J: A Novel (Anglais) Relié – 14 août 2014
|Neuf à partir de||Occasion à partir de|
Les clients ayant consulté cet article ont également regardé
Descriptions du produit
Revue de presse
"Remarkable… May well come to be seen as the dystopian British novel of its times" (Guardian)
"Thrilling and enigmatic" (New York Times Book Review)
"Snarling, effervescent and ambitious… Jacobson’s triumph is to craft a novel that is poignant as well as troubling" (Independent)
"Jacobson…goes from strength to strength." (William Leith Evening Standard)
"Very little about Jacobson’s circuitous romance-cum-murder mystery is straightforward – other than its originality and its devastating brilliance." (Stephanie Cross Daily Mail)
"A dystopia that invites comparison with George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World" (Sunday Times)
"Mystifying, serious and blackly funny." (Max Liu Independent on Sunday)
"To say J is unlike any other novel Jacobson has written would be misleading: the same ferocious wit runs throughout… That said, comparisons do not do full justice to Jacobson’s achievement in what may well come to be seen as the dystopian British novel of its times." (John Burnside Guardian)
"A snarling, effervescent and ambitious philosophical work of fiction… Jacobson’s triumph is to craft a novel that is poignant as well as troubling." (James Kidd Independent)
"Jacobson once jokingly referred to himself as a Jewish Jane Austen. Here he reinvents himself as a Jewish Aldous Huxley – and displays mastery in the role." (Max Davidson Mail on Sunday)
"Jacobson has crafted an immersive, complex experience with care and guile." (Anthony Cummins Observer)
"J is a remarkable achievement: an affecting, unsettling – and yes, darkly amusing – novel." (Matthew Adams National)
"A provocatively dystopian novel that depicts a disturbingly nice world." (Sunday Times)
"Sufficient testament to a writer who is…producing some of his most powerful work." (Irish Independent)
"A subtle, topical, thought-provoking and painfully uncomfortable novel." (John Sutherland The Times)
"You can’t help feeling that this is an important book, and it’s hugely compelling… Worthy of its status as a Booker long-listee." (Emma Herdman UK Press Syndication)
"Jacobson’s most significantly Jewish book and quite possibly his masterpiece." (Standpoint)
"The persistent reader will be duly rewarded, as the denouement reveals a hidden logic and the book climaxes with a brilliant literary (and philosophical) coup." (Sunday Business Post)
"Contemporary literature is overloaded with millenarian visions of destroyed landscapes and societies in flames, but Jacobson has produced one that feels frighteningly new by turning the focus within: the ruins here are the ruins of language, imagination, love itself." (Tim Martin Daily Telegraph)
"The savagery of his imagery and his conclusions are impossible to forget, and maybe even to deny." (Herald)
"Confounds expectations but confirms Jacobson’s reputation." (New Statesman)
"I loved this book. A compelling tale that is bound to be a hot contender for the Booker." (Rebecca Wallersteiner Lady)
"Impressive, disturbingly timely – a massive step aside and a noticeable step up from most of his other fiction." (Bharat Tandon Times Literary Supplement)
"A pivotal – and impressive change of direction for [Jacobson]." (Gerald Isaaman UK Press Syndication)
"Sentence by sentence, he remains perhaps the best British author around." (James Walton Spectator)
"This is Jacobson at his provocative, surprising, brilliant best." (Kate Saunders Saga Magazine)
"Thrilling written and the most ambitious work on the shortlist… Once you’ve worked out what’s going on, you’ll be gripped by its hints of an anti-Semitic armageddon." (Mail on Sunday)
"It’s stark and daring." (Gaby Wood Telegraph)
"A brilliant conspiracy yarn examining the manipulation of collective memory." (Mail on Sunday)
Présentation de l'éditeur
Shortlisted for the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize
Set in the future - a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited - J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying. Howard Jacobson, one of Britain’s greatest novelists and winner of the 2010 Man Booker prize, has written a novel which 'may well come to be seen as the dystopian British novel of its times'. (John Burnside, Guardian)
Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn’t know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a word starting with a J. It wasn’t then, and isn’t now, the time or place to be asking questions. Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. He doesn’t ask who hurt her. Brutality has grown commonplace. They aren’t sure if they have fallen in love of their own accord, or whether they’ve been pushed into each other’s arms. But who would have pushed them, and why?
Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe – a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened.
J is a novel to be talked about in the same breath as Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World, thought-provoking and life-changing. It is like no other novel that Howard Jacobson has written.
Aucun appareil Kindle n'est requis. Téléchargez l'une des applis Kindle gratuites et commencez à lire les livres Kindle sur votre smartphone, tablette ou ordinateur.
Pour obtenir l'appli gratuite, saisissez votre adresse e-mail ou numéro de téléphone mobile.
Détails sur le produit
Dans ce livre(En savoir plus)
Quels sont les autres articles que les clients achètent après avoir regardé cet article?
Commentaires en ligne
Meilleurs commentaires des clients
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Although the time and place in which it is set are never made explicit, J seems to take place a couple of generations hence in a country whose geography and culture don’t feel all that far removed from present-day Great Britain. The society has endured some form of mass extermination or exile that’s referred to only as WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED (Jacobson’s typography), reflecting a desire to bury all memory of the event. Equally ambiguous is the identity of the “aloof, cold-blooded” victims, whose “loyalty is solely to each other,” though the following description could hardly be more suggestive:
“Imaginatively, the story of their annihilation engrosses them; let them enjoy a period of peace and they conjure war, let them enjoy a period of regard and they conjure hate. They dream of their decimation as hungry men dream of banquets. What their heated brains cannot conceive, their inhuman behavior invites. ‘Kill us, kill us. Prove us right.”
Into this unsettling milieu, Jacobson introduces his protagonists: Ailinn Solomons, a beautiful 25-year-old who fashions paper flowers and her lover, Kevern “Coco” Cohen, a woodturner who specializes in producing lovespoons, and at age 40 already is experiencing “early-onset middle age.” They inhabit the small seaside village of Port Reuben, and like all citizens in a world where most people wear black and the predominant emotional color appears to be gray, they bear Jewish surnames. That’s the result of a program called Operation Ishmael, “that great beneficent name change to which the people ultimately gave their whole-hearted consent,” to ensure that “tracing lineage is not only as good as impossible, it is unnecessary.”
It gradually becomes clear that Ailinn and Kevern may have a larger destiny (one they sense dimly, at best) than the one inherent in their domestic relationship. Kevern’s movements are shadowed by a fellow teacher and artist named Edward Everett Phineas Zermansky and Detective Inspector Gutkind, who suspects Kevern of a double murder. Ailinn’s older friend, Esme Nussbaum, urges her back into the relationship with Kevern when it falters briefly early in the novel.
Unlike Orwell’s 1984, Jacobson only hints at the more authoritarian elements of his imagined world. People are “only prevented from leaving the country (or indeed from entering it) for their own good,” while reading groups are licensed, “allowed access to books not otherwise available (not banned, just not available).” In one of the novel’s most disturbing scenes, Kevern and Ailinn conclude a trip to the capital city (bitterly nicknamed “the Necropolis” by Kevern’s father), with a visit to a neighborhood their taxi driver describes as the one “where the Cohens lived.” When Kevern exclaims, “The Cohens! I’m a Cohen,” the driver replies, “No, I mean real Cohens,” and the erasure of what once was a vibrant community becomes frighteningly tangible. “They have the air of living lives on someone else’s grave,” Kevern says of the neighborhood’s inhabitants, his elegiac comment aptly summing up the novel’s predominant mood.
Despite that somber tone, J isn’t lacking occasional flashes of Jacobson’s well-known wit. Describing Kevern’s lovemaking technique, Ailinn says, “It’s as though you’re on a tourist visa. Just popping in to take a look around.” The novel’s concluding section opens with an excerpt from satirist Allan Sherman’s song “Shake Hands With Your Uncle Max,” which features a litany of Jewish surnames sung to the tune of an Irish ditty.
