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On Beauty (Anglais)


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Extrait

One may as well begin with Jerome's e-mails to his father:

To: HowardBelsey@fas.Wellington.edu

From: Jeromeabroad@easymail.com

Date: Nov 5th

Subject: (none)

Hey Dad—basically I'm just going to keep on keeping on with these mails—I'm no longer expecting you to reply but I am still hoping you will, if that makes sense.

Well, I'm really enjoying everything. I work in Monty Kipps' own office (did you know that he's actually Lord Monty??), which is in the Green Park area. It's me and a Cornish girl called Emily. She's cool. There's also three more yank interns downstairs (one from Boston!), so I feel pretty much at home. I'm a kind of an intern with the duties of a PA—organizing lunches, filing, talking to people on the phone, that kind of thing. Monty's work is much more than just the academic stuff—he's involved with the Race Commission and he has church charities in Barbados, Jamaica, Haiti etc—he keeps me pretty busy. Because it's such a small set-up, I get to work closely with him—and of course I'm living with the family now, so it's like being completely integrated into something new. Ah, the family. You didn't respond so I'm imagining your reaction (not too hard to imagine...) the truth is it was really just the most convenient option at the time. And they were totally kind to offer—I was being evicted from the 'bedsit' place in Marylebone—and the Kipps aren't under any obligation to me, but they asked and I accepted—gratefully. I've been in their place a week now, and still no mention of any rent, which should tell you something. I know you want me to tell you it's a nightmare but I can't—I love living here. It's a different universe. The house is just wow -- early Victorian, a 'terrace'—unassuming looking outside but massive inside -- but there's still a kind of humility that really appeals to me—almost everything white, and a lot of hand--made things, and quilts and dark wood shelves and cornices—and in the whole place there's only one television, which is in the basement anyway just so Monty can keep abreast of news stuff, and some of the stuff he does on the television—but that's it. I think of it as the negativized image of our house sometimes... It's in this bit of North London 'Kilburn' which sounds bucolic but boy oh boy is not bucolic in the least, except for this street we live on off the 'high road' and it's suddenly like you can't hear a thing and you can just sit in the yard in the shadow of this huge tree—80 feet tall and ivy-ed all up the trunk... reading and feeling like you're in a novel... Autumn's different here—Fall much less intense and trees balder earlier—everything more melancholy somehow.

The family are another thing again—they deserve more space and time than I have right now (I'm writing this on my lunch hour). But in brief: one boy: Michael, nice, sporty. A little dull, I guess. You'd think he was anyway. He's a business guy—exactly what business I haven't been able to figure out. And he's huge! He's got two inches on you, at least. They're all big in that athletic, Caribbean way. He must be 6' 5". There's also a very tall and beautiful daughter, Victoria—who I've seen only in photos (she's inter-railing in Europe), but she's coming back for a while on Friday, I think. Monty's wife, Carlene Kipps -- perfect. She's not from Trinidad, though—It's a small island, St something—but I'm not sure. I didn't properly hear it the first time she mentioned it and now it's like it's too late to ask. She's always trying to fatten me up—she feeds me constantly. The rest of the family talk about sports and God and politics and Carlene floats above it all like a kind of angel -- and she's helping me with prayer. She really knows how to pray—and it's very cool to be able to pray without someone in your family coming into the room and a) passing wind b) shouting c) analyzing the 'phoney metaphysics' of prayer d) singing loudly e) laughing.

So that's Carlene Kipps. Tell Mom that she bakes. Just tell her that and then walk away chuckling...

Now, listen to this next bit carefully: in the morning THE WHOLE KIPPS FAMILY have breakfast together and a conversation TOGETHER and then get into a car TOGETHER (are you taking notes?)—I know, I know—not easy to get your head around. I never met a family who wanted to spend so much time with each other.

I hope you can see from everything I've written that your feud or whatever it is is really a waste of time. It's all on your side anyway—Monty doesn't do feuds. You've never even really met properly—just a lot of public debates and stupid letters. It's such a waste of energy. Most of the cruelty in the world is just misplaced energy. I've got to go—work calls!

Love to Mom and Levi, partial love to Zora,

And remember: I love you dad (and I pray for you, too)

phew! longest mail ever!

