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اثر جرالدین بروکس از انتشارات تیسا - مترجم: یوسف سلیمان سالم-داستان تاریخی

An idealistic abolitionist, March has gone as chaplain to serve the Union cause. But the war tests his faith not only in the Union - which is also capable of barbarism and racism - but in himself. As he recovers from a near-fatal illness, March must reassemble and reconnect with his family, who have no idea of what he has endured. A love story set in a time of catastrophe, March explores the passions between a man and a woman, the tenderness of parent and child, and the life-changing power of an ardently held belief.

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Bear with me. I have a lot of thoughts.

Ive thought about reading this book off and on for years, since it a) won the Pulitzer, and b) is about Mr. March, the mostly absent father in LITTLE WOMEN, one of my favorite books. Two good recommendations, right? But Ive never really been all that curious about Mr. March, and I heard some mixed reviews from friends, so I put it aside. Enter my new book club, and this is the first book were reading. And so Im working really hard on finding some ways to talk about the book tonight at our first meeting, without offending anyone or hurting the feelings of the woman who chose it. For all I know, its her all-time favorite book.

So, anyway! I will share my thoughts here, with you all. And they are, as follows:

What, what, WHAT was Geraldine Brooks thinking?

Okay, okay, I will try to get my thoughts in order. There may be spoilers, just you know, consider yourself warned. Basically, this is not a sequel or prequel to LITTLE WOMEN, it is mostly a book about the Civil War. Fine. Good. But historical fiction, at least that which covers topics that have been covered a lot before, needs a hook. Why read this book, and not some other book about that era, right? So the hook here is the connection to LITTLE WOMEN, which is . . . well, crap. Not just because I have never, NEVER wanted to know about the sex lives of Jo and Megs parents (MINE EYES HATH BEEN SOILED), but because it also contradicts their characters in the book. You thought that Mr. March, (based on Alcotts own father, a genius, scholar, and philosopher), went to war with the full approval of his family, where he brought strength and comfort to those around him? Nope. He was so blunderingly naive that he was a danger to himself and others the entire time. I lost count of the people who died because he was an idiot. And as for Marmee, that calm wise presence . . . just a bitter, foul-mouthed shrew, really. She reins it in here and there, under the loving direction of her husband, but mostly she is verbally and occasionally physically abusive. Oh. Right. I must have missed that in the original. Such additions, to make the characters more rounded, would have been forgivable if there had been any hints at all of such things in Alcotts books, and if they hadnt made both Mr. March and Marmee seem so completely unlikeable. Not just flawed, human characters, but outright unlikeable. March seems like a fool, and a martyr, trying to get himself killed to make up for his many, awful mistakes. Marmee is such a harridan that I cannot fathom anyone sympathizing with her, let alone loving her. Ever. In one of the first scenes with Marmee its revealed that she is a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Neat, right? But we find this out because she berates everyone at a dinner party who isnt helping slaves escape. Um, doesnt that actually make her a liability to them? If everyone in Concord knows shes hiding people in her cellar, and they dont approve, arent they worried that someone will tell the slave-catchers? Its just bizarre. Had they not been characters I @knew@ from another book, this would have been hard enough to read, since reading unlikeable POV characters is not my favorite thing, but since March and Marmee are beloved figures from my childhood, it started to make me think that Brooks had some vindictive reason for doing this. She seemed determined, especially with the final scene, to take a beloved childhood memory for many readers, and just, well, piss all over it.

The final scene! Seriously. Without going into too much spoilage, she essentially recreates an iconic scene from LITTLE WOMEN, only now we (supposedly) know what was @really going on,@ which makes the scene absolutely horrible. Like, unbearably bitter and without hope of redemption.

What makes this even worse (as if that were possible) is that not only is the prose quite lovely, but Brooks passes over a great hook, a perfect idea for a Civil War era novel, that didnt have to involve the destruction of someone elses characters. The best section of the book involves March spending time on a leased plantation, something that I had no idea was a @thing.@ As the war progressed, plantations that had been occupied by the north were leased to northerners, and the liberated slaves were paid to stay on and work the cotton for the Union Army. This produced rather mixed results, of course, and with the Secession army sabotaging them along the way. Now that, right there, would have made an infinitely better book! What a waste!

مشاهده لینک اصلی
This is one of the most Pulizer-worthy novels Ive read in a long while. The novel tells the previously untold story of the absent father in Louisa May Alcotts Little Women. In Little Women, the reader only gets to know Peter March through his letters sent home to his family from the Civil War. Of course, in the interest of sparing his family the details of war, his letters are more cheerful than his reality. Geraldine Brooks uses the novel March to tell of Mr. Marchs early life as a traveling salesman, of his first kiss with someone other than his future wife, of the meeting of his wife, of his connections to Emerson and Thoreau, of his strong abolitionist sentiments, of the war that changed him both physically and mentally, and of misunderstandings and wrongs that were never made right in his life. Brooks draws heavily from the journals of Alcotts own father, Bronson Alcott, in order to flesh out the character of Mr. March. Since the @little women@ in Alcotts novels were based on the members of her own family, it makes sense that Mr. March would be based on her father and that the March family would be acquainted with the same people they were. The Alcotts were, after all, contemporaries and acquaintances of many of the transcendentalist thinkers and writers of the time such as Emerson and Thoreau.

This is definitely the best prequel written by a different author that Ive ever read. I remember being completely disappointed trying to read sequels or prequels by different authors for books such as Gone With the Wind . The authors journalistic background definitely helped her to give attention to the proper details needed to research such a book.

