کتاب روزنکرانتز و گیلدنسترن مرده اند

اثر تام استاپارد از انتشارات نیلوفر - مترجم: مصطفی اسلامیه-اگزیستانسیالیسم

منتقدین تا کنون مطالب بسیاری در ستایش این رمان نوشته‌اند، برخی آن را شاهکار خانم آتوود و یکی از مهمترین رمانهای پایان قرن بیستم دانسته‌اند. این اثر در سال 1996 منتشر شد. نشریه تایم آن را رمانی مرموز و افسون کننده توصیف کرد، واشنگتن پست نوشت نثر به کار رفته در آن الماس‌گون و کل اثر دارای زمینه‌ای روان‌شناسانه و مسحورکننده است، و درواقع کاوش ارزنده است در زوایای احساس و طبیعت زن، آن‌سان که می‌تواند بافلوبر هم‌سنگ باشد.


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”All the same, Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word---musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.”

@
Sketches made of Grace Marks and James McDermott during their sensationalized trial.

Grace Marks, at the age of 16 in 1843, was arrested along with James McDermott for the murders of their employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his mistress/housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery. The murders were rather sensationalized in Canadian society, what with the cold blooded brutality and the fact that a young, rather beautiful, young woman was involved. McDermott was sentenced to hang, while Marks was saved from the gallows by the spirited defence of her lawyer. She spent the next thirty years of her life incarcerated, first in an asylum and then in a prison.

This story really picked up several years later when Doctor Simon Jordan decided to make a study of her and hoped to unlock some of her missing memories.

See, there were key elements that she didn’t remember about that day that would help him to determine if she was truly a murderess or merely an unwilling accomplice. Jordan was struck by her from the very first moment he met her.

”Her eyes were unusually large, it was true, but they were far from insane. Instead they were frankly assessing him. It was as if she were contemplating the subject of some unexplained experiment; as if it were he, and not she, who was under scrutiny.”

And then there was this observation of Grace by Jordan, as well:

”She’s thinner now, less full in the face; and whereas the picture shows a pretty woman, she is now more than pretty. Or other than pretty. The line of her cheek has a marble, a classic, simplicity; to look at her is to believe that suffering does indeed purify.”

@

“Other than pretty” implied further depths to her beyond just the surface beauty that captured the imagination of a ghoulish public. He might not know it, but he was already smitten with Grace and in danger of tumbling head over heels in love with her. It is hard to keep control of a series of interviews if you have become interested in more than just the deeds of the individual. As an added distraction every mother in Toronto with a daughter was trying to manufacture ways to throw their pretty daughters in front of this very eligible bachelor.

He was a doctor after all.

”As one season’s crop of girls proceeds into engagement and marriage, younger ones keep sprouting up, like tulips in May. They are now so young in relation to Simon that he has trouble conversing with them; it’s like talking to a basketful of kittens.”

They were fresh, so new they were barely out of the packaging of their youth, and of course virginal. What every man should desire,...right? Well, if one doesn’t mind vacuousness.

As fascinating as Grace’s story is, I found myself becoming even more engrossed with the story of Dr. Simon Jordan and his desire driven demons. His landlady, whose husband had absconded on a bout of debauchery, was also proving to be a damsel in distress as her only source of income became her one lodger. ”Her face is heart-shaped, her skin milky, her eyes large and compelling; but although her waist is slender, there is something metallic about it, as if she is using a short length of stove-pipe instead of stays. Today she wears her habitual expression of strained anxiety; she smells of violets, and also of camphor.”

She was a beauty past her prime, but still she was compellingly sexy. He felt this attraction against his will. There was no hope for a relationship. She was married and too old to ever be acceptable to his family or his class. He was supposed to marry one of those inane, young ladies. ”It would be one way of deciding his fate, or settling his own hash; or getting himself out of harm’s way. But he won’t do it; he’s not that lazy, or weary; not yet.” I can’t help, but think of Newland Archer from The Age of Innocence, who allowed himself to be trapped into what was expected of him, as well. What if Archer had escaped with Countess Olenska?

I still pine for him to escape.

So even though the landlady was forbidden, bruised fruit, he couldn’t help, but notice that...“Her lips are full, but fragile, like a rose on the verge of collapse.”

