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Stand Before Your God: An American Schoolboy…
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Stand Before Your God: An American Schoolboy in England (edició 1995)

de Paul Watkins (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
1375155,608 (4.11)2
In this enthralling and sometimes harrowing memoir, the acclaimed author of The Promise of Light gives us a masterly companion to such classics as Brideshead Revisited and A Separate Peace.  At the age of seven, Paul Watkins was roughly transplanted from his home in Rhode Island to England's Dragon School. He was greeted by a delegation of bullies who, in time, would become his friends and whose rules would become his own. For at Dragon, and later at Eton, "there was no middle ground. You could not go here and come out not caring one way or the other. You had to stand before your God and commit." Here are the masters who paddle boys for small infractions and then offer them sweets; the seniors who pamper pretty favorites and subject all others to humiliating servitude; the deep friendships and sudden, devastating betrayals. Above all, here is the exhilaration of a boy discovering own capacities for learning and creativity, in a book that conveys with astonishing insight the pangs of growing up.… (més)
Membre:Antonio_Arch
Títol:Stand Before Your God: An American Schoolboy in England
Autors:Paul Watkins (Autor)
Informació:Vintage (1995), Edition: Reprint, 256 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:*****
Etiquetes:great-lives, favorites

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Stand Before Your God: An American Schoolboy in England de Paul Watkins

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I read Paul Watkins memoir, STAND BEFORE YOUR GOD, based on a recommendation from a Canadian author, Brian Payton. I had read a couple of Watkins novels years ago, but had not heard of this memoir. It was a riveting, beautifully written account of Watkins' years at two famous English boys' schools. Watkins was the son of a Welsh-born, well-known geophysicist, Norman David Watkins. The family lived in Rhode Island when Paul, at seven years old, was packed off to the Dragon School in England, where he was a boarding student to the age of thirteen, after which he attended the very prestigious Eton prep school. Watkins' story covers a whole spectrum of experiences and feelings. Imagine being sent away from home and everything you know at age seven, plunged suddenly into a strange foreign culture and environment. Homesickness, culture shock, the casual cruelty of fellow students and harsh punishments from house masters and teachers, sexual awakening in an all-male cloistered type of environment where homosexuality was not uncommon, and the early urges to write, as a way of escape - all these things are in here. And Watkins' father died of cancer during his first year at Eton, a terrible loss which nearly scuttled his chances at the school. But Paul Watkins persevered and finished his studies at Eton, which is where the narrative stops. From there, I have learned, he went on to Yale and began publishing his well-received novels at a very early age.

I found this book to be absolutely fascinating. It has been compared to A SEPARATE PEACE, but I was reminded of another more obscure book, a memoir by Englishman John Cornwell called SEMINARY BOY. I also thought of a literary memoir by another alumnus of the Dragon School, Pico Iyer, and his book about a life-long fascination with author Graham Greene, THE MAN WITHIN MY HEAD. And I thought again of those two Watkins novels - NIGHT OVER DAY OVER NIGHT and CALM AT SUNSET CALM AT DAWN - and remembered enjoying both very much. Watkins is simply a born storyteller, and he tells his own story with eloquence and style. I loved this book. Thanks again to writer Brian Payton for telling me about it. HIGHLY recommended. ( )
  TimBazzett | Oct 22, 2014 |
Watkins is a fantastic writer. This is a memoir of his years as an American boy attending the Brittish schools, Dragon and Eton. His parents were English and sent him to give him all the advantages they were not able to have. He becomes something of a mid-atlantic person, neither American in England or English in America. What is most remarkable is the style of writing. There is no looking back aspect, it feels as if a chikd of the age he is at the time is writing it. He captures a feel of each place through his bits of rememberances. A truly fascinating read.
  amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
If you are going to compare yourself to A Separate Peace, and This Boy's Life, you'd better be prepared to deliver the goods. This book fails to live up to expectations so highly set. So, okay, it wasn't awful, and in moments you can really see how this guy could be a great writer. BUT, this memoir is amateurish -- I was shocked to find that he's published a bunch of books (although any hack who gives good plot can get published these days, I guess). And I suppose, with a memoir, you go to war with the material you have (hey, it would be so much more awesome if I had gone to Westminster instead of Eton!) But nonetheless, it disappoints. ( )
  livebug | Sep 6, 2010 |
Anyone who has spent time in a boarding school will relate to certain episodes recounted in this book. I know I did!

Paul Watkins is a gifted writer, and his pared-down prose (somebody compared his style to Hemingway) provides a clarity to reminiscences that could so easily have become golden-tinged nostalgia. Instead, the book is remarkably unsentimental while being life-affirming. Eton and the Dragon School are never idealised or demonised - their existence is just a fact of life for the young Watkins as he graduates through the strange all-male world of private English education.

Very easy to read. I demolished the book in under two days. ( )
  etnobofin | May 7, 2008 |
Opening as a very young boy suddenly is seemingly abandoned by his father in a house with a group of other boys and a housemaster, this memoir of growing up in English boys' schools is both sincere and heartwarming. The author, Paul Watkins, shares his experiences as a young American among the, mostly, young British boys in two schools, The Dragon School and, later, Eton. The memoir is filled with memories of friendships and fun. There are typical schoolboy activities, sometimes punctuated by the harsh reality of being an outsider in a system with very old, slowly changing, traditions. The schools became, for Paul, places where "You had to stand before your God and commit." Throughout the memoir Paul's relationship with his father is a motif that develops to a climax in his father's death; an event that leads to an epiphany for Paul that helps define his life and career as a writer. Written with lucid prose and an easygoing style this is an excellent read; ultimately uplifting in its message. ( )
2 vota jwhenderson | Jan 23, 2008 |
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In this enthralling and sometimes harrowing memoir, the acclaimed author of The Promise of Light gives us a masterly companion to such classics as Brideshead Revisited and A Separate Peace.  At the age of seven, Paul Watkins was roughly transplanted from his home in Rhode Island to England's Dragon School. He was greeted by a delegation of bullies who, in time, would become his friends and whose rules would become his own. For at Dragon, and later at Eton, "there was no middle ground. You could not go here and come out not caring one way or the other. You had to stand before your God and commit." Here are the masters who paddle boys for small infractions and then offer them sweets; the seniors who pamper pretty favorites and subject all others to humiliating servitude; the deep friendships and sudden, devastating betrayals. Above all, here is the exhilaration of a boy discovering own capacities for learning and creativity, in a book that conveys with astonishing insight the pangs of growing up.

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