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Rameau's Niece

3.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  225 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
This witty companion to Rameau's Nephew, Diderot's light-footed masterpiece, traces the vagaries of a young woman's life as it begins to duplicate the surprising gyrations of an eighteenth-century lascivious novel she has uncovered. Along the path of temptation, love, lust, folly, and reconciliation through the sophisticated labyrinth of contemporary Manhattan, we join thi ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 1st 1994 by Plume (first published 1993)
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While it's gratifying to see how much Schine has developed as a novelist between this and The Three Weissmans of Westport, I can't say that's reason enough to read this earlier effort. It sounded promising: neurotic professor in NYC, working on a text of 18th-century erotica posing as a philosophical documents (excerpted within the novel, a la Possession), and she becomes a bit too immersed in her work and it distorts her perceptions. But it's rather too fluffy, the perspective too embedded in o ...more
Jun 06, 2011 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book for free through the Goodreads First Read giveaway.

This book was a chore. Rarely have I encountered characters that I liked less. It's hard to tell if the characters are meant to be a parody of the over-thinky academic or not, but this is the perfect example of why a lot of people don't like academics (and I've read and loved a lot of books about the same). The structure and plot was as much of a deterrent as the characters. It's as though the author was intentionally trying
Jul 24, 2016 Lily rated it it was amazing
I loved this! This is the second Cathleen Schine I've read, and I have to say, she is highly underrated. Rameau's Niece is apparently a play on the philosophical edict Rameau's Nephew by Diderot (sidenote, Philosophy 101 is really a prerequisite for this book, but I did ok). Margaret Nathan, married to her professor, finds a copy of a manuscript which plagiarizes large portions of Rameau's Nephew (over my head). The excerpts of the story within a story were unbearable to read: so philosophical a ...more
May 14, 2011 Brenda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
What if a female scholar, neurotic (but not so talkative) as a Woody Allen character, resented her husband for succumbing to a mid-life crisis (before he actually succumbed to one), and lapsed into her own? What if her reading of eighteenth-century philosophy and pornography penetrated her psyche in the same way that a method actor’s research oftentimes worries or warps the amorphous boundaries of his own actual identity?

What if identity depended on memory, but this intellectual, female protago
Sep 26, 2012 Shirley rated it it was amazing
There's a novel within the novel and a dissertation too, if only the protagonist could remember what she wrote it on! This novel is a lively, contemporary look into intellectual Neapolitan life amongst the literati movers and shakers of NYC.
What brilliant fun it is to be given a peek into the sleek lives of the uppercrust, into the higher echelons of the big city intellectual social set.

A neurotic story of love and friendship and a hilarious look at all the lovers that could have been. The nov
Aug 10, 2015 Melissa rated it it was ok
It's hard to enjoy a novel when the central characters are selfish, egotistical and apathetic. The idea of interlacing a modern relationship with centuries old French smut philosophy is intriguing, but in the end, it just failed due to the narrator's complete off-putting personality.
Oct 25, 2013 Mae rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret è una scrittrice che, parallelamente allo studio di un manoscritto libertino, mette in dubbio il proprio felice rapporto con il geniale marito Edward e si lancia in un vortice di fantasie adultere.
La prima parte del romanzo è un infinito racconto di felice vita coniugale e di insicurezze intellettual-borghesi. La seconda parte, invece, prendendo come pretesto un incontro a dir poco banale della protagonista con un misterioso francese, vorrebbe essere un parallelo della sua vita con il m
Got it free from school. Remember kinda liking it. But, can't really remember it well. Meant to read her other stuff. Hasn't happened yet. Will at some point.
Jul 09, 2013 Jgknobler rated it it was ok
How could a novel with such sparkling wit can be so boring? An academic with a poor memory (I liked that conceit--made me feel better about myself) is writing about a Victorian pornographic novel she has discovered, and somehow, for no apparent reason, begins to fall in love with various people in her life-- her dentist, her agent, a woman friend-- abandoning her brilliant and loving husband. All this must have something to do with Diderot's Rameau's Nephew, but a casual glance at Wikipedia did ...more
Nov 30, 2014 Ako31 rated it it was amazing
intelligent and fun, quirky - good for lovers of poetry.

