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The Sirens of Titan (English Edition)
 
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The Sirens of Titan (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Kurt Vonnegut
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

Between Timid and Timbuktu

"I guess somebody up there likes me."—Malachi Constant


Everyone now knows how to find the meaning of life within himself.

But mankind wasn't always so lucky. Less than a century ago men and women did not have easy access to the puzzle boxes within them.

They could not name even one of the fifty-three portals to the soul.

Gimcrack religions were big business.

Mankind, ignorant of the truths that lie within every human being, looked outward–pushed ever outward. What mankind hoped to learn in its outward push was who was actually in charge of all creation, and what all creation was all about.

Mankind flung its advance agents ever outward, ever outward. Eventually it flung them out into space, into the colorless, tasteless, weightless sea of outwardness without end.

It flung them like stones.

These unhappy agents found what had already been found in abundance on Earth—a nightmare of meaninglessness without end. The bounties of space, of infinite outwardness, were three: empty heroics, low comedy, and pointless death.

Outwardness lost, at last, its imagined attractions.

Only inwardness remained to be explored.

Only the human soul remained terra incognita.

This was the beginning of goodness and wisdom.

What were people like in olden times, with their souls as yet unexplored?

The following is a true story from the Nightmare Ages, falling roughly, give or take a few years, between the Second World War and the Third Great Depression.

There was a crowd.

The crowd had gathered because there was to be a materialization. A man and his dog were going to materialize, were going to appear out of thin air—wispily at first, becoming, finally, as substantial as any man and dog alive.

The crowd wasn't going to get to see the materialization. The materialization was strictly a private affair on private property, and the crowd was empthatically not invited to feast its eyes.

The materialization was going to take place, like a modern, civilized hanging, within high, blank, guarded walls. And the crowd outside the walls was very much like a crowd outside the walls at a hanging.

The crowd knew it wasn't going to see anything, yet its members found pleasure in being near, in staring at the blank walls and imagining what was happening inside. The mysteries of the materialization, like the mysteries of a hanging, were enhanced by the wall; were made pornographic by the magic lantern slides of morbid imaginations—magic lantern slides projected by the crowd on the blank stone walls.

The town was Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.A., Earth, Solar System, Milky Way. The walls were those of the Rumfoord estate.

Ten minutes before the materialization was to take place, agents of the police spread the rumor that the materialization had happened prematurely, had happened outside the walls, and that the man and his dog could be seen plain as day two blocks away. The crowd galloped away to see the miracle at the intersection.

The crowd was crazy about miracles.

At the tail end of the crowd was a woman who weighed three hundred pounds. She had a goiter, a caramel apple, and a gray little six-year-old girl. She had the little girl by the hand and was jerking her this way and that, like a ball on the end of a rubber band. "Wanda June," she said, "if you don't start acting right, I'm never going to take you to a materialization again."

The materializations had been happening for nine years, once every fifty-nine days. The most learned and trustworthy men in the world had begged heartbrokenly for the privilege of seeing a materialization. No matter how the great men worded their requests, they were turned down cold. The refusal was always the same, handwritten by Mrs. Rumfoord's social secretary.

Mrs. Winston Niles Rumfoord asks me to inform you that she is unable to extend the invitation you request. She is sure you will understand her feeling in the matter: that the phenomenon you wish to observe is a tragic family affair, hardly a fit subject for the scrutiny of outsiders, no matter how nobly motivated their curiosities.

Mrs. Rumfoord and her staff answered none of the tens of thousands of questions that were put to them about the materializations. Mrs. Rumfoord felt that she owed the world very little indeed in the way of information. She discharged that incalculably small obligation by issuing a report twenty-four hours after each materialization. Her report never exceeded one hundred words. It was posted by her butler in a glass case bolted to the wall next to the one entrance to the estate.

The one entrance to the estate was an Alice-in-Wonderland door in the west wall. The door was only four-and-a-half feet high. It was made of iron and held shut by a great Yale lock.

The wide gates of the estate were bricked in.

The reports that appeared in the glass case by the iron door were uniformly bleak and peevish. They contained information that only served to sadden anyone with a shred of curiosity. They told the exact time at which Mrs. Rumfoord's husband Winston and his dog Kazak materialized, and the exact time at which they dematerialized. The states of health of the man and his dog were invariably appraised as good. The reports implied that Mrs. Rumfoord's husband could see the past and the future clearly, but they neglected to give examples of sights in either direction.