To the question he posed in his B’nai B’rith address, Jacobson proposed the haunting answer, “Never.” With no little amount of grace and considerable subtlety, he asks us to reflect, not only on the reasons for the persistence of anti-Semitism (and by extension other forms of ethnic animus), but also to acknowledge the harsh truth that hatred of the Other seems an inescapable fact of human existence, one that will persist until the day we’re no longer inhabiting this planet.
Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg
The novel's beginning sets a promising scene. J takes place in a future of shared conventional thinking. Spontaneity and unpredictability are scorned. Jazz, wit, and other forms of improvisation have fallen out of favor. Art is a "primordial celebration of the natural world." It is meant to provoke feelings of tranquility and harmony, not anxiety or despair.
Prevailing sentiment in Jacobson's future is that we must forget the past. Conversations about the seminal event of the relatively recent past begin with "what happened, if it happened." The "twin itches" of recollection and penance are no longer scratched. People apologize without reference to any offense for which an apology might be due because random apologies eradicate and anesthetize guilt. Walls and monuments that commemorate war and suffering are gone, the "recriminatory past" replaced with an "unimpeachable future." Access to books (and therefore ideas) is restricted. Even "hoarding heirlooms" is an offense, although one the authorities will overlook if it is not carried to excess.
It is against this wonderfully detailed background that a plot fails to emerge. Instead, Jacobson gives the reader a jumble of loosely connected storylines. It is as if Jacobson put all of his effort into creating the story's background and failed to find a story that would fit within it.
One plot thread involves a romance between Kevern "Coco" Cohen, the child of parents who hid their past from him while they are still alive, and his lover Ailinn, who thinks that memories are best forgotten since memories are mostly bad. Kevern slowly uncovers his past as the story slowly moves forward. The path he travels is full of dull digressions.
Another thread is something like a murder mystery as a detective investigates a series of deaths. That story goes nowhere. Another involves a woman who had an affair with her teacher who seems to have been added to the story only because someone needed to provide an explanation of what happened, if it happened. Then there's an art historian who exists to reinforce the book's central conceit while adding little of substance to the novel.
While I was unimpressed with Jacobson's story (or failure to tell a story), I found the novel worth reading for its thoughtful exploration of ideas. One set of characters, for example, wars over the dichotomy of "never forget" and "don't live in the past." Having conquered oppression, a character suggests, "there is no need for all the morbid remembering and re-remembering. I don't say we should forget, I say we have been given the chance to progress and we should take it." Through its characters, the novel allows competing philosophies to spar: acknowledging that the past is past should not bring "automatic absolution" for past atrocities versus the sense that people of the present should not be made to bear the burden of guilt for things done by earlier generations. Jacobson also has some insightful things to say about cultural identity as a "shapely, long-ingested, cultural antagonism, in which everything, from who we worship to what we eat, is accounted for and made clear. We are who we are because we are not them."
Jacobson is a clever prose stylist -- sometimes too clever, he conveys the sense of a writer being clever for the sake of being clever -- but the cleverness kept me reading even when I had doubts about the content. There are some lengthy dead spots, including a woman in a coma whose search for words might have made a strong creative writing essay but added little to Jacobson's effort. The characters are haphazard constructs of beautiful prose; I wish Jacobson had made them worthy of the language he expended on them. For ideas and style, I would give J 5 stars; for plot and storytelling, 3 would be a stretch. My weak 4 stars is a compromise verdict.
Kevern is the hero of this story and his life borders on eccentricity with moments of normal. Ailinn is the heroine, the beauty who caught his eye, but she has her own heartbreaking story or abandonment in childhood. This book had my attention, and then lost it. I really had to force myself to keep reading this book. The thing is that nothing really happens in this book. This book has flat characters doing nothing special. When I say the characters are flat, that is putting it mildly. This book might appeal to scholars who love their fifty cent words in descriptions, but I believe most of the population will not enjoy this book as whole. It is too easy to get lost in the language. It might take a whole chapter for a conversation to occur.
