The Argonauts Background

The Argonauts Background

Maggie Nelson is an American writer born in 1973 and the author of the book The Argonauts. She is the recipient of many grants and awards, including a 2016 Macarthur Fellowship "Genius Grant" and a 2012 Creative Capital Leadership Fellowship. The Argonauts were published in 2015 by Graywolf Press and are generally perceived as being a nonfiction book, with many autobiographical elements. Nelson describes The Argonauts as a work of "auto theory," bending traditional genres through the combination of autobiography and commentary on sexuality, gender, and popular conceptions of family.

Nelson’s previous books are also considered to be nonfiction and semi-autobiographical as they all focus on some period in the writer’s life. In The Argonauts, for example, the author concentrates on the period in her life when she was pregnant. During this time, her partner, the sculptor Harry Dodge, was undergoing gender-reassignment treatment. At this time, Harry underwent a double mastectomy and injected himself with hormones, changing the scope of his partnership with Nelson and prompting her to incorporate these life changes into The Argonauts.

In this book, Nelson explores various aspects of her pregnancy but also her experience alongside her transitioning partner and the way they were perceived by the public. The book received mixed reviews from the public and the author was sometimes criticized for being so open about her personal life and her struggles. However, Nelson claims that writing about her personal lived experiences comes naturally, allowing her to explore important themes with honesty and integrity.

Despite sometimes harsh criticism, The Argonauts won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was also a New York best-seller, while also being a popular book outside of the United States (the book received especially high praise from The Guardian, the UK-based publication). The Argonauts are Nelson's most widely-known piece of literature and remains a "must-read" love story among many critical reviewers.

The book also focuses on the concept of “family” when it comes to nontraditional relationships. Nelson and Dodge’s relationship is seen as a “chosen family” and the novel explores how this family is formed and maintained despite the changing circumstances of the two individuals. Nelson also examines the idea of family in the context of her own life and her relationship with her parents and siblings. The novel also looks at how society perceives these types of families, and how they often struggle to be accepted.

The book attempts to challenge the conventional notions of gender and family and redefine them more progressively and inclusively. Nelson’s writing is seen as revolutionary by many, as her book focuses on the idea of normalizing LGBTQIA+ families and relationships. She wrote about her own experiences with gender and sexuality in an attempt to create a space for people to explore these topics without fear or judgment. Nelson was also one of the first public figures to openly discuss her relationship with her partner, who is transgender.

Nelson’s book has been praised by many readers, who view it as an important and necessary commentary on gender and family. It has become a popular reference for those looking for a deeper understanding of these topics, and how they relate to the modern world. Nelson’s work has also been praised for its honest and insightful exploration of the challenges faced by those in nontraditional relationships. The Argonauts is an important work of contemporary literature and are sure to continue to be a topic of discussion for years to come.

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