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Gilead (2004)

par Marilynne Robinson

Autres auteurs: Voir la section autres auteur(e)s.

Séries: Gilead (1)

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10,061354570 (3.89)1 / 1025
In 1956, as a minister approaches the end of his life, he writes a letter to his son chronicling three previous generations of his family, a story that stretches back to the Civil War and reveals uncomfortable family secrets.
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Affichage de 1-5 de 352 (suivant | tout afficher)
In 1950s Iowa, precisely in the windswept settlement of Gilead, Congregationalist minister John Ames is preparing to meet his Maker. Ames is 76 and his heart has been playing up. He knows that he does not have long to live, and that he will be leaving behind a young wife and a seven year old son, the unexpected blessing of his old age. So he sets out to write a long letter to this boy he will never see growing up. As Ames sifts through his memories, the story of his family (particularly his preacher father and grandfather) and the community which they served starts to take shape. Old pains and preoccupations resurface - particularly those related to the minister's godson and namesake John Ames Boughton. A troublemaker in childhood, youth and well into adulthood, is there the possibility of salvation for Boughton as well? Will God's grace ever touch him?

This is "Gilead" - part diary, part memoir; part testament, part confession. Robinson writes brilliantly - her narrator's style is perfectly pitched and utterly convincing with its continuous scriptural references and discursive theological debates underscored by very human emotions. Some scenes and metaphors - such as the image of John and and his father standing on the desolate grave of John's grandfather against the backdrop of a rising moon - will stick to the mind.

At one point in the novel, Ames mentions [b:The Diary of a Country Priest|63672|The Diary of a Country Priest|Georges Bernanos|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1436634216s/63672.jpg|1174195] by [a:Georges Bernanos|35812|Georges Bernanos|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1245180195p2/35812.jpg]. Although the latter book is written from a Catholic viewpoint (indeed, it is considered a classic "Catholic novel") whilst Gilead reflects a "Calvinist" theology, there are surprising similarities between the two works in their conception (a first-person journal), narrators (troubled "men of the cloth" in a small community) and in their concerns (mercy, grace, sin, redemption). However, I'd say that Robinson is a cannier writer. Although hers is no plot-driven novel, she tightly controls the few narrative threads and introduces gradual revelations in such a way that she grips the interest of the reader. I'd even go as far as saying that she manages to make her novel "entertaining" - and I mean that in a good way. Both are great books - but, to use a musical analogy, it's rather like comparing the organ works of Messiaen with the more immediate pleasures of Copland's "Appalachian Spring".

4.5* rounded up to 5* ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Jan 1, 2022 |
Det tog mig lång tid att läsa Marilynne Robinsons Gilead, av den enkla anledningen att jag prioriterade annat: det var uppenbart inte en så fängslande upplevelse att jag ständigt kände ett behov att ta den i min hand för fortsatt läsning. Det är också en bok som i alla fall till synes inte protesterar alltför hårt mot sådan behandling: en långsam karaktärsstudie snarare än en bok där olika händelser skall vävas samman och till slut få ny betydelse genom en till slutet förbisedd detalj.

Berättelsen tar formen av ett långt, episodisk brev som den åldrige, hjärtsvage reformerte pastorn John Amos skriver över en period av flera veckor till sin senfödde son: om sin egen uppväxt och familj, om tro, om sina innersta tankar. Fadern och farfadern var också predikanter i den lilla staden Gilead i Iowa, uppförd av abolitionister som ett led i kampen mot slaveriet, en utpost nära gränsen till Kansas: farfadern hade varit militant, uppmanat männen i församlingen att strida för nordstaterna, medan fadern var radikal pacifist. Spänningen mellan dem upplöstes aldrig.

Det boken i huvudsak får spänning av är dock en hemvändande son till Amos presbyterianske kollega Robert Boughton, även han åldrig, och tydligare märkt, medan John Amos Boughton är en medelålders man, familjens svarta får, som tvingades bort när han gjorde en ung flicka gravid men som nu återkommit under faderns sista dagar, av oklar anledning, och tvingar Amos att skärskåda sitt ressentiment.

