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kitinkaboodle
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« Reply #105 on: July 02, 2007, 01:14:30 PM »



Awhile back kitnkaboodle asked rmdig
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Have you read any of John Banville?  I would venture that his writing would please you.
I read his The Book of Evidence with much pleasure last year and participated in a forum discussion of it, but haven't gone beyond that work. Which Banville have you read?

Hi, nytempsperdu!
Nice to see another Banville reader here.  Have read The Sea and Christine Falls, which he wrote as a complete departure from his usual under the nom de plume Benjamin Black, this to be a series...  But back to 'Sea', you won't be disappointed, that is if you enjoy his lyrical and allusive language.  How can one not? 
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pontalba
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« Reply #106 on: July 03, 2007, 01:52:27 PM »



Awhile back kitnkaboodle asked rmdig
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Have you read any of John Banville?  I would venture that his writing would please you.
I read his The Book of Evidence with much pleasure last year and participated in a forum discussion of it, but haven't gone beyond that work. Which Banville have you read?

Hi, nytempsperdu!
Nice to see another Banville reader here.  Have read The Sea and Christine Falls, which he wrote as a complete departure from his usual under the nom de plume Benjamin Black, this to be a series...  But back to 'Sea', you won't be disappointed, that is if you enjoy his lyrical and allusive language.  How can one not? 
I have also read The Sea and thought it excellent, but I have had The Untouchable in my 'half-way read' stack for a couple of months...just got bogged down in minutia and who was what when.  Have Christine Falls in my TBR stack though and have higher hopes for that.
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kitinkaboodle
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« Reply #107 on: July 03, 2007, 02:23:41 PM »

Thinking that Athena would be my next Banville selection...more so now after your post, pontalba.
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pontalba
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« Reply #108 on: July 03, 2007, 02:42:32 PM »

Thinking that Athena would be my next Banville selection...more so now after your post, pontalba.
I believe Athena is a sequel to The Book of Evidence.  Both are in my TBR stack also.
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kitinkaboodle
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« Reply #109 on: July 03, 2007, 02:57:08 PM »

Ah! Didn't know that, thank you.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #110 on: July 03, 2007, 11:21:37 PM »

Nytemps...I found it most interesting that Kingsolver did not choose to give Nathan or Anatole their  "own" voices.  We heard their voices only as reported by others.  I think Kingsolver wanted to relate Nathan to the old regime and Anatole to Africa itself.  The old regime has passed and can only speak through history....second hand, subject to interpretation; the "new" Africa...a nation in its infancy still searching for its voice.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2007, 11:23:50 PM by Lhoffman » Logged
weezo
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« Reply #111 on: July 03, 2007, 11:42:40 PM »

My feeling, right or wrong, is that Kingsolver wanted to tell the story through the eyes of the women, a daring design to be sure. They are good women, strong women, weak women, unreprentent women, saddened women, driven women, but women all. Not a one stereotyped woman in the whole book!

This was, to me, one of the most exquisite delights of the book - to hear from women without the interruptions of their men. These women were unique. They did not band together and work for a common cause. Each one struck out on her own and slayed the dragons she, herself, encountered. She did not need a band of women behind her to comfort her as she made her strike.

The second saddest time in the book, after the death of Ruth May, was when they all came together to visit the grave, and had to turn back to their own different lives, unable to accomplish even that one simple goal, as a family, as a group of women. They had to abandon their goal as there was no feasible way to accomplish it. And there lay Ruth May, in an unmarked grave somewhere in the forest of Africa, and those who loved and remembered her could not reach out to her even that one last time.

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Lhoffman
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« Reply #112 on: July 04, 2007, 01:05:26 AM »

Weezo....not a matter of right or wrong.  The book works on many levels.  I like your idea of the women slaying dragons, quite the opposite of the perspective of many fairy tales.  And read on that level, it reminds me of the rite of passage in some primitive cultures where children are sent into the forest to face their demons and enter the adult world  (represented in Grimm by Hansel and Gretel).   On that level, I find Leah more tragic than Ruth May.  When she entered "the forest", all her illusions about her father were shattered.   She had to toss out everything she believed in her childhood and begin anew.

I think though, that Kingsolver directs our focus to the women as individuals because she wants her readers to consider the idea of individual guilt as related to colonialism....her point being that there are no innocent bystanders.  In the very first page, Kingsolver has Orleanna say,

Away down below now, single file on the path, comes a woman with four girls in tow, all of them in shirtwaist dresses.  Seen from above this way they are pale, doomed blossoms, bound to appeal to your sympathies.  Be careful.  Later on you'll have to decide what sympathy they deserve..."


Then on page 9:  I know how people are, with their habits of mind.  Most will sail through from cradle to grave with a conscience clean as snow.  It's easy to point at other men, conveniently dead, starting with the ones who first scooped up mud from riverbanks to catch the scent of a source.  Why, Dr. Livingstone, I presume, wasn't he the rascal!  He and all the profiteers who've since walked out on Africa as a husband quits a wife, leaving her with her naked body curled around the emptied-out mine of her womb.  I know people.  Most have no earthly notion of the price of a snow-white conscience."
« Last Edit: July 04, 2007, 01:34:26 AM by Lhoffman » Logged
weezo
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« Reply #113 on: July 04, 2007, 11:41:52 AM »

Exellent posts from Oleanna! And an example of her excellent foreshadowing. Indeed we are, as readers, not of one accord in who to feel the greatest sympathy for.

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weezo
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« Reply #114 on: July 05, 2007, 10:29:40 PM »

When I read of Nathan's death, all I felt was relief that he was gone and done with. The details seemed rather appropriate for his insistence on in-the-river baptism when there are so many other ways - what was wrong with a big tub?

