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On beauty : a novel por Zadie Smith
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On beauty : a novel (original 2005; edição 2006)

por Zadie Smith

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaDiscussões / Menções
8,492214696 (3.64)1 / 532
When Howard Belsey's oldest son Jerome falls for Victoria, the stunning daughter of the right-wing Monty Kipps, both families find themselves thrown together, enacting a cultural and personal war against each other.
Membro:maxine1010
Título:On beauty : a novel
Autores:Zadie Smith
Informação:London : Penguin, 2006.
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:
Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

Pormenores da obra

On Beauty por Zadie Smith (2005)

  1. 71
    Howards End por E. M. Forster (GCPLreader)
    GCPLreader: Read the novel that On Beauty pays homage to.
  2. 00
    Foreign Affairs por Alison Lurie (withwill)
  3. 01
    Dear Committee Members por Julie Schumacher (charl08)
    charl08: One a more 'traditional' campus novel, perhaps, but similar themes re English literature as taught at US colleges.
  4. 02
    The Marriage Plot por Jeffrey Eugenides (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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» Ver também 532 menções

Inglês (204)  Holandês (4)  Hebraico (2)  Francês (1)  Sueco (1)  Norueguês (1)  Todas as línguas (213)
Mostrando 1-5 de 213 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
I enjoyed Ms Smith's White Teeth, but dont recollect being so blown away as I was by this novel!
The characterization is absolutely superb, as two dysfunctional academic families, whose fathers work in the Black Studies department come into repeated and various contact.
Self centred, unfaithful Howard Belsey already has a feud- politically and professionally-with Monty Kipps. When Belsey's son goes to work for Kipps- and starts a short lived but intense affair with the Kipps daughter, tensions rise. Meanwhile the two wives have become friends; and Belsey's student daughter has signed up for a class taught by her father's ex-lover...
Literary, entirely believable and utterly outstanding. One of the year's top reads, I think. ( )
  starbox | Apr 4, 2021 |
Zadie Smith's 2005 book, On Beauty, is surprisingly light on beauty - hers instead is a world of sometimes cringe-inducing and sometimes awe-inspiring reality. Her talent is finding those strange but common moments of confusing thought and excising them of their mystery, something that she does very well here (though maybe not as stunningly in her debut, White Teeth).

As usual, Smith focuses on characterizations that make her protagonists jump off the page - in this case the saga of two families whose intertwined lives lead to an unexpected conclusion. On top of all this Smith manages to rope threads around some very serious issues, here covered in brief with the hope that I'm not giving too much away:

Art - the two warring professors, Howard Belsey and Monty Kipps, each have their own ideas of what constitutes great art and, Smith potentially argues, are both quite wrong. These are two men who have are no longer capable of seeing beauty, but rage on stubbornly, and (almost?) blindly.

Politics - Belsey and Kipps also spend a good deal of time arguing liberal (Belsey) versus conservative (Kipps) belief systems, particularly how they should be addressed in a university setting.

Class - This was a tricky one and, like her other two books to date, one of the biggest shadows cast over the book. Various characters explore and struggle with their ideas of what constitutes 'real' living, and these ideas are almost universally wrapped up in class, each one thinking that the other is living a life of superficial falsity for not comprehending and/or taking on the ideals of the other.

Gender - Probably the book that has most directly dealt wit this head-on, Howard Belsey's sometimes wife Kiki at the center of this struggle to assert herself as a woman and a human being, to be seen by her distracted husband as something beyond the flesh (of which it is noted she has quite a bit of - hers is not the body it once was in her youth, and this too brings out issues of identity in even the smallest mentions of her character). With Monty Kipps' wife Carlene, the two women seem to represent the two extreme opposites of their generation.

Race - Kiki is also the black somewhat more privileged wife of a white man, something that the Belsey children deal with often indirectly, with a rendering that is, typical of Smith, very artfully done (Again White Teeth is a great reference for more of this kind of depiction).

Religion - Put simply, some of them have it, and some of them think it's ridiculous. A man who seems to be a representative figure of it turns out to be a fraud, and the man who seems to scoff at it appears to find his own version of it at the end of the novel.

Many praises have been heaped on this novel, and for good reason. Whether she's exposing the bureaucracy of the university system or following the perils of a boy who would rather act like a poor Haitian than a well-off son of a nurse and professor from the suburbs, Smith's depiction of the human race is spot on - except for maybe Jerome Belsey, who starts off the story and seems to disappear for most of it - his is the only characterization that seems to have floundered, an odd exclusion when Smith is known for her skillful portrayal of large casts of characters.

Aside from this omission, probably the only other problem I have with this book is its somewhat one-sided depiction of the university system. Smith does show, seemingly as an aside, one 'real' girl Kate, a grounded, shy and down-to-earth student who seems lost in the university's haughty scholarship, but she seems to be the exception to the rule, which I'm not sure if a very balance portrayal.

(It probably should also be noted that there are some adult situations that do not make this appropriate for persons of a certain age.)

Still, there's genuine moments of hilarity and drama in this novel, mixed in with a satire (that only very occasionally sounds like lecturing), and an exploration of class and privilege that make it well worth the read.
( )
  irrelephant | Feb 21, 2021 |
On Beauty is the second novel by Zadie Smith that I've read, after White Teeth quite a few years ago.

