- ペーパーバック: 400ページ
- 出版社: Ballantine Books (1992/8/18)
- 言語: 英語
- ISBN-10: 0449907481
- ISBN-13: 978-0449907481
- 発売日： 1992/8/18
- 商品パッケージの寸法: 20.3 x 13.2 x 1.9 cm
- おすすめ度： この商品の最初のレビューを書き込んでください。
- Amazon 売れ筋ランキング: 洋書 - 1,933,537位 (洋書の売れ筋ランキングを見る)
A Thousand Acres (Ballantine Reader's Circle) (英語) ペーパーバック – 1992/8/18
Kindle 端末は必要ありません。無料 Kindle アプリのいずれかをダウンロードすると、スマートフォン、タブレットPCで Kindle 本をお読みいただけます。
A thousand acres, a piece of land of almost mythic proportions. Upon this fertile, nourishing earth, Jane Smiley has set her rich, breathtakingly dramatic novel of an American family whose wealth cannot stay the hand of tragedy. It is the intense, compelling story of a father and his daughters, of sisters, of wives and husbands, and of the human cost of a lifetime spent trying to subdue the land and the passions it stirs. The most critically acclaimed novel of the literary season, a classic story of contemporary American life, A THOUSAND ACRES is destined to be read for years to come.
"It has been a long time since a novel so surprised me with its power to haunt . . . . Its genius grows from its ruthless acceptance of the divided nature of every character . . . . This gives A THOUSAND ACRES the prismatic quality of the greatest art." -- Chicago Tribune
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award
Amazon.com で最も参考になったカスタマーレビュー (beta)
But, really, I shouldn't have. Having previously read two books by Jane Smiley (the quite amusing MOO and the intelligent and thoughtful Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel), I should have given her the benefit of the doubt. Within the first fifty pages, I was surprised that Smiley had drawn me into her story, and while it was still fairly mundane (the family dog wasn't going to start talking on page 100, to my dismay), I found the voice of the narrator intriguing and wondered just how much of King Lear Smiley was going to be able to transpose to 1970s Iowa. Turns out, quite a bit, in a wondrously deft way that I would have termed a 'tour de force' if I used that phrase anymore.
The narrator is the eldest of the three daughters, and instead of a king dividing up his kingdom, the family farm is to be divided among the daughters somewhat early by forming a corporation in which he gives control of the farm to the children, in a sudden move that delights the older daughters and their husbands and alarms the youngest, who no longer lives on the farm nor has much to do with it. Her concern about the alacrity of his decision infuriates the father, so much that he cuts her out of the paperwork process and thus the land itself. Pretty much every plot point in the Shakespearean play is touched upon in some manner, but never so roughly that the connections feel strained. If anything, Smiley's version is much, much more subtle in its understanding of the character's motivations, giving both a sympathetic portrait of the older two sisters that is entirely missing in the play, as well as making the Lear figure less of a madman and more of a stubborn one, such that when his stubbornness leads him into the rain, his madness becomes if not sensible, at least reasonable. You don't necessarily take any one character's side in this fight, but none seems such a villain.
What Smiley does that, I think, one-ups Shakespeare even more than making the female characters sympathetic is that she truly makes the tragedy about the land as about the people. In the background, and infusing everything the character's do to a point, is the thousand acres of the title. Perhaps it is because it is hard for us to imagine a kingdom as something one can own and pass to your children, for it's very easy to grasp the concept of these thousand acres, how much they mean to the family, and how tragic it is that this family cannot hold on to that land. In the past, I've been less than sympathetic to the concept of the family farm, but even my cold heart can't read what Smiley has described here and see it as anything but a tragedy.
What this novel has over the modern literature that I feared it would be is not only a plot (people die here, not to mention being maimed and insulted and cruelly treated) but a larger meaning, and that big picture of this being more than just a personal tragedy, is what makes this worthwhile reading. Out of the group who read this for book club, I turned out to rate this book the highest, and that is to say, I recommend it strongly.
Those who will love this book the most are people who know farm life in the American Middle West well. Having had a grandfather, father and several uncles who were farmers in Illinois raising lots of corn and hogs, I was first impressed by how well Ms. Smiley captured the attitudes, experiences, psychology and perspectives of the American family farmer during the 1930s through the 1980s. I felt like I was reading the history of my own family for about the first third of the book.
Then, she powerfully shifts the ground as the patriarch of the family, Larry Cook, decides to cede control over the family farm to avoid estate taxes. From there, a superficial reading will see this as a modern version of King Lear. I think that obvious parallel is not an accurate view of the book. Instead, this book takes on the qualities of a Greek tragedy as the characters move inexorably towards their preordained fates. What's the source of the tragedy? It's the pride of the American family farmer who lusts for more land and production.
In fact, this book could have been titled "Life Drains Away" as the forces set into action by the characters create an ironic threat to some of the same characters.
I was most impressed by the subtle case being made for healthier farming methods and changed values among family farmers. Rarely does a novel make such an objective point with such power.
At times, you'll feel that the novel is more than a little over the top. But that's what makes the novel work as a tragic story. I do agree that Ms. Smiley could probably have cut back on some of the darkness, still made her point, and possibly had a masterpiece of a story. But some writers need to shake the heavens with their furies . . . and we can hardly blame them when they succeed.
Well done, Ms. Smiley!
That said, I can now declare that I think *A Thousand Acres* is a good, but not "great" novel. Jane Smiley is an excellent writer, and although the book starts a bit slowly, the momentum and intrigue build as pages fly by. Her ability to describe the landscapes, moods, and rhythms of midwestern farm life is commendable, and for me, this proved to be perhaps the most consistently satisfying aspect of the book.
The plot can only be described as "dark," perhaps excessively so to seem plausible. Incest, insanity, suicide, the casual plotting of vengeful murders--anything that might form the basis for an extended commentary on the possibilities for depravity in the Human Condition--it's all here! There is so much depravity here, in fact, that after a while I found myself (figuratively) rolling my eyes at each new twist in the plot. A bit over the top, Jane!
I confess that I found it dismaying that each and every male character in the book proved himself to be rotten, exhibiting behavior ranging anywhere from insensitive clottishness to manipulative and smarmy don Juanism to ranting, bullying, incest-practicing insanity. What a bunch of great guys! In all fairness, the women in the book aren't much better. The book's protagonist seems to be the one island of reasonableness until the surprising (and in my view, implausible) plot twist that proves that she, too, is capable of ANYTHING (I don't feel I should give the plot away here :-) ).
Overall, the book is gripping, well-written, and certainly worth reading. To my taste, however, Jane Smiley has gone a bit over the top in her portrayal of characters and in some aspects of the plot. The book ultimately turns into a veritable caricature of a "dark novel revealing the hideous inner secrets that lie behind the placid facade," blah, blah, blah.