Now the crowd had been decoyed away from the estate to permit the untroubled arrival of a rented limousine at the small iron door in the west wall. A slender man in the clothes of an Edwardian dandy got out of the limousine and showed a paper to the policeman guarding the door. He was disguised by dark glasses and a false beard.

The policeman nodded, and the man unlocked the door himself with a key from his pocket. He ducked inside, and slammed the door behind himself with a clang.

The limousine drew away.

Beware of the dog! said a sign over the small iron door. The fires of the summer sunset flickered among the razors and needles of broken glass set in concrete on the top of the wall.

The man who had let himself in was the first person ever invited by Mrs. Rumfoord to a materialization. He was not a great scientist. He was not even well-educated. He had been thrown out of the University of Virginia in the middle of his freshman year. He was Malachi Constant of Hollywood, California, the richest American—and a notorious rakehell.

Beware of the dog! the sign outside the small iron door had said. But inside the wall there was only a dog's skeleton. It wore a cruelly spiked collar that was chained to the wall. It was the skeleton of a very large dog—a mastiff. Its long teeth meshed. Its skull and jaws formed a cunningly articulated, harmless working model of a flesh-ripping machine. The jaws closed so—clack. Here had been the bright eyes, there the keen ears, there the suspicious nostrils, there the carnivore's brain. Ropes of muscle had hooked here and here, had brought the teeth together in flesh so—clack.

The skeleton was symbolic—a prop, a conversation piece installed by a woman who spoke to almost no one. No dog had died at its post there by the wall. Mrs. Rumfoord had bought the bones from a veterinarian, had had them bleached and varnished and wired together. The skeleton was one of Mrs. Rumfoord's many bitter and obscure comments on the nasty tricks time and her husband had played on her.

Mrs. Winston Niles Rumfoord had seventeen million dollars. Mrs. Winston Niles Rumfoord had the highest social position attainable in the United States of America. Mrs. Winston Niles Rumfoord was healthy and handsome, and talented, too.

Her talent was a poetess. She had published anonymously a slim volume of poems called Between Timid and Timbuktu. It had been reasonably well received.

The title derived from the fact that all the words between timid and Timbuktu in very small dictionaries relate to time.

But, well-endowed as Mrs. Rumfoord was, she still did troubled things like chaining a dog's skeleton to the wall, like having the gates of the estate bricked up, like letting the famous formal gardens turn into New England jungle.

The moral: Money, position, health, handsomeness, and talent aren't everything.

Malachi Constant, the richest American, locked the Alice-in-Wonderland door behind him. He hung his dark glasses and false beard on the ivy of the wall. He passed the dog's skeleton briskly, looking at his solar-powered watch as he did so. In seven minutes, a live mastiff named Kazak would materialize and roam the grounds.

"Kazak bites," Mrs. Rumfoord had said in her invitation, "so please be punctual."

Constant smiled at that--the warning to be punctual. To be punctual meant to exist as a point, meant that as well as to arrive somewhere on time. Constant existed as a point—could not imagine what it would be like to exist in any other way.

That was one of the things he was going to find out—what it was like to exist in any other way. Mrs. Rumfoord's husband existed in another way.

Winston Niles Rumfoord had run his private space ship right into the heart of an uncharted chrono-synclastic infundibulum two days out of Mars. Only his dog had been along. Now Winston Niles Rumfoord and his dog Kazak existed as wave phenomena—apparently pulsing in a distorted spiral with its origin in the Sun and its terminal in Betelgeuse.

The earth was about to intercept that spiral.

Almost any brief explanation of chrono-synclastic infundibula is certain to be offensive to specialists in the field. Be that as it may, the best brief explanation is probably that of Dr. Cyril Hall, which appears in the fourteenth edition of A Child's Cyclopedia of Wonders and Things to Do. The article is here reproduced in full, with gracious permission from the publishers:...

Revue de presse

“Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer . . . a zany but moral mad scientist.”—Time

“Reading Vonnegut is addictive!”—Commonweal

“His best book . . . He dares not only ask the ultimate question about the meaning of life, but to answer it.”—Esquire

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1213 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 338 pages
  • Editeur : RosettaBooks (30 juin 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B003XREM5G
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°27.438 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 the sirens of titan 3 janvier 2014
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
simplement sublime, un écrit simple qui vous donne envie de poursuivre votre lecture, vous vous laissez transporter dans un autre monde, quoi de meilleur en ce moment? vous oubliez la réalité de notre monde et ça fait vraiment du bien de voyager à moindre frais
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Incredible 28 mars 2014
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I discovered Vonnegut reading Sci-Fi book reviews and top lists.

