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The Promise (Anglais) Broché – 8 novembre 2005

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OneThe county fair was Rachel's idea. She had a passion for the theater, James Joyce, and county fairs, and she could be quite persuasive when it came to those three passions. We would go on the Sunday in the third week of August, the closing night of the fair, when there would be a fireworks display. We would have a splendid time, she said. It was also her idea that we take her cousin Michael.It was warm that Sunday night and the sky was clear and filled with stars. We sat in the front seat of the DeSoto and Rachel drove carefully along the dark asphalt country roads. Michael sat quietly between us, staring out of the windshield. A moment after we reached the highway he suddenly became quite talkative. He chatted about his frogs and salamanders. He talked about Andromeda, white dwarfs, and red giants. He seemed to know a great deal about astronomy. He had a high, thin voice and he spoke animatedly and in a rushing flow of technical words. I saw Rachel smiling. She wore a yellow sleeveless summer dress and her short auburn hair blew in the warm wind that came through the open windows of the car.We came to a crossroads, bright with the neon life of a night highway, then went around a sharp curve. Set into the darkness about an eighth of a mile away, and looking as though it had carved itself into the night, was the county fair. Michael abruptly ceased talking and leaned forward in the seat.The fair lay stretched out upon a huge field alongside the highway, bathed in a blaze of electric lights and neon signs, with strings of bulbs across an entrance arch spelling out the word PARKING, and floodlights poking bright fingers into the black sky, and blurred gashes of colored lights from a moving Ferris wheel and parachute jump. The brightness formed a pale, smoky, faintly pink arc-shaped cloud over the entire area, sealing it off from the darkness beyond. In the center of the field was a roller coaster with strings of lighted bulbs following its tortuous contour.Rachel parked the car and we came out onto the graveled surface of the parking lot and to a chain-link fence with a gate. We went through the gate and into the county fair.The three of us were standing on an asphalt road that was jammed with people. Teen-agers jostled roughly through the crowd, children ran about wildly, young and old couples moved along or stood near booths playing carnival games. A thick din choked the air. I heard gongs, bells, rifle shots from a nearby shooting gallery, the music of a calliope, the whooshing roar of the roller coaster, and a steady waterfall of human noise. It seemed as if all the noise of the world's wide night had descended upon this one stretch of lighted earth."We're in the wrong place," I said to Rachel.She stood alongside me on the asphalt road, her face pale in the garish lights. Michael was staring around wide-eyed at the booths."What did you do, take a wrong turn somewhere?" I was annoyed and I let my voice show it."No, I did not take a wrong turn somewhere.""'What happened to your county fair?""It was advertised as a fair. You saw the poster. Annual county fair. In big red letters. You saw it too.""I don't like carnivals," I said."Neither do I.""What do you want to do?"She looked around indecisively, chewing her lip. I saw her glance at Michael, who stood nearby staring at the roller coaster."Why don't we call up James Joyce and find out what he would do?" I said, feeling irritated and annoyed and wanting to get away from the noise and the wildness.She gave me an angry look. "Don't be nasty," she said. "It isn't my fault.""What do you want to do?""We'll see the exhibits and go right home.""They've probably got three cows and two horses in a tent somewhere.""We'll look and go right home. So it won't be a total waste. What gall to advertise this as a fair."We found the tent. There were cows, horses, calves, pigs, roosters, hens, awkward paintings by local artists, and some prize-winning home-baked pies. The wooden floor of the tent was covered with sawdust, and the smell of animal droppings was very strong."I'm thrilled," I said. "You have no idea how thrilled I am to see rural America at its creative best.""Don't be mean," Rachel said. But she was as angry as I was."I'm not mean. I'm thrilled.""I've seen beautiful fairs.""Let's go home," I said.Michael stood a few feet away from us, looking curiously at a prize calf. He