Jerome XXOXXXX

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"...[A] thoroughly original tale about families and generational change, about race and multiculturalism in millennial America, about love and identity and the ways they are affected by the passage of time. Ms. Smith possesses a captivating authorial voice—at once authoritative and nonchalant, and capacious enough to accommodate high moral seriousness, laid-back humor and virtually everything in between—and in these pages, she uses that voice to enormous effect, giving us that rare thing: a novel that is as affecting as it is entertaining, as provocative as it is humane." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Oh happy day when a writer as gifted as Zadie Smith fulfills her early promise with a novel as accomplished, substantive and penetrating as On Beauty. It's a thing of beauty indeed. In tackling grown-up issues of marriage, adultery, race, class, liberalism and aesthetics, she thrillingly balances engaging ideas with equally engaging characters. As good as she is with big ideas, Smith is even stronger at capturing family dynamics, the heartbreak of broken trust as well as the lovely connections between siblings. —The Los Angeles Times Book Review



"In this sharp, engaging satire, beauty's only skin-deep, but funny cuts to the bone." —Kirkus Reviews

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .


Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 464 pages
  • Editeur : Penguin; Édition : 1st Penguin Edition (6 juillet 2006)
  • Collection : HH FIC PB
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 014101945X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141019451
  • Dimensions du produit: 12,9 x 2,8 x 19,8 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 20.620 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
  • Table des matières complète
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Hey, Dad - basically I'm just going to keep on keeping on with these mails - I'm no longer expecting you to reply, but I'm still hoping you will, if that makes sense. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Quatrième de couverture
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Michel Leveque le 4 juin 2013
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Ce livre est le résultat d'une vision d'une Amérique et d'une Angleterre de notre epoque ou sont introduits des couples et des familles de couleur et d'origine différentes dans un milieu intellectuel et universitaire, portraits de personnages tellement vrais, tellement authentiques, réussite de la qualité de l'ecriture, de l'intelligence et de l'humour de l'auteur.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par EyeCandy le 18 mai 2011
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Je ne connaissais pas Zadie Smith et j'ai été agreablement surprise par ce roman hyper moderne, ou l'on s 'attache et s'identifie vraiment aux personnages
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Amazon.com: 280 commentaires
135 internautes sur 154 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Not Great 24 septembre 2005
Par Eva La - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This book has its moments-- bits of lovely writing, occasional insightful moments, some good laughs. It wasn't a page turner, but I'm not sorry I read it. The book also has a lot of problems, and they distract from the reading experience. The most noteable problem, is, as others have pointed out, the terrible and terribly overdone dialect. The southern graduate student's speech is ridiculous and laughable. Levi's is as well-- and I'm giving smith credit here by assuming it was supposed to be bad dialect, a middle class black american kid emulating slang, but it fails to accurately capture that. Levi speaks like no person in the history of ever, and would be laughed out of his house AND off of any street corner. Moreover, the characters never really come to life-- and this was a book about types I recognized and wanted to like. The Belsey's feel like walking lessons, and fall into cliche. Their feelings are never clear unless they're explicity telling you why they are the way they are. For a while, the sweeping tone of the book and frequent point of view shifts distract from this, but eventually you want a character to hold onto, and there isn't one. The Kipps' are even worse, seeming to exist solely as foils for the Belsey's. Their conservatism and Christianity are so shallow and underutilized from the begining that the subsequent exposure of hypocrisy doesn't pack any sort of punch. No one feels fully imagined. Characters can state a worldview or a self perception, but when all of the characters have to explicitly announce their politics and purposes all the time, it's a problem. More problematically, the pivotal scene of the book isn't really written. It's as if Smith got to the book's climax, realized it was already at least a hundred pages too long, and rushed the ending. Kiki's deciscion never feels real, and the final scene seems to indicate that there's been a good deal of forgiveness on the part of the children, something that seems unlikely.