It's definitively a classic. The style is freshly funny, contorted yet simple (and beautiful).

No doubts about it, I recommend this to anyone who wants to read excellent sci-fi novels, and discover all the game in this gender.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  466 commentaires
180 internautes sur 192 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Perhaps his best book 4 novembre 2001
Par Bill R. Moore - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I've read many of Kurt Vonnegut's novels, and this is perhaps his best one of all (quite a high complement indeed, when considering the man is, in my opinion at least, one of the foremost writers of the 20th century.) Vonnegut's wit is acerbic and as on-target as ever; this time he expells on us about the meaning of life... or the meaninglessness of it. While this is perhaps not his most profound and meaningful novel (which would probably be Cat's Cradle), and not his most purposeful one (undoubtedly Slaughterhouse-Five), it is perhaps his wittiest and one of his funniest, and works the best as satire. It is astonishingly well-written. Quite a bit leap over his already very good first book, Player Piano. This has more of a plot than later novels would, without using much of the non-linear storytelling format that Vonnegut would later make famous use of.
At this point, I also feel the need to comment on the review titled "whence..." The reviewer is taking the details of this book too seriously. The point of this book is not the plot or the details; it is the principle, the style. The reviewer goes to pains to point out scientific inaccuracies and plot holes in the book (yes, the escape maneuver from Mercury is implausible; yes, things happen in the book without any apparent logic or reason; but neither of these matter in the larger context of the book.) This book is not meant to be hard science fiction; nor should it be compared to scientifically stringent fiction by writers such as Arthur C. Clarke (whom the reviewer referenced.) In fact, I would say that this book is not science fiction at all. It is satire, pure and simple. The scientific ideas and elements in the plot are not meant to be taken seriously (as is often the case with actual hard science fiction; for example, the aformentioned Clarke's "The Fountains of Paradise", in which he propagates his vision for a space elevator.) Vonnegut uses these only as means to an end. This is seriously-intended satire (albeit highly enjoyable to read) put into a science fiction framework. This is actually, I would argue, what makes the book great.
The genius of Vonnegut is that he takes highly serious subjects and puts them into a context in his books that puts them in a universal light where they can be examined: through satire, he places deathly serious subjects in improbable situations where we can all laugh at them, be entertained by them, but also examine their reality in depth. All books by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. work on two levels. The first is the "skin deep" level, on which the books appear to be merely rough-and-tumble, hilarious, little entertaining adventures. However, there is also the deeper element that is always there, the hard themes that resonate beneath the surface. Many writers treat such things entirely seriously, which is fine, but Vonnegut's style puts it in a format that everyone can relate to. This is why he is such a great and important writer, and why so many of us relate to him and have learned so much from him. Perhaps our most acute AND entertaining social critic, Kurt Vonnegut is an author that we are lucky to have, and this is one of the brightest shining gems in his canon.
71 internautes sur 76 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Great book, mistake-ridden kindle edition 8 juin 2013
Par mutant ninja turtle - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
I think this book is a work of genius. I'm not going to say much about it because mostly everything has already been said (better!) in other reviews.

HOWEVER - the kindle edition is full of horrendous spelling, punctuation and formatting mistakes. It is close to unbearable and made me quite angry. I don't see why an e-book is any less worthy of an editor/proofreader than a physical book, especially if you're paying good money for it.
133 internautes sur 153 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Underrated is an understatement for Sirens... 6 janvier 2000
Par A. Bayes - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
When people hear the name Kurt Vonnegut, they think of Slaughterhouse 5, or Cat's Cradle, or perhaps even that his books are often burned in high schools around the country for their dim look at human existence. Not to, in any way, down play the importance or greatness of his more famous works, as I love them all, but I must say that Sirens of Titan is superior to his other works. For some reason, perhaps the science fiction aspects of the novel, this book has not received its deserved recognition. I read approximately the first fifty pages thinking that this book would be about the same as his other novels. I almost put it away to start a different one. Thankfully, I pressed on. Literally, a few pages later, I was entranced by the language, the structure, the revealed surprises, and the humanity of The Sirens of Titan. Every time you think he has revealed the best secret of the book, another one reveals itself. This story is wonderfully intertwined between a set of characters, and the meaning of life. I have since read this book three more times, enjoying it more each time through. If you only read another book in your entire life, please let it be this one. Open your heart and your mind, and let Vonnegut pour into them his wisdom and hope for a better tomorrow.
66 internautes sur 75 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of Vonnegut's most entertaining and funniest novels 4 février 2007
Par Robert Moore - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Today when Kurt Vonnegut is regarded as one of the great American novelists of the second half of the 20th century, it is hard to remember that once upon a time he was regarded as a Sci-fi writer. This was the novel that most solidified that reputation, though it had begun earlier with PLAYER PIANO and cemented by both CAT'S CRADLE and SLAUGHTER-HOUSE FIVE. Only gradually in the early 1970s did it become obvious to all that he was not really a practitioner of Sci-fi as it had become to be defined in the United States.

