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Cassandra au mariage (1962)

par Dorothy Baker

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5411334,251 (3.97)83
Cassandra Edwards is a graduate student at Berkeley- gay, brilliant, nerve-racked, miserable. At the beginning of this novel, she drives back to her family ranch in the foothills of the Sierras to attend the wedding of her identical twin, Judith, to a nice young doctor from Connecticut. Cassandra, however, is hell-bent on sabotaging the wedding. Dorothy Baker's entrancing tragicomic novella follows an unpredictable course of events in which her heroine appears variously as conniving, self-aware, pitiful, frenzied, absurd, and heartbroken-at once utterly impossible and tremendously sympathetic. As she struggles to come to terms with the only life she has, Cassandra reckons with her complicated feelings about the sister who she feels owes it to her to be her alter ego; with her father, a brandy-soaked retired professor of philosophy; and with the ghost of her dead mother. First published in 1962, Cassandra at the Weddingis a book of enduring freshness, insight, and verve. Like the fiction of Jeffrey Eugenides and Jhumpa Lahiri, it is the work of a master stylist with a profound understanding of the complexities of the heart and mind.… (plus d'informations)
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    Play It As It Lays par Joan Didion (pitjrw)
    pitjrw: California in it's prime and it's discontents
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The story of two identical twins Cassandra and Judith brought up in a wealthy professional family who face separation when the younger twin (Judith: a matter of minutes) plans to get married. The time scale of the novel is a momentous three days in the lives of the two girls as they try and work through the difficulties of not being together or as Cassandra says no longer being as one. The title of the book has led to a soundbite on the front cover describing it as "A dark comedy about marriage' which is wrong on both counts; it is not a comedy and it's not about marriage.

The novel was published in 1962 and was the last of the four novels Dorothy Baker wrote. I recently read her first novel [Young Man with a Horn] and was so impressed by Baker's handling of dialogue that I wanted to read this novel which is said to be her best. Dorothy Baker's husband claimed that the novel was based on their own two daughters and certainly the dialogue between the two crackles with an intensity that feels like it could have actually taken place. Like her first novel there is hardly a word out of place.

The first part of the novel is from the POV of Cassandra. She is travelling from Berkley California to her parents ranch some 5 hours away. She wants to see her sister who has returned home to prepare for her wedding. We learn that the sisters had set up house together in Berkley but nine months ago Judith had left and had now met a man she wants to marry. Cassandra had only been alone for three weeks before seeking help from psychiatry. Now on her journey home the anxiety that she feels is expressed by her first telephone call to her parents home where it is revealed she is travelling one day earlier than planned to see her sister before the wedding. She finally gets to speak to Judith and her knees "buckle with recognition" when she hears her sisters voice. For the majority of the novel we hear Cassandra's side of the story, her view of the close relationship with her sister and their relationship with their father and Granny who still lives at home. A smaller chunk of the novel is from Judith's point of view before we are back with Cassie.

Baker is able to pinpoint in some detail the sisters' state of mind through their actions and conversations. Because much of the novel is from Cassie's POV she is seen as a sort of victim, the one who will lose most from Judith's marriage. The family unit is a little reclusive living out on the ranch and their father is a professor who has sought solace in brandy after the early death of his wife. The two sisters like him are very intelligent, but this does not help them solve their emotional issues, nobody behaves badly, but extricating themselves from the emotional trauma of their separation proves to be impossible without hurting the more vulnerable Cassie.

The micro world of this novel is not going to shed any light on the human condition, but it does focus extremely well on a vary small incident within it. From the first few pages the quality of the writing hooked me into Cassie and the families' issues, but as the story unfolded I thought the novel lost a little of its intensity. However a very good read and so 4 stars. ( )
3 voter baswood | Dec 4, 2019 |
Damn it, I hate my impressions to be muddled by reading reviews before I finish the book, but can't help myself!! Look at me! I'm reading literature!