This was one of the many times when I had to read a Margaret Atwood line many times, rolled it around the surface of my tongue, so that I could taste the sweet, the bitter, and the savory of that beautifully written line.

Dr. Jordan was starting to have odd thoughts and unsettling dreams of murders committed by himself. He started digging in the garden under the pretense of planting a garden, but it seemed, even to his subconscious self, that he was loosening the soil for...the corpse of his landlord if he should return or maybe a stack of bodies of those from which he wished to escape. It would put him on an equal footing with one particular woman. ”Murderess, murderess, he whispers to himself. It has an allure, a scent almost. Hothouse gardenias. Lurid, but also furtive. He imagines himself breathing it as he draws Grace toward him, pressing his mouth against her. Murderess. He applies it to her throat like a brand.”

This novel is based on the true story of Grace Marks. History lost track of her once she was released from prison after nearly thirty years of incarceration. No tombstone is known to mark her grave. She simply vanished into the woodwork of a new America. Atwood has not only brought her to life, but has seamlessly and creatively put words of putty and glue into the missing pieces. I wonder every time I finish an Atwood why I don’t read her more frequently.

@
Sarah Gadon plays Grace Marks in the series

Netflix has recently launched the first season of a new show based on Alias Grace. It spurred me to get this book read that I had planned to read three years ago. I was wooed by other more pressing books, and what a fool I was. I don’t know how I feel about watching the series. I’m as sure that it is good as I am sure that it will disappoint. I will eventually work up the courage to watch it, but I think I will luxuriate in reverence for the book for a while.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

مشاهده لینک اصلی
Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor...

Highlight of 2017 for me!
A pure gem. That is Alias Grace, for me. Another grand work of Margaret Atwood. Atwood, described as ‘one of the most brilliant and unpredictable novelists alive’ (Literary Review)……and also: ‘A witty, elegant, generous and patient writer.’ I would say a strong-minded, self-willed, wayward writer, sometimes also dark and ruthless. This story keeps you hooked from beginning to end, following Grace Marks in her troubled life. A colourful, multifaceted and intriguing story, that keeps you reading for more than 500 pages….
This is how Atwood describes the story outline in her Author’s Afterword, which I recommend everyone to read in full:
About Grace is a work of fiction, although it is based on reality. Its central figure, Grace Marks, was one of the most notorious Canadian women of the 1840s, having been convicted of murder at the age of sixteen. The Kinnear-Montgomery murders took place on July 23, 1843, and were extensively reported not only in Canadian newspapers but in those of the United States and Britain. The details were sensational: Grace Marks was uncommonly pretty and also extremely young. Nancy Montgomery had previously given birth to an illegitimate child and was Thomas Kinnear’s mistress; at her autopsy she was found to be pregnant. Grace and her fellow servant James McDermott had run away to the US together and were assumed by the press to be lovers…..The trial was held in early November. Only the Kinnear murder was tried. …. McDermott was hanged in front of a huge crowd on November 21, but opinion about Grace was divided from the start and due to the efforts of her lawyer and a group of respectable gentlemen petitioners –who pleaded her youth, the weakness of her sex and her supposed witlessness her sentence was commuted to life…. She continued to be written about over the course of the century, and she continued to polarize opinion. Attitudes towards her reflected contemporary ambiguity about the nature of women: was Grace a female fiend and temptress, the instigator of the crime and the real murderer of Nancy Montgomory, or was she an unwilling victim, forced to keep silent by McDermott’s threats and by fear of her own life? ….

So this story takes you in more than 500 pages in a quiet pace through the life of Grace… and a variety of characters surround her in the progress of the story. Including the fascinating Dr. Jordan, who comes into play to assess Grace and in that process we witness his struggle and moral decline….As Atwood says in her afterword: she stayed with the historical facts, but there were gaps there or unclarities/various versions and in that case she took the liberty to fill those gaps in.

What can I say. I think Atwood is a true artist – solid writing – sharp observations – great writing. What more can I want? 5 stars and highly recommended. Im a fan (was already, now its official :-))

مشاهده لینک اصلی




Working with patches. Patchwork. Putting together various pieces of material that already existed and joining them into a new design.

