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3.57  ·  Rating details ·  2,741 Ratings  ·  282 Reviews
A young woman tumbles into a nightmare of decadent desire and corrupted innocence in a superb novella of suspense from National Book Award–winner Joyce Carol Oates. Art and arson, the poetry of D. H. Lawrence and pulp pornography, hero-worship and sexual debasement, totems and taboos mix and mutate into a startling, suspenseful tale of how a sunny New England college campu ...more
Paperback, Trade paperback, 138 pages
Published November 22nd 2002 by Carroll & Graf Publishers (first published 2001)
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Paul Bryant
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
Last night I went here

to meet a friend, and after a couple of bevvies we went here

and had a good meal - I had a weird rubbery starter followed by

PLA SAM ROD ( Boneless crispy fish cooked in exotic tamarind sauce) - most excellent. I recommend this restaurant.

The reason I took Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates with me is because it is a very tiny itty little book and fitted into my inside jacket pocket - the Very Short Introduction series are also good for this -

and the reason I needed a book with me
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Andre Harrow and his wife Dorcas came to Catamount College, in Massachusetts, in the mid 1960's

Gillian is 20 year of age .....
She was in her third year at the college... With an infatuation professor Andre Harrow.

Gillian wanted to 'be good' ...
"If you love a married man you exist in a special, secret, undeclared relationship with his wife."

She told her self no more---she resolved not to brood upon Andre Harrow anymore...

"You would wonder that I could be so emotionally inexperienced, or und
Robert Beveridge
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Joyce Carol Oates, Beasts (Carroll and Graf, 2002)

Joyce Carol Oates cannot be human.

It is simply impossible for a single human being to turn out the work she has over the course of her career, consistently stratospheric in both quality and quantity. Her thirty-year bibliography is so vast that the major internet repository of Oates research and criticism doesn't have a full list anywhere, but is now a searchable database. Another admittedly incomplete bibliography on the web lists eighty-nine bo
I read Beasts in about two hours on a hot day and felt like it could have been a dream, or a hallucination. A short, hazy, spellbinding story, it quite breathlessly races through a short period of time in the life of its young protagonist, Gillian, an undergraduate at Catamount College, Massachusetts, in the autumn of 1975. Gillian is in love with her professor, Andre Harrow, and fascinated by his sculptress wife, Dorcas. She is obsessed with becoming part of the Harrows' lives and, jealously fo ...more
Branwen Sedai *of the White Ajah*
Second Read: (4/2/2016) Just as dark, twisted, and seductive as I remembered it. Not a big fan of Joyce Carol Oates but I do love this book!

Original Review: (1.5.2001)
A gorgeous, lush, provocative story that really illustrates bond between professor/student and how corrupted it can become. I'm not a huge fan of Joyce Carol Oates, but I really enjoyed this book. The characters and writing style were so distinct and memorable. Additionally, I attribute my love of the poet D.H. Lawrence to this boo
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"...logic has nothing to do with truth, only with premises."

Apparently, the WORLD did not end today.
Then again, it's still early to assume.
Anyways, whether the world will end today or not, I've read Beasts in no rush at all. The pages simply flew on their own accord. Quick and haunting!

"In love at a distance, so much of life has to be invented.
In love at a distance, you learn the strategies of indirection."
Sarah Beaudoin
Dec 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
I found Beasts to be a disturbing combination of traditional Gothic horror and Clive Barker at his most vulgar. While Oates does not approach the graphic nature of Barker's writing, the innocence of her setting (a small, liberal arts college) and her protagonist (Gillian, a young, student at the college) makes the vulgarity all the more unsettling. The story itself moves rapidly and draws the reader into a shadowy world of deception, drugs, and sexual deviance, while simultaneously maintaining t ...more
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow...just wow!!

This little book packs a punch. It is so beautifully written I could have quoted the whole book.

Highly recommend!

Thank you Danielle for the rec. and the loan.
May 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
Erm. The jacket made this sound a bit more like a gothic horror romance than it was. Totally false advertising. Instead, I got a tedious period piece about spoiled college students in love with their wretched abuser of a professor and his sculptress wife. I found it tedious. And more a vehicle for Ms. Oates to show her own academic prowess than a suitable vehicle for storytelling. The crux of the book only takes about 30 of the book's 138 pages; everything else merely builds up to the plot. The ...more
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
In finishing the novella, I remain wholly unenthusiastic about its premise and conclusion. The characters were adequately developed: Gillian, Andre, and Dorcas made the [un?] holy trinity of main characters. The peripheral, secondary characters seemed heavy handed: Sybil? Marisa? ...They seemed written in as part of another story line that was never quite developed or integrated.

