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American Pastoral
 
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American Pastoral [Format Kindle]

Philip Roth
3.7 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (9 commentaires client)

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Philip Roth's 22nd book takes a life-long view of the American experience in this thoughtful investigation of the century's most divisive and explosive of decades, the '60s. Returning again to the voice of his literary alter ego Nathan Zuckerman, Roth is at the top of his form. His prose is carefully controlled yet always fresh and intellectually subtle as he reconstructs the halcyon days, circa World War II, of Seymour "the Swede" Levov, a high school sports hero and all-around Great Guy who wants nothing more than to live in tranquillity. But as the Swede grows older and America crazier, history sweeps his family inexorably into its grip: His own daughter, Merry, commits an unpardonable act of "protest" against the Vietnam war that ultimately severs the Swede from any hope of happiness, family, or spiritual coherence.

Extrait

1

The Swede. During the war years, when I was still a grade school boy, this was a magical name in our Newark neighborhood, even to adults just a generation removed from the city's old Prince Street ghetto and not yet so flawlessly Americanized as to be bowled over by the prowess of a high school athlete. The name was magical; so was the anomalous face. Of the few fair-complexioned Jewish students in our preponderantly Jewish public high school, none possessed anything remotely like the steep-jawed, insentient Viking mask of this blue-eyed blond born into our tribe as Seymour Irving Levov.

The Swede starred as end in football, center in basketball, and first baseman in baseball. Only the basketball team was ever any good-twice winning the city championship while he was its leading scorer-but as long as the Swede excelled, the fate of our sports teams didn't matter much to a student body whose elders, largely undereducated and overburdened, venerated academic achievement above all else. Physical aggression, even camouflaged by athletic uniforms and official rules and intended to do no harm to Jews, was not a traditional source of pleasure in our community-advanced degrees were. Nonetheless, through the Swede, the neighborhood entered into a fantasy about itself and about the world, the fantasy of sports fans everywhere: almost like Gentiles (as they imagined Gentiles), our families could forget the way things actually work and make an athletic performance the repository of all their hopes. Primarily, they could forget the war.

The elevation of Swede Levov into the household Apollo of the Weequahic Jews can best be explained, I think, by the war against the Germans and the Japanese and the fears that it fostered. With the Swede indomitable on the playing field, the meaningless surface of life provided a bizarre, delusionary kind of sustenance, the happy release into a Swedian innocence, for those who lived in dread of never seeing their sons or their brothers or their husbands again.

And how did this affect him-the glorification, the sanctification, of every hook shot he sank, every pass he leaped up and caught, every line drive he rifled for a double down the left-field line? Is this what made him that staid and stone-faced boy? Or was the mature-seeming sobriety the outward manifestation of an arduous inward struggle to keep in check the narcissism that an entire community was ladling with love? The high school cheerleaders had a cheer for the Swede. Unlike the other cheers, meant to inspire the whole team or to galvanize the spectators, this was a rhythmic, foot-stomping tribute to the Swede alone, enthusiasm for his perfection undiluted and unabashed. The cheer rocked the gym at basketball games every time he took a rebound or scored a point, swept through our side of City Stadium at football games any time he gained a yard or intercepted a pass. Even at the sparsely attended home baseball games up at Irvington Park, where there was no cheerleading squad eagerly kneeling at the sidelines, you could hear it thinly chanted by the handful of Weequahic stalwarts in the wooden stands not only when the Swede came up to bat but when he made no more than a routine putout at first base. It was a cheer that consisted of eight syllables, three of them his name, and it went, Bah bah-bah! Bah bah bah . . . bah-bah! and the tempo, at football games particularly, accelerated with each repetition until, at the peak of frenzied adoration, an explosion of skirt-billowing cartwheels was ecstatically discharged and the orange gym bloomers of ten sturdy little cheerleaders flickered like fireworks before our marveling eyes . . . and not for love of you or me but of the wonderful Swede. "Swede Levov! It rhymes with . . . 'The Love'! . . . Swede Levov! It rhymes with . . . 'The Love'! . . . Swede Levov! It rhymes with . . . 'The Love'!"

