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The Twenty-seventh City de Jonathan Franzen

The Twenty-seventh City (original: 1988; edição: 2003)

de Jonathan Franzen

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaConversas / Menções
1,1171113,166 (3.2)1 / 22
St. Louis, Missouri, is a quietly dying river city until it hires a new police chief: a charismatic young woman from Bombay, India, named S. Jammu. No sooner has Jammu been installed, though, than the city's leading citizens become embroiled in an all-pervasive political conspiracy. A classic of contemporary fiction, 'The Twenty-Seventh City' shows us an ordinary metropolis turned inside out, and the American Dream unraveling into terror and dark comedy.… (mais)
Título:The Twenty-seventh City
Autores:Jonathan Franzen
Informação:HarperPerennial (2003), Paperback, 528 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca

Detalhes da Obra

The Twenty-Seventh City de Jonathan Franzen (1988)

Adicionado recentemente porWXC77, WXC88, 9redcliffe, CLOSarajevo, ilya.evdakov, katyamaes, Jorge_Lopez, book-bear
Bibliotecas HistóricasWalker Percy

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I have to admit that The Twenty-Seventh City, Jonathan Franzen's debut novel, was a book that I found difficult to get through. I picked it up the first time, read about a hundred and fifty pages, then put it down again. A year later, I picked it up again with greater determination, started over, and managed to finish it, in spurts, over the course of five months. What is it about The Twenty-Seventh City that makes it such a tough read? For many readers, it will be the difficulty of the prose. Despite the fact that Franzen is supposedly stepping away from the postmodern games of someone like Thomas Pynchon (who is briefly, gratuitously, mentioned in passing in the novel) toward a greater sense of realism, the fact is that his debut novel reads in many ways, like a throwback to modernism - one could easily imagine, for instance, that Andrei Bely's Petersburg (1913) was a model for this text.

I'd like to think, though, that I have enough literary muscle to handle difficult prose, so I don't think that was the only culprit. No, the thing that made the novel such a hard read for me was the way that Franzen continues to introduce new characters, even up until the very last pages. The sheer amount of names becomes impossible to keep track of, and this problem is compounded by the fact that Franzen doesn't provide enough signals from the outset as to which characters are important and which are not. Everyone is named and described in with seemingly equal importance, giving no indication about whether they will continue to be important to the plot or not.

In the end, there are two characters are elevated above the rest: Martin Probst, a local developer and community leader, and S. Jammu, an Indian woman who was unexpectedly hired as St Louis's new police chief. Once the reader realizes that these are the two figures that stand above the cacophony created by such a dizzyingly large array of characters, the novel starts to click. I am sure that rereading the novel with that knowledge would be a different, more rewarding experience.

That's not to say that other characters aren't important, including: Barbara Prost, Martin's wife, and their daughter Luisa; Luisa's older boyfriend Duane Thompson, whose relationship with Luisa begins the process of fragmenting the Prost family; Rolf Ripley, who is obsessed with Barbara despite the fact that he is married to her sister, Audrey; Jack DuChamp, an old buddy of Martin's who acts as a barometer of the "man in the street;" RC, a black cop who plays an important role in the novel's denouement; General Norris, a right-wing conspiracy theorist who smells something fishy in Jammu's dealings; Asha Hammaker, an Indian princess who marries one of St Louis's richest men and conspires with Jammu; Shanti Jammu, the police chief's controlling mother; and Jammu's various goons and pawns, most notably the handsome and ruthless Balwan Singh and the drug-addicted Barbara Prost lookalike, Devi Madan. There are more characters, many more, illustrating just how difficult it can be to keep track of which character is which in the novel.

While the pitfalls of such an approach are obvious, this vast canvas on which Franzen lays out his story also has its strengths. His deep knowledge of St Louis and its culture comes from the fact that he grew up there, but the skill with which he portrays the city in all its complexity is quite extraordinary, with the diverse array of characters on display a reflection of the city's multifaceted nature. In spite of its particular context, however, The Twenty-Seventh City has a much broader scope that transcends both its time and location. Franzen states early on that "all cities are ideas, ultimately" (p.24), and thus St Louis, itself defined by the symbol of the Arch and its connection to Manifest Destiny, is also transformed into an idea.

So it is that The Twenty-Seventh City unfolds as a political novel of ideas, a "textbook dialectic" that pits "absolute freedom" against "absolute terror, the French Revolution à la Hegel" (p.198). Probst and Jammu are the opposing terms in this dialectic, which contrasts his rigid sense of ethical "decency" with her utter ruthlessness. Probst and Jammu thus find themselves on opposite sides of the fence in the political fight to unite the city and county of St Louis, only to find in their opposition a hidden attraction that perversely brings them together.

It is when Franzen engages with these grand political ideas that The Twenty-Seventh City rises above its limitations and truly soars. Franzen does not allow himself to get carried away, in contrast to so many other American writers during the 1980s, with railing simplistically against the conservative Reagan years. There is no easy dichotomy between freedom and tyranny, for it is the sheer apathy of the St Louis public that saves the day. There is a beautiful but sad irony in the fact that this lack of interest in their own political future is what eventually saves them from the traps that Jammu lays.