I'm not sure that this book would be great even with better editing and dialogue. I think we've gotten to the point in literature where we pat an author on the back for even bothering with the "big questions." This book isn't really telling us anything new, and it seems confused about what it wants its reader to take away. Ok, beauty standards are varied, and in one way or another dominate women's lives. Pretty girls have problems because they're too pretty and ugly girls have problems because they're not pretty enough. OK... and? It's amazing that in a book about appearances, we never know what anyone looks like, aside from basic physical shape. What does Zora look like, beides big? Why is it that Kiki still gets hit on in black neighborhoods, even with the extra weight, but Zora is invisible to the opposite sex? What does it mean that Victoria isn't just a pretty girl, she's a pretty, dark-skinned black girl in a world where that's still often seen as a rarity or contradiction? Is her sexuality a rebellion against her family,and if so why does she side with them in key deciscions? Race creates identity issues, especially when mixed with class issues... and? This books doesn't tell us anything new about middle class kids trying to pass themselves off as poor, or interracial families having racial tension. It's not enough to have provocative material, or to have big issues-- you've still got to do something with them, and this book really doesn't.
74 internautes sur 84 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Black America? Southern? 7 novembre 2005
Par Sula - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Other reviewers have covered most of what I consider problematic about this book. What bothered me most was that Kiki is a black, Southern woman with absolutely no connection to any black Southern woman I've known or seen. Other reviewers have criticized Smith for her inauthentic dialogue. The inauthenticity extends beyond the dialogue. Smith knows little to nothing about black Southerners. Her description of "soul food," in the book is unrecognizable to any "soul food" emanating from the South. When she has Kiki reverting to her Southern roots, her dialogue, culture, etc. are markedly more Caribbean instead of Southern. The Belsey children speak slang that is Caribbean, not Southern. To some, this may be a minor point, but since Kiki's Florida roots are a central part of her character, that they weren't authentic is troubling.

A sabbatical in New England does not make Smith an authority able to accurately critique American culture, especially black-American culture.
54 internautes sur 63 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Wasted Talent 14 février 2006
Par Winifred M. Kostroun - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I just finished reading "On Beauty" after several friends recommended "White Teeth" and I found Smith to be an enormously talented writer who does not humanize her characters. It is hard to say that she does not flesh them out, we do hear their voices but we cannot relate to them except as objects of Smith's satire. There is nothing wrong with writing a purely satirical work but she is trying for something more here and it does not work. After introducing her characters we are ready to enjoy their humor, their failures, their triumphs and eventually their redemptions but, alas, the book ends on a note of cheap revenge that is decidedly unpleasant. She makes some attempts to honor these characters but Smith's basic cynicism does not allow her to do so. I believe Smith believes she is transcending stereotypes by portraying a mixed race marriage and young black intellectuals. Why is it then that Howard, a white, working class man ultimately fails in his dream career and as a family man, that a beautiful, smart black student is portrayed as a sexual predator destroying lives around her. Did Smith so hate her time in America that she has her character Victoria destroy so many lives from the minute she lands here? And on and on with each character whether black or white. One wants to like these characters but she just wont let us. Two scenes I did think were brilliant - the way Claire, the teacher of poetry interacts with her students especially during their evening at The Bus Stop, and the department head making introductory remarks at a faculty meeting with a one line cameo appearance by Smith herself.

Ultimately, this is a mean book with mean characters that leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. I would have given it one star only that Zadie Smith is a brilliant writer. I would say to her "channel your anger, give us believable characters that we can care about". Zadie Smith needs to grow up.
16 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Disappointing 19 juillet 2006
Par Heather Labbe - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
After having read "White Teeth" a few years ago, I was anticipating another novel of similar caliber. What a disappointment!
While she acknowledges up front that it is written as an hommage to E.M. Forster- the storyline is needlessly convoluted in order to mirror the plot of "Howard's End". What's worse are the underdeveloped, frustratingly shallow and across the board uninteresting characters- at the end of the book the reader doesn't particularly care what happens to any of them. I gather the intent was to examine personal relationships through the lens of larger scale issues of class, race, gender and aesthetic- but to say that she falls short is a gross understatement. It just feels so contrived- the dialogue- the meandering plot- the lifeless characters- all of it. This is definitely not a novel that will transport you into the story. It was a complete waste of time to read (I am kicking myself for buying it in hardback)-and such a let-down after having read Ms. Smith's other work.
26 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Disappointing 10 janvier 2006
Par Emma Parker - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I was hugely disappointed with "On Beauty" after being blown away with Smith's debut "White Teeth". I was certain that she was the UK's new wunderkind.

Many of the storylines lagged with soggy prose and inconsistent characterisation. Who are these people? We get to the end of this book not really knowing the essence of these characters. Too many of the characters are unlikeable. Not helpful for one who is desperately trying to like a book.

I was also concerned with the amount of typos. I am a shameless stickler when it comes to this and was horrified to find so many mistakes. Where were the editors?

It's not all bad, though. There are some beautifully written and hilarious moments throughout this book. The overall picture for me, however, was that of a boring effort and one which did not deserve to be shortlisted for the 2005 Man Booker Prize.
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