wore a rumpled white sport shirt, tan shorts, and an old pair of tennis sneakers with the laces untied. He had wild dark-brown hair that badly needed trimming and dreamy blue eyes behind shell-rimmed glasses that were too large for his narrow face.We came out of the tent onto the black asphalt road of the carnival. Michael wanted to know where the other exhibits were."That's all there is," I told him. "We just saw the whole fair. It's a carnival. They stuck some animals in and called it a fair. But it's a carnival.""We're going home now," Rachel said.Michael stared at her, his mouth dropping open."Reuven and I don't like carnivals," Rachel said.But Michael did not want to go home. Why should we go home just because it was a carnival? he wanted to know. What was wrong with carnivals? He and Rachel stood on the road, arguing. It seemed to me they argued a long time. Michael had a strong, stubborn, aggressive streak. In the end, Rachel yielded.We walked along the crowded asphalt road through the litter of pop bottles, ice-cream wrappers, soiled paper bags, popsicle sticks, beer cans, discarded newspapers. The carnival booths lined both sides of the road, and from inside the booths pitchmen shouted their games to the crowd. Some booths were large, with expensive-looking prizes on their shelves; most were small shanty-like affairs, with gambling games or tossing games operated by hard-voiced carnival people some of whom wore derbies or straw hats. The booths were on wheels and were scarred and blotched from travel. The carnival had been set up in the form of a circle, with the booths lining both sides of the curving asphalt road, and the Ferris wheel, parachute jump, and roller coaster in the center.We approached a ring-toss game operated by a short, double-chinned pitchman in a straw hat. He was chewing on a dead cigar and shouting automatically at the crowd. He took off the straw hat and wiped his bald head with a red handkerchief. There was no one at his booth. He put the handkerchief away and saw me looking at him. His voice focused itself directly upon us, and we were drawn reluctantly to the booth.We played the ring-toss game twice. Then we went to another booth and played a pitching game. Michael played awkwardly. His glasses kept slipping down the bridge of his nose and he kept pushing them back up with abrupt motions of his hand. After the pitching game Rachel told him again that she wanted to go home but he ignored her and went on ahead, moving restlessly along the asphalt road. He was a thin, narrow-shouldered, gawky boy, about five inches shorter than my own five feet ten inches, and he seemed all caught up in the tumult around us.So we continued along the asphalt road, playing the games and ignoring the freak shows. Even Michael did not want to see the freak shows. We fired rifles at wooden ducks, threw pennies into flat plates, tossed baseballs at fat-nosed clowns. Rachel won a charm bracelet from the penny-tossing game, and Michael came away from the fat nose of a clown with a pen and pencil set which he stuck away in his shirt pocket with a triumphant grin. Now he wanted to go on the roller coaster, he said.Rachel told him she did not like roller coasters."Then I'll go with Reuven," he said.I told him I did not like roller coasters either."Then I'll go alone," he said, and started by himself toward the ticket booth.Rachel looked at me helplessly."Your cousin is a first-class brat," I said. "Come on. We can't let him go up there by himself."Michael grinned delightedly as he watched us purchase our tickets. We came through the turnstile and climbed into the front seat of a car. The remaining seats filled rapidly. The teen-age boy who had taken our tickets shouted something to the man behind the ticket counter and pushed down a long lever set near the tracks. There was a faint hum of machinery. The car moved forward. Michael sat to my left, talking excitedly about the last time he had been on a roller coaster years ago in Coney Island. He had been scared half to death, he said, grinning at me and pushing the glasses back up on the bridge of his nose. Rachel sat to my right, looking a little frightened. The car climbed slowly up a steep incline. Then we were at the crest and with a suddenness that pushed me back against the seat and took the air from my lungs we dropped wildly into the night.The car hurtled downward on roaring wheels between lights that blurred into quivering lines. Michael held on tightly to the support rod, his body rigid, his teeth