chapter  Chapter Two
19 Pages

Crow

WithPaul Bentley

Two aspects of Ted Hughes’s Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow have proved hard to swallow for some critics, namely, the book’s language and its imagery, or as Roy Fuller puts it, ‘the pathological violence of its language, its anti-human ideas, its sadistic imagery’. Hughes himself writes that his ‘guiding metaphor’ for Crow was the figure of the Trickster from primitive tales and mythologies. Paul Radin, in his book on American Indian Trickster mythology, characterizes the Trickster as ‘primarily an inchoate being of undetermined proportions, a figure foreshadowing the shape of man’. The disfigured and abstracted language of Crow clearly bears some relation to what Kristeva describes here; on the other hand, Crow’s ‘hollowed out’ language is not unreadable. ‘Crow’s Account of the Battle’ refers the reader less to any battle than to the available means of representing and responding to the event.