It's incidental to me that while the book takes place at a women's college, ostensibly among close friends, each actio
Lee Foust
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very troubling read in a really, really good way. While staying well within the POV of our now older, but generally once needy and naive young undergraduate narrator through her titillating and abusive relationship with a poetry teacher and his French artist sculptor wife, we get a panorama of beastly--non human, non rational, sensual (although perhaps that's too positive a word, but there's really less morality and more actual character study here so...)--behavior, attitudes, and acts ...more
Alexandra Le Trionnaire
The fascination that philosophy / poetry / literature professors exert on their students has given birth to countless books, out of which I can clearly recollect two, The Dying Animal by Roth and Disgrace by Coetzee. Both worth re-reading (a compared analysis would be worthwhile)

Unlike her male colleagues, Oates takes the narrative point of view of the young woman, and this is no small choice. The young silent Gillian alias Philomela, falls deeply in abnegation-love with her poetry professor - a
Bessie James
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm a huge Joyce Carol Oates fan, so there is some inherent prejudice in my view of this book. I see that by other reviews here, it's one of those love it/hate it books. I'm always puzzled by why a book elicits such diverse reactions.

With "Beasts", I think a lot has to do with the atmosphere of the novel -- an Eastern liberal arts college for women. I have no idea if it depicts this world accurately, having only attended college in a somewhat backward Montana town. This is key. If you can't imag
Mindy Conde
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
In a way this kept reminding me of "Lolita" - obviously there is the element of forbidden attraction tying them for me, but there was also the element of just plain creepiness. No matter what I read, Humbert Humbert remains one of the most disturbing characters I've ever read...until Andre and Dorcas Harrow in this piece. I think that Andre and Dorcas are particularly disturbing because, where Humbert Humbert mainly fantasizes about his nymphete, the Harrows enact their disturbing fantasies on m ...more
Jun 12, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, read-in-2013
Me ha interesado en momentos fugaces seguidos siempre de una decepción mil veces mayor que el interés. Banal, sin sustancia, tedioso, incluso infantil. Propio de adolescentes alteradas. Ni siquiera el aspecto formal se salva. No hay ni una mísera frase que se pueda destacar o considerar de alta calidad. Si todos sus libros son así no entiendo su estatus de “eterna candidata al Nobel”. Mientras leía tenía la sensación de estar escuchando a una de esas personas que se creen sus propias mentiras, q ...more
Devarsi Ghosh
May 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
I can safely say that this is the worst book I've ever read. It's so silly and stupid, and to think of the 'advance praises' on the cover...I can't put my irritation into words. I had heard good things about JCO but this was one hell of a disappointment.

'Deliciously Gothic'? Give me a break.
'Suspenseful and satisfying to the end'? Such a trite and tiring plot, man.
'Slightly bizarre characters'? More like badly sketched caricatures.
I hope to come across something a whole lot better by JCO cons
Dec 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gothic, contemporary
Great short novel investigates young female sexuality in the 1970's as exploited by the older and supposedly "Wiser" and more experienced. The setting is academia, but the gothic sensibilities, the attraction of the young for the more experienced, and the exploitation by those more experienced, is universal. D.H. Lawrence meets primitivistic sculpture as totems of life in the contemporary world. Interesting.
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
I learned about this book when I had to write copy for the Spanish-language edition for work. It seemed sexy and intriguing, and as I'm on yet another break from The Sound and the Fury, I thought I'd pick it up from the library.

The novel--or novella, perhaps, because it's only 138 pages--is about Gillian, a 1970s college student who falls desperately in love with Andre Harrow, one of her professors, as well as with Harrow's wife Dorcas, a sculptor of primitive and scandalous "totems"--statues of
May 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Joyce Carol Oates first ticked me off years ago when I was leafing through the 'Oxford Book of American Short Stories', which she edited. In her introduction to the flawless Flannery O'Connor story 'A Late Encounter With The Enemy', Oates calls O'Connor a "limited writer". Why the needless jab? It doesn't even make sense. Is O'Connor a limited writer because she didn't churn out limitless pages just for the sake of publishing as many books as possible? Because she didn't write in a variety of ge ...more
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book reminds me of the sublimely disturbing sculptress (quelle coincidence, given the sculptress character in the book) Berlinde de Bruyckere.