Cassie is examining her life right before our eyes. Incomplete without her sister. Miserable and self absorbed. I would have loved reading this book in the early 1960's as a young impressionable adolescent. Maybe 12 or 13, eight grade. I would have eaten it up and read it under the covers wrh a flashlight or turned the bed side light on when all had gone to sleep. ( )
  Alphawoman | Oct 12, 2019 |
Excellent. ( )
  Seafox | Jul 24, 2019 |
A beautifully written, albeit oblique novel about Judith and Cassandra - twins who are living apart for the first time in their lives. Cassandra is having a harder time of it and considers herself abandoned by her sister. When she gets to the ranch for the wedding, she has unformed ideas about breaking it up by talking sense to Jude. Those don’t quite gel and instead there is a lot of drinking, frequent really strange conversations, an attempted suicide and eventually, the wedding. I think I’m going to have to read this several times before everything comes clear. If it does. ( )
  Bookmarque | Mar 4, 2019 |
Quirky, nervy little book with wonderful characterizations. Made me think of Chekhov a bit, those slightly fraught, flawed characters and the way your sympathy for them sneaks up on you. Cassandra is a lovely character. Well, they all are, even if Judith is a bit bland—but she's supposed to be, so it's OK. And you end up sympathizing with her for just having had to grow up in the shadow of her sister's wacky brilliance.

The Aristophanes connection is accurate, but it's also kind of simplistic—the book is about a lot more than just the rending of the one from the one true love. There's a whole lot about family—how it gets pulled apart, the traps parents set for their children (that whole "we don't need other people" ethos they grew up with), young people trying to pull away and find their own identities in the face of such an overbearing family unit. I got a very strong feeling of someone in middle age musing about what it is to be young, that period of time before your sense of your own self has settled in. Baker would have been what, in her 50s when she wrote this? It's definitely a mature gaze on events, even though the story is told in Cassandra's voice. ( )
2 voter lisapeet | Apr 28, 2018 |
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Nom de l'auteur(e)RôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Baker, DorothyAuteurauteur(e) principal(e)toutes les éditionsconfirmé
Eisenberg, DeborahPostfaceauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Turner, LowriIntroductionauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé

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I told them I could be free by the twenty-first, and that I'd come home the twenty-second.
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It had more to do with belonging to a tradition in music and staying in it and working at in in any capacity you can fit into - playing what's being written, and what's been written, composing too if you want to and can, but mostly trying to keep it alive and separate the chaff from the grain and keep them separate. Know which is which, and care, and that's a life work.
He quit teaching because it irked him to have to meet appointments - to shave by the clock and put on a tie and arrive at a particular place at a particular time over and over. It wasn't that way in Athens. A teacher in the golden age could stay in his bath however long he happened to wish to, and when he got out, some youth would be there with a towel and dry him off, and by the time he was dry and robed, the work would have got around and the young men would have gathered to question and to be questioned and end up convinced that the unexamined life is not worth living. We were raised that way ourselves; our father was Socrates, we were the youth and we sat at his feet.
Either this or that. But. But I'd never try to have it both ways, I'd never, I swear I'd never choose to come home with a stranger and enact before our household gods the brutal double ceremony of the destruction of Athens and the founding of something that could never at its best equal it. Or come anywhere near it. Or be spoken of in the same breath. From heights you can only descend. Ask anyone. Ask me, preferably.
I hadn't thought about it as being anything peculiar, because I was going home, and one of the things about belonging somewhere is that you can go there without permission because it's where you belong. But did I? Did I belong, at such a time, where plans were being made and questions of policy being decided, matters of great moment like for example do they have sterling silver of stainless steel?
But I seldom get praised for the hard things I do, and I do some of the hardest things. Things like waking up in the morning and going to sleep at night, all all alone except when I'm with someone; and it's getting harder and harder for me to be really with anyone.
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Cassandra Edwards is a graduate student at Berkeley- gay, brilliant, nerve-racked, miserable. At the beginning of this novel, she drives back to her family ranch in the foothills of the Sierras to attend the wedding of her identical twin, Judith, to a nice young doctor from Connecticut. Cassandra, however, is hell-bent on sabotaging the wedding. Dorothy Baker's entrancing tragicomic novella follows an unpredictable course of events in which her heroine appears variously as conniving, self-aware, pitiful, frenzied, absurd, and heartbroken-at once utterly impossible and tremendously sympathetic. As she struggles to come to terms with the only life she has, Cassandra reckons with her complicated feelings about the sister who she feels owes it to her to be her alter ego; with her father, a brandy-soaked retired professor of philosophy; and with the ghost of her dead mother. First published in 1962, Cassandra at the Weddingis a book of enduring freshness, insight, and verve. Like the fiction of Jeffrey Eugenides and Jhumpa Lahiri, it is the work of a master stylist with a profound understanding of the complexities of the heart and mind.

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NYRB Classics

3 éditions de ce livre ont été publiées par NYRB Classics.

Éditions: 1590171128, 1590176014, 159017612X

 

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