Beautifully written.
Jun 15, 2011 Judy rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
athleen Schine writes in so many different voices! This book was harder to get into than the others I've read, but I came to enjoy it. It's a novel about an internalized, intellectualized woman who is so removed from her feelings that she makes many strange choices. An academic writer in the field of literature, she stumbles upon an 18th century "philosphic," erotic book that captures her imagination and starts to influence her life. Very funny in a dry humor kind of way.
Procyon Lotor
Fra il bh e il bh (son dovuto accedere alla sintesi per ricordarmi qualcosa) - onesto libro d'intrattenimento da commedia leggera, quella che diverte pur non rassomigliando in nulla alla vita, letto tanto tempo fa che potrebbe essere iscritto a campione del genio del marketing librario adelphiano, in compenso l'illustrazione un dettaglio del meraviglioso "les hasards heureux de l'escarpolette" di Fragonard. Per alcuni, da secoli, quasi un talismano contro la tristezza. ...more
Apr 23, 2012 Freddie rated it liked it
The summary on the back of the book sounded right up my alley. A young woman becoming morbidly obsessed with an obscure book? Sign me up. But I quickly grew bored with this. I did, however, enjoy the bits about the insufferable group of people she was forced to be around thanks to her husband. They were straight out of a Dorothy Parker story.
Pamela Murray
Jun 28, 2011 Pamela Murray rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This is an oddly written book. It seems to be a combination of a send-up of East Coast intelligentsia, a philosophical treatise/pornographic adaptation, and bildungsroman. The combination is a bit murky. On the other hand, the protagonist is appealing even when she is at her most irritating, and many scenes are laugh out loud funny.
Wendy Tatton
I received this book for free through the Goodreads First Read giveaway.

For me, this book was a hard read. I read it for a few days then put it down and it took 2 weeks for me to go back to it. I did not find myself really caring about any of the characters or what happend to them.
Feb 11, 2013 Sps rated it really liked it
Shelves: language, story, kindle, funny
3.5 or 4 for sheer enjoyment. If Norman Rush and Stella Gibbons had a rom-com baby, this would be it.
Jun 14, 2011 Anita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how I missed reading Cathleen Schine's earlier novels but they are all brilliant. She has her intellectual tongue in cheek throughout the book and it moves fast and is a great pleasure to read.
Mar 07, 2011 Myonly rated it it was ok
I love this author but reading this book made me feel kind of stupid! Might be worth re-reading as I think I was a little on the young end of my literary life when I read it.
Sep 25, 2011 Bibliophile rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2011
The conceit of this novel didn't really work for me; Margaret felt much older than her supposed age of 28 and her forgetfulness seemed pathological rather than charming.
May 03, 2014 Erino rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Although this dragged in places, the second half picked up and I was reminded of academia's Postmodern obsessions during my college days.
Nov 27, 2008 Trina added it
I remember loving this, but for the life of me I can't remember the story. A comedy of New York manners is all I can think of. Schine is funny and smart.
Sep 03, 2007 Kim rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one!
I thought this book was horrible. I had to force myself to finish reading it. (I am stubborn and never give up reading a book, unfortunately!)
Nov 18, 2012 Cat rated it liked it
Lido em Português.
Título em Portugês: As Desventuras de Margaret
Editorial Presença, Coleção Grandes Narrativas
ISBN: 972-23-2509-4
Sep 30, 2009 Elaine rated it really liked it
I remember this fondly, but don't hold it against it if my memory is errant or I had no taste whenever it was I read it.
Adele Goetz
Jun 08, 2010 Adele Goetz rated it it was ok
This book had it's witty moments, but the protagonist was so completely annoying that I barely made it to the end.
May 10, 2011 Sharon rated it it was ok
I thought I would have gotten more out of this if I was familiar with "Diderot's Nephew."
Jul 25, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing
A fun romp through some of the more arcane fields of academia. I loved this book.
Jan 20, 2009 Dani rated it it was ok
Easy, light, made me smile b/c I share some neuroses with the character...
Aug 01, 2011 Linda added it
Good writing, interesting conecpt but characters were disappointng
Jan 30, 2009 Jeanie rated it it was ok
Witty but forgetable.
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Cathleen Schine is the author of The New Yorkers, The Love Letter, and The Three Weissmanns of Westport among other novels. She has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, and The New York Times Book Review.
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