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The Blazing World: A Novel
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The Blazing World: A Novel [Format Kindle]

Siri Hustvedt

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

"The Blazing World offers a spirited romp...constructed as a Nabokovian cat's cradle....Hustvedt's portrait of the artist as a middle-aged widow is searingly fresh. It's rare to encounter a female protagonist who throws her weight around quite so grandiloquently as Harriet Burden, a heroine who is—well, more like the hero of a Philip Roth or a Saul Bellow novel." (New York Times Book Review)

“Ingeniously and energetically put together. . . . The Blazing World never runs out of steam in dispensing ideas and peeling back layers of truth.” (Chicago Tribune)

The Blazing World is Siri Hustvedt’s best novel yet, an electrifying work with a titanic, poignantly flawed protagonist. Harriet Burden’s rage, turbulence and neediness leap off these pages in a skillfully orchestrated chorus of voices both dark and brilliant.” (The Washington Post)

“Incandescent. . . . Hustvedt’s greatest triumph here is not the feminist argument she makes. It’s that we ache for her characters. This is a muscular book, and just enough of that muscle is heart.” (The Boston Globe)

“A glorious mashup of storytelling and scholarship. . . .[The Blazing World’s] touching conclusion ‘blazes hot and bright’ from the perspective of an aura reader, Harriet's caretaker, whose vision of the artist's work is at once spiritually charged and whimsical.” (The San Francisco Chronicle)

"In certain respects, The Blazing World is a didactic novel, presenting arguments about the place of gender in American cultural life, yet it avoids preaching or settled judgments by putting at its center a figure whose strongly held beliefs are undermined by the hazards of real life. The effect is more fluid and nuanced than any scholarly study or political diatribe could be." (The Wall Street Journal)

The Blazing World is unique and recognizably so, a bracing examination of the act of creation, of fame and identity, gender bias and feminism, love and desire, psychology and philosophy. . . . Full of life and ideas and intellectual prowess, it’s also a compelling story with richly drawn characters. . . .[An] extraordinary puzzle.” (The Miami Herald)

"Complex, astonishing, harrowing, and utterly, completely engrossing." (NPR)

“This is feminism in the tradition of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, or Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own: richly complex, densely psychological, dazzlingly nuanced. And at the same time, the book is a spectacularly good read. Its storytelling is magnificent, its characters vivid, its plot gripping; it’s rare that a novel of ideas can be so much fun.” (Slate)

"Siri Hustvedt has earned her reputation as a brilliant thinker and articulate writer. This is not her first work of fiction, and The Blazing World is strong proof that her talents are unmatched in the genre. . . a delightful, quirky story that shares many truths about women in the arts, and the struggles they encounter in rising to fame." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

“Dazzling. . . ingeniously constructed. . . . The Blazing World is a serious, sometimes profound book, tackling head-on the knotty issues of identity and sense of self, and our unconscious ideas about gender and celebrity. It offers an exhilarating reading experience for anyone willing to meet its challenge.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“Siri Hustvedt has a rare gift for finding the human heart in what might be cerebral musings and rarefied settings.” (Columbus Dispatch)

“Immediately engrossing. . . . None of the narrators, even Harriet, are precisely reliable, and this ingeniously supports Harriet’s own theory that we are all just monsters wearing masks.” (San Antonio Current)

"The absence of women artists in the history of painting is an old feminist topic, but it is one The Blazing World approaches head-on." (The Guardian)

"Hustvedt’s novels – What I Loved, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, The Summer Without Men, among others – have always been smart, accomplished, critically acclaimed but this one feels like a departure. There is more heat in it, more wildness; it seems to burst on to a whole other level of achievement and grace." (Financial Times)

"Densely brilliant, but terrifyingly clever too... you don’t need a PhD in Kierkegaard to enjoy Hustvedt’s writing, and it’s a pleasure to feel your brain whirring as it forges links and finds the cracks across differing accounts. Even if The Blazing World is about ambiguity and mutability in everything from authorship to gender to memory, Hustvedt’s text is carefully, impressively constructed: she’s as convincing in each fictional voice as Harriet is in her masks." (The Independent)

"An exuberantly clever piece of work.... [A] novel that gloriously lives up to its title, one blazing with energy and thought." (The Times)

