The Argonauts

The Argonauts
Maggie Nelson

“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.”The New York Times Book Review

“Nelson’s vibrant, probing and, most of all, outstanding book is also a philosophical look at motherhood, transitioning, partnership, parenting, and family-an examination of the restrictive way we’ve approached these terms in the past and the ongoing struggle to arrive at more inclusive and expansive definitions for them.”—NPR

About the Book

“Maggie Nelson is one of the most electrifying writers at work in America today.”—Olivia Laing, The Guardian
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 center is a romance: the story of the author’s relationship with 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 like 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 childrearing. Nelson’s insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry for this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.
“A fiercely provocative and intellectually audacious memoir. . . . The author turns the whole process and concept of motherhood inside out, exploring every possible perspective, blurring the distinctions among the political, philosophical, aesthetic and personal. . . . A book that will challenge readers as much as the author has challenged herself.”—Kirkus (starred review)

Additional Reviews

The Argonauts is a moving exploration of family and love, but it’s also a meditation on the seductions, contradictions, limitations, and beauties of being normal, as a person and as an artist.”The New Yorker

Winner of the 2016 NBCC Award in Criticism
One of NPR’s Best Books of 2015
A Chicago Tribune Top 10 Book of 2015
One of Publishers Weekly’s Top Ten Books of 2015

One of Village Voice's Top 11 Books of 2015
Named a Best Book of 2015 by KirkusThe National Post, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, Time Out New YorkIrish TimesLos Angeles Magazine, Artforum, The Atlantic, San Francisco ChronicleLiterary HubVol. 1 BrooklynBustle, Counterpunch, GQ, Canadian Art, Paste Magazine, The Believer
A Huffington Post Notable Book of 2015
A Vox Best Book We Read in 2016

A Feministing Favorite Book of 2016

“Maggie Nelson is one of the most electrifying writers at work in America today, among the sharpest and most supple thinkers of her generation. . . . Musical, polyphonic. . . . Generative and generous, this is a book that belongs on the shelves of anyone who desires, especially if what they desire is nothing short of freedom itself.”—Olivia Laing, The Guardian,

“Is Maggie Nelson a poet, a critic, or a memoirist? No label is quite right, no category quite enough. Works like Bluets and last year’s The Argonauts are full of sentences that move from the personal to the critical, take a dip into quoting another writer, corner hard into comic profanity and then come to an emotional stop you couldn’t never have predicted three lines earlier.”Los Angeles Times

“Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts exists in its own universe. My first reaction to Nelson’s book was awestruck silence, such as one might experience when confronted with some dazzling supernatural phenomenon. Nelson is so outrageously gifted a writer and thinker that The Argonauts seems to operate in some astral dimension where the rules of normal physics have been suspended. Her book is an elegant, powerful, deeply discursive examination of gender, sexuality, queerness, pregnancy and motherhood, all conveyed in language that is intellectually potent and poetically expressive.”—Michael Lindgren, The Washington Post

“Every page made me think, reflect, argue, laugh and ultimately cry (for their happiness).”—Betsy Lerner

“Nelson explores what our culture’s philosophers and critics have to say about the maternal. But Nelson is a poet, as well as a critic, and what’s especially delightful about her prose are the descriptions of the physical experience of pregnancy and tending an infant. . . . Nelson offers one of the most resonant personal narratives of what contractions and the delivery of a baby can feel like.”Christian Science Monitor

“Nelson’s formal presence, the way she arranges sources to allow for both contingency and irreverence, continues to be one of the most vital voices in contemporary literature, organizing us all towards a spacious future.”—

“There’s no one quite like Maggie Nelson writing right now. . . . We are lucky to have her.”Bookriot

“Both highly personal and deeply intellectual. . . Nelson is one of my favorite living writers. . . and [The Argonauts] is a deeply moving, engaging book.”—Book Riot

“A daring, intelligent, strange, and beautiful book. . . . [Nelson] has created an essential thing, a guide to the first years of the queer 21st Century, and a hymn to love in all its forms.”The Gay & Lesbian Review

“It’s Nelson’s articulation of her many selves—the poet who writes prose; the memoirist who considers the truth specious; the essayist whose books amount to a kind of fairy tale, in which the protagonist goes from darkness to light, and then falls in love with a singular knight—that makes her readers feel hopeful.”The New Yorker