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The Stranger's Child (2011)

de Alan Hollinghurst

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1,480719,429 (3.51)1 / 178
In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge schoolmate--a handsome, aristocratic young poet named Cecil Valance--to his family's modest home outside London for the weekend. George is enthralled by Cecil, and soon his sixteen-year-old sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by him and the stories he tells about Corley Court, the country estate he is heir to. But what Cecil writes in Daphne's autograph album will change their and their families' lives forever: a poem that, after Cecil is killed in the Great War and his reputation burnished, will become a touchstone for a generation, a work recited by every schoolchild in England. Over time, a tragic love story is spun, even as other secrets lie buried--until, decades later, an ambitious biographer threatens to unearth them.… (mais)
  1. 10
    Possession: A Romance de A. S. Byatt (kylenapoli)
    kylenapoli: Gives the reader a similar backstage view of 'what really happened' and how it is misremembered, misrepresented, and otherwise lost to time.
  2. 00
    Atonement de Ian McEwan (rrmmff2000)
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Inglês (63)  Holandês (7)  Sueco (1)  Todos os idiomas (71)
Mostrando 1-5 de 71 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
I understand why this book was nominated for the Booker Prize. Alan Hollinghurst created an intricate web of family relationships and secrets. The book narrates the story of a family through several generations (from pre-World War I to XXI's century) as well as people close to said family but, ultimately, it revolves around Cecil Valance, the 'fictional' poet that dies in the First War leaving a mystery that few know about and that a biographer tries to find out, as his legacy.
The Stranger's Child is also about the evolution of homosexuality (how it is seen by society) through the years.
The descriptions of the victorian houses and gardens as well as London and it's surrounding villages and cities were very well done and helped visualise the novel a great deal more vividly.


Ham Spray House, Wiltshire, c 1932. Photograph: Frances Partridge/Getty Images


A country hall in Shrivenham, Berkshire. The book's family homes are inspired by such properties. Getty Images/Fox Photos Stringer


