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The Known World de Edward P. Jones
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The Known World (original: 2003; edição: 2006)

de Edward P. Jones (Autor)

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
6,0111401,206 (3.77)251
In one of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Edward P. Jones, two-time National Book Award finalist, tells the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia. Making certain he never circumvents the law, Townsend runs his affairs with unusual discipline. But when death takes him unexpectedly, his widow, Caldonia, can't uphold the estate's order and chaos ensues. In a daring and ambitious novel, Jones has woven a footnote of history into an epic that takes an unflinching look at slavery in all of its moral complexities.… (mais)
Membro:emilyjean
Título:The Known World
Autores:Edward P. Jones (Autor)
Informação:Amistad (2006), Edition: Later Printing, 388 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Avaliação:****
Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

Detalhes da Obra

The Known World de Edward P. Jones (2003)

  1. 60
    Beloved de Toni Morrison (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  2. 31
    Property de Valerie Martin (Alirob)
  3. 20
    The Confessions of Nat Turner de William Styron (Widsith)
    Widsith: The obvious companion-piece...both Pulitzer-winning novels about slavery in 19th-century Virginia
  4. 20
    The Book of Night Women de Marlon James (GCPLreader)
    GCPLreader: quite different setting and story of slavery but equally gorgeous literary style
  5. 20
    Cane River de Lalita Tademy (cataylor)
  6. 10
    Sweetsmoke de David Fuller (sungene)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 139 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
So if you ever want to read about a fictional town in Virginia taking place after the Civil War with more characters you can shake a fist at, this is your book. If you want a streamlined story with characters that are not flat, and a plot that is not all over the place, this is not the book for you.

I don't know what else to really say besides this book has so many characters it is pretty hard to sit down and point at one and say that's the main protagonist. The book synopsis for The Known World tells you that this is the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia.

Well it is also the story of Henry's parents, his wife, his slaves, his former slave owner William's family, the county sheriff and his family, etc. At one point I pretty much gave up keeping track of everyone.

Though Henry is in the story for a small part, Jones will reference him throughout the entire book when he goes from past to present and back again. I never got a feeling one way or the other about Henry. I thought he was an odd character who decided that after being born into slavery, he was going to go out and then buy slaves himself. He and his wife Caldonia saw themselves as better than the slaves they owned, but in the end, the book pretty much showed that they were not. This book could have been an interesting look at free blacks who went and then owned slaves themselves, but instead it felt more like a soap opera that I was watching on tv, or in this case, reading.

The other characters seem to be mere caricatures here and there and with the meandering story-line it was hard to even care about someone one way or the other. You would be reading and then Jones would drop that the person had died three years and two months later and then go on with his story.

The writing was really not that great. There was too much information being forced into paragraphs for me as a reader to even begin to settle while I was reading this. For example:

“The power of the state would crush them to dust,” Louis said.
He spoke, as always, not because he had any well-considered views on an issue, but to impress the women around him, and he was now at a point where the woman he most wanted to impress was Caldonia.
He had come to Fern’s classes after Caldonia had completed several years of her education, so she had not had much time to learn who he was.
And Calvin had said little about him to her, so in many ways they were still strangers to one another. “The Commonwealth would put an end to it right quick.”

I mean why put that part of going to Fern's classes. It takes away the entire rhythm of that paragraph.

Here's another example. We read about this Broussard character for a while during the book and it jumps around so much about his end and then would go back to his family who was not missing him in France.

"Perhaps it was just as well that Jean Broussard came to the end that he did in America.
His family would never have separated from the lover; he would have had to come with them, or they would not have come at all.
No, it was over for him in France.
Someone had even accidentally broken Broussard’s favorite mug.
His family could have done worse than the man his wife took up with.
The lover was, in his fashion, quite a religious man.
And he was handy with a knife.
He could carve out a man’s heart in the time it took for that human machine to go from one beat to another; and with that same knife the lover was able to peel an apple, without sacrificing any of the apple meat, and present it fresh and whole to a waiting child."

I don't know what else to say besides the entire book was set up just like this. Way too much information squeezed into paragraphs. The flow of the entire book was off. We started with an end. And instead of working our way back chronological with the beginning, the story goes back and forth and goes back and forth to other characters.