As with BDB's art, Oates' characters are all exposed as the rank, slowly degrading fleshy carcasses that they are, in spite of that which animates them- and the tension between that animating thing and the beastly suits they wear is emphasized.

This book is intended to make you uncomfortable, to assault you with your own nightmarish animality lurking
Jacqueline King
"Don't be fearful: excavate your soul. Go deeper! You can't go deeper? Go deeper. Go for the jugular."

My favourite Oates.

A delicious little gothic novella about a young girl, Gillian's, decent into debauchery with her poetry teacher and, later, his artist wife who creates wonderful grotesque statues. The writing is lyrical and emotional, flowing beautifully over a rather intense plot. Slowly Gillian's drug induced sexual obsessions intensify into a blazing crescendo. Usually I loathe a period pi
Kimberly Ann
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This felt more like a long short story or novella than anything else, to me, which perhaps it was billed as? I don't know. The writing was good and the ideas that it engaged with (or began to engage with) were interesting. I've never read much Oates except a short story here and there. I do enjoy a good story where much of what happens is personal and really more of things happening within someone than action-wise--so yeah, I did enjoy this, though i do feel like it's probably the tip of the ice ...more
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, usa
This was great - and just as long as it needed to be. It captures the essence of a time and place exceedingly well without going into excessive detail. The story is unnerving and quick to unfold.

I read a large-print edition of this book so I was comically turning the page every 10 seconds. I felt like a speed reader.
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Though a little dated in style and theme ( a dorm room full of girls in a small Eastern mountain college around 1979) it is still Joyce Carol Oates at her quivering, dark best. Deliciously evil and erotic fun and creepiness. A short read for a dark and stormy night.
Grainne Rhuad
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deliciously decadent read. I could not put this down. Immediately it pulled me in to the characters and their flaws, which were frightening and lovely to behold. A gothic type of novella which does not dissappoint.
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this for English class. I love this book! It's dark, well-written, and intriguing. Also pretty short, which was great for the end of semester crunch. I really want to read more Oates now.
Avid Reader
Oct 13, 2012 rated it liked it
This is the first book I've read written by Joyce Carol Oates though I have heard much about her as an author. After finishing this book, my inner reading conscience tells me that Beasts was not a good place to start.

The jacket art, The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli fascinates me and set high expectations that I feel were never met by the author. I may be a bit jaded in what shocks me but this story struck me as more Long Island Lolita than the "cunning fusion of Gothic romance and psychological hor
4 stars

“This is not a confession,” says Gillian Brauer at the beginning of Beasts, Joyce Carol Oates’s short and sinister novella. “I have nothing to confess.”

Of course, that’s not true. Gillian—a student at an elite, East Coast, all-girls college—has much to confess. First and foremost, her unhealthy obsession with her poetry professor, the domineering Dr. Andre Harrow, an obsession she then transfers to his sculptress wife Dorcas. But the Harrows, in turn, have some very unhealthy interests o
Bark's Book Nonsense
Dec 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I've enjoyed the few books I've read by Joyce Carol Oates. She always has some nicely dark edges to her stories and never bloats them with useless prose and description. When I first saw this one while nosing around here on someone's goodreads bookshelf the cover intrigued me and I knew I had to check it out.

Set in the 1970's this short book is about a young college student named Gillian who has a painful crush on one of her professor's who makes it a habit, it seems, to seduce his young charge
May 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
This novella surrounds a young girl at an all female college, and her (as well as other girl's) obsession with their highly sexualized poetry professor.

The book is told from the perspective of the main girl; in retrospect she is able to subdly highlight for the reader what a manipulative, abusive, pontificating asshole the professor is, while also submersing the reader in how he was viewed by the girls at the time- as well as exploring the dark side of her psyche and teasing us with a mystery.

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عنوان اصلی 2 2 Jul 19, 2012 04:56PM  
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure ...more
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