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The Accursed

de Joyce Carol Oates

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

Sèrie: Gothic Saga (5)

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8613520,802 (3.26)56
In 20th century Princeton, New Jersey, a powerful curse, which besets the wealthiest of families, causes the disappearance of a young bride, and when her brother sets out to find her, he crosses paths with the town's most formidable people, including Grover Cleveland and Upton Sinclair.
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    Goethe's Faust: Part One and Sections from Part Two de Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (WSB7)
    WSB7: The protagonist of The Accursed makes a deal with God. How does this compare with Faust's deal with the devil?
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» Mira també 56 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 34 (següent | mostra-les totes)
I am happy this book is done. I know that I have not read the best novels of Joyce Carol Oates. I have, however, read many short stories and I like her writing...a lot. Sadly, however, not this book. I am not even sure why I finished it. I think I just kept on hoping it would get better.

It was disjointed and hard to follow and, in the end, just plain boring. On to something more worth my time. ( )
  DarrinLett | Aug 14, 2022 |
J-Co's done it again.
She has created a world so complete, that even the supernatural seems plausible -- and she's given the reader an extraordinary amount of information about turn-of-the-last-century Princeton, NJ, without any infodumps.

Her cast of characters includes the sickly neurotic, Woodrow Wilson, an ascetic and idealistic Upton Sinclair, and unflattering cameos of Mark Twain and Jack London, all centered around the story of how the Devil came to Princeton and did some nasty work. The Devil, who took human form, but who manifested himself in racial, class, and sexual violence among the Princeton Brahmins -- beginning with the rape and murder of a young black girl fifty years previously by a pious, upstanding, and frightened young man, called Winslow Slade.

J-Co's role of "historian," as she casts herself, is never, ever compromised. Even her footnotes are done in the impeccable (though wordy) style of an aged (and antisemitic) historian writing in 1984 (who may...but I won't spoil it here.)

Enjoyable, first-class writing. ( )
  FinallyJones | Nov 17, 2021 |
The Indescribable

What a wonderment Joyce Carol Oates has wrought: an enigmatic gothic wrapped in a historical period piece plopped down in the middle of a quintessential university town populated by elitists, and her home for the past 35 years, Princeton, NJ. Her imagination has never been darker, her prose has never been more tuned to a period and purpose of a novel, her characterizations have never been more engaging or more satirically biting, and her observations on perennial issues — classism, racism, feminism, corporatism, and spiritualism — has never been more provocative. In particular, her recasting of the accepted belief system in the final chapter, "The Covenant," rendering fire and brimstone mere warm ash by comparison, will surely set some readers spinning and gyrating as if stuck with St. Vitus Dance.

Mr. M. W. von Dyck II, lifelong of Princeton, of the town's old families, introduces us to his new history of the disturbing and startling events overtaking the town in the first decade of the 20th century, variously known as the Crosswicks Curse and the Vampire Murders, criticizing the extant histories, putting forth his credentials, and inadvertently revealing his prejudices and his imperial tone. Then he launches into his recounting based on primary source documents available to or understood only by him.

Many things happen, puzzling things, not just by their nature but also in how we readers are to assemble them into a tale with meaning. Outlined, so as not to spoil your own discovery, a mysterious stranger appears, Axson Mayte (also Count English von Gneist and François D'Apthorp, maybe), who abducts Annabel Slade from the altar as she is about to marry Dabney Bayard, transporting her to the horrifying Bog Kingdom, a gray hell of decay and abuse. The abduction sets in motion terrifying consequences for the Slade family, among them deaths and startling revelations that evolve into something of a unified theory of everything bizarre transpiring in Princeton between 1905 and 1906.

As the Slades contend with their hardships, Woodrow Wilson does battle with Professor Andrew West, a demonic foe in Wilson's view, over the separation or integration of the graduate school onto the main campus, in addition to warring to end the university's dining clubs tradition, while contending with his multitude of aliments, his distaste of many people, among them Samuel Clemens, fretting over mixed race relations in his family's history, and resisting the seduction of Cybella Peck, presenting herself first as temptress and finally as his devi (or an ally of the Count?).

Living on the outskirts of town, Upton Sinclair extols the socialist principles he knows will transform the world into something like heaven, only to suffer terribly at the hands of the great god of socialism who proves himself a drunken and pugnacious buffoon, Jack London, and his "pug face" bride, Charmian.

Then there's among the oddest person of the bunch, though not in the least peculiar to us 21st century denizens, but an anomaly among her set. That is Wilhelmina Burr, "Yearning, yet headstrong Miss Wilhelmina Burr!" A handsome young woman, but not a flower like Annabel, she lacks suitors. Untroubled, for the most part, since her affection lies with a seemingly unattainable Slade, the rampaging, peripatetic, and ultimately traitor to his class, Josiah. Truly, though, she wishes more than marriage; she wishes a career; she wishes to be fulfilled by social usefulness.

