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The Line of Beauty (Anglais) Cassette – Livre audio, septembre 2005

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Nick Guest, un jeune diplômé d'Oxford, gay, va habiter chez les parents d'un ami. La famille est très riche et fréquente le 'beau monde', le père est un homme politique promis à une belle carrière. Nous sommes au milieu des années 1980 - marquées par Margaret Thatcher et l'émergence du Sida. Autant d'éléments qui ont leur place dans le livre, mais l'auteur a le bon goût de ne pas transformer son roman en playdoyer.
"The Line of Beauty", gagnant du Man Booker Prize en 2004, est un très beau livre. L'histoire est contemporaine mais le milieu décrit, celui de la haute société, et l'écriture soignée, élégante, rappellent les grands classiques de la littérature anglaise. Il est d'ailleurs fait plusieurs fois référence à Henry James, mais Evelyn Waugh ('Brideshead Revisited')vient également à l'esprit. A noter cependant des scènes de sexe et de drogue qui viennent nuancer ce jugement d'une écriture classique.
Certains critiques parlent de chef d'oeuvre. Seul le temps le dira. Ce qui est sûr, c'est que nous sommes en présence d'une oeuvre littéraire de qualité et d'un vrai plaisir de lecture!
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Ce livre est selon moi le meilleur de sa génération, tout dans ce roman me plaît: les personnages, le cadre, le narrateur, le style.
The Line of Beauty ne raconte pas seulement les années Thatcher, c'est une tranche de vie, ses tourments, ses complications, ses joies et ses peines. A lire et relire sans modération!
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Un livre que j'ai (relu) avec beaucoup de plaisir. Pour moi, tout y était: un narratif, l'écriture fluide et entraînante — bref, un des mes livres préférés.
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Je pensais que le Man Booker Prize était une garantie de qualité littéraire !!!
Eh bien, celui-là est vraiment surfait, ou alors, ce fut un alibi pour une bonne conscience
"politically correct".

Je n'ai rien contre l'homosexualité, mais j'ai arrêté de lire au bout de 100 pages :
c'était le seul & unique sujet du roman & l'obsession névrotique perpétuelle du jeune
héros.
Too much is too much !!!
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x940d9e94) étoiles sur 5 165 commentaires
99 internautes sur 107 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x94116174) étoiles sur 5 Maggie, Charlie, and the Boys 7 janvier 2006
Par Roger Brunyate - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
The effusive press comments quoted on the cover and flyleaf of the paperback edition of Alan Hollinghurst's THE LINE OF BEAUTY are totally correct in everything they actually say; they merely fail to mention one of the most important aspects of the book. Hollinghurst writes brilliantly about life among the movers and shakers of Margaret Thatcher's London in the early 1980s. His ability to portray his characters, as one critic puts it, "from just an inch to the left" of how they would see themselves is masterly, and the result is something like the portraits of Goya, a flattering likeness with just a hint of satire. Hollinghurst has perfect pitch when it comes to the social sensibilities and small hypocrisies of the well-bred. As a lineal descendant of Trollope, James, and Forster, he is a well-deserved winner of the 2004 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

But none of the reviews quoted in the book mention the gay sex, which is pervasive and often explicitly physical. By portraying the narrator of the book, Nick Guest, as a gay man in an ostensibly straight world, Hollinghurst achieves an oblique angle on the people he observes, moving considerably more than an inch from the axis on which they would ideally see themselves. The glamorous life is glimpsed through a foreground that straight readers might find far from glamorous, especially when it deals with bodily interactions. Ultimately, this becomes essential to the plot, but for a long time it seems merely an authorial device. It is difficult to know whether the author sees these elements as a heightening of the sexual charge, or whether they are deliberately introduced as an antidote to romanticism, and as much an emblem of decadence as the increasingly frequent use of "charlie" (cocaine) by the narrator and his friends. Certainly, the secrecy practised by other characters in the story who have not come out as Nick has done, does seem to point up the falsity of the world in which they cannot admit their preferences.

Not that Nick needs the difference in sexuality to give him detachment. He is presented as a talented boy from a middle-class background who has made some upper-crust friends while at Oxford, so becomes a kind of permanent guest in their lives after college. [This has much in common with my own background, and it was a curious experience to find one of my own Oxbridge friends of this kind, not named but clearly identifiable, appearing as a minor character in the book!] While Nick is clearly thrilled to have been adopted into this world, he remains subtly an outsider, but with an acuteness of perception to compensate for his lack of belonging. His social position is not so very different from that of Kazuo Ichiguro's hero in the first part of WHEN WE WERE ORPHANS -- a peculiarly English awkwardness which both writers capture very well.