This is the theme that Margaret Atwood has developed through her novel, and I am not making this up for the sake of my review. Her concluding paragraphs, spoken by her heroine, are about the patched Tree of Paradise.

The Tree itself is of triangles, in two colours, dark for the leaves and a lighter colour for the fruits; I am using purple for the leaves and red for the fruits.


And so Atwood constructed her fiction. She has taken fragments from a past reality, from a crime committed in the Canada of the 1840s. The unifying thread is the fictionalized account of Grace Marks, one of the two people convicted for a double murder. The other person accused was hanged, but her sentence was commuted to life in prison. Through her novel Atwood has called her to live again--in fiction. Thanks to her stitches.

Using this textual thread, one spun out of the materials of memory and invention, Atwood has joined many other pieces. Some add colour and veracity, for she includes fragments from newspapers – for as this became a famous case, a plethora of texts narrated this event before Atwood did – as well as extracts from the written confessions by Marks herself, or from letters written by real life figures such as the Medical Superintendent of the Asylum where Marks was interned, or from the Diary of the Warden of the Penitentiary where Marks spent the early part of her sentence.

Other fragments included add a different tonality and ingenuity. Stanzas from poems, sonnets, stanzas and tragedies interspersed here and there add insight and sensitivity. This crafty use of lyrical and dramatic elements appeal to our fancies and sharpen our awareness, and the overall effect is new and compelling.

And as we notice Atwood’s abilities in working with patches, we recognized her literary artistry and her understanding of the powers of fiction. When stories are woven they are nothing at all, but when they are finished, with all their parts sewn together, they become what they are. Not surprisingly is Scheherezade invoked in the novel. For stories, mixing truths and falsities acquire the nature of something else. They are not too different from the Tree of Paradise, the tree of Life and of Good&Evil.




مشاهده لینک اصلی
‘’...and the real curse of Eve was having to put up with the nonsense of Adam, who as soon as there was any trouble, blamed it all on her.’’

Grace is a murderess. She collaborated with her coworker to kill their master and his mistress. So the people say. So the people want to believe. Because, let’s face it, where’s the fascination in a murder committed only by a man? There’s no sensation, nothing to stir the crowds. Whereas a woman who took a life? Well, there’s the spectacle! Never mind that she may be innocent. This is a perfect chance to humiliate women, to place the blame on them and continue the tradition that started at the beginning of time...But Grace knows the truth. Or does she?

Margaret Atwood takes the story of one of the most famous female prisoners of the 19th century and weaves a masterpiece of a novel. Set in the 1840s in Canada and spanning almost 30 years, this is a confession and a fascinating journey to the mind and the life of a woman who has much to say and even more to hide. Is she a criminal? An innocent bystander? A cold-blooded killer? Is she a victim of her weak will? A small animal captured in a man’s well-constructed trap? And does anyone want to actually listen to her? When a young psychiatrist decides to dive into the darkest part of Grace’s mind, everything will change.

This is a novel that I consider perfect on every level. I’ve always believed that the finest writers can give us the conclusion at the beginning of the story and we’ll still be interested and invested in the development of the action. This is exactly what happens here. While Atwood doesn’t reveal everything at once, we have all the proper materials to ‘’guess’’ the end and there is still much space for suspense, agony and, speaking strictly for me, anger. Anger was the feeling that became my loyal companion while I was reading. Anger because of the double-standards of the time, the conviction that a woman is guilty by definition when accused, the habit of regarding women as objects for the men’s pleasure, ripe for the taking...And if we come to think of it, these notions are still alive today, in our so-called advanced era when many believe that gender equality is all done and dealt with and achieved. No, when I feel frightened each time I walk down a darkly-lit alley, each time a man sideglances at me, gender equality doesn’t exist. Forgive me if I digress but fury comes swiftly when I think that in many parts of our planet tyranny and violence against women are considered the norm, they are alive and kicking and they will never stop. And where do most of these false notions come from? Prejudice, superstition, religious fundamentalism.