“Masterful. . . .[Hustvedt’s] long-running explorations have rarely been merged together as fluidly as they are here, an achievement that has everything to do with rendering the novel’s abundant intellect in a deeply felt and accessible manner. Six novels and more than two decades into her career, it is altogether fair to argue that Siri Hustvedt is quietly becoming one of North America’s most subversive and fearlessly intelligent writers.” (Toronto Star)

"Both intellectually and emotionally gripping… the generosity of the storytelling leads to full and often affecting backstories for all the main characters… [it] feels like one of those novels in which a well-established author triumphantly sums up, and possibly even surpasses, everything they’ve done before." (The Spectator)

The Blazing World is poundingly alive with ideas, personalities, conviction, fear, fakery, ambition, and sorrow. The reading mind is set on high, happy alert.” (The New York Journal of Books)

"A heady, suspenseful, funny, and wrenching novel of creativity, identity, and longing." (Booklist (Starred Review))

“Larger-than-life Harry reads vociferously, loves fervently, and overflows with intellectual and creative energy….Hustvedt dissects the art world with ironic insight….This is a funny, sad, through-provoking, and touching portrait of a woman who is blazing with postfeminist fury and propelled by artistic audacity." (Publishers Weekly)

“Readers of Hustvedt’s essay collections (Living, Thinking, Looking, 2012, etc.) will recognize the writer’s long-standing interest in questions of perception, and her searching intellect is also evident here. But as the story of Harry’s life coheres . . . it’s the emotional content that seizes the reader . . . As in her previous masterpiece, What I Loved (2003), Hustvedt paints a scathing portrait of the art world, obsessed with money and the latest trend, but superb descriptions of Harry’s work—installations expressing her turbulence and neediness—remind us that the beauty and power of art transcend such trivialities . . . Blazing indeed: not just with Harry’s fury, but with agonizing compassion for all of wounded humanity.” (Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review))

“Intelligent and . . . knowledgeable about the world of modern art, theory, and philosophy, Hustvedt describes in detail the insular world of the New York City art scene.” (Library Review)

Présentation de l'éditeur

Longlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize and hailed by The Washington Post as “Siri Hustvedt’s best novel yet, an electrifying work,” The Blazing World is a masterful novel about perception, prejudice, desire, and one woman’s struggle to be seen.

In a new novel called “searingly fresh... A Nabokovian cat’s cradle” on the cover of The New York Times Book Review, the internationally bestselling author tells the provocative story of artist Harriet Burden, who, after years of having her work ignored, ignites an explosive scandal in New York’s art world when she recruits three young men to present her creations as their own. Yet when the shows succeed and Burden steps forward for her triumphant reveal, she is betrayed by the third man, Rune. Many critics side with him, and Burden and Rune find themselves in a charged and dangerous game, one that ends in his bizarre death.

An intricately conceived, diabolical puzzle presented as a collection of texts, including Harriet’s journals, assembled after her death, this “glorious mashup of storytelling and scholarship” (San Francisco Chronicle) unfolds from multiple perspectives as Harriet’s critics, fans, family, and others offer their own conflicting opinions of where the truth lies. Writing in Slate, Katie Roiphe declared it “a spectacularly good read...feminism in the tradition of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex or Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own: richly complex, densely psychological, dazzlingly nuanced.”

“Astonishing, harrowing, and utterly, completely engrossing” (NPR), Hustvedt’s new novel is “Blazing indeed:...with agonizing compassion for all of wounded humanity”(Kirkus Reviews, starred review). It is a masterpiece that will be remembered for years to come.

Détails sur le produit

En savoir plus sur l'auteur

Né en 1955, Siri Husvedt a fait ses études à Columbia University. Elle vit à Brooklyn. Ses romans, tous publiés chez Actes Sud - Les Yeux bandés (1993 ; Babel n° 196), L'Envoûtement de Lily Dahl (1996 ; Babel n° 380), Yonder (1999 ; Babel n° 774), Les Mystères du rectangle (2006, essais sur la peinture), Tout ce que j'aimais (2003 ; Babel n° 686), Elégie pour un Américain (2008 ; Babel n° 1006), Plaidoyer pour Eros (2009, essais littéraires) et La Femme qui tremble (2010, essai) - ont été largement remarqués.