The novel mainly follows the lives of the Belseys, a mixed-race family who become entangled with another family, the Kipps. The fathers in both families are at odds with each other in the academic world, and this conflict is used to explore the emergence of the so-called culture wars in a post 9/11 world. As the title suggests, the novel is also very much a meditation on what makes someone or something beautiful, as Howard Belsey is very much of the opinion that it is consumers of art who project beauty onto specific pieces, rather than the art being beautiful in itself.

I enjoyed the novel for the most part. I loved the way that each character and setting came to life in the opening sections through close attention to detail, and I was intrigued by the various conflicts and entanglements between the huge cast of characters. I powered through the first half or so of the novel incredibly quickly, but I felt the final chapters weren't quite as good as the rest of the novel, perhaps because the characters don't really seem to develop that much - it's very much plotted events that drive the closing section, rather than any sort of lessons learned by the characters themselves.

Also, perhaps I'm being overly sensitive, but I got a bit tired of the repeated references to fatness/overweight people in the novel. I understand where it comes from in terms of the 'is beauty in the eye of the beholder?' theme that Smith explores, and it isn't intended to be malicious, but I felt that it was maybe overegged quite a bit - for example, Kiki (my favourite character by far) is repeatedly described in terms of her weight by various characters, which seemed a tad unnecessary to me.

Still, On Beauty is a generally good read. I rate it 3.75/5, rounded up to 4. ( )
  mooingzelda | Jan 8, 2021 |
I have the same problem with all of Zadie Smith's novels, which is frustrating because I really want to love her work. Overall, they are really well written, have interesting characters and beautiful passages and description of everyday, mundane things. She nails class, race and society in all of her books as well. But there's always something missing. Her endings never work for me and I'm always wanting a bit more from the story. However, this was a much more polished, successful novel than White Teeth, and I did quite enjoy it, even if I didn't love it. ( )
  JustZelma | Dec 20, 2020 |
This is a refashioning of E.M. Forster's Howard's End, and it is incisive and brainy in both premise and execution. As an academic, I greatly enjoyed the satirical treatment of the culture wars and values that wage on our intellectual stages. Everyone is unlikeable, which is the point, in my view. I suspect that your enjoyment of this book will vary with your enjoyment of literary fiction, but no one can deny that Zadie Smith is one of the great novelists of the 21st century. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 213 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
On Beauty" is that rare comic novel about the divisive cultural politics of the new century likely to amuse readers on the right as much as those on the left. (Not that they'll necessarily be laughing in the same places.) Yet Smith is up to more as well: she wants to rise above the fray even as she wallows in it, to hit a high note of idealism rather than sink into the general despair. How radical can you be? Blame it on her youth.
adicionada por charl08 | editarNew York Times
 
Beautifully observed details of clothing, weather, cityscapes and the bustling human background of drivers, shoppers and passers-by are constantly being folded into the central flow of thought, feeling and action, giving even the most mundane moments - Levi riding a bus into Boston, Howard setting up a projector - a dense, pulsing life.
adicionada por charl08 | editarThe Guardian
 
On Beauty is quieter. There is a complicated story making up by richness of implication what it lacks in exuberance. The culture of the Boston campus is set among the other cultures such a city harbours. Carl, the outsider who enters the story because of the muddle at the concert, is far from being a replica of Leonard Bast. He’s an exponent of rap culture – and it is a culture, unlike Bast’s pathetic aspirations. The power of his rap has to be explained, and indeed the author intervenes personally to endorse it: ‘the present-day American poets, the rappers’. The mufflered pink-cheeked charm of a New England campus in winter is very agreeably rendered. The row between Professor Belsey and Kiki when she finds out he’s been cheating is as deft as anybody could make it, he with his stumbling, evasive academic dialect and she with her ‘personal’ language and naturally inflexible notions of fidelity and honour.

In a late scene Kiki is sorting out her children’s accumulated belongings. As she is carrying two bags of her elder son’s ‘pre-growth-spurt clothes’, we are told:

Last year, she had not thought she would still be in this house, in this marriage, come spring. But here she was, here she was. A tear in the garbage bag freed three pairs of pants and a sweater. Kiki crouched to pick these up and, as she did so, the second bag split too. She had packed them too heavy. The greatest lie ever told about love is that it sets you free.

What makes this passage brilliant is that the sententia at the end, though it may be true, is somehow made ironical because it is Kiki, there among all the random evidence of her love, who is uttering it, and not some cheat, some intellectual, some person of recognised authority. She is the measure of Zadie Smith’s powers at 30, Forster’s age when he published Howards End.
adicionada por charl08 | editarLondon Review of Books, Frank Kermode (sítio Web pago)
 

» Adicionar outros autores (13 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Zadie Smithautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
Eggermont, MoniqueTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Pouwels, KittyTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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When Howard Belsey's oldest son Jerome falls for Victoria, the stunning daughter of the right-wing Monty Kipps, both families find themselves thrown together, enacting a cultural and personal war against each other.

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