geryon grows up shy and finds solace in photography. He has complicated relationships with his family, enduring abuse from his elder brother and existing in a tense space with his mother. These characteristics have themes of normalcy and act as a distraction from the fact that Geryon is indeed a monster. Geryon’s constant soliloquies about his redness and his wings relating to his feelings about feeling outcast draw parallels to what most teens experience through adolescence, that perhaps their physicality isn’t enough to fit into society.
The modernity of the world around Geryon baffles me when reflecting on the fact he is a red monster with wings. They live in a society with a modern education system, telephones, modern transportation, and modern media. The fact that no one mentions Geryon’s redness and that there are others with wings, (Ancash), perfectly blends this myth with modernity. In that way, Carson’s work is very much inventive.