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The Truth about Lorin Jones (Anglais)

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 13 commentaires
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The truth is... 25 février 2001
Par Manola Sommerfeld - Publié sur
Format: Relié
My favorite characteristic of Alison Lurie as an author is the mental processes she puts her characters through. You can hear them thinking, evaluating options, scenarios, possibilities, and she dissects these thoughts in such a clear way that it is extremely easy to develop a deep sense of camaraderie with them. Probably more than half of the book is devoted to Polly's reflections, and the result is two-fold: you get to know Polly very well, and you get to know Lorin very well.
Sometimes, in a book or a movie, when the characters talk about another who has yet to appear, the reader or viewer creates some expectations about that person. It is very easy to aggrandize that character beyond what they really are. The movie All About my Mother and the novel The Robber Bride come to mind as examples. In the case of The Truth about Lorin Jones, Lorin, who is dead from the get-go, comes out as a very realistic, palpable, flesh-and-blood protagonist. I love the confusion that Polly goes through when listening to her interviewees speak in such different terms about Lorin. I think the character development, Polly's inner voice, and the juxtaposition of determination and confusion on her part make this book the great work it is.
Although Alison Lurie has been criticized as being a rabid feminist, I think that in this book she offers a very critical view of the feminist philosophy and ways. This analysis starts right off the bat when discussing Polly's failed marriage. Quite frankly, it was Polly's own doings that caused the dissolution of her married life. Although Polly refuses to see her part of responsibility in the failure (a denial also fed by Jeanne), towards the end of the book she recognizes how she deserves a huge chunk of the blame.
Some of the secondary characters are very amusing to watch, like Jeanne. She is a very troubled woman, but also very self-righteous and extremely hypocritical, all in the name of political correctness. She is no better than the men she despises, because after all she is a conspirator in infidelity (her affair with Betsy, a married woman), she manipulates Polly to her advantage (she uses Polly as a "distraction" when it suits her), she is vindictive (her attitude towards Stevie when he accidentally breaks the tea pot), she advocates sweet-talking in order to get what one wants (and she uses the technique to make Polly agree to her demands), etc. I am so glad Alison Lurie has had the guts to tackle this issue in such a direct way. Her portray of certain sectors of the feminist community is poignant and not only is she telling the truth about Lorin Jones, but about the Jeannes and Idas of the world.
Alison Lurie is a fine, fine writer, and I can't think of anyone whose character development is as detailed and yet so simple and easy to follow.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The hazards of biography 11 mars 2002
Par RuthAlice - Publié sur
Format: Broché
The Truth About Lorin Jones is a happy farce about Poor Polly's attempt to write a biography about her hero, Lorin Jones, with whom she has formed a metaphysical connection. She's all prepared to write the definitive story of female artistic genius stifled, exploited and doomed by the male chauvinism of the art world.
Of course, to write this, Polly has to interview these MEN who played these shamefully destructive roles in Lorin's life. This requires something called tact -- since once an interviewer makes clear the intent is to portray the interviewed as [bad]Incarnate or at least MCP Extraordinaire, the interview might come to an early end. There are some hysterical interviews in this book.
What's more interesting, however, is the exploration of what biography is. Polly faces the true test of all biographers -- should she write the story to fit her thesis - selectively deleting unconvenient facts - or should she revise her thesis to fit those unconvenient facts and what about the contradictory facts? Who is telling the truth, everyone or no one? It's a conundrum and Lurie's solution in it's creativity, is more honest than many biographers choose. Just think of the underwhelming attention McCullough recently paid to John Adams signing of the Alien and Sedition Acts and you will find a fabulously successful biographer who goes for the first option.
To top it all off, Polly has personal problems of her own. She's divorced, thinking about discovering she's a lesbian or at least trying to be a lesbian (considering the men in her life at the moment, that seems the easiest path to romance) and wondering if her son is being seduced by her ex-husband's Colorado Rocky Mountain High.
Through it all, Plucky Polly perseveres -- with wit and mayhem in equal measure. This is a fun book -- with some serious questions about writing and truth - and I recommend it highly.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Rarely Pure and Never Simple 13 juillet 2007
Par J C E Hitchcock - Publié sur
Polly Alter, a museum curator, has taken a sabbatical from her job in order to write a biography of Lorin Jones (nee Laura Zimmern), a prominent American modernist painter who died in 1969, nearly twenty years before Polly begins work. Polly initially intends to write her life from a feminist viewpoint, showing her as a woman who was used and exploited by the men in her life, by her dealers, by her art-critic husband Garrett Jones, by her lover Hugh Cameron and by the male-dominated art establishment.