clenched. Rachel gave me a resigned look. We rose and fell and rose again and fell again. On the ground below, the carnival heaved and undulated like a garish blanket in a windstorm. There were screams and shouts from the other passengers and the fierce crescendo of racing steel wheels. Michael sat with his eyes narrow against the whipping of the wind and his mouth open as though gulping the air that beat against him. Then, with an abrupt motion, he stood up in the car.Immediately Rachel shouted at him to sit down.He stood there, holding tightly to the rod, his body swaying with the wild motions of the car, and ignored her."Sit down!" Rachel screamed.He turned his head and looked at her and laughed.Rachel gave me a frightened, pleading look. I struggled to my feet and stood next to him, holding on to the rod and feeling my arms strain and pull against the sudden force of a drop that almost lifted me from the floor of the car. Then we were out of it and the tracks leveled and slanted off to the right and we seemed to be on our sides as we hurtled along the rim of the coaster over the booths and the lights and the asphalt road below. I heard Rachel shout at Michael again to sit down. He ignored her. We were climbing again. I turned my head to glance at Rachel. She was white-faced. I started to reach for Michael's shoulder to pull him into the seat, but we had climbed to another crest and were falling again and I needed both hands on the rod. We fell a long time and I saw Michael release one hand from the rod and brush at his nose, then clutch quickly at the rod as the drop curved into a wildly slanting turn. I looked at his face. There was a faint dark smear on his upper lip. I saw him brush again at his nose, and now the smear was darker, moving liquidly across his face, and the wind lifted it and blew it against his cheeks and onto his shirt and out behind him into the night. We came out of the turn and straightened and dropped again down a long straight slope that looked like a ski jump, then looped upward into another climb. Michael stared at his hand. It had come away from his nose stained with blood. He sat down quickly."He's got a nosebleed," I shouted to Rachel above the noise of the wheels. I turned to Michael. "Lean back. Put your head back." I took out my handkerchief and wiped away some of the blood. It trickled strongly from his left nostril, a dark stream against the whiteness of his narrow face."Press down on his upper lip," Rachel said, shouting into the wind.I put my forefinger across his upper lip and pressed down hard. Michael stared up at me. The next drop lifted my finger from his face and threw me against him, and I felt him squirming beneath my weight. Then I was sitting next to him, holding him and pushing down hard on his upper lip. He reached up and put both his hands on my arm and I thought he was using my arm to support himself in the seat, but he was pushing against me instead, pushing my finger away from his face. He took out his own handkerchief and held it to his nose, looking at me intently, a strange calm in his eyes. The car slowed, ran level for a moment, then came to a stop.We climbed out. Michael held the handkerchief to his nose. Some of the passengers looked at him as they passed by. We moved away from the car and stood on the asphalt road near the roller coaster ticket booth."Are you all right?" Rachel asked him. Her voice was faint and she looked very frightened.He took the handkerchief away from his nose. The bleeding had stopped. The handkerchief hung limply from his hand, stained with blood. He stuffed it into a pocket."What was that all about?" I said.He grinned at me. There was a strange sly look on his narrow face."That was a stupid thing to do. What were you trying to prove?""I wasn't scared," he said, grinning. "I enjoyed it.""You scared hell out of me and Rachel.""Let's play some more of the games," he said.Rachel said she wanted to go home."In a little while," Michael said.Rachel said she wanted to go home right now.Michael ignored her. He was looking at the booths alongside the road beyond the roller coaster. Then he started on up the road, walking quickly, as if he were by himself now."He's turning into a royal pain in the neck," I said.Rachel stood there, looking a little dazed and watching Michael go up the road."We should have gone home right away," she said."Come on," I said. "We'll lose him in a minute.""We should have gone home right away," she said again. Then she started quickly along the road. I walked beside her.

