Book info

Burning Bright (2007)

Burning Bright (2007)
Rating
3.32 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
052594978X (ISBN13: 9780525949787)
languge
English
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publisher
dutton
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Burning Bright (2007)
Burning Bright (2007)

About book: «La tensione fra due forze contrarie fa di noi ciò che siamo. Noi le abbiamo entrambe, mescolate nel cuore, dove si danno battaglia e mandano scintille. Non siamo solo luce, ma anche tenebra, non abbiamo solo la pace ma anche la guerra. Siamo innocenti eppure smaliziati […] E c’è una lezione che faremmo bene a imparare: il mondo si rispecchia intero in ogni fiore». Quando un romanzo della Chevalier finisce, qualcuno nel mondo si ritrova con la testa ciondoloni da un lato, una guancia appoggiata al pugno chiuso, il gomito puntellato sul tavolo, a chiedersi perché abbia intrapreso quella lettura e cosa sperava di trovarvi che invece non c’è. Dopo aver letto due libri di questa autrice statunitense (il primo fu Strane creature), ho infatti l’impressione che la sua scrittura continuerà sistematicamente a mancare l’obiettivo che io pretendo da essa, lasciandomi perplessa e spazientita. E, se sono un po’ dura, è perché mi rattrista pensare che un romanzo di così belle promesse come L’innocenza, che scomoda persino il signor William Blake, finisca per non mantenerne alcuna. Londra, fine Settecento. La famiglia Kellaway si trasferisce dal bucolico Dorsetshire alla caotica capitale inglese inseguendo un circo. Di essa fanno parte Thomas, intagliatore di sedie, sua moglie e due figli adolescenti, Jem e Maisie. Maisie si innamora di John, acrobata a cavallo, donnaiolo e figlio del proprietario del circo. Jem si innamora (ma non lo sa) di Maggie, monella londinese che nasconde un segreto. Vicini di casa dei Kellaway sono niente di meno che William Blake, poeta e incisore dalle scomode idee politiche, e la sua consorte. Il tutto è condito da una buona dose di pericolosa nebbia, pub, tagliagole, sfruttamento e prostituzione minorili, innocenza rubata, poesia… Sembrerebbe un romanzo fantastico, neh? Ecco perché mi arrabbio: poteva essere un romanzo storico davvero ben riuscito, se la Chevalier non si fosse limitata ad accennare a ognuno di questi elementi senza approfondirne alcuno (sulla questione dell’approfondimento si veda alla voce: caratterizzazione psicologica mancata dei personaggi). Non basta la varietà degli ingredienti per fare una buona insalata: bisogna condirla. E, a mio avviso, qui c’è poco sale. Persino il Blake tratteggiato dall’autrice risulta appena abbozzato, non più che una figura trasognata, estremamente gentile e con i Canti dell’Innocenza sempre sulle labbra. E qui lasciate che esprima tutto il mio risentimento verso le scelte editoriali: sono d’accordo sul fatto che i versi di Blake di cui la Chevalier infarcisce la narrazione andassero tradotti, ma non si poteva scegliere una traduzione graziosa, che almeno non tradisse l’irrinunciabile musicalità dell’originale? Incontrare i Canti dell’Innocenza e i Canti dell’Esperienza in questa veste mi suscita un moto di spontanea repulsione. Vi sfido a confrontare (rigorosamente con lettura ad alta voce):Io mi aggiro per ogni strada urbana, dell’urbano Tamigi lungo il corso,e impressi in ogni volto segni incontro,segni di sofferenza e abbattimento. In ogni grido di qualunque Uomo,nel pianto di paura d’ogni Bimbo,in ogni voce e proibizione avvertole manette forgiate dalla mente. Con: I wander thro’ each charter’d street,Near where the charter’d Thames does flow. And mark in every face I meetMarks of weakness, marks of woe. In every cry of every Man,In every Infants cry of fear,In every voice: in every ban,The mind-forg’d manacles I hear…Tutta questa filippica e alla fine hai dato ben 3 stelline?, vi starete chiedendo. Certo, perché L’innocenza non è un brutto romanzo. Solo, secondo me non è abbastanza bello. È in queste sfumature che si annida il risentimento del lettore.