As the work progresses, however, and as Polly interviews various people who knew Lorin personally, her views begin to alter. (Her surname has obvious symbolic significance). Another view of Lorin emerges, that of a selfish, eccentric, neurotic genius who behaved badly to both the men and the women in her life. Everyone she speaks to has their own ideas about Lorin, and these conflicting ideas are difficult to reconcile, both with one another and with Polly's original vision. Garrett Jones, for example, may have many faults both as a man and as a husband, but Polly is left in no doubt that he believed sincerely in his wife's talent and used his considerable influence in the art world to promote her work. When Polly eventually meets Cameron, initially without knowing who he is, she realises that he is very different from the picture she had initially formed of him.

Polly's initial view of Lorin as a misunderstood, maltreated feminist heroine is very much conditioned by her own personal circumstances. Polly, who at one time had ambitions to be a painter herself, identifies strongly with Lorin because they have much in common. Both are from New York. Both are the daughters of Jewish fathers and Gentile mothers. They are physically similar, being petite with dark, curly hair. Both have changed their first names (Polly's real name is Paula). Like Lorin, Polly is divorced, and blames her husband (although Lurie suggests that Polly was as much to blame herself). Since the divorce, the strongest influence on Polly's life has been her close friend (and, briefly, lesbian lover) Jeanne, a radical feminist.

Much of the discussion on this board has centred upon whether or not the book is a feminist work, with one reviewer attacking the writer for caricaturing feminism and another stating that she has been criticised as a rabid feminist. Certainly, as with most of Alison Lurie's novels, there is a strong vein of satirical humour in "The Truth about Lorin Jones", and much of this is directed at Jeanne and her circle. Jeanne is portrayed as hypocritical, selfish and manipulative, shamelessly sponging off Polly and using her in much the same way as feminists criticise men for using women. That, however, does not necessarily mean that Lurie is attacking feminism per se. (Some of her other novels, such as "The Nowhere City" and "The Last Resort", have a much more pro-feminist tone). It seems to me that her criticism is directed at a type of radical lesbian separatism, which she sees as having nothing to offer to heterosexual or bisexual women. Several of the male characters are also satirised, especially Garrett Jones, a vain, self-important ageing Lothario (he makes an unsuccessful attempt to seduce Polly), and the camp, bitchy and gossipy art dealer Jacky Herbert.

The book also displays other common characteristics of Lurie's writing. There is always a strong sense of place, whether the action takes place in New York, on a chilly, autumnal Cape Cod (where Polly goes to meet Garrett Jones) or amid the tropical lushness of Key West (where Lorin died and where Cameron still lives). Like Jane Austen, to whom she has sometimes been compared, Lurie has a great ability to suggest a person's character through the use of a telling phrase of seemingly minor detail.

As in other works, Lurie makes use of the device of recurring characters. The child Lorin Jones appears (as Lolly Zimmern) in "Only Children". Lolly's childhood friend from that work, Mary Ann Hubbard, appears here under her married name of Mary Ann Fenn. Lorin's half-brother, the literary critic Leonard Zimmern, appears in several other Lurie novels. In the course of her researches, Polly interviews several characters who first appeared in "Real People", not only Leonard but also Kenneth Foster (Lorin's teacher), Janet Belle Smith (a college friend) and Sally Sachs (fellow artist). Polly and Garrett reappear in Lurie's next novel, "The Last Resort", as does Lee, the owner of the boarding-house where Polly stays in Key West.

What is truth? asked Pontius Pilate. The question was answered by Oscar Wilde, who said that truth is rarely pure and never simple, and that is the basic theme of this book. Each of Polly's interviewees gives her a different perspective on Lorin's character, yet none of them are deliberately telling lies. All tell her what they honestly believe to be the truth. Polly finds that she cannot say "The truth is X" or "The truth is Y" or even "The truth lies somewhere between those two extremes". When we are dealing with something as subjective and changeable as a person's character, there is no such thing as objective truth. One reviewer criticises Alison Lurie for raising but failing to answer interesting questions about art and truth. Perhaps because there are no answers to the questions she raises. That does not, however, mean that she should not ask the questions.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Diamond In the Rough 11 février 2005
Par mistress dementia - Publié sur
Format: Broché
I discoverd this book while attending a library discard sale. It looked to be interesting and I figured that spending a dollar on a hardback was not such a great risk to take if I did not like the book. Once I began reading it, I did not stop until I finished. Although it has been many years since I read it, I still remember the plot as well as the characters very well. I will not spoil it for anyone who wants to read this work of genius, but even as a feminist I found it to be delightful and charming of its own accord while not going overboard on what it was trying to convey. This book was and still is a diamond in the rough. Refreshing and yet intellectual. A page turner with no fluff.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Entertaining and Complex 13 juin 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Broché
This is my second-favorite Lurie novel (Foreign Affairs is my favorite.) Lurie is feminist (as I am) but she shows how complex it can be for an individual woman striving for a career direction and autonomy, while at the same time loving men (the main character, Polly Alter, has a son she adores, a husband who has just left her, and a potential boyfriend). This novel is absorbing, funny, and makes you think about women's equality in a non-dogmatic way.
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