The title, THE LINE OF BEAUTY, comes from Hogarth, and refers to the particular elegance of an ogival double-curve. It is emblematic of the genuine aesthetic understanding that is Nick's most appealing quality for this particular reader; the passages talking about art, literature, and music are perceptive and beautifully written. But art is also seen as the province of the rich, who can afford it but don't necessarily appreciate it. As the book goes on, there is increasing emphasis on art objects in a mannerist or rococo phase, seen surely as symbols of decadence, where art is "just make-believe for rich people," as one of the characters says. But the phrase also stands for that fatal line of attraction that leads from one love object to another, or towards some ideal of the beautiful life, that comes crashing down on the characters' heads at the end of this social comedy which turns out to have been a tragedy after all.
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HASH(0x941161c8) étoiles sur 5 The Writing Is Not the Book 19 juin 2005
Par Mark Eremite - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Hollinghurst is quoted as having said that if you come to this book looking for your normal sort of "fall from grace" story, you will be disappointed.

He's right.

Hollinghurst has also said that he is more interested in analyzing characters, in protraying them vividly, than in populating his books with people you are likely to identify with or actually care about.

He's right.

Many people have described Hollinghurst as a new genius of prose, as a writer of skill that is long missing in novels from any part of the world.

They're right.

So what's wrong with The Line of Beauty? Not much, but what IS wrong, like a tiny microbe or virus, seems to infect the whole thing.

Read with an eye on the craft of the words, this book is absolutely stunning. Hollinghurst's abilities as a novelist are truly astounding. Even the rather lurid and not particularly tasteful sexual escapades of the novel are crafted with a precision and glory that keep them from wallowing in the muck of which they are made. The affairs, the drugs, the betrayals and the promiscuous, anonymous trysts -- at heart they are what they are, but carved out with Hollinghurst's pen, they become more than that.

Unfortunately, not MUCH more than that.

The deeper meanings, the symbols of the 80s fall from grace, the metaphors woven into the events, these are all admirable evidences of a fine talent, but in the end, the novel seems to stumble over its own style, it clutches at its own class.

During a debate over music, Nick muses this about Strauss: "What the problem was was this colossal redundancy, the squandering of brilliant technique on cheap material, the sense that the moral nerves had been cut, leaving the great bloated body to a life of valueless excess." This phrase could equally apply to the book in which it is found.

At its heart, the book claims to be about a search for beauty in all its forms. Hollinghurst has said that Nick, the timid protagonist, comes to a realization that the outer beauty of the priviledged men and women with whom he lives disguises a deeper moral ugliness. I found it odd that he would mention beauty of a moral nature, since, in this novel, there really is none, either of a conservative, relativistic, religious, or liberal nature. Nick, caught up in his life of drugs and unchecked sexual hunger, doesn't prove himself to be any more or less beautiful than those people whom he analyzes and with whom he is ultimately disillusioned.

Even if you were to approach this book from the plane of one looking for a totally intellectual experience -- the realm of the observer observing, not judging or conspiring with the story or characters, but simply taking the events and people as they are presented by the almost flawless prose -- well, even then, the sum total of the events turns out to be rather facile, and even the opposite of what it intends. In spite of the gorgeous writing -- Hollinghurst's ability to describe almost anything with a grandiose and supreme ease of grace -- in spite of that, the book itself borders on being rather ugly.

Don't get me wrong. I do not make this assessment because the book is about homosexuality, or political scandals, or the dark deeds of the overpriviledged. I make this assessment because, in the end, Hollinghurst's tale does not rise above its subject matter, even if the writing itself does.

For those of you interested in literature, interested in a reawakening of the style of fine writing and pure form, this book will be a treat, but in the end, is more like a fancy, overpriced appetizer that leaves you wanting much much more.
69 internautes sur 80 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x94116600) étoiles sur 5 Excellent craftmanship, impoverished content 28 décembre 2004
Par Oliver Tessier - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
LINE OF BEAUTY is a fine piece of writing; I wish I could accomplish something nearly as good. It was also a difficult read for me because Hollinghurst provides so little relief from the hollowness of main character's life -- from everyone's lives, really. I know he intends to represent the era, and I have a high tolerance for bleak (meaning that I often adore it); but nothing works without the benefit of contrast, and this is a one-note symphony. I'm glad I read it, but I didn't learn anything, and it left me feeling uniquely depressed. Perhaps that was the writer's intent.
52 internautes sur 63 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x941169b4) étoiles sur 5 Hollinghurst, the keen observer 6 novembre 2004
Par Jon Hunt - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
"The Line of Beauty" is the first novel I've read by Alan Hollinghurst and having just finished it I'll make a beeline to read his others. Every chapter of this book is a sheer delight.

There are few authors who can move a book at such a torturedly slow pace and still manage a success. The key to "The Line of Beauty" lies in the detail....Hollinghurst unfolds his characters with enormous pathos, keeping their quotes brief and allowing his observations about them to become expanded. Their is a dryness to his writing that seems endemic of British authors but remaining in that style allows the flavor of his characters to come through with great shades of color.

