Ragtime
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Ragtime

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  19,314 ratings  ·  1,208 reviews
Published in 1975, Ragtime changed our very concept of what a novel could be. An extraordinary tapestry, Ragtime captures the spirit of America in the era between the turn of the century & the First World War. The story opens in 1906 in New Rochelle, NY, at the home of an affluent American family. One lazy Sunday afternoon, the famous escape artist Harry Houdini swerve...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 17th 2010 by Random House (first published 1974)
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Paul
Nov 22, 2013 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
Today I was thinking of the 101 reasons why I love books, the actual physical papery pagey spiney things with words all over them, and one of the reasons was that they're not machines. Everything i seem to have to do these days is with some kind of machine. At work, of course, chained to the pc - actually it's a laptop on a docking station with two screens, I wonder when they'll add me a third, and although I'm emailing and talking to people all day long (sexy voiced nurses from France and Argen...more
Hadrian
Ragtime is a historical fiction with a heavy focus on the history. Large stretches of the novel are narrative digressions on contemporary figures ranging from Houdini and Emma Goldman to Freud, Ford, and Morgan, but also a look at the farce of race and justice with a heavy homage from Michael Kohlhaas.

Doctorow wants to create here an authentic yet critical look at the transformation of the United States at this time, and he does so with a choking degree of irony. If I'll quote sentences from th...more
rinabeana
This is a fantastic work of historical fiction. My (somewhat stricter than other people's) definition of historical fiction is a novel in which historical figures not only play a part, but interact with the fictional characters in the story. This novel delivered that in spades! I don't have a large amount of background on the historical figures in the novel, but I read up a little on them and it became clear to me how well Doctorow had fit his fictional characters into their lives. None of what...more
Agnieszka

And though the newspapers called the shooting the Crime of the Century, Goldman knew it was only 1906 and there were ninety-four years to go.

Ragtime is a colourful patchwork - like picture of America in the early XX century, when …Patriotism was a reliable sentiment…Everyone wore white in summer…There were no Negroes.There were no immigrants. It’s a story in which fates of fictitious heroes intertwine with authentic figures of epoch like magician Houdini, tycoons J.P.Morgan and Henry Ford,an ana...more
Allie Whiteley
Just stunning. One of the best books I've read in a long time. Beautifully written and utterly engrossing, I didn't want it to end (which is one reason I took so long reading it). Very cleverly plotted and extremely atmospheric. The way Doctorow weaves together all the loose ends is masterful. His blending of fact and fiction works superbly well. A wonderful novel.
Ally Armistead
"Ragtime" is one of the most unusual novels I have ever read. It is fragmentary, hectic--the lives of early twentieth-century people, some famous and others fictional, burst onto the page without apology, without qualification or exclamation for their ambition. Houdini strives to stand out and above the progress in technology. Morgan wants to find the essence of the genius. Emma Goldman wants the world to run amuck, promotes anarchy and freedom of all humans--outside of institutions. Evelyn Nesb...more
Paul
Very enjoyable semi-historical novel set in America at the turn of the 2oth century.
The novel revolves around the fortunes of three families; a white family who are unnamed and referred to as father, mother and mother's younger brother, a jewish family and a black family. Their lives intersect in happy and tragic ways. Interspersed are real life characters such as Houdini, Peary,Ford, Morgan (JP), Emma Goldman and part of the fun is spotting the real life characters amongst the fictional.
There...more
Darwin8u
So my first book of 2014 isn't even on my to-read list. Must be good. Yes, in fact it is the killer historical novel of the Ragtime era. It is the big uncle to late 90s Philip Roth ('I Married a Communist', 'American Pastoral') , Don DeLillo ('Libra', 'Underworld'), Gore Vidal ('Empire, Hollywood') & Norman Mailer* (Executioner's Song & Harlot's Ghost) novels which seem to all bend a little to the wind that blew out of this syncopated, tight, urgent historical novel. Doctorow captures a...more
Celeste Ng
The dust jacket on my copy read: "It is a novel so original, so full of imagination and subtle pleasure, that to describe it further would only dilute the pure joy of reading it. Turn to the first page. Begin. You will never have read anything like _Ragtime_ before. Nothing quite like it has ever been written before."

I thought this must be a huge exaggeration. Then I read the book. In fact it's completely the truth. It blends historical personages with central characters who are given no names b...more
Leland
This is one of the finest American historical novels yet written. Doctorow recreates the turbulent atmosphere of the early 20th Century through wonderful characters, both historical (including Emma Goldman, Harry Houdini, Booker T. Washington, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Henry Ford) and many memorable fictional characters, like Coalhouse Walker. The book is about America at a time of increased prosperity, great poverty, racial inequality, immigrant sacrifice, and the road to the First World War...more
Joy H.
Re: _Ragtime_ by E.L. Doctorow