Looming over everything, visited upon different folks, but in particular Annabel, the model of young womanhood, is what our historical shaman calls The Unspeakable. There are several unspeakable acts committed throughout the telling, among them how the proper citizens ignore a downstate lynching, how some addled men delude themselves with suspicions about their wives, a concealed sin of a principal character, and other unsavory incidents.

Unspeakable acts can lead to absurdity in straight-laced upper crust Princeton society, as the chapter "The Unspeakable II" illustrates, absurdity and humor. As in calling a meeting that cannot be recorded or spoken of, at which Woodrow Wilson concludes, "We are agreed, what is unspeakable cannot be articulated, yet, it must be acted upon — swiftly. 'Justice delayed is justice denied.'" Wilson reveals his expulsion of the miscreant students, fiat. A professor asks about defense. Wilson replies, "What is unspeakable is also indefensible. I think we are in agreement?"

If it sounds as if Oates has jammed the novel with a confusion of events and large cast of characters, your ears deceive you not. You may have to reference back to earlier characters to renew your knowledge of who is who. You'll find the effort worth it. And never fear. While Oates excels at mayhem, she's not adverse to Hollywood happiness.

In addition to many fictional characters, she has embellished the novel to great effect with a cast of contemporaneous luminaries. None come off very well, though often drip with sardonic humor: Woodrow Wilson: hidebound and a hypochondriac. Upton Sinclair: whiney and tone death. Jack London: an alcoholic, self-absorbed bully. Grover Cleveland: an obese glutton. Teddy Roosevelt: blustery and crude. Samuel Clemens: a mischievous demon.

Highly recommended for ranking among Oates best outings, featuring some of her best prose, and as a terrific tale of either the supernatural or the delusions of society or both, and especially for the "The Covenant," a head-spinning take on a wrathful god.

As a final note, Oates references Wieland (1798) by Charles Brockden Brown. His first novel and purported to be the first American gothic, Brown offers up a cautionary on religious zealotry, interesting in light of the religious aspects of Oates's novel. More to the point of her book, however, might be The Private Memoirs (1824) by Scottish author James Hogg. It is a psychological mystery of a sort that focuses on a troubled young man who either hears and acts on the suggestions of his alter ego or the devil. What makes it most compelling is how Hogg attacks the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. Though more nuanced a doctrine than simply they who are saved cannot undo their salvation with evil deeds, it is this popularized feature of Calvinism Hogg assails. Oates certainly fills her novel with the Presbyterian righteous acting without righteousness. And Presbyterianism derives from Calvinism and also originated in Scotland.

Well, that's the kind of novel The Accursed is: one that sets you musing in all sorts of ways. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
The Indescribable

What a wonderment Joyce Carol Oates has wrought: an enigmatic gothic wrapped in a historical period piece plopped down in the middle of a quintessential university town populated by elitists, and her home for the past 35 years, Princeton, NJ. Her imagination has never been darker, her prose has never been more tuned to a period and purpose of a novel, her characterizations have never been more engaging or more satirically biting, and her observations on perennial issues — classism, racism, feminism, corporatism, and spiritualism — has never been more provocative. In particular, her recasting of the accepted belief system in the final chapter, "The Covenant," rendering fire and brimstone mere warm ash by comparison, will surely set some readers spinning and gyrating as if stuck with St. Vitus Dance.

Mr. M. W. von Dyck II, lifelong of Princeton, of the town's old families, introduces us to his new history of the disturbing and startling events overtaking the town in the first decade of the 20th century, variously known as the Crosswicks Curse and the Vampire Murders, criticizing the extant histories, putting forth his credentials, and inadvertently revealing his prejudices and his imperial tone. Then he launches into his recounting based on primary source documents available to or understood only by him.

Many things happen, puzzling things, not just by their nature but also in how we readers are to assemble them into a tale with meaning. Outlined, so as not to spoil your own discovery, a mysterious stranger appears, Axson Mayte (also Count English von Gneist and François D'Apthorp, maybe), who abducts Annabel Slade from the altar as she is about to marry Dabney Bayard, transporting her to the horrifying Bog Kingdom, a gray hell of decay and abuse. The abduction sets in motion terrifying consequences for the Slade family, among them deaths and startling revelations that evolve into something of a unified theory of everything bizarre transpiring in Princeton between 1905 and 1906.

As the Slades contend with their hardships, Woodrow Wilson does battle with Professor Andrew West, a demonic foe in Wilson's view, over the separation or integration of the graduate school onto the main campus, in addition to warring to end the university's dining clubs tradition, while contending with his multitude of aliments, his distaste of many people, among them Samuel Clemens, fretting over mixed race relations in his family's history, and resisting the seduction of Cybella Peck, presenting herself first as temptress and finally as his devi (or an ally of the Count?).