It is a book meant for mature audiences not because of its context, but more due to its adult themes. Only boring/dull adults can understand the acceptance of opportunities missed, roads that must be taken, and settling for “good enough” to get by. Although I didn’t enjoy this book much, I keep reminiscing about the characters, who as a dull adult myself, I can wholly relate to. How unfortunate. Body image, embarrassing family ties, abandoning lovers, suspicion and fretting about nothing much. I hated myself for liking bits of this tale. It just shows how far from excitement my life has wandered, and how much I love words. Language in this book flourishes, unchecked.
I don’t believe for one minute that this many people self-analyze in any civilization, much less a society such as this. Memory is supposed to be forbidden and heirlooms are inventoried. Yet some of the characters collect the past and regurgitate it for money. I never got some of this tale, and I suspect I never will. This book was hard to read. Details were thrown together seemingly for the reader’s enjoyment, but it lost me in its fanciful telling. I know I am in the minority since this book/author has won some awards, but his just isn’t my kind of story.
[Stop reading here if you want to let Jacobson tell things in his own way. I shall try to add a little more with each paragraph, though avoiding actual plot spoilers. If you read on, feel free to stop at any time.]
It soon becomes clear that we are in a dystopian world. Post-apocalyptic, actually, though everybody is too polite to mention what the apocalypse was; all they say, always in capitals, is WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED. Some generations ago, clearly. And whatever is was, it also involved the collapse of the banking system and many of the mechanisms of government. If this is an Orwellian world, it is a gentle one, based upon willing compliance rather than enforcement. The phones make only local calls. The radio programs a steady diet of ballads and love songs. People believe in loving their neighbors and always saying sorry, though there are occasional outbursts of murder and sexual violence. Kevern (pronounced "key-vern") Cohen lives in a clifftop cottage and carves wooden lovespoons for tourists; Ailinn Solomons, his girlfriend, makes paper flowers. Among other things, this is a love story.
The J of the title is not the normal letter, but a J with two bars across it, a J that is censored or half-erased. Kevern's father would always put two fingers to his mouth, like a hand holding a non-existent cigarette, whenever a word beginning with J passed his lips, and Kevern does the same. Not that the real J-word is ever mentioned, not once. Those people simply do not exist any more; only through folklore do we know what they looked like, or how they behaved. You could look it up, of course, but the use of reference libraries is discouraged, and anyway most of the books have pages missing.
J was short-listed for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, and would probably have won if Richard Flanagan's NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH had not been at least equally extraordinary. Jacobson's THE FINKLER QUESTION, which did win in 2010, shows him to be deeply concerned with Jewish matters: whether historically, or the place of Jews in society today, or the future of the state of Israel. But he approaches these topics in offbeat ways, as a humorist, avoiding the obvious hot buttons, and often viewing his people through the eyes of Gentiles. The leading character in FINKLER, for example, is envious of Jews and wishes to become one; the most blatant pieces of anti-Semitism in that book come from the mouths of Jews themselves.
Although references to the Holocaust creep with increasing frequency into the present novel, Jacobson is very careful not to tuck it away in a specific place in time. It is not long-dead Germans in the 1940s he is indicting, but all of us. "We have been lulled by the great autocrat-driven genocides of the recent past into thinking that nothing of that enormity of madness can ever happen again -- not anywhere, least of all here." So, with chilling prescience, writes one of the disappeared. In Jacobson's world, "It can't happen here" has morphed into "It did happen here... or did it?" This is a society that accepts (more or less) its culpability, and tries to ensure (more or less) that it will never happen again. A society that has Made Amends. Dystopian or not, it is a society basking in the same smug complacency we see today. Reading Jacobson's novel, we smile with amused recognition -- yet his implications are chilling.
In the last section of the novel, we learn of a project of restitution. Good, right? You find some surviving Jews and encourage them to build a community again. Yet the reason for it? Because people are happier having someone to hate. [6 stars]