Image Source ( )
  _Marcia_94_ | Sep 21, 2021 |
Eerst een beetje moeite om in deze Hollinghurst te komen, wellicht omdat het de 3e in vrij korte tijd was: het begin oogde wel erg vertrouwd: Brideshead, Hollinghurst,, op iets oudere aristocratische Cambridge-student verliefde jongen, logeerpartij, jonger zusje dat het niet begrijpt, personen een beetje als zetstukken. Maar in vijf tijdsslots wordt het toch erg mooi: de aristocratische Cecil Valance, dichter, knap, monster-cock, wordt jong in WO 1 gedood; zijn gedicht Two acres, zo heet het huis van zijn jonge minnaar George Sawle spreekt tot het meisje Daphne (alles een parodie op John MacCrae, Rupert Brooke c.s.). Hij is ditmaal de dode lege plek in de roman vereeuwigd in marmer in een kapel in zijn ouderlijk landgoed dat later jongenssschool wordt, Daphne het levende centrum. Telkens verschuiven de perspectieven, naarmate mensen ouder worden, er nieuwe spelers opkomen, geheimen niet zo interessant meer zijn, of juist fanatiek stilgehouden worden: de poëzie van Cecil wordt achterhaald en geminacht, homoseksualiteit heel heel langzaam genormaliseerd. Daphne trouwt driemaal, waarvan de eerste met dode Cecil's broer, Cecil's poëzie wordt gecensureerd of per ongeluk incompleet uitgegeven, zijn liefdesbrieven aan George en anderen zijn verdwenen (deels bij Daphne die ze geschokt nooit prijsgeeft), een jonge bankbediende Paul, geen geld voor een studie in Cambridge, komt in contact met de familie en met zijn eerste minnaar, leraar op de school. Zijn fascinatie voor Cecil leidt tot een biografie, begin van een carrière als biografieënboer, de meest gevoelige leerling van leraar Peter wordt tekstediteur van Cecil's werk. Geen van beiden kan écht bij de dode komen, en dat geldt voor alle spelers, ze zijn niet in staat zichzelf en anderen te kennen. Of misschien is er niet zoiets als de echte persoon, de echte werkelijkheid. Een ander typisch Hollinghurst-thema is dat van de buitenstaander: de homoseksueel in het algemeen, in de verholen jaren voor '60 maar ook daarna, Paul die geen Cambridge man is en er niet bij hoort: nog aan het eind vindt de oude licht-dementerende Daphne hem een vreselijke man die ze zich niet herinnert van vroeger en (quasi) verwart met de man die pianospeelde op een fuifje (dat was Peter) of de leuke jongeman die het op een ander fuifje over Cecil's werk had (dat is de tekstuitgever). Zelfs bij een crematie veel later is Paul nog steeds niet 'one of us'. Alleen het einde met een of twee nieuwe twists is, zoals wel vaker bij Hollinghurst, niet helemaal geslaagd, al is die verrassing wél goed voorbereid. ( )
1 vote Harm-Jan | Feb 15, 2021 |
I enjoyed reading The Stranger’s Child, mainly because of the glimpses it offers of gay male life at a series of points in the 20th century. Or more narrowly, it offers pictures of gay male life in the affluent middle class in England. The first scenes are in the romantic Edwardian period before World War I blew apart the comfortable life of men’s colleges and secret societies. Then, the post-war society of the 1920s is disrupted with social decay and a somewhat bewildered questioning of values. In the upheaval of the 1960s, young men begin seeking each other out but hiding their sexuality when gay male sex was still a criminal act. This develops in the 1980s to a gay biographer looking into the tantalizing details that the relatives of his subject don’t want to talk about. By the end of the novel in the early part of the 21st century, a campy society of same-sex marriages and funerals is commonplace, but old homophobic values still linger.
The thread that ties them together is Cecil, a charismatic and somewhat creepy young man in the first story who dies a war hero and minor poet. His relatives and numerous others reflect on his life at each point in the 20th century as his poetry becomes famous, then a cliché, then a source for popular and academic re-examination, and finally the subject of an obscure book search. The connection to Cecil’s story becomes very thin and disputed by the end, which is probably the post-modern point of the book. In fact, the sections dealing with the biographer become almost comic as he puts his interpretation on very little evidence, while other characters actively strive to maintain their preferred interpretation. So, while giving these glimpses of gay life, Hollinghurst is also pointing out how subjective they are, and how they cannot be read simply from our current viewpoint.
While the glamour of Cecil’s privileged background is initially attractive, Paul in the later episodes is to me the most interesting character. He comes from a poor, working class town where homosexuality would be scandalous in the 1950s, and it’s interesting to see how he lives his life in his bedsitting room and banking job, but works his way into the gay literary elite of the TLS. (The picture Hollinghurst gives of the inner TLS culture seems satirically apt.) Paul is the only central character who is not from an affluent background and he seems to struggle with his identity, both as a gay man and as a literary fringe dweller. Class consciousness remains embedded in English society through all the changes of the 20th century. It merely has different expressions at different points.
The title refers to a poem by Tennyson in which a stranger, looking at things in a new way, discovers anew something that had been lost. In the novel, the characters in each of the vignettes look on the subject and see it in a new way from their own contemporary perspective.
Not a lot happens in any of the vignettes. In a way, they reminded me of the way Henry James writes a scene – the interest is on the changing psychological relationships of the characters more than it is on anything they actually do. The characters have a lot going on internally, from their perspectives at different times and in their different relationships to homosexuality. The early scenes at the Two Acres cottage also reminded me of the domestic middle-class scenes that E.M. Forster described in some of his novels. Ironically, it all ends with a bookseller’s agent looking for saleable clues and finding none. The legend of the charismatic Cecil fades away, much like the gardened cottage that he memorialized in his most famous poem, left a crumbling site for re-development in the final scenes.
As I recall in his previous novels, Hollinghurst writes in the voice of a detached, ironic observer. This allows him a satirical and at times comic tone, although I find the detachment blocks any real engagement with the characters or the limited story line. The short length of each of the segments keeps the book moving, but it also limits a reader’s engagement. There was enough interest for me in the varied scenes of gay lives, but I think it would have been quite tedious to follow any of the characters on their own. ( )
  rab1953 | Dec 28, 2020 |
zelfde kaft: Het feest - Elisabeth Day
  Baukis | May 12, 2020 |
The plot sounded intriguing: a love triangle, where a brother and a sister are both in love with the same guy, set in the beginning of the last century. Alas, all the excitement was confined to part 1. The other 4 just rehashed the events of the first. The main heroes of the first part kept loosing their importance as more and more characters were introduced in each new part. By the time new tidbits from the past (aka part 1) were disclosed in part 5, all interest was lost. I think the author was trying to show the effects of memory and incomplete sources on retelling history, but I feel it could have been achieved without making this book such a tedious and uninspired read.
Overall, a highly disappointing book. I should have stopped after the first part. ( )
  Firewild | Jan 3, 2019 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 71 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
För en litteraturvetare är romanen förstås rena tivolit, med sina beskrivningar av research, intervjuer med mer eller mindre frispråkiga släktingar, pusslandet med ledtrådar och akademisk tuppfäktning.
adicionado por Jannes | editarDagens nyheter, Jens Liljestrand (Nov 8, 2012)
 
In The Stranger’s Child he weaves a number of stories around the idea of Brooke and his posthumous fortunes, detailing the lives caught up in the reputational arc of a Brooke-like poet called Cecil Valance between 1913 and 2008. Both world wars, fought offstage, have effects that ramify throughout the novel, as do changing attitudes to gay people and to biographical disclosure. Hollinghurst writes with amused tenderness about Rupert Trunk-type phenomena, investing them with dignity and pathos, but he also puts both hands on opportunities for irony, arch humour and, intermittently, an un-Jamesian directness.
 

» Adicionar outros autores

Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Alan Hollinghurstautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Granato, GiovannaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Heuvelmans, TonTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Krol, EdzardTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Lacruz, JavierTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Pawlikowska-Gannon, HannaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Päkkilä, MarkkuTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge schoolmate--a handsome, aristocratic young poet named Cecil Valance--to his family's modest home outside London for the weekend. George is enthralled by Cecil, and soon his sixteen-year-old sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by him and the stories he tells about Corley Court, the country estate he is heir to. But what Cecil writes in Daphne's autograph album will change their and their families' lives forever: a poem that, after Cecil is killed in the Great War and his reputation burnished, will become a touchstone for a generation, a work recited by every schoolchild in England. Over time, a tragic love story is spun, even as other secrets lie buried--until, decades later, an ambitious biographer threatens to unearth them.

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