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The Character of Rain: A Novel (2000)

de Amélie Nothomb

Outros autores: Veja a seção outros autores.

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1,0702414,393 (3.73)47
The Japanese believe that until the age of three, children, whether Japanese or not, are gods, each one an okosama, or "lord child." On their third birthday they fall from grace and join the rest of the human race. In Amelie Nothomb's new novel, The Character of Rain, we learn that divinity is a difficult thing from which to recover, particularly if, like the child in this story, you have spent the first tow and a half years of life in a nearly vegetative state."I remember everything that happened to me after the age of two and one-half," the narrator tells us. She means this literally. Once jolted out of her plant-like , tube-like trance (to the ecstatic relief of her concerned parents), the child bursts into existence, absorbing everything that Japan, where her father works as a diplomat, has to offer. Life is an unfolding pageant of delight and danger, a ceaseless exploration of pleasure and the limits of power. Most wondrous of all is the discovery of water: oceans, seas, pools, puddles, streams, ponds, and, perhaps most of all, rain-one meaning of the Japanese character for her name. Hers is an amphibious life. The Character of Rain evokes the hilarity, terror, and sanctity of childhood. As she did in the award-winning, international bestesller Fear and Trembling, Nothomb grounds the novel in the outlines of her experiences in Japan, but the self-portrait that emerges from these pages is hauntingly universal. Amelie Nothomb's novels are unforgettable immersion experiences, leaving you both holding your breath with admiration, your lungs aching, and longing for more.… (mais)
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» Veja também 47 menções

Inglês (15)  Espanhol (4)  Francês (2)  Alemão (1)  Italiano (1)  Holandês (1)  Todos os idiomas (24)
Mostrando 1-5 de 24 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
> Nothomb, Amélie. Métaphysique des tubes. Paris: Albin Michel, 2000. ISBN 2-226-11668-0. Pp. 171.89 F.
Se reporter au compte rendu de Mark D. LEE
In: The French Review, Vol. 75, No. 5 (Apr., 2002), pp. 1006-1007… ; (en ligne),
URL : https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dTQ25uyJ1lx_iQuSimAQRYOZhy1CEVNx/view?usp=shari...
  Joop-le-philosophe | Jan 8, 2021 |
“En el principio no había nada. Y esa nada no estaba ni vacía ni era indefinida: se bastaba sola a sí misma. Y Dios vio que aquello era bueno...” Así comienza el que a mi gusto es el mejor de los libros de Nothomb. Nos empieza a narrar la historia un ser a quien no le interesa la vida (y que se considera a sí mismo Dios) y vegeta hasta los dos años, momento en el que descubre una razón por la que existir y que considera, por tanto, su fecha de "nacimiento". Amelie Nothomb, cuya infancia transcurrió a caballo entre Japón, China, Birmania y Estados Unidos, nos narra su experiencia en estos países desde su peculiar óptica. Completamente recomendable.
( )
  L0r0 | Mar 22, 2015 |
Not quite as good as the other Am̩lie Nothomb books I have read, but The Character of Rain is still excellent. It is a memoir of Nothomb's first three years of life, in Kobe Japan, with the conceit that she is a "god" which is what she says the Japanese treat all children as through the age of three. It begins with her as an essentially inanimate tube but then at two she becomes animate and quickly teaches herself to speak both French and Japanese fluently and to read, all by around two and a half. The novel is narrated through her young eyes and is a combination of sophistication (e.g., her thoughts about suicide at age three) and humorous ignorance (e.g., not understanding what her father's job as Belgian consul was, and mistakenly seeing him fall into a storm drain and confuse that with his actual job). As usual, the short novella has some very humorous riffs, a lot of perceptive observations, and a bunch that you cannot quite figure out whether it is true or imagined or somewhere in between--but depicting a two year old with this sophistication certainly feels like towards the imagined end of the spectrum. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
What is it like to be treated like a god? According to this novel the Japanese treat newborn children like gods until about their third year of life. The newborn in this story is certainly more precocious than I would expect most of these babies, but in spite of her extraordinary intelligence, or perhaps because of it, she is careful in how and to whom she demonstrates her true nature.
With that brief introduction I must say that this short novel is very different from almost anything I have ever read. The story is primarily told in the first person, but that person being a newborn there are necessarily exceptions to this narrative mode. For example, early on the following occurs:

"The cradle became too small. The tube was transplanted to a crib, the same one used previously by its older brother and sister.
“Maybe moving the Plant will wake it up,” said the mother, sighing.
It didn't.
From the beginning of the universe, God had slept in the same room as its parents. This didn't pose problems for them, of course. They could forget it was even there."

The perspective of this very young girl is one of the most interesting aspects of the story. Everything is new for her thus her reactions are different than her parents or the reader. She takes delight in her senses , but is preternaturally judicious in the use of them. For a long time she did not speak and when she did decide to speak she chose her words very carefully. She started by naming things, in a very philosophic way sort of like a miniature Plato. Or Heraclitus, whom the narrator quotes using his famous observation that "nothing endures but change" early in the story when the little god appeared to be exceptionally unchanging. That being only her outward appearance she, when the narrative shifts to her point of view we realize that she is taking in everything that is happening around her and is truly changing on the inside. She was seeing and in doing so making choices.
Eventually she begins to speak and makes a great discovery:
"Careful examination of what other people said led me to the conclusion that speaking was as much a creative as a destructive act. I decided I would need to be careful about what to do with this discovery."