The setting of Manchester County Virginia, where The Known World takes place does not feel like a real live place at all. There was no real life imbued in the place since we skip around so much.

At the almost ending of the book, the entire plotting becomes a mess and the book kind of stutters to the end. I am glad that I read a book that was on the books every African American should read. However, i doubt I will seek this book out to read again in the future. ( )
1 vote ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Meandering Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction about black masters and slaves in the antebellum South, as well as the precarious status of free blacks in this era. I was disappointed to learn the author did very little research for his book - it shows, particularly in his discussions of census data. ( )
  riofriotex | Apr 27, 2020 |
Couldn't get into it.
  nwieme | Mar 19, 2020 |
A nice read but not much depth to the characters. ( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
probably 3.25 stars. this book got harder for me as it went along. it's an important and worthy read, though, but i definitely didn't like it as well by the end as i did near the beginning. the arc seemed a bit random and incomplete and i found it hard to follow throughout.

partly i think it was the sheer number of characters that were involved, and how they were sometimes called by their first names, sometimes their last names, sometimes both. additionally, while it's mostly written linearly overall, there are so many dips of just a paragraph or two into the past or future (and sometimes longer derailments) that i found it hard to keep track of everything and everyone.

still, it's well done, well written, and adds something new to (what i've read, anyway) slave history stories. i had no idea that so many freed blacks owned slaves, for example.

even as i had a little trouble with the timeline and keeping characters straight, i still find myself continuing to think about their stories. there was nothing in this book that was any more tragic than other slave histories. but it's more powerful for that, because it tells the stories of everyday slaves, their accommodations, their families, their lives. and what it was like for freed blacks and how they could have that freedom (and it certainly wasn't the freedom of equality) taken from them at a whim. it's a book full of tragedy, while not making their lives even more dramatically tragic than slavery simply was. there's a brilliance to that, to having written it this way.

an example of how it was sometimes hard to interpret or follow the relationships that the reader had to keep track of: "Loretta the maid was in the doorway and behind her stood Zeddie the cook and Bennett, her man." was bennett zeddie's man or loretta's man? it's not perfectly clear. it could be a lack of close reading, but i felt like there were so many examples of this that it made me start to question my understanding of the relationships and timelines.

"Whenever people in that part of the world asked Patterson about the wonders of America, the possibilities and the hope of America, Patterson would say that it was a good and fine place but all the Americans were running it into the ground and that it would be a far better place if it had no Americans."

"'A man does not learn very well, Mr. Robbins. Women, yes, because they are used to bending with whatever wind comes along. A woman, no matter the age, is always learning, always becoming.'" ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Dec 25, 2019 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 139 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Among the many triumphs of ''The Known World,'' not the least is Jones's transformation of a little-known footnote in history into a story that goes right to the heart of slavery. There are few certified villains in this novel, white or black, because slavery poisons moral judgments at the root
adicionado por charl08 | editarNew York Times
 
One great achievement of Edward Jones's Pulitzer prize-winning novel The Known World is the circumscription of its moral vision, which locates the struggle between good and evil not in the vicissitudes of the diabolical slaveholding system of the American south, but inside the consciousness of each person, black or white, slave or free, who attempts to flourish within that soul-deadening system
 
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My soul's often wondered how I got over. . . .
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TO MY BROTHER
JOSEPH V. JONES

And, again,

TO THE MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
JEANETTE S.M. JONES
who could have done much more in a better world.

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The evening his master died he worked again well after he ended the day for the other adults, his own wife among them, and sent them back with hunger and tiredness to their cabins.
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In one of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Edward P. Jones, two-time National Book Award finalist, tells the story of Henry Townsend, a black farmer and former slave who falls under the tutelage of William Robbins, the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia. Making certain he never circumvents the law, Townsend runs his affairs with unusual discipline. But when death takes him unexpectedly, his widow, Caldonia, can't uphold the estate's order and chaos ensues. In a daring and ambitious novel, Jones has woven a footnote of history into an epic that takes an unflinching look at slavery in all of its moral complexities.

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