2/18/11 - I've finished reading this book. I have to say that I enjoyed the film more. The plotline with the Coalhouse Walker, Jr. character was diluted in the book because the book (as opposed to the film) included more characters and subplots. Much of the text was taken up with the blending of the fictitious characters with the true-life historical personages and historic events. Although it was interesting the way Doctorow wove the fiction and non-fiction togethe...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This is the sort of historical novel I like. There were many real people with minor roles or cameo appearances - J.P Morgan and Henry Ford among them - used as a backdrop for unnamed fictional characters. The real story was the fictional characters. The major plot point rested on one Coalhouse Walker, Jr., for whom google returns only references to this novel. Perhaps real, perhaps not, and eventually I decided it didn't matter to me. The other major characters seemed composites and emblematic o...more
Adam
E.L. Doctorow has a beautiful style, a prose poetry that combines Dos Passos, black, ironic comedy, musical rhythms, and the ability to make history dirty, alive, and relevant. There has been some attempt to franchise this book into respectability but ignore that, as nothing can replicate the experience of actually reading this classic. Bawdy, irreverent, angry, and thoroughly eviscerating of an era commonly portrayed with nostalgia. The end of the gilded age or progressive era is portrayed as a...more
Katherine
Historical fiction tends to run into this problem of interior authenticity - you can perfectly nail a description of a Model T ambling its way along a cobblestone street, but what is the person driving the Model T thinking? How can an author living in our era get inside the selves of characters who inhabit a completely different time?

Ragtime's major success is that it lays out its characters' inner lives in all their strangeness to our own. It sets semi-legendary historical figures within their...more
Amir
مترجم: نجف دریابندری. تعداد صفحات کتاب: 280 صفحه.
در این کتاب نویسنده آمیخته ای از اتفاقات و شخصیت های واقعی آمریکا در حوالی سالهای 1975 رو با شخصیت ها و اتفاقهای رمان گونه به تصویر کشیده. سبک کتاب سبک ادبیات آمریکایی و رئال هست. از شخصیت های واقعی که بهشون در این کتاب اشاره شده میشه از "اما گلدمن"، "هنری فورد"، "مورگان" و "هری هودینی" نام برد. نکته جالب این هست که خیلی از شخصیت های رمان داستان اسم ندارن و مثلا به اسم دائی کوچیکه یا پدر نامیده میشن. از لحاظ تاریخی کتاب میتونه حاوی اطلاعات خوبی ب...more
Andy
Ragtime is iconic, with figures like Harry Houdini and Emma Goldman featured as characters, while still being an extremely well-written piece of literature, and addressing so many of the political and social issues of the time which are, frankly, still often political and social issues today (or perhaps, more where certain p. and s. issues relevant to contemporary situations really kind of began, with the 20's being a booming time where corporate America really got its firm foothold in the power...more
Chrissie
How to best describe this book so prospective readers will know whether they w like it or not? Look at the beginning lines of the book description: "An extraordinary tapestry, Ragtime captures the spirit of America in the era between the turn of the century & the First World War. The story opens in 1906 in New Rochelle, NY." Tapestry is the word you want to pay attention to. When you look at a tapestry you see a lot of small details, but you don't get much deep understanding. You are present...more
Tracey
Dec 18, 2007 Tracey rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in a slice of life story from turn of the 10th century New York City
Shelves: nyc
I tried to take my time with this book & pretty much failed. I found it to be a fascinating look at the turn of the 20th century as viewed by 3 families living in the greater New York City area and how their lives intertwine with each other, as well as famous figures such as Harry Houdini, J.P. Morgan, Emma Goldman & Evelyn Nesbit. I thought it was a little odd (and distracting) that the main family had no names, instead going by Father, Mother and Mother's Younger Brother, despite makin...more
Steve
Sometime early in his career E.L. Doctorow figured out a great formula for historical fiction. He takes real life iconic figures from whatever era he’s covering and has them interact in believable ways with his fictional characters. It makes for a “show, don’t tell” scenario that brings history alive. With Ragtime, we get to peek inside the heads of Houdini, Freud, J.P. Morgan, Emma Goldman, Henry Ford and others. In the process, we learn the issues of the day and get an authentic feel for the s...more
Masoomeh Tavakoli
یک پازل عجیب تاریخی
طنز فوق العاده
نثر یکپارچه و منسجم
ترجمه ی خیلی خوب
!و پاراگراف هایی نگذشتنی

پ.ن. نسخه ای که من خواندم، متعلّق به زهرا مینایی است.
خودم برایش خریده و بلندترین تقدیم نامه ی جهان را اوّلش نوشته ام...
به تاریخ 20 بهمن 1386
هی روزگار...
Nick Richtsmeier
E. L. Doctorow mystically does here what so few successfully do: he intertwines the ficticious and the factual in a way that reminds us how distant we are from the truth. Our memories of times and places are not facts, nor are they reality. They are frescos, paintings of a former time, where the events that create themes are the ones we remember, and the ones set into marble are those that are lightposts defining a certain time.
Such is what Doctorow does with the turn of the 20th century. He gi...more
James
For the first time, I've read a book purely because of its existence on the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. Ragtime was the group read of the month, for January, in the accompanying Goodreads group. I immediately ordered it from my local library, and miraculously it turned up, nearly three months later towards the end of March. Upon collecting it from the library, not only was it now two months after the group had finished reading the book, but I'd somehow ordered the large-prin...more
Bill
Wildly Overrated (2013)

Doctorow, E.L. (1974). Ragtime. New York: Penguin.

