Read Den danske grevinde by Wallace Stegner Free Online
Book Title: Den danske grevinde|
The author of the book: Wallace Stegner
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 710 KB
Edition: Bianco Luno
Date of issue: 2012
Read full description of the books:Ever notice how, on rare occasions, certain writers really stand out for their ability to capture the subtle and complex ways of folks? It’s usually a reason to celebrate since these insights are there for us to imbibe. But it may be a source of distress if what’s revealed is a difficult truth. For me, Wallace Stegner is that sort of author, and this book is one I celebra-hate. Actually, hate is too strong a word, even when it’s combined with a good thing. I should say I felt twinges of disappointment when recognizably human elements in the main character’s make-up prevented a greater happiness. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for slants a la Hallmark. I just feel sad about opportunities missed, especially when those doing the missing are characters whose innermost thoughts I’ve been absorbing with interest.
I’ve told you about the malaise. I might as well mention a big reason for it (as long as I’m careful not to reveal more than the back cover does). Joe Allston, a crusty 69-year-old former literary agent, and his kindhearted wife Ruth live a rather isolated life in northern California. They had lost their son tragically in surf-boarding accident 20 some years prior. To make matters worse, Joe felt there had been unresolved father-son issues when it happened.
The story begins as a postcard arrives from an old friend from a trip Joe and Ruth had taken to Denmark. The extended stay there was, in part, meant as therapy to take their minds off their then-fresh and constant grief. It also allowed Joe to explore the small town where his mother had lived before shipping off to the states and having him. As chance would have it, they stayed with a Danish countess whose diminished circumstances required her to take in boarders. Astrid (the countess) was the one who sent the postcard. This sparked memories of the trip that Joe pursued even more by breaking out a journal he kept at the time. Ruth asked that he read it aloud so that she, too, could take the trip back in time.
The first entries in the journal were set on the boat ride over. They had met an older couple, which prompted Joe to write descriptively about their ilk, and about censorious people in general.
They sit in lace-curtained parlors and tsk-tsk on an indrawn breath, they know every unwanted pregnancy in town sooner than the girl does, they want English teachers in Augustana College fired for assigning A Farewell to Arms, they wrote the Volstead Act.
Once they arrived, the focus of the journal shifts to the countess. They learn that despite her elegance and good breeding, she was getting the cold shoulder from society types. Her estranged husband, unbeknownst to her when they’d been together, had been a Nazi sympathizer. Later into their stay they learn something else that explains the perceptions of her peers, but it would be a spoiler to say any more. I will say that you may or may not buy into this revelation. I decided that for me it was just a side issue, and that the far more important part of the book was Joe’s exploration of self.
This self under the scope was very thoroughly studied. Joe’s observational skills as a “spectator”, passively taking things in, were keen enough to recognize himself as a spectator, passively taking things in. This quote was telling:
I was reminded of a remark of Willa Cather's, that you can't paint sunlight, you can only paint what it does with shadows on a wall. If you examine a life, as Socrates has been so tediously advising us to do for so many centuries, do you really examine the life, or do you examine the shadows it casts on other lives? Entity or relationships? Objective reality or the vanishing point of a multiple perspective exercise? Prism or the rainbows it refracts? And what if you're the wall? What if you never cast a shadow or rainbow of your own, but have only caught those cast by others?
Relatedly, Joe seemed to regret his apparent detachment:
That is the way the modern temper would read me. Babbitt, the man who in all his life never did one thing he really wanted to. One of those Blake was scornful of, who controlled their passions because their passions are feeble enough to be controlled. One of those Genteel Tradition characters whose whole pale ethos is subsumed in an act of renunciation.
But might there have been times, thinking of what the journal hinted at but omitted, when passions were less tepid? And might actions or inactions in the face of these be even more defining in his life? See, I know the answers to these questions, and the only way you will is to read this masterful book.
While I don’t rate this one quite as high as Angle of Repose or Crossing to Safety, that’s a standard few, if any, can surpass. Stegner was just about Joe’s age when he wrote it, and advancing years were a theme. As sour as old Vin de Joe had become, I’d have preferred a cheerier example to live by. Beyond that, lines like this are beginning to hit home:
[...] I felt an uneasy adolescent peeking from behind my old-age make-up, as if I were a sixteen-year-old playing Uncle Vanya in the high school play [...]
Hey, but at least I wouldn’t call my face a “spiderweb with eyes.” Not yet, anyway.
Quibbles aside, here’s the bottom line: Wallace Stegner is the real deal. With him, it’s insight and great writing on every page. I hope you all do yourselves the favor of his wisdom and art.
Read information about the authorWallace Earle Stegner was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist. Some call him "The Dean of Western Writers." He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 and the U.S. National Book Award in 1977.
Add a comment to Den danske grevinde
Read EBOOK Den danske grevinde by Wallace Stegner Online free