Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 September 2021
This article examines the fraught relationship between loss and poetic creation in Catullus 101 and in Anne Carson’s Nox. I argue that Catullus 101 performs a process of mourning through substitution, turning from absent brother to present poem. This process risks becoming an abandonment of his brother, and significant contradictions linger in the poem between the demands of mourning and of learned poetry. I then show how Anne Carson takes up these tensions in Nox while exploring philology and mourning as two related responses to loss. I argue that Carson practices an obsessive philology in Nox, whose unending project offers a model for an ongoing intimacy with her own lost brother. I conclude by returning to Catullus and demonstrating that in his poem, too, forms of literary erudition and intertextuality offer the mourner the possibility of significant and ongoing relationships across a gulf of absence.
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