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41 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 A novel for the head, not the heart 24 mars 2014
Par Jill I. Shtulman - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Just before I was ready to write this review, I happened across an interesting statistic: at this year's Whitney biennial, only 32 percent of the represented artists were women (down from four years ago when for the first time ever, over half of featured artists were women.)

Siri Hustvedt's latest book, The Blazing World, is spot-on when its main character, Harriet Burden, muses, "I suspected that if I had come in another place, my work might have been embraced or, at least approached with greater seriousness."

The concept - an outstanding female artist concealing her gender behind three successive male beards--is solid and Ms. Hustvedt is certainly a very masterful writer. So what went wrong for me?

Just this: my personal bias is that I should not be steeped in knowledge of western philosophy and sometimes obscure contemporary art to be able to immerse myself in a book. When one character says that Harriet has "taken the Kierkegaardian position", I shouldn't need to scratch my head. When philosopher Arthur Danno, Vasari, Diderot, and others are mentioned in one paragraph, I should have at least a simple roadmap about what it all means. And when fictional footnotes are added, I shouldn't believe that it is the author displaying her eruditeness.

I am not unintelligent; I hold a Master's degree from an excellent university. Yet I felt adrift. My belief is that in the very best books, words are precisely used to clarify the human condition and create a connection with the reader rather than distance that reader. From time to time, there was an intellectual connection to this novel, but not a visceral one. Certainly there was little warmth.

The structure - beginning with a preface from the editor of a narrative about Burden and punctuated with various voices and statements - is imaginative yet alienating. The reading pleasures of dialogue and character interaction are withheld.

The Blazing World reminds me of a sometimes lovely but often inaccessible piece of contemporary art: one can admire the work and understand its craftsmanship but without that all-important connection, one doesn't have that compulsion to hang it in one's living room. Readers I respect have already given this book many accolades, and I freely acknowledge that reading is subjective and this may simply not be the right book for me.
17 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Masks, but what's behind them? 12 mars 2014
Par Roger Brunyate - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Harriet Burden, the protagonist of this novel, frustrated by the inability of a female artist to gain the exposure or respect accorded to men, collaborates in turn with three male artists willing to exhibit her work as theirs. Although there are common themes in all three exhibits, their styles are radically different, changing with each mask that Burden puts on. I found this interesting, since the three books by Siri Hustvedt that I have read (WHAT I LOVED, THE SUMMER WITHOUT MEN, and this), while also sharing similar themes, are so different in texture and approach as to present quite different facets of their author. WHAT I LOVED inhabits the art world as brilliantly as this new book does, but it is full of characters that you care about as human beings, and is built around a linear story that keeps you reading. THE SUMMER WITHOUT MEN, the weakest of these three books, is basically a justified feminist lament centered around a character who is difficult to like, and told more or less in scrapbook form, though with flashes of real brilliance.

And this one? First of all, it is as tightly engineered intellectually as a BMW. Although it continues some of the scrapbook approach of SUMMER, being a collection of statements, cuttings, and journal entries illuminating the last decade of Burden's career, it has none of the random feel of its predecessor. The "Editor's Introduction" immediately introduces an atmosphere of scholarly rigor, footnoted with references to writers, artists, and thinkers who, whether famous or obscure, all seem to be real. Harriet Burden's range of knowledge (and therefore by rather too obvious implication that of her creator) is phenomenal. A very small selection of the names referenced in her book might include: Margaret Cavendish, Edmund Husserl, Søren Kierkegaard, Tertullian, and Aby Warburg. These are just some of the names I happen to recognize, but the list of those I don't is inexhaustible: Gallese, Gassendi, Manturana, Metzinger, Varela, Zahavi.... Every reference that I followed up turns out to be the genuine article, so I assume they all are, but I do get the feeling that part of Hustvedt's reason for writing is to display everything she knows, and wow it's a lot! I was blown away... but not drawn in.

About art, Hustvedt writes well, as she always has. It is interesting that when artists are mentioned in modern fiction, they are almost always conceptual artists or the makers of installations -- probably because such art is much easier to convey in words. The last major novels I recall whose protagonists are actual painters are MY NAME IS ASHER LEV by Chaim Potok and THE UNDERPAINTER by Jane Urquhart. But in A MAP OF GLASS, Urquhart turned to sculptors and environmental artists. Bill Wechsler, the leading artist in Hustvedt's WHAT I LOVED (also referenced here) begins as a painter, but turns to constructions. And both artists in Claire Messud's recent THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS -- a novel with remarkable similarities to this one, and I think the more successful of the two -- are engaged in making environments that develop feminist themes.

