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The Clothes They Stood Up In (Anglais) CD – Livre audio, CD, Version intégrale
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The Ransomes had been to the opera, to Così fan tutte (or Così as Mrs. Ransome had learned to call it). Mozart played an important part in their marriage. They had no children and but for Mozart would probably have split up years ago. Mr. Ransome always took a bath when he came home from
work and then he had his supper. After supper he took another bath, this time in Mozart. He wallowed in Mozart; he luxuriated in him; he let the little Viennese soak away all the dirt and disgustingness he had had to sit through in his office all day. On this particular evening he had been to the public baths, Covent Garden, where their seats were immediately behind the Home Secretary. He too was taking a bath and washing away the cares of his day, cares, if only in the form of a statistic, that were about to include the Ransomes.
On a normal evening, though, Mr. Ransome shared his bath with no one, Mozart coming personalized via his headphones and a stack of complex and finely balanced stereo equipment that Mrs. Ransome was never allowed to touch. She blamed the stereo for the burglary as that was what the robbers were probably after in the first place. The theft of stereos is common; the theft of fitted carpets is not.
"Perhaps they wrapped the stereo in the carpet,"said Mrs. Ransome.
Mr. Ransome shuddered and said her fur coat was more likely, whereupon Mrs. Ransome started crying again.
It had not been much of a Così. Mrs. Ransome could not follow the plot and Mr. Ransome, who never tried, found the performance did not compare with the four recordings he possessed of
the work. The acting he invariably found distracting. "None of them knows
what to do with their arms," he said to his wife in the interval. Mrs. Ransome thought it probably went further than their arms but did not say so. She was wondering if the casserole she had left in the oven
would get too dry at Gas Mark 4. Perhaps 3 would have been better. Dry it may well have been but there was no need to have worried. The thieves took the oven and the casserole with it.
The Ransomes lived in an Edwardian block of flats the color of ox blood not far from Regent's Park. It was handy for the City, though Mrs. Ransome would have preferred something farther out, seeing herself with a trug in a garden, vaguely. But she was not gifted in that direction. An African violet that her cleaning lady had given her at Christmas had finally given up the ghost that very morning and she had been forced to hide it in the wardrobe out of Mrs. Clegg's way. More wasted effort. The wardrobe had
They had no neighbors to speak of, or seldom to. Occasionally they ran into people in the lift and both parties would smile cautiously. Once they had asked some newcomers on their floor around to sherry, but he had turned out to be what he called "a big band freak" and she had been a dental receptionist with a time-share in Portugal, so one way and another it had been an awkward evening and they had never repeated the experience. These days the turnover of tenants seemed increasingly rapid and the lift more and more wayward. People were always moving in and out again, some of them Arabs. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .
Revue de presse
"Full of jolly, broad, and very English humour...a charm-filled holiday read."
—Alain de Botton, author of On Love and How Proust Can Change Your Life --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .
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In the first, Mr. and Mrs. Ransome return from the opera to find their flat totally empty. The casserole has disappeared along with the oven, and even the toilet paper’s gone. Mr. Ransome mostly misses his stereo equipment (and of course the toilet paper) but cheers up when he remembers that he can upgrade his technology with the insurance refund.
Mrs. Ransome quickly gets over her shock, and begins shopping for the bare essentials to tide them over until the insurance cheque arrives. During this exercise, she rediscovers the simple things and learns that life without all her accumulated baggage isn’t that bad after all.
When the mystery is revealed, Mrs. Ransome has a whole new outlook on life, and although her husband has also changed, he hasn’t evolved as much as she has. This is a story with some very funny bits, but also with some important messages for all of us.
The other (shorter) story is about an eccentric woman who makes her home in a van, surrounded by everything she owns. Also very funny, it is so rich in description that your nose turns up whenever the author takes you inside the van.
If you’re looking for an entertaining read, and don’t feel like tackling a whole book, this one is highly recommended.
Amanda Richards, April 1, 2006
And the Ransomes have been burgled down to the floorboards. Everything is gone. Not just the minor valuables like the jewelry Mrs. Ransome had, and the almost-but-not-quite state-of-the-art stereo system Mr. Ransome used to listen to his beloved Mozart, are missing. The rugs are gone, and the furniture that sat on top of them. The kitchen appliances are gone, as is the casserole Mrs. Ransome had in the oven to be ready for them when they returned from "Cosi fan tutti." The burglars even made off with the toilet paper roll that was on the spindle in the loo.
This slim, compact tale is the first work of fiction Bennett has published, although he's been writing for some 40 years. He's close to being a national literary treasure in his native England, for his plays like "A Question of Attribution" and "An Englishman Abroad," television programs like the series of monologues titled "Talking Heads" (some of which were broadcast as a part of "Masterpiece Theater" in the U.S.), films like "A Private Function" and "The Madness of King George."
"The Clothes They Stood Up In" has all the hallmarks of Bennett's work. It's concise and understated the story takes less time to read than you need to listen to, well, to "Cosi fan tutti." It's suffused with a gentle wit that occasionally rises to passages of laugh-out-loud hilarity. It also reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the characters with a mix of compassion and unflinching honesty.
Those weaknesses quickly become apparent. Mr. Ransome tries to ignore the situation, determined to go about his work as if nothing has happened. He does plan, once the police arrive and ask for an inventory of stolen objects, to inflate the quality of his stolen stereo system, so he can use the insurance money to purchase an even better set- up, the better to pursue he quest for the perfect Mozart performance.
Mrs. Ransome, on the other hand, has been completely knocked out of her orbit. The little routines around the apartment that made up her life are gone; she has to venture out to new stores, buy items she's never had to think about buying before.
The Ransome's slowly start building back their lives, when they receive a bill from a storage facility for an extraordinary sum. The couple investigate, and find that one of the storage units contains their old furnishings -- all kept meticulously in place and in working order, as if the interior of their apartment had suddenly materialized whole.
All except for the casserole, of course.
But then, "The Clothes They Stood Up In" is not a whodunit -- you learn in time who did the stealing and why, and it's about as absurd a resolution as the initial theft was a preposterous crime. The questions this story asks go a lot deeper: Who are you, really, if all you have is the clothes you're wearing? How much is your life defined by the things you gather around yourself? What sort of connections have you made to the people with whom you share your life, much less with world around you? What does it take to be happy?
These are questions Mr. and Mrs. Ransome never ask themselves; they simply act out their answers, as their story gently, carefully, gracefully works its way to a conclusion that is at once profoundly sad and genuinely hopeful.
In that way, "The Clothes They Stood Up In" is a lot like the music of Mozart -- a bright, cheery surface that accentuates rather than hides the profound, sobering depths of emotion. It's a story you will return to again and again.
The first short story, "The Clothes They Stood Up In," tells of a well-heeled London couple who return to their flat to find everything gone. Everything, even the toilet paper roll--The story chronicles their journey through their stages of grief over the loss of their assets and in many ways, their mutual life.
The second short story is actually true. Bennett, the author, tells the unusual story of a homeless London woman whose van was parked in his driveway for more than fifteen years. At times, it is poignant, humorous, and profound.
The two pieces together make a significant statement on materialism in today's world.
I would recommend this book to individuals who cherish the subtleties of British humor and to those who like short pieces with provocative ideas.