As told through the eyes of the protagonist, Nick, Hollinghurst is able to steer him through a feel that combines an Edwardian England with the present. Nick grows up, to be sure, but he does so in a wafting way, sensitive to the world and his growing self-awareness. If Nick wears rose-colored glasses in the beginning, he has neatly discarded them at the end.

"The Line of Beauty" is really a book about connections...connections in a changing world of friends, lovers, family, illness and death. There is a general sadness that accompanies this book, as it should. Alan Hollinghurst reminds us, through the seriousness of Nick's story, how tenuous we all are in each other's care, no matter what our "standing" is in society... and how far we still have to go.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x94116a98) étoiles sur 5 Lines of Beauty and Depravity 18 novembre 2005
Par Striker - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Line for line, Hollinghurst's novel about London during the 1980s is the most exquisitely written book I've read in years. Witty observations about politics, society, and family open like little revelations on every page.

But it's also an explicitly gay novel. Not just a novel with some gay characters, comfortably on the side or reduced to floppy antics, à la "Will and Grace." Hollinghurst rarely strays far from his protagonist's sexual fantasies and exploits. British papers have noted that this is the first gay novel to win the Booker Prize in its 36-year history. (So much for their cosmopolitan sophistication: America's National Book Award went to an equally explicit gay book way back in 1992, an autobiography called "Becoming a Man.")

Some critics have played up the novel's political and social satire, and those elements are certainly there and brilliant, but I wonder if it's squeamishness or political correctness that keeps them from stating that this is primarily a story about gay sexuality and it contains scenes that many readers will find deeply offensive.

The novel opens in 1983 when Nick Guest, a graduate student pursuing a PhD on Henry James, moves in with the Feddens, an upper-class family in London's Notting Hill. Nick is an old Oxford chum of the family's oblivious son, and he's become the unofficial caretaker of their dangerously depressed daughter. The parents are wealthy conservatives who want to be perfectly clear that they have no objection to Nick's orientation, particularly if it remains entirely theoretical.

Nick, however, is ready to move beyond that, and the first section of the novel details his first date, an assignation with a black man he meets for sex through a personal ad. Their relationship deepens into something more meaningful, drawing Nick into the working-class life of his lover even while he floats into the lavish lifestyle of his host family: As a member of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet, Mr. Fedden gives Nick access to the highest level of British politics, and Mrs. Fedden comes from a family of people who exchange Gauguins as gifts.

It's the kind of crowd in which everyone is constantly aware of the flourishes of wealth but determined to treat them with casual disregard. When the piano tuner complains about the state of their instrument, Mrs. Fedden remarks quietly, "Oh, I know Liszt enjoyed playing it."

Through much of the book, his host family frets about when Mrs. Thatcher will bless them with an appearance. (Their green door must be painted blue, lest The Great Lady assume they're environmentalists.)

Hollinghurst can produce inane social banter as well as incisive social analysis. These are parties where "after pudding, the ladies withdraw," gatherings with which most readers will not have much personal familiarity. But he describes them with witty precision that captures and satirizes them simultaneously.

When the story picks up again in 1986, Nick is still living with his host family, but he's moved on from his first lover to a Lebanese millionaire who's engaged to be married. Ostensibly, they're movie producers, but mostly they watch pornography, pick up young men, and snort cocaine (a different "line of beauty"). Nick has a vague sense that this isn't a satisfying way to live, but he's mesmerized by the glare of so much money and sensualism and terrified by the prospect of loneliness.

He can't shake the sense that he's only playacting, that his ambiguous status in the Feddens' house and in his lover's life is symptomatic of some deeper failure to be an adult. Again and again, he feels outside himself, nervous about how he must look and sound.

That cramped self-consciousness complements his obsession with aesthetics, but it also makes him effete and in the end not a very effective friend to himself or those he loves. As AIDS ravages the gay community and scandal rocks the Fedden household, Nick finds himself as abandoned as he ever feared, and the compensation of beauty seems heartbreakingly tragic.

Ironically, despite all its graphic sex, a Puritanical piety seems to animate the novel. Rather than challenge any mainstream prejudices about homosexuals, "The Line of Beauty" confirms them. The most socially conservative reader won't be surprised to see here that gay men are emotionally oversensitive, sexually voracious, desperately lonely, and finally doomed. These are, after all, the stereotypes that homosexuals have labored under for years.

All this should produce a complex reception for the Booker winner. In some quarters, the novel's triumph will be a late vindication for gay literature. Others will fret over the shocking sex scenes. But anyone who reads "The Line of Beauty" will come face to face with one of the most brilliant stylists and perceptive novelists writing today.
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