Franzen's key insight is that counter-revolutionary forces are not anomalies, but an integral part of the revolution itself, an inherent problem that easily inverts the original relationship between "theory and praxis" in such a way that "praxis dictate[s] that theory, in the short run, be its apologist" - that is, the ends come to justify the means in the most vulgarly Machiavellian sense (p.394). It's a complex, clear-eyed view of politics that Franzen delivers in his debut novel that, sadly, he has been unable to sustain in his most recent work. ( )
  vernaye | May 23, 2020 |
St. Louis, nel Missouri, è una città paralizzata dall'immobilismo e dall'apatia e l'unico avvertimento che un giorno riesce a scuoterla dal torpore è l'arrivo del nuovo capo della polizia, S. Jammu, indiana di Bombay. Jammu è giovane, ha un grande carisma, e, non appena si insedia, comincia a rendersi conto che a St. Louis i cittadini più in vista sono coinvolti in un intrigo politico-economico di dimensioni gigantesche. Così decide di mettere loro alle calcagna degli uomini fidati per frugare fin negli angoli reconditi della loro esistenza. Senza sapere che questo la costringerà a frugare anche nella propria.
  kikka62 | Feb 4, 2020 |
Funeral blues

Non so perchè, ma improvvisamente ho associato una immagine alla fine delle pagine: quei funerali con la banda che intona una sorta di blues triste misto a canti gospel che oscilla lentamente, ma anche velocemente, da uno stato d'animo all'altro. E' faticoso, questo pezzo di Franzen, molto faticoso. Ti porta da un umore all'altro, lo ami, poi lo odi, poi accelera, poi si perde in particolari esasperanti quanto a volte di una bellezza lapidaria. Poi accelera di nuovo, come se dovesse recuperare del tempo, ma per dire cosa? per fare cosa? Sali e scendi sull'altalena, cerchi di afferrare qualcosa agitando le mani nell'aria, ma sei sempre lì... sull'altalena. Sei impantanato a St. Louis, fra le sue paludi morali, intricate, sordide e multirazziali. Perchè proprio una indiana di Bombay diventa capo della polizia, oltretutto donna, in un ruolo, in una città dove le donne sono tutt'altro che inserite in ruoli chiave? Cosa vuole ottenere facendo leva sugli intrighi ed il disfacimento morale della comunità della cittadina? Domande senza risposta. Sembra un lunghissimo serial tv, fatto di sospetti, acque torbide, finzione, falsità senza riuscire ad essere sufficientemente attraente nel solleticare le corde della lettura. E' stato difficile resistere e la lunghezza del tempo che ho impiegato a leggerlo è indicativa. Non l'ho trovato esaltante, con un finale poi mozzato in maniera approssimativa (ma è una mia opinione, forse dovuta anche alla stanchezza), ma non mi arrendo. Ho altre cartucce Franzeniane da spararmi negli occhi. A noi due!
  Magrathea | Dec 30, 2017 |
Franzen's first novel, and what a great one. A slightly absurdist plot, set in St. Louis, what more do you want? ( )
  MichaelBarsa | Dec 17, 2017 |
If you ever wondered what a political thriller would look like if written by Jonathan Franzen, look no further. This is it.
I have difficulty rating this book. Franzen knows how to write. His characters are well-developed and is able to describe a scene or an individual's inner life with telling detail. However, in this novel his gifts are put to the service of a plot that is patently ridiculous.
In brief, the book is about a cabal of Indian immigrants, led by a charismatic woman hired as police chief, who seek to take over the power structure of St. Louis. If that doesn't sound crazy enough (e.g., what does Franzen have against south Asians? And why St. Louis, of all places?), they're able to accomplish this all within a period of eight months. They engage in everything from terrorist attacks to seductions of the city business leaders. All this happens as if St. Louis exists in a bubble. One plot involves an attempt to blow up Busch Stadium with three tons of cordite. How was all this explosive smuggled into the stadium without anyone noticing. And how was it that after the explosion, there was no involvement of the FBI whose forensics could easily trace the perps?
And I could go on and on listing equally implausible plot-points, from developers who changed the strategic direction of their companies without any deliberation with their Boards of Directors or stockholders to completely implausible romances.
Yet strangely, I still enjoyed turning the pages. I recognize that part of my enjoyment comes from my having lived in St. Louis a few years before this story supposedly happened, making the setting very familiar to me. But it was also a pleasure to read how Franzen weaves words and picks up on details that less imaginative writers would ignore.
But that plot: it still has me shaking my head. What a doozy!

( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
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In early June Chief William O'Connell of the St. Louis Police Department announced his retirement, and the Board of Police Commissioners, passing over the favored candidates of the city political establishment, the black community, the press, the Officers Association and the Missouri governor, selected a woman, formerly with the police in Bombay, India, to begin a five-year term as chief.
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St. Louis, Missouri, is a quietly dying river city until it hires a new police chief: a charismatic young woman from Bombay, India, named S. Jammu. No sooner has Jammu been installed, though, than the city's leading citizens become embroiled in an all-pervasive political conspiracy. A classic of contemporary fiction, 'The Twenty-Seventh City' shows us an ordinary metropolis turned inside out, and the American Dream unraveling into terror and dark comedy.

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