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Le Diable déguisé en belette (1948)

par Sylvia Townsend Warner

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

MembresCritiquesPopularitéÉvaluation moyenneMentions
4401743,905 (3.91)140
In memory of the wife who had once dishonoured and always despised him, Brian de Retteville founded Oby - a twelfth-century convent in a hidden corner of Norfolk. Two centuries later the Benedictine community is well established there and, as befits a convent whose origin had such chequered motives, the inhabitants are prey to the ambitions, squabbles, jealousies and pleasures of less spiritual environments. An outbreak of the Black Death, the collapse of the convent spire, the Bishop's visitation and a nun's disappearance are interwoven with the everyday life of the nuns, novices, successive Prioresses and the nun's priest, in this affectionate and ironic observation of the more wordly history of a religious order.… (plus d'informations)
  1. 10
    England, Arise: The People, the King and the Great Revolt of 1381 par Juliet Barker (CurrerBell)
    CurrerBell: The last couple of chapters of The Corner That Held Them (this is no SPOILER) involve the Peasant's Revolt of 1381.
  2. 00
    In This House of Brede par Rumer Godden (CurrerBell)
    CurrerBell: The Corner That Held Them has a great deal of comedy and humor, while In This House of Brede is more serious in tone.
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» Voir aussi les 140 mentions

Affichage de 1-5 de 17 (suivant | tout afficher)
I had such a muddled reaction to this book, and those who commented to me in advance that it is bizarrely paced were spot on. At times I got really into it, and then on the next page I got completely bogged down and more often than not lost the thread of the story.

The story chronicles the lives of nuns at a nunnery over three decades in the fourteenth century. Major potential plot points come and go without a great deal of fuss, to the point that I kept regularly glossing over key sentences and then realising in the next few pages that I'd obviously completely missed something key. Normally I can quite happily read without distraction whilst the TV blares in the background and my family carry out a conversation over the top of my head, but that just didn't work with this book. It requires 100% attention, and I probably didn't get the full experience that I could have done if I'd had the luxury of reading it at a leisurely pace in peace and quiet.

It's a work of genius in many ways, yet at times it required stamina to keep my attention with it so veered into slog territory. It's probably the most lost I've got in a book's plot in quite some time, and sadly I mean lost as in confused rather than lost in a dreamy happy place. Many passages were quite dense with no particular focus, and I didn't notice I wasn't giving it my full attention until I realised that yet again I'd lost track of who was now prioress and the back-story of the nun currently under discussion.

3.5 stars - a work of beauty in many places, but not a book for snatched bouts of reading, and one that I was quite glad to finish in the end. ( )
  AlisonY | Aug 21, 2021 |
Honestly, this book literally put me to sleep more nights than not. It's very hard to keep all the nuns straight and the story just meanders. A convent is founded in 1163. We begin following it in earnest in the 14th century, through a multitude of prioresses. A main character and constant throughout is Sir Ralph, a passing beggar who for reasons even he doesn't understand passes himself off as a priest, and lives as the convent priest for the rest of his life. This at least provides a unifying thread through all the cast of nuns who die as frequently as they are introduced.

Couple of good sample quotes:

"To be traveling through this landscape so full of plenty and variety was like turning the pages of an illuminated psalter."

"But no summer is so long, so wide, as the summer before it. Time, a river, hollows out its bed and every year the river flows in a narrower channel and flows faster." ( )
1 voter Tytania | Aug 11, 2021 |
It's due and I am not feeling this contemplative. It's a really nice strain of contemplative though and I can imagine finishing it someday. I found it hard to keep track of the prioresses and nuns and wished there were more physical descriptions but I suppose that's part of the point of the nunnery, to reduce everyone to the same.
I have the impression that STW was working from budgets and court transcripts and dry docs like that. She fleshes them out very convincingly.
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
Why this book? Because of Katie's review in the reviews below, but I first heard about the book from Lory @ Entering The Enchanted Castle: https://enterenchanted.com/month-in-review-june-2021/
  Jinjer | Jul 19, 2021 |
Not for everyone. Long, slow (if anything that leaps forward periods of years in a sentence can be called slow), complex, musing, imaginative. Characters come and go, arrive and die, power bases shift, and a community of medieval nuns bickers, palavers, worries, schemes, grieves, and stumbles on through plague, storm, theft, bureaucratic meddlings, and monetary (*always* monetary!) concerns. It is a group portrait, not individual spotlighting. It's difficult to keep the women straight sometimes, but it almost doesn't matter - it's more a study of how an enclosed group functions, with almost zero autonomy or ability to solve their own problems except by conniving and subterfuge. What struck me is that in a novel written by a gay woman, the women characters are far less complex than the very few men. They are rather shallow personalities, tending to be driven by emotion - only the men have any intellectual or cerebral thought on theology, music, politics. Is this because the cloistered life - or actually, the entire society and religious institutions- have imposed these limits on women's minds and opportunities, and ended up imprisoning them in their ignorance, petty rivalries, and spites? By the end, I wanted to be an anchoress too, rather than spend the rest of my life among these sisters.

Chops for writing about the medieval era entirely without Gadzooks and Prithees, yet evoking beautifully what it might have been like to live there: deaths in number, the force of weather and seasons and disease, the risks of unreliable builders and superiors, the treatment of young women by men and women alike as chattel pure and simple, as sources of money. A merciless look at a difficult age and the people who inhabited it. ( )
2 voter JulieStielstra | May 17, 2021 |
Affichage de 1-5 de 17 (suivant | tout afficher)
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Nom de l'auteur(e)RôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Sylvia Townsend Warnerauteur(e) principal(e)toutes les éditionscalculé
Harman, ClaireIntroductionauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Hensher, PhilipIntroductionauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Rabinovitch, AnneTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
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Car le lieu où ils s'étaient enfermés
ne pouvait les protéger de la peur
LA SAGESSE DE SALOMON, XVII 4
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A Valentine Ackland
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Allongée sur son lit, Alianor de Retteville regardait Gilles, son amant.
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In memory of the wife who had once dishonoured and always despised him, Brian de Retteville founded Oby - a twelfth-century convent in a hidden corner of Norfolk. Two centuries later the Benedictine community is well established there and, as befits a convent whose origin had such chequered motives, the inhabitants are prey to the ambitions, squabbles, jealousies and pleasures of less spiritual environments. An outbreak of the Black Death, the collapse of the convent spire, the Bishop's visitation and a nun's disappearance are interwoven with the everyday life of the nuns, novices, successive Prioresses and the nun's priest, in this affectionate and ironic observation of the more wordly history of a religious order.

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813 — Literature American and Canadian American fiction

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