The Descent of Alette (Penguin Poets) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Alice Notley reinvents meter. With a precision that feels more Homeric than New York School, her locomotive force isn't the line break, but the quotation mark. Her narrative feels spit through someone else, a third-person obscured: "We were caught up" "in movement" "in ongoingness" "& in ongoingness" "of voices," "for example" "Which of us spoke? did" "it matter?" Rhythmic, dystopian, brutal, and beautiful, Alice Notley makes our paradigm mythical.

— Carly

For the most immersive experience I read this one on the subway and pretend I am also trapped forever underground.

— Ryan


The Decent Of Alette is a rich odyssey of transformation in the tradition of The Inferno. Alice Notley presents a feminist epic: a bold journey into the deeper realms. Alette, the narrator, finds herself underground, deep beneath the city, where spirits and people ride endlessly on subways, not allowed to live in the world above. Traveling deeper and deeper, she is on a journey of continual transformation, encountering a series of figures and undergoing fragmentations and metamorphoses as she seeks to confront the Tyrant and heal the world. Using a new measure, with rhythmic units indicated by quotations marks, Notley has created a "spoken" text, a rich and mesmerizing work of imagination, mystery, and power.

About the Author

Alice Notley is a poet whose twenty previous titles include The Descent of Alette, Beginning with a Stain, Homer's Art, and Selected Poems. She wrote the introduction for her late first husband Ted Berrigan's Selected Poems. She lives in Paris.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780140587647
ISBN-10: 0140587640
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: April 1st, 1996
Pages: 160
Language: English
Series: Penguin Poets