Yes, everywhere he looked, people were in love with him. The candy store owners we boys pestered called the rest of us "Hey-you-no!" or "Kid-cut-it-out!"; him they called, respectfully, "Swede. Parents smiled and benignly addressed him as "Seymour. The chattering girls he passed on the street would ostentatiously swoon, and the bravest would holler after him, "Come back, come back, Levov of my life!" And he let it happen, walked about the neighborhood in possession of all that love, looking as though he didn't feel a thing. Contrary to whatever daydreams the rest of us may have had about the enhancing effect on ourselves of total, uncritical, idolatrous adulation, the love thrust upon the Swede seemed actually to deprive him of feeling. In this boy embraced as a symbol of hope by so many-as the embodiment of the strength, the resolve, the emboldened valor that would prevail to return our high school's servicemen home unscathed from Midway, Salerno, Cherbourg, the Solomons, the Aleutians, Tarawa-there appeared to be not a drop of wit or irony to interfere with his golden gift for responsibility.

But wit or irony is like a hitch in his swing for a kid like the Swede, irony being a human consolation and beside the point if you're getting your way as a god. Either there was a whole side to his personality that he was suppressing or that was as yet asleep or, more likely, there wasn't. His aloofness, his seeming passivity as the desired object of all this asexual lovemaking, made him appear, if not divine, a distinguished cut above the more primordial humanity of just about everybody else at the school. He was fettered to history, an instrument of history, esteemed with a passion that might never have been if he'd broken the Weequahic basketball record-by scoring twenty-seven points against Barringer-on a day other than the sad, sad day in 1943 when fifty-eight Flying Fortresses were shot down by Luftwaffe fighter planes, two fell victim to flak, and five more crashed after crossing the English coast on their way back from bombing Germany.

The Swede's younger brother was my classmate, Jerry Levov, a scrawny, small-headed, oddly overflexible boy built along the lines of a licorice stick, something of a mathematical wizard, and the January 1950 valedictorian. Though Jerry never really had a friendship with anyone, in his imperious, irascible way, he took an interest in me over the years, and that was how I wound up, from the age of ten, regularly getting beaten by him at Ping-Pong in the finished basement of the Levovs' one-family house, on the corner of Wyndmoor and Keer-the word "finished" indicating that it was paneled in knotty pine, domesticated, and not, as Jerry seemed to think, that the basement was the perfect place for finishing off another kid.

The explosiveness of Jerry's aggression at a Ping-Pong table exceeded his brother's in any sport. A Ping-Pong ball is, brilliantly, sized and shaped so that it cannot take out your eye. I would not otherwise have played in Jerry Levov's basement. If it weren't for the opportunity to tell people that I knew my way around Swede Levov's house, nobody could have got me down into that basement, defenseless but for a small wooden paddle. Nothing that weighs as little as a Ping-Pong ball can be lethal, yet when Jerry whacked that thing murder couldn't have been far from his mind. It never occurred to me that this violent display might have something to do with what it was like for him to be the kid brother of Swede Levov. Since I couldn't imagine anything better than being the Swede's brother-short of being the Swede himself-I failed to understand that for Jerry it might be difficult to imagine anything worse.

The Swede's bedroom-which I never dared enter but would pause to gaze into when I used the toilet outside Jerry's room-was tucked under the eaves at the back of the house. With its slanted ceiling and dormer windows and Weequahic pennants on the walls, it looked like what I thought of as a real boy's room. From the two windows that opened out over the back lawn you could see the roof of the Levovs' garage, where the Swede as a grade school kid practiced hitting in the wintertime by swinging at a baseball taped to a cord hung from a rafter-an idea he might have got from a baseball novel by John R. Tunis called The Kid from Tomkinsville. I came to that book and to other of Tunis's baseball books-Iron Duke, The Duke Decides, Champion's Choice, Keystone Kids, Rookie of the Year-by spotting them on the built-in shelf beside the Swede's bed, all lined up alphabetically between two solid bronze bookends that had been a bar mitzvah gift, miniaturized replicas of Rodin's "The Thinker." Immediately I went to the library to borrow all the Tunis books I could find and started with The Kid from Tomkinsville, a grim, gripping book to a boy, simply written, stiff in places but direct and dignified, about the Kid, Roy Tucker, a clean-cut young pitcher from the rural Connecticut hills whose father dies when he is four and whose mother dies when he is sixteen and who helps his grandmother make ends meet by working the family farm during the day and working at night in town at "MacKenzie's drugstore on the corner of South Main.'