I thought it was interesting how the title of the book was explained in that last passage on the demise of Nathan - the bible he "wrote" when he had no understanding of the culture or nuances of those for whom he was interpreting The Book.

Would you have been happier if the tribe had chased Nathan into the same river to meet the same demise as the tribe's children?

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Lhoffman
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« Reply #115 on: July 05, 2007, 11:02:45 PM »

Nytemps...Your comment on Leah takes me to the criticism I have of this book.  I found the story very compelling, and I've commented before on Kingsolver's voicing, but I felt Kingsolver's lack of sublety took something away from the book.  From the very beginning of the book, we were given to understand that this was more than a simple story about a misguided mission, and Kingsolver is clearly very passionate on this issue. At times, her writing seemed to take on a sort of missionary rant.  In fiction writing, it seems more appropriate for the author to use metaphor or symbolism to make a point.  I wondered why Kingsolver chose to write a novel on this topic instead of a history.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #116 on: July 05, 2007, 11:06:14 PM »

re:  Nathan's death.  It's funny, but I read this book when it was first published in 1990 something.  At some point, I must have re-written Nathan's death.  In the back of my mind, I "remembered" that Orleanna killed him.

Being eaten by a crocodile might have been less contrived, but maybe not symbolic enough for Kingsolver....perhaps she thought that would have been too easy?
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Donotremove
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« Reply #117 on: July 06, 2007, 02:37:34 AM »

Folks, I'm not going to be worth two cents on the evaluation of PB.  The book grabbed me like a strangle vine and nearly killed me.  I sweated and twisted and was hungry and thirsty for cool water, and Nathan didn't die nearly early enough for me.

Clearly Kingsolver is having "something to say" about "certain" types of missionaries, and all colonists and do-gooders that would occupy a place for the purpose of changing the behavior of the indigenous society, not to mention the appropriation of resources (for profit) by foreign entities.  I have read extensively about such things, and she hardly ever strays onto false ground.  As for hysterics, I don't think one can be too animated about the awfullness that has been visited upon the common people of Africa by their own governments and everyone else in positions of power (economic mercenaries like the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank).

The ignorance of the common people about "schemes" is nearly total in most places, and they are easily netted and turned against their own best interests.  Not only Africa, but all over Oceania, Malaysia, huge portions of China (Burma is completely lost,) and the rural areas of South America.  There aren't enough trees to make enough paper to write about all the misery.

Leah bought into the dream of a better Africa, and Rachel landed on her feet, bless her bubble-headed heart, and I'm glad, but Adah is the one that interested me the most.  I'm sure Kingsolver researched the psychological path described in Adah's rebirth as a whole person, standing straight at last, her fine mind educated at last.  I'd not heard of it myself.  I wish Oliver Sacks had addressed something like that.  Oleanna sacrificed herself to guilt.  I'm sure till she died.

PB lies in the middle of me like a stone.  I hope to get over it someday.
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weezo
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« Reply #118 on: July 06, 2007, 06:35:29 AM »

Donot,

Unlike you, I didn't have a favorite among the daughters. I understood Oleanna's guilt, as a mother she was forced twice to choose among her daughers, and although everything eventually came out all right, I agree that she was saddled with guilt that she had even allowed Nathan to transport the family without the adequate support to keep the wolf from their door. I think her greatest guilt was in not marching all four of her daughters out of Africa when the rest of the missionaries pulled up stakes. I don't think she really saw herself as a missionary or felt the great need to change the Africans. She just wanted to live her life and raise her daughters no matter the circumstances.

Rachel was a bubble head, but she also possessed a lot of business sense. She was not lacking in intelligence, it just wasn't her "thing" to express herself in an "educated" manner. Instead, she used her "feminine wiles" to build herself up to where she could act free of those same "wiles".

When I was growing up, as the oldest of a family of six daughters, I remember my mother often telling people that there were no two of us very much alike. This has been born out in our adult lives. I think Oleanna saw, too, that each of her daughters was a unique individual, each worthy women in their own sphere. Adah became a scientist, Leah, a politician, and Rachel a businesswoman. I was crushed by the death of Ruth May, since she held so much promise as a go-between, having learned the culture of the Africans so much more so than the others. Yet, I knew from the beginning of the book that one of them would die, and, as I read, I speculated which it would be and how it would happen. The vindication of "voodoo", such a worthy goal, took  Ruth May's life in an unexpected way. Yet, she had found a spiritual safety in the tall trees with the dangerous snake. I was left wondering if in her last moments, she sought that place of safety she had built up mentally to take her through the times of danger.
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madupont
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« Reply #119 on: July 06, 2007, 12:05:07 PM »

donotremove, re:#152

It may be that Kingsolver has merely written a flawed panoramic Protestant Romance to compete with those other more "The Thornbirds" romances for women in which Richard Chamberlain as the Priest was alway torn about his loyalty to his vocation and the love of a good woman.  Apparently Chamberlain was particularly genetically endowed to be convincing as an actor in this role of how to have a great struggle that is meaningless.

The panoramic vistas of the Poisonwood Bible are easily induced by too many scary movies in childhood, or perhaps some pre-novel-writing research in Joseph Conrad as inspiring reading which can then be rewritten from a feminist viewpoint.

None of this would have come to mind, if not for Bob and Dzimas explaining a new wave of anti-Catholicism on the horizon politically in American History.

I think perhaps you have just discovered why whiskeypriest always remarked how much he hates Barbara Kingsolver's novel.
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