‘’...and the people there love to fall down in fits, and talk in tongues and be saved once a summer, or more if available…’’

Jeremiah, one of the most enigmatic characters of the story, provides an excellent and extremely accurate description of the absurd religious panic that inflicts people of every race and every religion. The pious, God-fearing citizens look upon men to save them and are all too willing to believe in the condemnation of women. What I enjoyed in the way this theme is delivered in Alias Grace is that Atwood inserts the influence of such stereotypes in the field of Science as well. Educated men aren’t immune to prejudice and they attempt to research Grace’s case with preconceived notions in their heads. Enter Simon, the young psychiatrist who tries a different approach to understand the incidents and the tribulations inside Grace’s soul. In the process, he finds much more than he expected. I loved the way Atwood uses the newly-born ideas of Mesmerism and Magnetism and the rising of Spiritualism that became in vogue a few years later. In addition, she addresses the issue of Hysteria, the common belief that all women were prone to uncontrollable, violent fits of rage, another token of a society that refused to believe that women are actual human beings with the right to seek sexual pleasure and fulfillment. God forbid, these are principles solely belonging to men….

It’s hard not to get political when it comes to Atwood’s brilliant novels. Grace’s background is a highly troubled one. She comes from Ulster, an extremely tormented area, and becomes an immigrant to escape a country that is dying from famine and oppression. Furthermore, Canada is still shaking from the 1837 uprising and the aristocracy has become even more intolerant and cruel to those that are considered ‘’low’’ and ‘’uneducated heathens’’. In this historical and political context, we can understand how crucial are the themes Atwood addresses and how relevant they are, especially now. The gap between the wealthy and the poor, the discriminations against women, the blind faith.

Grace is a complex, intriguing character. In my opinion, she retains characteristics of the Unreliable Narrator because are we actually certain that her views on events and people are accurate? She comes across as a very sympathetic, level-headed, brave, considerate, dignified woman. She’s not afraid to express mistrust or uncertainty and has the self-discipline to keep her most ‘’controversial’’ thoughts secret until the opportune moment. Atwood takes us into Grace’s mind before she speaks and succeeds in creating a complete picture of our heroine. However, there is still an aura of mystery surrounding her and a strange, underlying sensuality and dark innocence.

Apart from Grace, we have two male characters that are equally interesting and mysterious. Simon and Jeremiah. Simon is very complex, in my opinion. Very real and perplexing. He is not free from his own demons, he has some fairly obscure ideas about sexual pleasure but he desires progress and knowledge. He has travelled extensively and believes he has all the necessary means to tackle Grace’s strange case. However, he isn’t prepared enough for what is about to come. Simon gave me much trouble as I was trying to understand him and realise his motives. He is mysterious and there is definitely a darkness inside him so he is an excellent counterpart of Grace. Jeremiah is a walking riddle. A man of the world, a magnetic presence, an enigma.

This review may come across as passionate or even politically incorrect but when books make you feel so many powerful emotions after reading a few chapters, you know they have succeeded. When the author is Margaret Atwood you know you are in the safest hands possible. This is a classic, a novel that should definitely be included in the finest of the 20th century. Oh, and certain misogynists/trolls/pseudo-scholars that have been lurking on GR lately, better stay away from Atwood’s novels, like The Handmaid’s Tale or Alias Grace. They will prove bad for you sensitive moral values and blood pressure….

“What is believed in society is not always the equivalent of what is true; but as regards to a womans reputation, it amounts to the same thing.”

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...

مشاهده لینک اصلی
@If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.@

When I first read Alias Grace, I thought it was @less@ relevant than her other, almost prophetically painful novels. I changed my mind. Not immediately, and not deliberately. But slowly, steadily, like a patchwork taking form, I could see the novel in a new light long after I finished it. It grew in my memory as it faded, and all of a sudden, it occurred to me that it was a masterpiece of quiet rebellion where the other novels, like the Handmaids Tale, Oryx and Crake, the Penelopiad or Cats Eye are angry, eloquently shouted manifestos.

What is sanity? That painful interregnun between phases of blissful insanity, as Poe wittily claims, or the opinion of the (insane) majority? What is murder? What is guilt? How can one determine what really happened if all people involved in the action live in different minds, meaning different realities? How do we establish @truth@ in the tangle of myths, passions, prejudices and conventions?

As always, we solve the mystery of a story by telling another, and Margaret Atwwod seemed to define my journey as a reader long before I knew what I was reading myself:

@When you are in the middle of a story it isnt a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. Its only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.@

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