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The Accursed (Anglais) Broché – 26 novembre 2013
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Descriptions du produit
Revue de presse
“Spectacular. . . With its vast scope, its mingling of comic and tragic tones, its omnivorous gorging on American literature, and especially its complex reflection on the major themes of our history, The Accursed is the kind of outrageous masterpiece only Joyce Carol Oates could create.” (Ron Charles, Washington Post)
“A brilliant Gothic mystery that has the punch of historical fiction. Currents of race, class and academic intrigue swirl under the surface, but it’s the demonic curse that propels the action... Oates casts a powerful spell. You’ll close The Accursed and want to start it all over again.” (People (4 Stars))
“The Accursed is a unique, vast multilayered narrative; a genre bending beast of a book, utterly startling from start to finish, compulsive and engaging, the writing crackling with energy and wit. This is an elaborately conceived work.” (New York Review of Books)
“[The Accursed] is in addition to being a thrilling tale in the best gothic tradition, a lesson in master craftsmanship...The story sprawls, reaches, demands, tears, and shrieks in homage to the traditional gothic, yet with fresh, surprising twists and turns... Oates has given us a brilliantly crafted work .” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Carefully and densely plotted, chockablock with twists and turns and fleeting characters, her novel offers a satisfying modern rejoinder to the best of M.R. James—and perhaps even Henry James.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Oates’ atmospheric prose beautifully captures the flavor of gothic fiction . . . In Oates’ hands, this supernatural tale becomes a meditation on the perils of parochial thinking. It demands we think - with monsters - about our failure to face the darkest truths about ourselves and the choices we’ve made.” (NPR)
“A lush, arch, and blistering fusion of historical fact, supernatural mystery, and devilish social commentary... A diabolically enthralling and subversive literary mash-up. ” (Booklist (starred review))
“A smart and relentlessly absorbing read.” (Library Journal)
“Joyce Carol Oates is at her gothic best… an astonishing fever dream of a novel.” (Los Angeles Times)
“For those who enjoy total immersion in this kind of historical fiction, The Accursed is good fun, as mesmerizing as a demon and as addictive as a patent cure.” (Boston Globe)
“A fascinating novel in which historical truth and imagination collide to create an unsettling vision of America as it entered the 20th century.” (Columbus Dispatch)
“The Accursed blends history, horror, fantasy and black comedy into a trippy literary brew. For fans of Oates’ gothic works, this is a heady draught indeed.” (Dallas Morning News)
“Regular readers of Oates will be familiar with the game. . . after [new readers make] their way through The Accursed, no one will find it easy to forget.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“Joyce Carol Oates is at the top of her game in her glorious new novel, THE ACCURSED - a long, lush account of perhaps-preternatural happenings in Princeton, N.J., a century ago.” (Buffalo News)
“This latest effort looks like a belated candidate for the Great Oates Novel . . . The Accursed is a big, mad, colourful romp, respectful of the literary traditions in which it participates, leavened with a piquant humour.” (Financial Times)
“The Accursed is very much in the American gothic tradition of Charles Brockden Brown, Hawthorne, Poe, and Faulkner.” (New York Review of Books)
“In this new novel Oates has achieved a nearly flawless combination of postmodernism, gothic horror, “traditional” narrative, politically engaged literature, historical novel, and popular bestseller—a heady and enjoyable mix.” (Harvard Review Online) --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
Présentation de l'éditeur
Princeton, New Jersey, at the turn of the twentieth century. Vampires and ghosts haunt the dreams of the innocent. A powerful curse besets the elite families of Princeton—their daughters begin disappearing. And in the Pine Barrens that border the town, a lush and terrifying underworld opens up.
An utterly fresh work from Oates, The Accursed marks new territory for the masterful writer—narrated with her unmistakable psychological insight, it combines beautifully transporting historical detail with chilling supernatural elements to stunning effect.--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
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I'm afraid I was disappointed. There are a lot of good things in the book-an extended patrician family living in Princeton is cursed. Voices say bad things to people, ghosts are seen, a shape shifting demon walks among them and leads them into tragedies. At the same time, they have to deal with the demons of their everyday life: racism, misogyny, classism, the Machiavellian politics of Princeton University. I liked having a narrator who only knew the story through the diaries and papers he discovered long after the events took place. Half the population of the book are real people: Woodrow Wilson is president of Princeton U, Grover Cleveland and his wife are part of the social circle, Upton Sinclair has a large part devoted to him, Jack London, Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain all make appearances. But the lessons about society are a little heavy handed, and I'm really not sure that some of the historical characters added to the story. Upton Sinclair and Jack London didn't seem to be connected to the family and the curse but took up a lot of pages. The only way I could see that they added to the story was by showing the reader what the attitudes of people of the time were, but I know enough history that I didn't need that and I'm sure there are many other readers like me.
