Like a lot of utopias, Walden Two has very little in the way of plot. What there is just serves as an excuse to put the characters together in the titLike a lot of utopias, Walden Two has very little in the way of plot. What there is just serves as an excuse to put the characters together in the title community and get them arguing over its merits.
The characters were also fairly flat, since they existed mostly as mouthpieces for different academic orthodoxies. (The narrator is a psychologist, like the founder of the fictional community Walden Two, and frequently finds himself agreeing with him despite initial reservations. The primary antagonist and critic of Walden Two is a philosophy professor).
What disappointed me most, given the identity of its author, was the lack of a detailed explanation of how the community worked. About the only concrete detail we get of the community's workings is the relatively mundane fact that members pay their way by working two hours a day. Really, most of the things that are debated heatedly in this book seem to the modern reader to be hardly relevant at all. ...more
In the introduction to this book, it says that Sinclair Lewis proved, in writing it, that American idealism was incompatible with tragedy. The hero, MIn the introduction to this book, it says that Sinclair Lewis proved, in writing it, that American idealism was incompatible with tragedy. The hero, Martin Arrowsmith, is a quintessential American idealist: he's hardworking, smart, ambitious, stubborn and cheerful. He's a young doctor who vows during medical school that he, unlike his dull and greedy peers, will devote his life to Pure Science. The rest of his career following graduation is his attempt to live that dream while every job he accepts pressures him to compromise it --- first, he work as a doctor in his fiancee's hometown, where her family supports his practice and makes him spend his time treating the imaginary ailments of the town worthies' hypochondriac wives; later, he works as an assistant to a grandstanding country doctor whose political skills exceed his medical knowledge, as a researcher in a lab more interested in selling drugs than letting Arrowsmith pursue Truth, and so on. Arrowsmith finds himself unhappy in all of these settings because he feels his grand intentions are being thwarted, but he still keeps trying and keeps hoping.
I did not quite finish this book --- I had something like twenty pages left when I had to give it back, so it may be that in those last pages the conflict between optimism and tragedy is resolved....more
Loosely based on author F. Scott Fitzgerald's marriage to Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, Tender Is the Night follows the courtship and marriage of the ambitiLoosely based on author F. Scott Fitzgerald's marriage to Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, Tender Is the Night follows the courtship and marriage of the ambitious psychiatrist Dick Diver and the schizophrenic heiress Nicole Warren, who is also his patient. As you might guess, the relationship is far from healthy, and most of the book is spent chronicling its souring.
Because of its chronological structure, this book is a little hard to decipher. Part I is set on the Riviera, with Dick and Nicole vacationing with a group of friends. Part II starts out a decade before that, but spans many years, ultimately getting ahead of Part I. It's also never made clear when time is passing. You really have to sit and think about when the part you're reading is taking place, and try to piece together a timeline yourself.
According to Wikipedia, Fitzgerald got so many complaints about the confusing structure of this novel that later editions were arranged in chronological order. It's the 1951 edition, published posthumously by a friend of Fitzgerald's, that is arranged that way; the original, convoluted version was published in 1934. ...more
You can tell from the very start that this book isn't for everybody; the (fortysomething) narrator immediately starts rhapsodizing about the irresistiYou can tell from the very start that this book isn't for everybody; the (fortysomething) narrator immediately starts rhapsodizing about the irresistible loveliness of preadolescent girls. But if the premise isn't a dealbreaker for you (this is, after all, the story of the narrator's very illegal affair with the title character), you'll find the novel is a pleasure to read. Nabokov's writing is laugh-out-loud witty, and he peoples this novel with his usual cast of colorful eccentrics. ...more