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The Argonauts

The Argonauts

Maggie Nelson

  • awardLonglisted, Jan Michalski Prize, 2018
  • awardWinner, National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, United States, 2015
  • awardShortlisted, Rathbones Folio Prize, United Kingdom, 2017
  • An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language and family

    Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of ‘autotheory’ offering fresh, fierce and timely thinking about desire, identity and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its centre is a romance: the story of the author’s relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes the author’s account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, is an intimate portrayal of the complexities and joys of (queer) family making.

    Writing in the spirit of public intellectuals such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, Nelson binds her personal experience to a rigorous exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender, and the vexed institutions of marriage and child-rearing. Nelson’s insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry for this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.


    ABC Radio National Books & Arts

    Maggie Nelson
    About the Author

    Maggie Nelson is a poet, a critic, and the author of several nonfiction books, including The Red Parts, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, Bluets, and Jane: A Murder. She teaches in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts and lives in Los Angeles, California.

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    13 April 2016
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    Praise for Maggie Nelson
    andThe Argonauts

    ‘A superb exploration of the risk and the excitement of change…An exceptional portrait both of a romantic partnership and of the collaboration between Nelson’s mind and heart.’

    ‘Maggie Nelson slays entrenched notions of gender, marriage and sexuality with lyricism, intellectual brass and soul-ringing honesty.’

    ‘A magnificent achievement of thought, care and art.’

    ‘Nelson’s writing is fluid—to read her story is to drift dreamily among her thoughts…She masterfully analyzes the way we talk about sex and gender.’

    ‘One of the most intelligent, generous and moving books of the year.’ STARRED review

    ‘A book that will challenge readers as much as the author has challenged herself.’ STARRED review

    ‘So much writing about motherhood makes the world seem smaller after the child arrives, more circumscribed, as if in tacit fealty to the larger cultural assumptions about moms and domesticity; Nelson’s book does the opposite.’

    ‘I finished this brilliant book triumphantly convinced of the worthwhileness of the search to capture every aspect of experience in words, and convinced of the necessary daring of specificity, whether we are talking about specific genders, specific sexual practices or specific feelings.’

    ‘An absolutely extraordinary book…Extremely smart and very moving…Works so perfectly both as a really beautiful piece of memoir writing and also a really smart, intellectual look at gender.’

    The Argonauts offers no easy answers to the questions Nelson poses: but it is moving, in every sense of the word.’

    ‘A thought-provoking and fascinating read.’

    ‘A wonderful genre-disregarding beast…Nelson has created a work that lets the reader into the intimate world of her love partnership and family, as well as engaging the intellect.’

    ‘I thought about copying down whole passages…Nelson’s writing about gender is pretty wonderful. The reflexivity and circularity of her work resists over-simplifications.’

    ‘A song of praise for everyday, ordinary suburban life and simple pleasures.’

    ‘An extraordinary record of a life that could only have been written in the early 21st century…[Nelson] is thoughtful, provoking and concise.’

    ‘Remarkable…Nelson has succeeded in combining self-expression and thinking through in a way that is as fundamental as it is compelling.’

    ‘Brisk, frank and funny. Nelson does not preach but takes us on her personal journey…She gives us space to find our own way and draw our own conclusions. Recommended.’

    ‘Once I let myself be vulnerable to the author’s intelligence, I began to be emboldened by the book. For all the names, the theories, and the philosophers, this book is a book about life. About humans and about love. Maggie Nelson is her own vehicle, her own tool, to analyse life.’

    ‘Nelson is an electrifying writer, and The Argonauts is an intensely personal, fiercely intelligent reflection on marriage, motherhood, desire and family.’

    ‘Shimmering with intelligence; fully alive to both the joyful and the difficult part of love; illuminating on motherhood.’

    ‘It might require a bit of work but The Argonauts rewards us with an expansive way of considering identity, caretaking, and freedom. Maybe it will change the way we think and speak about others and ourselves?’

    ‘The Argonauts is a book of borrowing and sharing…an exhilarating tour de force drawing on queer and feminist theory as well as the personal narrative of Nelson’s family.’

    ‘It looks at life from a feminist perspective. It is about love and marriage, motherhood, pregnancy, birth and family-making, and is fascinating.’

    Other editions ofThe Argonauts
    • The Argonauts
      ISBN: 9781925410037
      13 April 2016
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