Oates has written a great story, but every story needs an editor. At least a hundred pages could have been cut without the story losing anything and the book would have been much sharper. I enjoyed the book, but got impatient with it frequently.
Oates's latest, THE ACCURSED, is no exception. It takes place in one year in Princeton, New Jersey, but also reaches back in time 50 years or more and across metaphysical and magical space. The book is styled as the history of the "Curse" that afflicted the university town, a curse that arrives seemingly out of the blue and leaves the traumatized residents as abruptly as it came. The Curse begins as "the unspeakable," actions and thoughts not allowed in the polite and rigid society of Princeton. But over time, as the evil grows in power, it must be confronted and atoned.
Our narrator is the amateur historian M.W van Dyck II, a native to Princeton himself who is writing in 1984. Drawing on books and documents that have, in the past, attempted to understand the Curse (also known as the "Horror"), he is also in possession of some artifacts to which no one else has been previously privy and thus sets out to reconstruct and finally explain the frightening events of 1905-1906 wherein a series of hauntings, nightmares, fights, violence and even murders racked the town and its inhabitants. In over 650 pages, the story of the Curse unfurls, in a heady and sprawling collection of letters, diary entries, surreal experiences breathlessly dictated, and van Dyck's own research and narrative (occasionally footnoted). At the center of the story and events is the distinguished and dignified Slade family, tracing their roots to Plymouth Rock and led by patriarch and Presbyterian minister Winslow Slade of Crosswicks Manse.
Winslow Slade loved nothing more than his four grandchildren. Admitting he often had little time for his own children as they were growing up, he cherished Annabel, Josiah, Todd and Oriana. But hidden in the heart of Winslow Slade was a gruesome secret, one that opened up a terrible and evil world for those around him. Thus, beginning as early as March 1905, discord begins to creep into Princeton, which exposes deep-seated (and not so deep-seated) and dangerous ideas about class and privilege, race, gender, sexuality and power. By early June, when Annabel Slade mysteriously leaves the church during her own nuptials with another man, there has been a rising tension in town, a number of ghostly sightings, and a spate of violent acts, including the lynching of a young man and his pregnant sister in close-by Camden, New Jersey.
Caught up in the growing maelstrom are all the elite families of Princeton, including several historic ones that Oates reimagines, like Woodrow Wilson and Grover Cleveland. Other real-life figures show up, too: a struggling and idealistic Upton Sinclair, a racist and rude Mark Twain, a drunken and horrible Jack London, and the descendants of Aaron Burr. From the poetry of Emily Dickinson to the image of the Gibson Girl, from the dining clubs of Princeton to the slums where the children of slaves live, from socialist rallies to the South Pole, Oates's geographic and cultural range in THE ACCURSED is vast, and she skillfully satirizes American traditions and assumptions about social, political, religious, artistic and gender structures while telling a story replete with ghosts, vampires and demons.
At once a gothic horror story, historical fiction, and a critical examination of family, community, race, religion, gender, violence and the creative drive, THE ACCURSED is a literary marvel. It is scary, bizarre, shocking, creepy, dark and dense, but also funny and smart, full of a dizzying amount of literary and historical references, climaxing in a screaming church sermon meant to finally explain the Curse that resulted in so much death and mayhem. There are a few slow parts, sections of the book where the tale loses steam, but they are rare. Overall, THE ACCURSED is an intense and enjoyable novel that forces its characters (and readers) to grapple with and admit to "the unspeakable."
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman
What could be called a rage against the patriarchy is also a central theme of "The Accursed", where great men of the time--Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Samuel Clemens and their male sidekicks and relatives are shown to be among the worst of misogynists of the period; dependent upon their female partners in all ways, but ungrateful, self-absorbed and completely insensitive in their relationships with their better halves.
The book's setting in Princeton, New Jersey of 1905-1906 (the author's own long-time home), provides a context of protected male WASP establishment privilege, within the university where Woodrow Wilson sits as President and worries about the next step up the career ladder, the erosion of his current authority by faculty rivals and his health, which is under constant attack by his world-class hypochondria; and in the outside community which is a stronghold of corporate and political heavy hitters, where everyone is subservient to the lord and master.