This impressionistic portrait of New York in the early 1900’s has been widely praised as a “classic,” and has been made into a movie and a Broadway show. I can't understand the attraction.

The story is roughly centered on the life of an upper-class family in New York, but dozens of other sub-stories flare up and die down around them. A rich socialite who married for money defends her husband who killed her lover, a famous ar...more
lisa_emily
When I was 11 or so, my father received a pile of paperback, from whom or why, I never knew. The paperbacks lined up on a shelf in the basement guestroom. During the summers, I would be stuck at home without access to books, so I started to read the paperbacks. They were for adults and covered grown-up themes. I remember most of the books: Bellefleur by Joyce Carol Oats; Goodbye, Janette by Harold Robbins; Cashelmara by Susan Howatch; Falling in Place by Anne Beattie; and this book, Ragtime. The...more
Ardeshir Tayebi
برنامه‌ریزی کرده بودم تا در طول جشنواره فیلم فجر ۹۲ و در اوقاتی که تنها در لابی سینما منتظر آغاز فیلم هستم این کتاب را بخوانم. حساب کرده بودم اگر شبی ۲۰ تا ۳۰ صفحه بخوانم ظرف یازده روز جشنواره کتاب را تمام می‌کنم. ولی به روز چهارم نرسیده تمام شد! خاطرم نیست کتابی ۳۰۰ صفحه‌ای را هیچ وقت به این سرعت تمام کرده باشم.
رگتایم داستانی بسیار خواندنی دارد که در لابلای تاریخ آمریکا در اوایل قرن بیستم بافته شده. دکتروف به طرز فوق‌العاده هنرمندانه‌ای واقعیت و خیال را به هم تنیده و نتیجه‌ی کار داستانی بسیار...more
Settare
جمله‌های کوتاه و ریز اما تیز. نثر قوی، ترجمه بسیار خوب نجف دریابندری، اطلاعات تاریخی مفید، قرن بیستم آمریکا را چه خوب شروع می‌کند. اما سلیقه چیزیست که در تمام آدم‌ها وجود دارد: عده‌ای مونالیزا را شاهکار دو عالم می‌دانند، عده‌ای پرتره‌ای بی‌ارزش، و بعضی افراد تحصیل کرده و دانای نقاش جزو دسته دوم هستند. در مورد آثار هنری و ادبی به طور قاطع نمی‌توانیم نظر بدهیم. هیچ گاه بهترین کتاب، بهترین تابلو، یا بهترین قطعه موسیقی را نمی‌توانیم انتخاب کنیم. رگتایم آدم‌های مختلف را متفاوت می‌نوازد. برای من تحملش...more
Rob
What a magical book. I wish I'd read it many years ago and I might have finished it in a day but I wanted to savor it. Doctorow writes in unassuming declarative sentences that he assembles into long paragraphs where those plain bricks are somehow built into works of beautiful architecture, every once in a while topping those structures with a sentence that just stops you cold. The resulting atmosphere resembles magical realism, except nothing magical happens in the plot, the magic is in Doctorow...more
Hugo
The novel opens in the year 1902, in the town of New Rochelle, New York, at the house of an upper class family comprised of Mother, Father, and the little boy. Mother's Younger Brother falls in love with the famous beauty Evelyn Nesbit, whose husband Harry Thaw has recently been charged with the murder of her ex- husband, architect Stanford White. Harry Houdini's car breaks in front of the family's house, and he pays them a visit. Father leaves on a trip to the Arctic with the explorer Peary.
A...more
Dan
Like most Americans I’d like to use a time machine*, but unlike most Americans I know I would be horrified by what I saw as much, if not more than I’d be enamored with the times I’d visit in American (and world) history. For now, Ragtime is my time machine and happily Doctorow doesn’t hold up the past as a shining beacon, but rather gives us a glimpse into the lives of many Americans in the early 20th century. A story of wealth both non-existent and great, race, culture, success and failure Ragt...more
Ms. Jones
Apr 02, 2008 Ms. Jones rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All E6 students!
Recommended to Ms. by: Mr. De Martini
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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E. L. DOCTOROW’S works of fiction include Homer & Langley,The March, Billy Bathgate, Ragtime, the Book of Daniel, City of God, Welcome to Hard Times, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, The Waterworks, and All the Time in the World. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle Awards, two PEN Faulkner Awards, The Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, and the presidential...more
More about E.L. Doctorow...
The March Homer & Langley Billy Bathgate The Book of Daniel World's Fair

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“It was evident to him that the world composed and recomposed itself constantly in an endless process of dissatisfaction.” 27 likes
“I am often asked the question How can the masses permit themselves to be exploited by the few. The answer is By being persuaded to identify with them.” 25 likes
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