Thus her life progresses slowly, but carefully, and this occurs under the tutelage of two nannies. They are exact opposites of each other nullifying each other out in a sense, at least they would be doing so except the little god had her say and she preferred the nice nanny, Nishio-san, who thought she was beautiful and treated her like a god, to the unlikable nanny, Kashima-san, who refused her, denied her, and did not adore the little god; all this in spite of a "charm" offensive that with few exceptions had no effect.
The story is odd in its perspective, but gradually a rationale of a sort begins to emerge. I would call that rationale discovery; the child's discovery of the world around her and both her delight and dislike of the experience and consequences of that discovery. Her experiences are fascinating, like the experience of a rain storm:
"Sometimes I left the shelter of the roof and lay on top of the victim to participate in the onslaught. I chose the most exciting moment, the final pounding downpour, the moment in the bout when the clouds delivered a punishing, relentless hail of blows, in a booming fracas of exploding bones."
"THE RAIN SOMETIMES WON, and when it did it was called a flood."

This short novel only chronicles the first three years of the child's life, enough time for her to decide to become Japanese, to discover people and nature, and ultimately to make a choice about whether she would continue to live and grow. As for that last choice you will have to read the book yourself to find out her answer. ( )
1 vote jwhenderson | Dec 20, 2013 |
Deliziosa, ironica e irriverente "autobiografia" di una bambina dall'intelligenza precoce alla scoperta dei grandi segreti del mondo e dell'esistenza umana.
Il racconto ripercorre i primi tre anni di vita dell'autrice, nella cornice di un Giappone reso più incantevole e pieno di mistero dallo sguardo stupito dei suoi occhi infantili.
Nonostante il tono all'apparenza scanzonato, il primo impatto con le cose e gli eventi produce conclusioni sferzanti e tutt'altro che ingenue."Una rondine non fa primavera. A tre anni si vorrebbe sapere quante rondini occorrono prima di poter credere in qualcosa. Un fiore che muore non fa autunno. Due cadaveri di fiori, senza dubbio, nemmeno. Ma ciò non vieta all'inquietudine di insinuarsi. A partire da quante agonie floreali bisognerà far scattare, nella propria testa, il segnale d'allarme della morte in corso?" ( )
  Ginny_1807 | Aug 23, 2013 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 24 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Ms. Nothomb has attempted, with some success, to perform an amalgam of memory and a devised artistic heightening of it.
adicionado por DieFledermaus | editarNew York Times, Richard Eder (Apr 17, 2002)
 

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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Nothomb, Amélieautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Pàmies, SergiTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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They already had two children who were full-fledged members of the human race. Having a third who was a vegetable wasn't so bad. It even elicited tender feelings on their part.
Eating or not eating, drinking or not drinking, it was all the same. To be or not to be was not the question.
God's parents were of Belgain nationality, meaning that it, too, was Belgian. This may help explain not a few of the disasters that have occurred since biblical days; centuries ago, a priest from the Low Countries proved scientifically that Adam and Eve spoke Flemish.
Seeing involves choice. Whoever looks at something has decide to fix his attention on that one thing, to the exclusion of other things. That is why sight, the very essence of life, first and foremost constitutes a rejection.
Therefore, to live means to reject. Anyone who looks at everything at once is as alive as a toilet bowl.
I knew myself, and I soon discovered that life was a vale of tears in which one was forced to eat pureed carrots with small bits of meat.
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The Japanese believe that until the age of three, children, whether Japanese or not, are gods, each one an okosama, or "lord child." On their third birthday they fall from grace and join the rest of the human race. In Amelie Nothomb's new novel, The Character of Rain, we learn that divinity is a difficult thing from which to recover, particularly if, like the child in this story, you have spent the first tow and a half years of life in a nearly vegetative state."I remember everything that happened to me after the age of two and one-half," the narrator tells us. She means this literally. Once jolted out of her plant-like , tube-like trance (to the ecstatic relief of her concerned parents), the child bursts into existence, absorbing everything that Japan, where her father works as a diplomat, has to offer. Life is an unfolding pageant of delight and danger, a ceaseless exploration of pleasure and the limits of power. Most wondrous of all is the discovery of water: oceans, seas, pools, puddles, streams, ponds, and, perhaps most of all, rain-one meaning of the Japanese character for her name. Hers is an amphibious life. The Character of Rain evokes the hilarity, terror, and sanctity of childhood. As she did in the award-winning, international bestesller Fear and Trembling, Nothomb grounds the novel in the outlines of her experiences in Japan, but the self-portrait that emerges from these pages is hauntingly universal. Amelie Nothomb's novels are unforgettable immersion experiences, leaving you both holding your breath with admiration, your lungs aching, and longing for more.

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