Also in residence in one of the less fashionable parts of Princeton is the young muckraker writer and Socialist, Upton Sinclair, who represents coming social and political change, but also the cluelessness of important men of the time in their treatment of women and children. Sinclair (the character) will pay for his preoccupation with the general improvement of public welfare with personal loss that is beyond his understanding. Despite his failings, I got the impression that author Oates came closest to admiration for Sinclair than for most of the rest of the book's cast of characters.
While this review may make it seem as though this book is some kind of strident commentary on Belle E[poch/Edwardian morality--which in part it definitely is--it's also a terrific, if somewhat erratic novel--with rich language, finely drawn characters and credible insights into how the forefathers and mothers played out their lives in what was a Gilded Age for only a very few people. The story allows for very little false nostalgia by the end of the story.
I haven't tried to include a thumbnail plot summary in this review because it just isn't practicable or necessary. I'll just recommend that you read "The Accursed" with patience and acceptance of the author's cross-genre and unorthodox methodology and enjoy the rollercoaster. .
"The Accursed" is long, over 650 pages, and although the period of time it covers is relatively short (a year and a half), it covers that time in copious detail. In addition to the fictional Slades who are the focus of the plot, we are also given close looks at real-life figures whose lives intersect with the fictional characters: Woodrow Wilson (at the time, he is president of Princeton), former President Grover Cleveland, writer Upton Sinclair, even Jack London and Mark Twain.
I'm well aware that Oates has a reputation as one of the premier American writers living today and yet I was disappointed in this novel. Keeping in mind that I'm a pleasure reader, not an academic, I felt the book was far too long and rambling-to the point where there were pages and pages (chapters and chapters?) that could and should have been either ruthlessly edited down or omitted. There was a decided lack of focus and I found many of the digressions distracting, adding little to the novel. It 's difficult when you know so much about a topic to refrain from including every digression and anecdote you know, but sometimes less is more. (I'm thinking of the Upton Sinclair story line; yes, it is ironic that the proponent of socialism and equality was as much of a hypocrite and misogynist as the bourgeousie. But did making that point add that much to the story, to make it worth the number of pages devoted to it and the distracting effect this has on the overall structure of the book?) The quality of the writing is uneven. The beginning was very difficult to read and although the writing style got more accessible toward the middle, it was still written in a pedantic style that didn't appeal to me. (I fully understand that the book was intended to be written in the voice of the narrator, a historian, but nevertheless that choice made it hard-going from the reader's standpoint.) The characters felt flat. The ending seemed a bit forced and too convenient. In short, most of the book felt like a slog to me.
The Accursed is no exception. Billed as a gothic horror this book seems like a much too long experiment in style. The hefty volume sprawls to over 600 pages and a lot of the meandering sections probably should have been pruned by a diligent editor. However, this is Oates and she is writing a continuation to a gothic series she began many years ago. Recognize this as an experiment and it is a bit less annoying.
The story is set in the town of Princeton at the time when Woodrow Wilson was the president of the university and not yet the President of the nation. The book opens with him and the petty politics of university life where Wilson is agitated over a suspected rival for his position. We are introduced to a deck full of characters within the first hundred pages with their families, histories of their houses and position in the society they are all part of. While initially fascinating this quickly became exhausting. There are so many details and so many characters it is an exercise in frustration trying to figure out what is importan to the plot and what is just a digression. Satan suddenly pops up in young Annabel Slade's garden to wreak havoc on the main characters, a local lynching is thrown in with a new character (Yeager Ruggles) demanding justice, Woodrow Wilson and his entire family and their histories are dumped into our laps and the parade of people and histories is far from done. You still have to encounter numerous other historical figures including Mark Twain, Upton Sinclair and Jack London.
As these characters parade through the book it continues in a heavy handed style to judge and portray the evils of society at that time. Admittedly, gothic fiction does this and perhaps this is what Oates was trying to imitate. But if you plan on reading this book just for a good story, I think it will be a big disappointment. As an experiment in imitating old Gothic fiction, it is impressive indeed. But 600 pages of aping a writing style will be very tiresome unless you are a fan of the author or of Gothic fiction itself.
So, three stars because if you are expecting this style of writing and like it, it could be a good read. However, my personal opinion is that the book was too heavy handed, over populated with famous but unnecessary characters and a bit of a trial to finish.