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The Name of the World de Denis Johnson
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The Name of the World (2000 original; edició 2000)

de Denis Johnson

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
444441,744 (3.43)7
The acclaimed author of Jesus' Son and Already Dead returns with a beautiful, haunting, and darkly comic novel. The Name of the World is a mesmerizing portrait of a professor at a Midwestern university who has been patient in his grief after an accident takes the lives of his wife and child and has permitted that grief to enlarge him. Michael Reed is living a posthumous life. In spite of outward appearances -- he holds a respectable university teaching position; he is an articulate and attractive addition to local social life -- he's a dead man walking. Nothing can touch Reed, nothing can move him, although he observes with a mordant clarity the lives whirling vigorously around him. Of his recent bereavement, nearly four years earlier, he observes, "I'm speaking as I'd speak of a change in the earth's climate, or the recent war." Facing the unwelcome end of his temporary stint at the university, Reed finds himself forced "to act like somebody who cares what happens to him. " Tentatively he begins to let himself make contact with a host of characters in this small academic town, souls who seem to have in common a tentativeness of their own. In this atmosphere characterized, as he says, "by cynicism, occasional brilliance, and small, polite terror," he manages, against all his expectations, to find people to light his way through his private labyrinth. Elegant and incisively observed, The Name of the World is Johnson at his best: poignant yet unsentimental, replete with the visionary imaginative detail for which his work is known. Here is a tour de force by one of the most astonishing writers at work today.… (més)
Membre:lreinsma
Títol:The Name of the World
Autors:Denis Johnson
Informació:HarperCollins (2000), Edition: First Edition. reviewers slip laid in, Hardcover
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:fiction, novel, American, Midwest, first edition

Detalls de l'obra

The Name of the World: A Novel de Denis Johnson (2000)

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Es mostren totes 4
Eh, I didn't really get it. Nice writing of course, but I think the plot would have worked better as a short story rather than novella. ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
At a pivotal moment toward the end of this novella, the protagonist, a college professor in the Midwest of the U.S., writes and underlines, “The name of the world” on the back of his business card and gives it to Flower Cannon, a young woman. This occurs in an abandoned, off-limits bunker where Flower lives, during a kind of fortune-telling session that she holds for him.

This scene transitions professor Michael Reed from his living coma (suffered because of the deaths of his wife and daughter five years prior) to an engagement with life. This scene feels like he’s asking the identity of the universe he’s about to re-enter, but author Denis Johnson might mean something a lot deeper, I haven’t figured it out. At story’s outset, Professor Reed watches his life in a detached way, seeing things as though from a distance and feeling nothing about them. However, he stumbles into an art classroom and seeing the model, who is not motionless or passive, snaps him out of his funk immediately.

He begins to live again, but he needs more lessons, a stamp of approval, and of course this must come from Flower. Reed knows that his life will now head in unpredictable directions, but although intimacy with Flower seems possible, that doesn’t turn out to be the point. Flower is a portal of another kind. She lives in a Spartan, featureless bunker, but is surrounded by her art and her quirky collection of mundane objects. It serves as the anteroom for the rest of his life, and contains some suggested materials for it. Flower has “… bits of glass and shards of mirrors, strips and patches of astronomical and topographical maps, nautical charts … She kept glass jars of buttons and boxes of marbles. Here was the lid of a large box like a tray holding multicolored strings and yarns, the silvery, papery bark of a birch tree, small chrome and plastic emblems …” These raw materials share the space with easels turned toward the wall, works ready to be considered as art, or as not art. It’s all potentiality at this point.

Their conversation brings out the amazing fact that Flower has two sisters (Professor Reed: “Sisters! There are more of you? What a world.”), one of whom her hippie parents named Kali, the Hindu god of destruction and rebirth. From the Hindu Tridevi, or Three Goddesses, Flower herself evokes Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, art, and dance. She also encompasses the cosmic consciousness, and so some sense can be made of Prof. Reed’s “request” of her, for the name of the world. This is the story of a quest, or rather the prelude to a quest, because it climaxes at the quest’s beginning.

Mr. Johnson tells this sympathetic story in a short, powerful burst, and the novella form serves him so perfectly. Of contemporary American writers, no one serves up the same combination of straight-ahead muscular prose and challenging symbolic construct as National Book Award-winning Denis Johnson. This is superb, a gem.

http://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-name-of-world-by-denis-johnson.ht... ( )
  LukeS | Jul 21, 2013 |
An academic drifts in grief after the death of his wife and daughter, and eventually finds something like healing. Although nothing is resolved, this is a compelling and engaging story that stays with you afterward. ( )
  Hagelstein | Dec 1, 2008 |
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The acclaimed author of Jesus' Son and Already Dead returns with a beautiful, haunting, and darkly comic novel. The Name of the World is a mesmerizing portrait of a professor at a Midwestern university who has been patient in his grief after an accident takes the lives of his wife and child and has permitted that grief to enlarge him. Michael Reed is living a posthumous life. In spite of outward appearances -- he holds a respectable university teaching position; he is an articulate and attractive addition to local social life -- he's a dead man walking. Nothing can touch Reed, nothing can move him, although he observes with a mordant clarity the lives whirling vigorously around him. Of his recent bereavement, nearly four years earlier, he observes, "I'm speaking as I'd speak of a change in the earth's climate, or the recent war." Facing the unwelcome end of his temporary stint at the university, Reed finds himself forced "to act like somebody who cares what happens to him. " Tentatively he begins to let himself make contact with a host of characters in this small academic town, souls who seem to have in common a tentativeness of their own. In this atmosphere characterized, as he says, "by cynicism, occasional brilliance, and small, polite terror," he manages, against all his expectations, to find people to light his way through his private labyrinth. Elegant and incisively observed, The Name of the World is Johnson at his best: poignant yet unsentimental, replete with the visionary imaginative detail for which his work is known. Here is a tour de force by one of the most astonishing writers at work today.

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