En långsam roman, ett skärskådande av ett liv levt i religionens namn, stillsamt på en plats vars syfte sedan länge förlorats och där det enda som återstår verkar vara den lilla människans dagar. Förlåtelse, nåd, faderskap, teologi – det är många idéer som vävs samman, och på ett sätt som aldrig känns forcerat. ( )
  andejons | Oct 24, 2021 |
Pulitzer Prize
  FUMCMoorestown | Oct 6, 2021 |
A beautiful book. ( )
  misslevel | Sep 22, 2021 |
A book about fathers and sons, including prodigal sons. Sometimes prodigal fathers. John Ames, after many years of widowhood, marries and fathers a son. His heart is failing, the son is only seven, so he resolves to write an account of his life, as well as that of his father and grandfather, that the son can read when he becomes a man. This novel is that account.
Like his father and two grandfathers, Ames is a minister in a small town on the Iowa prairie. He knows no other life. In the course of telling his tale, there is a lot of common sense theology. There is also heartache over his inability to have an honest talk with his godson and namesake, the black sheep son of his lifelong best friend, also a minister. His skill as a pastoral counselor seems to fail him when he needs it most.
Along with that heartache is Ames’s knowledge that he will leave a widow and young son unprovided for. At the same time, the narrator records his love for life. “It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of creation and turns it to radiance—for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again . . . .”
I’m in awe of how well-written this book is, with its conversational tone of voice. It is also the best book I’ve read on what it feels like to be a minister. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
Affichage de 1-5 de 352 (suivant | tout afficher)
But in Gilead, Robinson is addressing the plight of serious people with a calm-eyed reminder of the liberal philosophical and religious traditions of a nation whose small towns "were once the bold ramparts meant to shelter peace", citing a tradition of intellectual discursiveness and a historical cycle that shifts from radical to conservative then back to radical again, and presenting, as if from the point of view of time's own blindness, an era when unthinkable things were happening but were themselves about to change unimaginably, for the better. It takes issue with the status quo by being a message, across generations, from a now outdated status quo. "What have I to leave you but the ruins of old courage, and the lore of old gallantry and hope?"
ajouté par melmore | modifierThe Guardian (UK), Ali Smith (Apr 15, 2005)
 
Gradually, Robinson's novel teaches us how to read it, suggests how we might slow down to walk at its own processional pace, and how we might learn to coddle its many fine details. Nowadays, when so many writers are acclaimed as great stylists, it's hard to make anyone notice when you praise a writer's prose. There is, however, something remarkable about the writing in 'Gilead.' It's not just a matter of writing well, although Robinson demonstrates that talent on every page [...] Robinson's words have a spiritual force that's very rare in contemporary fiction -- what Ames means when he refers to 'grace as a sort of ecstatic fire that takes things down to essentials.
ajouté par melmore | modifierNew York Times, James Wood (Nov 28, 2004)
 
Marilynne Robinson draws on all of these associations in her new novel, which -- let's say this right now -- is so serenely beautiful, and written in a prose so gravely measured and thoughtful, that one feels touched with grace just to read it. Gilead possesses the quiet ineluctable perfection of Flaubert's "A Simple Heart" as well as the moral and emotional complexity of Robert Frost's deepest poetry. There's nothing flashy in these pages, and yet one regularly pauses to reread sentences, sometimes for their beauty, sometimes for their truth: "Adulthood is a wonderful thing, and brief. You must be sure to enjoy it while it lasts."
ajouté par melmore | modifierWashington Post, Michael Dirda (Nov 21, 2004)
 

» Ajouter d'autres auteur(e)s (15 possibles)

Nom de l'auteur(e)RôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Robinson, Marilynneauteur(e) principal(e)toutes les éditionsconfirmé
Ebnet, Karl-Heinzauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Kampmann, EvaTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
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For John and Ellen Summers, my dear father and mother.
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This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it (p. 28).
I want your dear perishable self to live long and love this poor perishable world (p.53).
I can't believe we will forget our sorrows altogether. That would mean forgetting that we had lived, humanly speaking. Sorrow seems to me to be a great part of the substance of human life (p. 104).
But if the awkwardness and falseness and failure of religion are interpreted to mean there is no core of truth in it.... the people are disables from trusting their thoughts, their expressions of belief, and their understanding, and even from believing in the essential dignity of their and their neighbors' endlessly flawed experience of belief (p.146).
I conceal my motives from myself pretty effectively sometimes (p. 147).
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In 1956, as a minister approaches the end of his life, he writes a letter to his son chronicling three previous generations of his family, a story that stretches back to the Civil War and reveals uncomfortable family secrets.

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