Even in THE SIRENS OF TITAN it should have been obvious that he was more an experimental writer exploiting the Sci-fi genre than doing the same sort of thing that Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and their ilk were attempting. For one thing, Vonnegut didn't care much for predicting the future, the scientific plausibility of anything he was saying, or any of the other traditional aspects of Sci-fi. Rather, exploiting the genre on a superficial level gave him a freedom that was lacking in most other mainstream fiction at the time. It gave him license to think and imagine and write about almost anything.

This novel ostensibly tells the story of Malachi Constant, hardly the captain of his own fate, but an unwilling tool of fate. More precisely, as we learn, the novel is the story of an alien stranded on Titan, a moon of Saturn, who needs a spare part for his broken space ship. All of human history turns out to have been generated by a distant civilization for the sole purpose of getting Salo, as our alien is known, his missing part. Vonnegut uses farce in telling Malachi's story in order to undercut traditional understandings of God, religion, and the notion that humanity is at the center of the divine narrative. I must confess that I am baffled why so many religious people find this disturbing. I'm a devout Christian myself and secure in my faith, and find Vonnegut's account of the meaninglessness of life and his depiction of the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent to be comical rather than threatening. Some Christians seem to feel that unless you can hermetically seal all believers off from all views that differ from their own. But for those whose faith is a little less fragile, this will stand as a highly entertaining book with whose basic themes one will disagree. As a farce, it has much in common with other farces, such as Voltaire's CANDIDE, the book which in many ways it most resembles.

Those this is a book with many virtues, perhaps the aspect I most enjoy is Vonnegut's absolutely delightful style. Many others would later attempt to mimic his way with a sentence, but few would do so as successfully. He helped introduce a new level of anarchy into the modern novel and in many ways paved the way for such writers as Thomas Pynchon, who perhaps exceeded him in ambition but certainly didn't match him in eloquence and grace. What is most amazing about this book is how much he grew as a writer during the period between the publication of PLAYER PIANO and THE SIRENS OF TITAN. Though entertaining and often compelling, PLAYER PIANO is obviously the work of an apprentice writer; THE SIRENS OF TITAN is a fully mature work. It definitely belongs on the list of his very finest novels, immediately behind such novels as SLAUGHTER HOUSE-FIVE and BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS.

I strongly recommend this to anyone who either wants to read Vonnegut for the first time or who wishes to explore his art further after having read other novels first. It shows as well as any Vonnegut's gift for language, his outrageous sense of humor, and his bleak view of existence. It definitely belongs on any list of first-rate American novels with which one should be familiar.
30 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 utterly indifferent... 4 octobre 2011
Par SR86 - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Having just finished this book I find myself scratching my head in wonderment. Firstly, I'm convinced the 100+ 5 star reviews here are from people who are fooling themselves into believing the Vonnegut hype that was fed to them in Liberal Arts class instead of formulating an honest review. I am not an academic nor do I think myself a simpleton and I did want desperately to like my first trip into the mind of Vonnegut but frustratingly, found myself grasping for more depth.There is no doubt that Vonnegut has many flashes of brilliant writing in Sirens of Titan and I enjoyed the first quarter of the book very much. I had the overwhelming feeling the entire time that Vonnegut intended some profound statement on faith and/or humanity but I felt he failed on both levels. There were moments in this his writing when I was in awe of his skill followed by moments of longing for it to just be over. I will read more Vonnegut only to become more well read and because I'm now genuinely intrigued by his great success. I would encourage anyone to do the same as his cemented place in literary history does deserve our attention. I would however challenge readers to forget who wrote this until you've finished it and write an honest review of the story alone...
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