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The Fall of Valor (1946)

de Charles Jackson

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783293,965 (4.17)Cap
Charles Jackson (1903-1968) achieved international success with his first book, The Lost Weekend (1944), a groundbreaking novel about alcoholism that sold more than 600,000 copies and was adapted for an Academy Award-winning film version. Jackson followed this triumph with a novel that was even more daring, The Fall of Valor (1946), arguably the first major American novel to deal openly with the theme of homosexuality. The Fall of Valor is an unflinching portrayal of a marriage that has faded to a mere duty. John and Ethel Grandin take a summer vacation to Nantucket with the hope of recapturing the happiness they felt in the early days of their relationship. But instead the holiday blasts their marriage wider apart than ever when John falls hopelessly in love with a handsome marine captain. This edition features a new introduction by Michael Bronski, who argues that Jackson's novel deserves rediscovery and a place alongside later classics such as Gore Vidal's The City and the Pillar, Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead, and the works of James Baldwin. "A finer and more skilful work than The Lost Weekend] ... a milestone in our literary progress." - Saturday Review "A courageous, ruthlessly probing book." - Thomas Mann "One of the best books I've ever read." - Book Week… (més)
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Es mostren totes 3
First published in 1946, this is a very brave and insightful novel. A long neglected classic, deservingly republished by Valancourt Books. I found the exploration of the prevailing attitudes of the characters, both male and female, very interesting. Naivety, generalizations of normal behaviour and rigid societal conventions reigned supreme. John’s continual doubts about the normalcy of his feelings and the legitimacy his marriage was particularly insightful.

As was probably quite common at the time, men who experienced same-sex attraction, agonizingly convinced themselves that it was a moral weakness and a wicked temptation that must be overcome. This could simply be achieved with the love of a good woman. The heteronormative path the only way forward, leading to socially acceptable lives of loveless marriages, shame and desperation.

Modern readers may find the novel frustrating and overly melodramatic, but it’s an incredibly telling piece of social history. ( )
1 vota dale01 | Aug 19, 2019 |
While not as nuanced as 'The Lost Weekend', 'The Fall of Valor' gets points for directness and for giving equal time to Ethel Grandin. Ethel is the wife of the man who falls in love with another man during the vacation that was supposed to revive their marriage.

Published in 1946, the novel is set a few years earlier with the war still in full swing. John Grandin is a literature professor who has become more devoted to his book, due to be published in the fall, than to his wife of ten years. It's clear that more than work has distracted him, though, when he reads the latest coolly matter-of-fact letter from his wife.

Alternating between Ethel and John's perspectives, their relationship is dissected by each as they hope to be reunited after a long separation for this special vacation. On the train and boat over they meet two couples: the middle-aged Bill and Sadie Howard, and the honeymooning marine captain Cliff and his wife Billie Hauman. The affectionate and stable Howards and the awkward playfulness of the Haumans highlight the chill between the Grandins. Ethel wants to confront her husband on his lack of attention to her, in the bedroom and out, while John begins to swoon for the marine.

At times the book borders on melodrama, and the bald, if sympathetic, analysis of Ethel and John's situation smacks of pop psychology, but Jackson keeps the inner struggles of both husband and wife at center stage which is refreshing after reading so many one-sided stories where the partner in a marriage functions only as an obstacle or, as is often the case in gay writing, a sham for the benefit of appearances. Tangled and sad it may be, but Ethel and John have a real relationship.

This book may not be one for the ages, but so very few of them are. My edition billed this as the first significant American work to address homosexuality, which I can't quite believe is true, but I'll just have to read more to find out.

Because I can't help myself and since I'm reading Michael Bronski's 'Pulp Friction', here are two pulp covers for 'The Fall of Valor':

[The classic lighting of the older gentleman's cigarette]

[Always check nearby shrubbery before necking in the waves]

Ethel's fears are clearly groundless. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
In LT hebben sommigen dit boek als trefwoord 'pulp' gegeven, maar dat is m.i. ten onrechte. Hoewel ik begrijp dat de vreselijk foute kaft doet vermoeden dat het hier een pulpboek betreft, stijgt dit boek daar zowel qua stijl, als qua psychologische karaktertekening ver bovenuit.
Het boek gaat over een universitair docent met huwelijksproblemen. Tijdens een vakantie in Florida met zijn vrouw ontmoet hij een studente van hem met haar vriend. De hoofdpersoon raakt gefascineerd door deze jongeman, maar of zijn kijk op de situatie wel helemaal realistisch is, is maar zeer de vraag. Zowel de huwelijkscrisis, als de identiteitscrisis van de man nemen steeds ernstigere vormen aan. Het einde is tamelijk dramatisch en wellicht wat 'over the top'.
Het boek zal misschien niet zo'n ruim publiek aanspreken als 'The Lost Weekend', maar het verdient zeker een herwaardering (en heruitgave met andere omslag). ( )
  GFW | Mar 14, 2015 |
Es mostren totes 3
afegit per booksaplenty1949 | editaThe Sewanee Review, John W. Crowley (Web de pagament) (May 24, 2021)
 
In choosing this theme Author Jackson has ruled out the chance of any such popular success as he had with his first novel. It is not a theme that even the brashest of moviemakers will rush to handle, and readers who found Don Birnam a sympathetic figure are not likely to have any such fellow feeling for John Grandin. Many readers who got a wallop out of Weekend will have to judge Valor on its literary merit alone, and they will find it medium-to-poor.
afegit per ThirteenthNile | editaTIME Magazine (Oct 7, 1946)
 

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Remembering her instructions in her last letter that morning, John Grandin went around pulling down the shades.
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Charles Jackson (1903-1968) achieved international success with his first book, The Lost Weekend (1944), a groundbreaking novel about alcoholism that sold more than 600,000 copies and was adapted for an Academy Award-winning film version. Jackson followed this triumph with a novel that was even more daring, The Fall of Valor (1946), arguably the first major American novel to deal openly with the theme of homosexuality. The Fall of Valor is an unflinching portrayal of a marriage that has faded to a mere duty. John and Ethel Grandin take a summer vacation to Nantucket with the hope of recapturing the happiness they felt in the early days of their relationship. But instead the holiday blasts their marriage wider apart than ever when John falls hopelessly in love with a handsome marine captain. This edition features a new introduction by Michael Bronski, who argues that Jackson's novel deserves rediscovery and a place alongside later classics such as Gore Vidal's The City and the Pillar, Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead, and the works of James Baldwin. "A finer and more skilful work than The Lost Weekend] ... a milestone in our literary progress." - Saturday Review "A courageous, ruthlessly probing book." - Thomas Mann "One of the best books I've ever read." - Book Week

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