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Sobre la bellesa (2005)
de Zadie Smith
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Engrossing family tale (not as good as White Teeth) but a great climax and denouement. ( )
Profesor universitario en una pequeña y próspera ciudad de Nueva Inglaterra, el británico Howard Belsey está pasando, a sus cincuenta y siete años, por uno de sus momentos vitales más bajos: su futuro académico parece definitivamente estancado y, en su casa, las cosas van de mal en peor. Tras treinta años de convivencia con Kiki, una hermosa activista afroamericana que ahora pesa ciento veinte kilos, un desliz amoroso amenaza con hundir su matrimonio. En cuanto a sus tres hijos, se encuentran absortos en sus propias vidas: el enamoradizo y sesudo Jerome, de veinte años, se ha convertido al cristianismo; la ingenua y ambiciosa Zora, de diecinueve, sigue los dictados de su precoz inteligencia, y el quinceañero Levi es un abanderado de la negritud. Y como si el panorama no fuera lo bastante complejo, el odiado Monty Kipps, especialista en Rembrandt como él y su adversario intelectual más acérrimo, ha sido invitado a formar parte del cuerpo académico de la universidad. Así pues, todo está servido para que estalle una hilarante historia sobre las filias y fobias de la especie humana (desencuentros generacionales, amores contrariados y conflictos ideológicos incluidos), en la que el bagaje intelectual y cultural parece reducirse meramente a un brillante y frágil escudo personal diseñado para protegernos del desamparo y mitigar el implacable paso del tiempo.
This is one of those books that's very hard to rate with stars. I found it to be marvelously written but I wasn't interested in the story. It's not the fault of the author (again, wonderfully written) but it just happens to not be the type of story that draws me in.
This novel tells the story of two families of vastly different ideologies. The Belsey family lives in a university town near Boston. Howard Belsey is a British art history professor married to Kiki, an African American woman. They have been married thirty years and have three children aged sixteen to mid-twenties. Monty Kipps, another academic, lives in London with his wife, Carlene, and their two college age children. The Belsey family is intensely progressive. The Kipps family is ultra-conservative. Howard Belsey and Monty Kipps have been adversaries for many years.
There are a large number of characters and it takes a while for the numerous storylines to come together. It is written in third person from a number of perspectives with no single protagonist. It is a blend of diverse voices, representing race, social class, politics, and relationships. Art, music, poetry (including rap), and physical beauty are integral to the plot. These play into the narrative of aesthetics – how the characters view themselves and each other.
I recommend reading this book slowly – it is not one to be rushed. I very much enjoy Smith's witty and insightful storytelling style. I can also recommend White Teeth.
Traag, personages waar ik me moeilijk aan hecht, interessante bespiegelingen
Es mostren 1-5 de 221 (següent | mostra-les totes)
On Beauty" is that rare comic novel about the divisive cultural politics of the new century likely to amuse readers on the right as much as those on the left. (Not that they'll necessarily be laughing in the same places.) Yet Smith is up to more as well: she wants to rise above the fray even as she wallows in it, to hit a high note of idealism rather than sink into the general despair. How radical can you be? Blame it on her youth.
Beautifully observed details of clothing, weather, cityscapes and the bustling human background of drivers, shoppers and passers-by are constantly being folded into the central flow of thought, feeling and action, giving even the most mundane moments - Levi riding a bus into Boston, Howard setting up a projector - a dense, pulsing life.
On Beauty is quieter. There is a complicated story making up by richness of implication what it lacks in exuberance. The culture of the Boston campus is set among the other cultures such a city harbours. Carl, the outsider who enters the story because of the muddle at the concert, is far from being a replica of Leonard Bast. He’s an exponent of rap culture – and it is a culture, unlike Bast’s pathetic aspirations. The power of his rap has to be explained, and indeed the author intervenes personally to endorse it: ‘the present-day American poets, the rappers’. The mufflered pink-cheeked charm of a New England campus in winter is very agreeably rendered. The row between Professor Belsey and Kiki when she finds out he’s been cheating is as deft as anybody could make it, he with his stumbling, evasive academic dialect and she with her ‘personal’ language and naturally inflexible notions of fidelity and honour.
In a late scene Kiki is sorting out her children’s accumulated belongings. As she is carrying two bags of her elder son’s ‘pre-growth-spurt clothes’, we are told:
Last year, she had not thought she would still be in this house, in this marriage, come spring. But here she was, here she was. A tear in the garbage bag freed three pairs of pants and a sweater. Kiki crouched to pick these up and, as she did so, the second bag split too. She had packed them too heavy. The greatest lie ever told about love is that it sets you free.
What makes this passage brilliant is that the sententia at the end, though it may be true, is somehow made ironical because it is Kiki, there among all the random evidence of her love, who is uttering it, and not some cheat, some intellectual, some person of recognised authority. She is the measure of Zadie Smith’s powers at 30, Forster’s age when he published Howards End.
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)
When Howard Belsey's oldest son Jerome falls for Victoria, the stunning daughter of the right-wing Monty Kipps, both families find themselves thrown together, enacting a cultural and personal war against each other.
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)823.914Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Modern Period 1901-1999 1945-1999
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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Una edició d'aquest llibre ha estat publicada per Penguin Australia.