The book, published in 1940, had black-and-white drawings that, with just a little expressionistic distortion and just enough anatomical skill, cannily pictorialize the hardness of the Kid's life, back before the game of baseball was illuminated with a million statistics, back when it was about the mysteries of earthly fate, when major leaguers looked less like big healthy kids and more like lean and hungry workingmen. The drawings seemed conceived out of the dark austerities of Depression America. Every ten pages or so, to succinctly depict a dramatic physical moment in the story-"He was able to put a little steam in it," "It was over the fence," "Razzle limped to the dugout"-there is a blackish, ink-heavy rendering of a scrawny, shadow-faced ballplayer starkly silhouetted on a blank page, isolated, like the world's most lonesome soul, from both nature and man, or set in a stippled simulation of ballpark grass,...

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 621 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 435 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0395860210
  • Editeur : Vintage Digital; Édition : New Ed (23 décembre 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B004GKMUTO
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.7 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (9 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°15.093 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 AMERICAN PASTORAL 9 février 2014
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Livre culte de la littérature américaine sur les années 60, par un écrivain remarquable;
Très bon niveau de style, une belle histoire dramatique.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 American Pastoral de Philip Roth 31 décembre 2013
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Grand roman de Philip Roth où une situation bouleverse un couple bien établi dans la société américaine. On y rencontre la rage, le désespoir, l'incommunicabilité, les préjugés, l'Amérique tourmentée de la guerre du Vietnam etc dans le style nerveux et si descriptif de P.Roth. L'histoire se déroule à travers un narrateur, procédé intéressant.
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Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Outre Le Sein traduit en français et pas vraiment lu voilà peut-être trente ans, je ne pouvais pas dire que je connaissais cet auteur que d'aucuns disent nobélisable. On dit également qu'il a fini sa carrière d'écrivain. Pour revenir à ce pavé lu donc dans la langue, cette histoire de dynastie familiale dans la manufacture du gant dont le prestige est entaché par le destin d'une adolescente convertie au terrorisme est captivante, avec des phrases dont la longueur parfois confine au proustisme.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 J'ai détesté et maudit ce livre au début 24 mars 2013
Par Neko
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
J'ai détesté et maudit ce livre au début. C'est vrai qu'il pourrait s'étendre sur moins de pages et qu'il faut du courage pour aller jusqu'au bout, un peu ch*ant parfois, mais mène à une réflexion intéressante sur ce que veut dire s'intégrer à une société, sur les normes, sur ce qu'on occulte consciemment ou non pour tenter de coller à la "normalité" L'oeuvre se base beaucoup sur les événements des 1960s aux US, qui est une de mes périodes préférées de l'histoire américaine, donc un plus pour ça. Après, comme j'ai dit, au début, on risque de détester et d'avoir envie de le mettre au feu dans la cheminée...
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4 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Boring 8 septembre 2011
Format:Broché
I know this book won the Pulitzer Prize and I know that Philip Roth is considered as a great contemporary writer, and I am not questioning the point in any sort of way, but I am afraid I am one of those who did not enjoy reading American Pastoral.

The story in itself is interesting, and sure enough Philip Roth has a specific style that is mostly enjoyable, but I cannot stand the repetitive pattern he uses in his story.
On and on it goes, the same event is narrated again and again, and again.... That bored me ... a LOT. And even the interesting writing style did not manage to make the read pleasurable to me.

What seems to be a particularity of Roth's style from what I recall of my reading The Human Stain and that The San Fransisco Chronicle describes as "At once expansive and painstakingly detailed"... is exactly what I did not like in the novel and made my reading of it "painstakingly" achieved. I would probably have dropped it if I did not have to read it for study purposes.
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