Revue de presse

“A profound, moving book...refreshing, inspiring” —The Wall Street Journal“A superb mirror of a place, a time, and a group of people who capture our immediate interest and holid it tightly.” --The Philadelphia Inquirer“The characterizations are vivid, the incidents dramatic, the narrative fluid. . . . Overall . . . a glow of human erudition and compassion.” --Washington Post Book World“Brilliantly and intricately conceived. . . . The Chosen established Chaim Potok’s reputation as a significant writer. The Promise reaffirms it.”–The New York Times Book Review

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J'avais déjà lu The Chosen. Celui-ci en est la suite, et je n'ai pas été déçue. Un livre extraordinaire.
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x95797cc0) étoiles sur 5 96 commentaires
76 internautes sur 78 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x954b1dc8) étoiles sur 5 A Lesson On How To Write A Novel 12 août 2001
Par cdset - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
One of the most important aspects of Potok's novels is the conflict between traditional, Orthodox Judaism and the modern world of ideas that infringes upon it and challenges its authority. The conflict may be within Judaism (as in "The Promise's" battle between old and modern Jewish scholarship or "The Chosen's" consideration of Hasidism vs. modern Orthodoxy) or from outside of Judaism (art in "My Name is Asher Lev" or politics in "Davita's Harp").

What makes Potok's novels so compelling is that he frames these battles with skillful and deft plotting and beautiful heartfelt language. This aspect of his work reaches its apex with "The Promise", his most brilliantly constructed novel. From the first chapter, he skillfully interweaves the characters' struggles so that they relate to each other in a very meaningful way.

In addition, not since Carson McCullers, has a writer dealt so sensitively and realistically with the mind and struggles of youth and adolescence. Potok takes great pains to delve into the troubled Michael's psyche and helps us understand his demons. His other novels also share this sensitive dealing with youth and with the often stormy relationship between parent and child.

Danny Saunders, the Hasidic Jew we first encountered in "The Chosen" is, ironically, Potok's most "enlightened" creation. His is firmly rooted in his tradtions (in this case, Hasidism) but is also open to new ideas from the "modern world". He becomes a Psychologist, weds a woman outside of Hasidism, and dresses like a modern Jew. He is the realization of Potok's wish: the ability of man to be grounded in and love his faith without being rigid and intractable and intolerant of other ideas and opinions. It is the absence of this tolerance that causes much of the conflict in Potok's novels.

Although "The Chosen" may be his most moving, "Davita's Harp" his most lyrical (large portions of it are like reading poetry), "Asher Lev" his most powerful, "The Promise" is his most skillfully written. It is like a textbook lesson on how to write a novel. It firmly establishes him among America's greatest writers.
26 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x954b1a74) étoiles sur 5 A rich offering from a master storyteller 7 juin 2003
Par Tom Hinkle - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
A sequel of sorts to "The Chosen", although this book stands quite well on its own, "The Promise" is the story of Reuven, a young rabbinical student, who befriends Michael, a troubled young man who eventually has to be institutionalized under the care of Reuven's friend, Danny. Meanwhile, Reuven is struggling with his teacher, Rav Kalman, a hard-line traditionalist who clashes with Reuven because Reuven has come under the influence of modern critical scholarship due to the influence of Reuven's own father and of Michael's father, Abraham Gordon. The clash of differing schools of Jewish religious thought and the conflict between religious and non-religious Jews is a major theme of this book. Meanwhile, Michael is making no progress in his therapy which leads Danny to propose a radical method of treatment.
This book is absolutely riveting, and it's very hard to put down once begun. The late Chaim Potok, in my opinion, is one of the best novelists of the late 20th century. His evocation of modern Jewish life and issues is unsurpassed, and he tells his stories so effortlessly that even a non-Jew like myself cannot help but be captivated at the same time as I'm being educated. In my opinion, this book is better than "The Chosen" and nearly equal to my favorite Potok novel, "My Name is Asher Lev". I give "The Promise" my highest recommendation.
20 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x954b8678) étoiles sur 5 Further adventures of Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter 13 décembre 2000
Par Len Feder - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
It's nice when you can finish a book you like, and find that the major characters reappear in a later book. You really have to read The Chosen first, to meet the teenage Danny and Reuven. The Promise gives us a second chapter of their lives, when they are on the brink of beginning their chosen careers, Danny as a psychologist, Reuven trying to become an ordained rabbi.
There are two storylines going on simultaneously. Most of our time is spent on the conflicts between Hasidic doctrine and modern thought. The conservatives (Hasids) are like fundamentalist Christians in the sense that they believe every word of their holy books, literally. The moderns (including Reuven Malter and his father) apply their intelligence, and evaluate what they read. Perhaps the biggest conflict is when the Malters point out errors in the holy books, and arouse the fury of the Hasids. Will Reuven still be allowed to become a rabbi, even though he is a bit of a dissident?
The other storyline centers around Danny, the psychologist, taking on his first challenge. Michael is a mentally sick little boy, and it is up to Danny to crack the case, find out why he is sick, and find a way to cure him. In today's world we would be thinking in terms of lithium and various drugs to try to straighten Michael out, but this isn't that kind of book. The answer here has nothing to do with medicine or drugs. In Potok's world, Danny must find what is troubling Michael.
One weakness of the book is that the psychology seems extremely oversimplified, and not believable. We have to keep in mind that this isn't a psychology book. It's a story. And it really is a pretty good story. Even when I praise a book, I like to present the negatives, for the sake of fairness.
Potok gives us an interesting new character named Rav Kalman. In a sense he is the "bad guy" because he is the conservative who is making life difficult for the Malter family. But he is also described as a man who escaped from a German concentration camp twice, joined the partisans, and killed many Germans. This is a man of action, not just a teacher and rabbi.
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x954b8a44) étoiles sur 5 struck by wonder 9 juin 2005
Par Crystal Edwardson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
The Chosen was bittersweet, especially since Danny's choice left me feeling somewhat bereft. There was no true closure, and I was not entirely sure of where his words would take him.