As does Harriet Burden: everything ranging from doll-houses through soft sculptures to room-filling labyrinths. Her first "mask" collaboration is a piece called "The History of Western Art," in which a huge sculpture based on a Titian nude is pasted all over with witty references to women over the past 600 years of art. Her second, "Suffocation Rooms," is a series of kitchens where the furniture gradually gets larger and the temperature hotter. Her third, "Beneath," a collaboration with a neo-Warhol media star known only as Rune, is an oblique response to 9/11, in which the viewer penetrates a maze of distorted passages pierced with windows and peepholes giving onto disturbing sights. If there is a conventional plot in the novel at all, it is the mystery of why the collaboration with Rune went so very wrong, and possibly contributed to the death of both artists. [All the above, incidentally, are facts that we learn from the introduction.]

When I started this review, I was sure I was going to give the book a five-star rating, if only for its intellectual density and the fascination of its multi-voiced approach. But as I write, I realize that while these things can intrigue or amuse me, they do not make me care about the people. I miss the plot of WHAT I LOVED, and Oh how I miss the characters! After reading 360 pages by and about Harriet Burden, I still don't feel I know her. I sympathize with her plight, yes -- most of what Hustvedt says about women's issues is spot on -- but that is very different from caring about her as a person. And while there is much of interest in the story of the failings of Harriet's parents and her late husband (a wealthy art dealer), or perhaps her own as a mother, there is simply too much there -- together with musings on sexuality and a dozen other topics. I just feel that on the emotional and thematic planes Hustvedt is trying to repeat what she does in the intellectual sphere -- cramming in a lot of everything, but leaving little for the reader to embrace. So those five stars for effort must alas be rounded down.
20 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Vast potential, underwhelming result 22 mars 2014
Par K. Sullivan - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
“The Blazing World” is presented as a scholarly study of the artist, Harriet “Harry” Burden. It’s a compilation of interviews, articles, and journals from various sources (the artist herself, her friends and family, art critics, etc.). Burden was an artist who experienced minor success in the 70’s and 80’s before a quiet period following her marriage to renowned and wealthy art dealer Felix Lord. During this period, Burden felt disrespected and belittled by many who were wittingly or unwittingly dismissive of her vast intellect and encyclopedic knowledge of art, philosophy and psychology. She attributed this denigration to ingrained perceptions about women. After her husband’s death, she concocted a plan to prove her theory. She would produce an art installation and find a young male willing to stand in as its artist. When the exhibit achieved success, she would reveal herself as the true artist thus confirming bias against females exists. Burden claimed to have created three such exhibits. Only one of the artists, however, acknowledged Burden’s claims to be true. The first artist disappeared from the public eye and the final artist publicly rejected Burden’s claims. Adding to the intrigue, the final artist later died under mysterious circumstances. Thus cheated of her vindication, she was gripped by bitterness despite the new acclaim she ultimately achieved.

I quickly became very excited by and developed high expectations for this novel. The storytelling is creative and the writing brims with confidence. The ideas underlying the novel are varied and poignant. Multiple times I made notations about ideas presented in the novel (e.g., biases as unconscious, masks as revelations rather than disguises, perception as self-determined, self-perception determined by one’s surroundings, social media replacing social life, socially contagious beliefs or delusions). Hustvedt explores some heady themes and presents them in a scholarly well-documented way. Her encyclopedic knowledge of philosophy and psychology is staggering. The reader basks in her intelligence.

A strange transition occurred about halfway through the book, however. The constant allusions to historic personalities slowly lost its appeal and began to choke the life from the reading experience. What started out as entertaining and enlightening became drudgery. The author just kept beating the same drum. Perhaps the references were more obscure or less relatable as the novel progressed, but I suspect it was primarily just being overdone. The points, having already been made, became tedious. Increasingly the references seemed calculated to convey the author’s scholarship rather than advance the narrative. In one particularly masturbatory flourish, Siri Hustvedt actually referenced herself (some readers will likely find this charming).