Este es definitivamente un libro que disfruté. Al principio me costó engancharme pero una vez que le agarré la vuelta, no hubo quien me parara mas que el sueño. Nos adentra al mundo de un Londres de finales de 1700 con todo aquel ajetreo que se vivía en Francia y cómo afectaba a la ciudad. La historia se ve desde los ojos de la familia Kellaway (Anne, Tom, Jem y Maisi) y Maggie una pre-adolescente que pertenece mas a las calles de los barrios del viejo Londres que a cualquier otro lugar. La familia Kellaway llega a la ciudad por una propuesta de trabajo que le ofrecen a Tom, esposo de Anne y padre de Jem y Maisi, en el gran circo de Philip Astley un hombre que va de lleno con la vida circense y a toda situación y persona le busca la vuelta del drama y el show. En su primer día en la ciudad Jem y Maisi conocen a Maggie, quien tiene una conexión inmediata con el primero y pronto se vuelven muy buenos amigos disfrutando así de la libertad que les proporciona el circo y las calles de la ciudad, descubriendo, aprendiendo y admirando cada cosa que se encuentran. Entre todo esto dan con el señor Blake quien es un hombre bastante particular y que no encaja con los personajes de su alrededor, un hombre que desde un primer momento esta lleno de misterios, de cierto carácter que llama a la atención. El libro, dividido en ocho partes, nos va a relatar la vida de la familia Kellaway y como cada uno de sus miembros va creciendo y cambiando su perspectiva al trasladarse de un pueblo a una gran metrópoli, como lo llaman muy seguido en el libro, y en todo este nuevo cambio y crecimiento, influye notablemente Maggie.Primero que nada debo decir que me han gustado TODOS y cada uno de los personajes, incluso los menos agradables como John Astley, hijo de Philip Astley dueño del circo, o incluso la señorita Pelham, quien comparte casa con los Kellaway. Todos los personajes tuvieron un propósito y se les saco todo el provecho que se merecían, de modo que en ese aspecto no tengo quejas del libro. El hilo de la historia, en un principio no estaba claro para mi, tanto así que empece a hacer conjeturas bastante extrañas - (view spoiler)[como que Anne Kellaway y Philips Astley terminarían teniendo un amorío secreto y ellos dos terminarían juntos, y otro de mi mente mas perversa como que Jem y Maggie terminarían experimentando mas a fondo las artes del sexo o algo así, entre otras. (hide spoiler)]
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Reviews
Allie Whiteley
Disappointing. I felt that she should have picked either Philip Astley or William Blake as her focus - attempting them both diluted the impact somewhat. She could, for example, have really dealt with the Dissenters issue in more depth had she just written about William Blake. I think there would have been more dramatic tension that way and a far more entertaining novel. As it was, despite the flowing prose, I found this an effort to read. Nowhere near as good as "Girl with a Pearl Earring", in my opinion. More's the pity.
Shan O
I have long enjoyed Tracy Chevalier's historical novels, particularly "Girl With a Pearl Earring," which imagines the daily home life and creative process of 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, as viewed from the vantage point of a teenage, Protestant maid. This more recent book,"Burning Bright," is set in 18th century Lambeth, a suburb of London, and imagines the public life and creative mind of painter and poet William Blake, seen through the eyes of two adolescents. While both books are entertaining and show good evidence of the author's grasp of the context in which each of these artists found himself, the former novel stands out above "Burning Bright" in terms of its character development and the richness of the setting. While Chevalier's symbolism tends to be heavy-handed in both books, she does have a gift for evoking the sense of place and time in which her novels are located, and she offers fairly well-rounded (though not dynamic) characters whose relationships are complicated and unpredictable. She has a knack for revealing something about the now-famous artists in her novels by surrounding them with rich characters and interesting locations. Vermeer's growing family includes a roiling gaggle of children, a spoiled and demanding wife, and a business-woman for a mother-in-law; these people, not to mention Vermeer's men friends, help the reader to gain a sense of Vermeer by looking at those with whom he surrounds himself in his most private moments. We see Blake by coming to know his rather taciturn wife, Catherine; the two young people who follow him even to his mother's funeral across town; the neighbors who are suspicious of him for being so insular and odd; and Lambeth's pro-monarchy association, whose members try to bully Blake into supporting their cause; these characters help the author depict the political and social side of Blake's life, giving us less insight into his private world. In any case, Chevalier's Vermeer and Blake both benefit from the swirl of life going on all around them.What makes "Burning Bright" less compelling a read than the novel about Vermeer is the distance she keeps from Blake. In her earlier novel, she brings her heroine, Griet, the Protestant maid, directly into the Vermeer household, where we can see him in action as an artist and as a husband and father; we do not get this view of Blake. Instead, Blake is spied on by an Jem and Maggie, who imagine him to be strange and curious and who come to know him during the course of the novel as strange, creative, and caring. While Chevalier attempts to narrate Blake's creative process, the reader never gets enough continuity from the various scenes that show him, in one moment, having conversations with his dead brother, Robert, and, in another moment, etching a copper plate for eventual use in the printing press. While we get a sense of what makes Vermeer tick, we never gain that knowledge about Blake. This could be less Chevalier's failing than it is the reality that Blake was truly enigmatic and odd, set apart in his ways from the mainstream of British art and writing even as he wrote and drew, etched and painted his way into history (and anthologies and museums!). If I am to be bluntly honest, I must admit that it is, perhaps, my own knowledge of Blake, more than it is Chevalier's writing, that makes me view the novel as weak. Having written more than enough of my own about Blake and his work, I probably know too much to enjoy Chevalier's development of Blake's character and creative process. In my mind, he is not quite the same man that she depicts on the novel's pages. I suppose I'll have to write my own novel in order to understand the Blake I think I know!
Wendy
Perhaps a more fitting title would have been Burned Out. Any flame or heat that the title implies is sadly lacking from this novel and I say sadly because I’ve been a fan of Tracy Chevalier for a while and have read all of her other books. I found that the inclusion of William Blake as a character in this story was mostly irrelevant as the story really wasn’t about him. I think he could have been cut from the novel and replaced with a fictional character with virtually no change in the storyline. Burning Bright is really about a fictional family, the Kellaways, and their move from the English countryside to London in the late 1700s. The move is prompted by the death of one of their sons, but this event lacked any emotional pull for me as a reader. And that about sums up my reading experience with this book. No emotional pull, a rather dull plot, and flat characters. Admittedly, I skimmed the last 50 pages or so and honestly don’t feel that I missed anything.
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