The Promise, on the other hand, breaks my heart.

I feel as though I have been put through a wringer. I could understand and relate to both R' Kalman, Reuven, Danny and Reuven's father. I was awed by the way in which Reuven was able to interact with R' Kalman. Having been in a very similar situation myself, with a teacher who was angry and cruel to me, I can say that I was unable to feel anything but anger/ hatred for a very long time.

I still do feel that anger, but now that I have witnessed Reuven's words and his father's gentle counsel, I am more prepared to deal with what has been thrown at me. Michael's catharsis, later on in the book, also meant a great deal to me, as his feelings are so understandable, and yet so very hard to express, especially if, as he writes, he truly does not mean to hurt anyone.

I feel as though I could cry. This book is incredibly powerful. The Chosen was beautiful, but The Promise is the land beyond beauty, the realm of power, the stuff of which myths and dreams are made. The Promise tells the story of our lives, of why we go on. It tells us who we are, and why we are. It tells us of ourselves.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x954b8b28) étoiles sur 5 Dynamic sequel to The Chosen 29 septembre 1999
Par rockemcf@rocketmail.com - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
The Promise continues with the two main characters of The Chosen: Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter, both in the throws of graduate school/seminary in this book. The tension between traditional ( read fundamental) beliefs... represented by Hasidism... and less orthodox Jewish practices and beliefs is not only hammered out intellectually but is embodied in characters in the book: teachers on the staff of the various yeshiva , Reuven's father who is a textual/critical scholar of the Talmud, and Gordon, a liberal scholar and writer, finally, the vitriolic East European Talmud teacher, partisan, and survivor of the death camps.
The value of the book reaches far beyond a sympathetic depiction of Jewery (thouge it paints a vivid picture of the very fabric of Jewish emotional and religious life ); it casts a bright light on the entire controversy revolving around textual criticism in religious study and and the sometimes bitter exchanges between fundamental scholars trying...{in this book} to rebuild the remnants of European Jewery and their devastated world following the holocaust) and the community of textual critics who are moving deeper and deeper into the sacred texts with their "destructive" academic tools. A must read for anyone interested in scholarship, belief, faith, psychology and the tensions that connect all thinking humans, no matter what faith.
Interesting sub-plot relates to Danny Saunder's treatment of an emotionally wounded boy and his rebuilding of his psyche with the techniques and tools he "learned" from his father, a Hadid tzaddik. Simply a wonderful book...worth crying over. The chain smoking, crooked fingered Rav who teaches Talmud and is juxopposed to Rev Gershon (also a Talumd teacher) is worth the read alone. All the characters are drawn with great sympathy.
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