The plot then bogged down and became convoluted particularly as the third exhibition was being planned and released. The relationship between Burden and her third mask, Rune, was intentionally mysterious. The reader is never sure who is manipulating who or why. Rune’s presence is an enigma. The reader suspects that the novel will ultimately unravel the mystery behind the final installation and Rune’s death, that this must be at least one reason for the novel’s existence, but it never does.

In the end, though, it was Harry that alienated me most. As she analyzed her relationship to her father, her deceased husband, and her children, she became less sympathetic. Her obsession with the unsuccessful experiment and her constant preoccupation with the disappointment of not being male became frustrating. Her psyche seemed to fracture and unravel as it became apparent she was battling some internal “demons.” As my connection with the protagonist slowly severed, the joy derived from the reading experience also lessened. Perhaps the inadequacy is on my part and I’m just not equipped to sympathize with the feminist struggle. Instead, I think it was the character’s wilting response to the issues that alienated me. Had she responded with courage and sought to constructively deal with her lot, she would have been a much more engaging character – much more the character I originally thought she was.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A fascinating example of playful and intricate narrative structure 2 avril 2014
Par Bookreporter - Publié sur
Siri Hustvedt's new novel, THE BLAZING WORLD, takes its name from the most famous work by the 17th-century writer Margaret Cavendish. Cavendish once wrote, "And if she be slighted now and buried in silence, she may perhaps rise more gloriously hereafter; for her ground being sense and reason, she may meet with an age where she will be more regarded than she is in this." These lines are quoted in one of the many notebooks kept by Hustvedt's protagonist, Harriet (known as Harry) Burden. Burden is an artist who, like Cavendish herself, may feel that the world is not yet ready for what she has to give it: "I will leave my bodies behind me, too," writes Burden in her notebook. "I am making them for hereafter, not for the bruising present with its cold, dismissive eyes."

Harry certainly knows a bit about dismissiveness. Following only modest success of her artwork and appreciation of her art criticism early in her career, she sets out on a new project, one that she suspects (rightly so) will offer her work --- if not herself --- a new level of fame. Over the course of several years, she selects three different male artists, at various levels of their own careers, to serve as "masks" for her. She will design massive and ambitious art installations to which they will attach their name, taking all the credit and receiving all the (inevitable) accolades. At first, the experiment goes exactly how Harry had predicted: the young, unknown male artist is accepted and applauded in a way she never would have been. But when she taps a more established artist, a filmmaker named Rune, to be her final partner, their complicated relationship and Rune's own ideas about art and fame threaten to derail the entire undertaking.

Harry's experiment offers countless opportunities for considering questions of gender and fame, particularly in the art world, but also for considering issues of visibility and invisibility, of perception and understanding, of self and identity. Harriet writes in one of her notebooks, "I am myself a myth about myself. Who I am has nothing to do with it." Along the way, Hustvedt invokes everyone from Kierkegaard to Freud to Cavendish herself in this psychologically and philosophically rich novel of art and ideas.

As intellectually engaging as THE BLAZING WORLD is, it is also a fascinating example of playful and intricate narrative structure. The novel is framed as an academic study of Burden's life and work, containing excerpts from some of Harry's dozens of idiosyncratically organized, often fragmentary diaries, as well as written statements from and interviews with those who loved, admired and collaborated with her. Just like the viewers of Harry's art, readers of this book are challenged to piece together their own conception of who Harry was and what she accomplished. "To be really seen, Harry had to be invisible," writes one of the three male artists whose persona Harry adopted. Discerning and defining the invisible woman at the heart of Hustvedt's narrative is a joint project between writer and reader, and an exhilarating process of which to be a part.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 I don't want to discourage readers from giving this novel a try 7 mai 2014
Par Neal C. Reynolds - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
It's difficult writing a negative review of this book. I can tell that Siri Hustvedt's heart is in it and that I must applaud. Unfortunately, it's the more intellectual aspect that takes command. This will, I believe, divorce many potential readers from the book and it's for these people that I post a two star review as a warning.

Too much of this book was a labor for me. I'm no dummy. At least, I don't think I am. I have a BA from San Jose State and did well enough in philosophy. But at my age, I find references to Kierkegard and the many art and culture references distracting and interfering with my emotional response to the novel.

If you're immersed in art, philosophy, and the like, by all means get this book. You'll probably love it. But if you're strictly a novel reader with high tastes for literature, I advise borrowing the book before investing in it.
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