I initially did not recognize the name of the author as being the author of Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women, a book that I loved so much that I ... er ... bought it from the library pretending that Id lost it (in the days before amazon.com made any book accessible for purchase). Nine Parts of Desire is a work of non-fiction that she wrote as a journalist. So Im thrilled to see that she has such a beautiful piece of fiction out there as well. Halfway through the book, I found myself saying to myself, @wow, this is a good book@ and hoping to read something else by her soon. Years of Wonder tells the story of the bubonic plague in a small English town and People of the Book is freshly out in hardback.

Frankly, though, what Im feeling the need to re-read immediately is Little Women. I absolutely adored that book as a child. I always saw myself as Jo because I loved to write. And I always hated that the character with my name (Amy) was such a spoiled brat.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
I now know, having perused Geraldine Brooks website, that March won the 2006 Pulitzer prize for fiction. I had not noticed that it had received such acclaim when I pulled it from the shelf at our modest library, but now, having finished the last page, I am not surprised it did. It is good. Brooks is an authentic voice. Her extensive reading of primary sources, particularly the writings of Bronson Alcott, that was the inspiration for L.M. Alcotts father figure in Little Women, gives Brooks a handle on the cadences of 19th century prose. Combined with her literary skill, Brooks brings to her narrative journalistic details, a result of her experience as a correspondent in war-torn countries.

In the novel, Brooks gives thoughtful consideration to a quandry common to many: how do we come to terms with the discrepency between our ideals and the realities of life? Mr. March is a pacifist, and enlists as a chaplain, seeking to live out his beliefs. Later, he later sees people in his care killed, and killed because of his own cowardice or in the effort to save him. It is a difficult cross to bear. Grace, the educated daughter of a plantation owner and his slave, offers this perspective to Mr. March as he flagellates himself for the horrors he believe he has caused:

@You are not God. You do not determine the outcome. The outcome is not the point.

@The what, pray, is the point? His voice was a dry, soft rattle, like a breeze through a bough of dead leaves.

@The point is the effort. That you, believing what you believed--what you sincerely believed, including the commandment thou shalt not kill--acted upon it. To believe, to act, and to have events confound you--I grant you, that is hard to bear. But to believe, and not to act, or to act in a way that every fiber of your soul held was wrong--how can you not see? That is what would have been reprehensible.@ (258)

Later, Grace continues:

I simply ask you to see that there is only one thing to do when we fall, and that is to get up, and go on with the life that is set in front of us, and try to do the good of which our hands are capable for the people who come in our way. (268)

This embodiment of grace is probably the greatest reason I found to love March, and to appreciate it for more than the historical fiction it is in genre. Brooks is right, and she expresses the truth eloquently; we waste precious time beating ourselves up over past failures. The only hope is to forgive, ourselves, then others, moving forward with conviction and compassion.

Related Links:

@March to the Front,@ an article about Brooks journey to writing March, by Catherine Keenan of the Sydney Morning Herald

@The Writing Life,@ Geraldine Brooks reflections on her craft

مشاهده لینک اصلی
** spoiler alert ** Disappointing. I think I am done with classics spin-offs. The writing was fabulous, but I got fed up with inconsistencies in the characters and disappointments I felt about their portrayed actions. Halfway through I thought about giving up and should have. I hoped there would be redemption at the end and there really wasnt, at least not enough for me. There were two things that bothered me the most. 1)Mr. March, a poor farm boy, @loves@ Marmee enough to teach her to control her temper, yet he cant seem to control his own sexual urges. Whatever. Especially that he risked her good standing by seducing her and then rushing to her father for a quick marriage, thinking he was saving her. Blah. What if her father had refused to let Mr. March even marry her? Mr. Marchs pride was disturbing. Was Brooks message that even good, kind people have major faults? 2)The nausiating difference in what Marmee thought about Mr. March going to war and what Mr. March thought she was thinking. Im sure Brooks was trying to make the Little Women charachters more realistic, but the division and lack of true communication between Marmee and Mr. March really bothered me. I dont even feel like Mr. March repents of his pride, so what was the point of the story? That war is awful? That this life is full of suffering? That men are bad? I have no idea. I dont recommend this book. I did learn that if I dont feel like finishing a book, I probably have the feeling for a good reason and should listen to myself.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
You read a book and its complexities will devour you and leave you unable to describe the feeling. There is not much I can say here. Complex characters, complex story, a complex timeframe, embodied within graceful prose. Enough narrative distance to create objectivity. Gut-wrenching. Soul-searching.

There is March, the main character, an abolitionist, who leaves his family to join the American Civil War as a chaplain. Then again, March is but a speck in the book, as there is an intricate plot which surrounds him. Through March, the brutal side of war is shown. Still, there is love and love letters to add to the beauty of the plot. There are the horrors of slavery mentioned, horrific scenes that made my insides crawl. Another stamp on history, this book (which uses fact as a scaffold) for a race that has endured unspeakable crimes.

All this, told with the charm of historical language and modeled after the classic, Little Women . Since the classic was about how a year lived at the @edge of war@ changed the characters of those little women, Brooks wanted to give the father a voice he never had. How was he changed? What did he see? How did his view of the human race get altered? The result is stunning.

Daylight. Still, at last. Underneath me, leaves. Above, a blur of branches. My eyes focused on a single leaf, turned before its time. Scarlet and gold. The color throbbed against a sky of brilliant blue. All that beauty. That immensity. And it will exist, even when I am not here to look at it. Marmee will see it, still. And my little women. That, I suppose, is the meaning of grace. Grace.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
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