Living on the outskirts of town, Upton Sinclair extols the socialist principles he knows will transform the world into something like heaven, only to suffer terribly at the hands of the great god of socialism who proves himself a drunken and pugnacious buffoon, Jack London, and his "pug face" bride, Charmian.

Then there's among the oddest person of the bunch, though not in the least peculiar to us 21st century denizens, but an anomaly among her set. That is Wilhelmina Burr, "Yearning, yet headstrong Miss Wilhelmina Burr!" A handsome young woman, but not a flower like Annabel, she lacks suitors. Untroubled, for the most part, since her affection lies with a seemingly unattainable Slade, the rampaging, peripatetic, and ultimately traitor to his class, Josiah. Truly, though, she wishes more than marriage; she wishes a career; she wishes to be fulfilled by social usefulness.

Looming over everything, visited upon different folks, but in particular Annabel, the model of young womanhood, is what our historical shaman calls The Unspeakable. There are several unspeakable acts committed throughout the telling, among them how the proper citizens ignore a downstate lynching, how some addled men delude themselves with suspicions about their wives, a concealed sin of a principal character, and other unsavory incidents.

Unspeakable acts can lead to absurdity in straight-laced upper crust Princeton society, as the chapter "The Unspeakable II" illustrates, absurdity and humor. As in calling a meeting that cannot be recorded or spoken of, at which Woodrow Wilson concludes, "We are agreed, what is unspeakable cannot be articulated, yet, it must be acted upon — swiftly. 'Justice delayed is justice denied.'" Wilson reveals his expulsion of the miscreant students, fiat. A professor asks about defense. Wilson replies, "What is unspeakable is also indefensible. I think we are in agreement?"

If it sounds as if Oates has jammed the novel with a confusion of events and large cast of characters, your ears deceive you not. You may have to reference back to earlier characters to renew your knowledge of who is who. You'll find the effort worth it. And never fear. While Oates excels at mayhem, she's not adverse to Hollywood happiness.

In addition to many fictional characters, she has embellished the novel to great effect with a cast of contemporaneous luminaries. None come off very well, though often drip with sardonic humor: Woodrow Wilson: hidebound and a hypochondriac. Upton Sinclair: whiney and tone death. Jack London: an alcoholic, self-absorbed bully. Grover Cleveland: an obese glutton. Teddy Roosevelt: blustery and crude. Samuel Clemens: a mischievous demon.

Highly recommended for ranking among Oates best outings, featuring some of her best prose, and as a terrific tale of either the supernatural or the delusions of society or both, and especially for the "The Covenant," a head-spinning take on a wrathful god.

As a final note, Oates references Wieland (1798) by Charles Brockden Brown. His first novel and purported to be the first American gothic, Brown offers up a cautionary on religious zealotry, interesting in light of the religious aspects of Oates's novel. More to the point of her book, however, might be The Private Memoirs (1824) by Scottish author James Hogg. It is a psychological mystery of a sort that focuses on a troubled young man who either hears and acts on the suggestions of his alter ego or the devil. What makes it most compelling is how Hogg attacks the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. Though more nuanced a doctrine than simply they who are saved cannot undo their salvation with evil deeds, it is this popularized feature of Calvinism Hogg assails. Oates certainly fills her novel with the Presbyterian righteous acting without righteousness. And Presbyterianism derives from Calvinism and also originated in Scotland.

Well, that's the kind of novel The Accursed is: one that sets you musing in all sorts of ways. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Interesting premise but it went on too long - I lost interest.
  scoene | Jul 13, 2021 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 34 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Some novels are almost impossible to review, either because they’re deeply ambiguous or because they contain big surprises the reviewer doesn’t wish to give away. In the case of “The Accursed,” both strictures apply. What I wish I could say is simply this: “Joyce Carol Oates has written what may be the world’s first postmodern Gothic novel: E. L. Doctorow’s ‘Ragtime’ set in Dracula’s castle. It’s dense, challenging, problematic, horrifying, funny, prolix and full of crazy people. You should read it. I wish I could tell you more.”
afegit per ozzer | editaNew York Times, Stephen King (Mar 14, 2013)
 

» Afegeix-hi altres autors

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Oates, Joyce Carolautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Boldini, GiovanniAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Chong, Suet YeeDissenyadorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Danielsson, Ullaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Dziekonski, KarenExecutive producerautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Eljin ProductionsProducerautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gardner, GroverNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Saltzman, AllisonDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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In 20th century Princeton, New Jersey, a powerful curse, which besets the wealthiest of families, causes the disappearance of a young bride, and when her brother sets out to find her, he crosses paths with the town's most formidable people, including Grover Cleveland and Upton Sinclair.

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