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The Accursed

The Accursed

Geschrieben von Joyce Carol Oates

Erzählt von Grover Gardner


The Accursed

Geschrieben von Joyce Carol Oates

Erzählt von Grover Gardner

Bewertungen:
3/5 (10 Bewertungen)
Länge:
22 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Mar 5, 2013
ISBN:
9780062243676
Format:
Hörbuch

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Beschreibung

A major historical novel from "one of the great artistic forces of our time" (The Nation)—an eerie, unforgettable story of possession, power, and loss in early-twentieth-century Princeton, a cultural crossroads of the powerful and the damned

Princeton, New Jersey, at the turn of the twentieth century: a tranquil place to raise a family, a genteel town for genteel souls. But something dark and dangerous lurks at the edges of the town, corrupting and infecting its residents. Vampires and ghosts haunt the dreams of the innocent. A powerful curse besets the elite families of Princeton; their daughters begin disappearing. A young bride on the verge of the altar is seduced and abducted by a dangerously compelling man–a shape-shifting, vaguely European prince who might just be the devil, and who spreads his curse upon a richly deserving community of white Anglo-Saxon privilege. And in the Pine Barrens that border the town, a lush and terrifying underworld opens up.

When the bride's brother sets out against all odds to find her, his path will cross those of Princeton's most formidable people, from Grover Cleveland, fresh out of his second term in the White House and retired to town for a quieter life, to soon-to-be commander in chief Woodrow Wilson, president of the university and a complex individual obsessed to the point of madness with his need to retain power; from the young Socialist idealist Upton Sinclair to his charismatic comrade Jack London, and the most famous writer of the era, Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain–all plagued by "accursed" visions.

An utterly fresh work from Oates, The Accursed marks new territory for the masterful writer. Narrated with her unmistakable psychological insight, it combines beautifully transporting historical detail with chilling supernatural elements to stunning effect.

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Mar 5, 2013
ISBN:
9780062243676
Format:
Hörbuch

Auch als verfügbar...

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Über den Autor

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of over seventy books encompassing novels, poetry, criticism, story collections, plays, and essays. Her novel Them won the National Book Award in Fiction in 1970. Oates has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters for more than three decades and currently holds the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professorship at Princeton University.   

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3.0
10 Bewertungen / 18 Rezensionen
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  • (3/5)
    I’m a big fan of Joyce Carol Oates, so when I discovered she had a new book out, I was excited. I was even happier when I found that it was another volume in the gothic family saga series she started many years ago with ‘Bellefleur’, which is one of my favorite books. The 660 page length didn’t bother me; she’s an author who, at her best, can fill that many pages with brilliance. I greeted the book like it was a big box of candy. I’m afraid I was disappointed. There are a lot of good things in the book-an extended patrician family living in Princeton is cursed. Voices say bad things to people, ghosts are seen, a shape shifting demon walks among them and leads them into tragedies. At the same time, they have to deal with the demons of their everyday life: racism, misogyny, classism, the Machiavellian politics of Princeton University. I liked having a narrator who only knew the story through the diaries and papers he discovered long after the events took place. Half the population of the book are real people: Woodrow Wilson is president of Princeton U, Grover Cleveland and his wife are part of the social circle, Upton Sinclair has a large part devoted to him, Jack London, Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain all make appearances. But the lessons about society are a little heavy handed, and I’m really not sure that some of the historical characters added to the story. Upton Sinclair and Jack London didn’t seem to be connected to the family and the curse but took up a lot of pages. The only way I could see that they added to the story was by showing the reader what the attitudes of people of the time were, but I know enough history that I didn’t need that and I’m sure there are many other readers like me. Oates has written a great story, but every story needs an editor. At least a hundred pages could have been cut without the story losing anything and the book would have been much sharper. I enjoyed the book, but got impatient with it frequently.
  • (1/5)
    What did I just read?

    I think it's safe to say that this is NOT my cup of tea. I did not get on well with this book at all.

    I'll be honest and say that this could very well be your cup of tea. I just didn't like the writing style.

    I couldn't grow any relationship with any of the characters - and without any relationship between me (the reader) and the characters, I found the book rather dull. When you don't (can't?) care for a character (or any at all) I find it very hard to engage with a book.

    Combine this with the disjointed narrative and I was sat frowning at the end, thinking "what have I just read?" The story didn't seem to flow right. I couldn't get in to the rhythm of the writing and was easily distracted from it. Which made for a pretty un-enjoyable read for me.

    I suppose there is a slight element of mystery to this (as well as the fantasy), but it wasn't strong enough to grab me.

    It could just be me - and I think it is a personal preference thing with the writing style. But sometimes the style is the most important part of the book and it just didn't work for me.

    Thanks to Harper Collins via NetGalley for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.
  • (4/5)
    This is a strange Freudian exploration of the way sexual repression lead Americans in the early 20th century toward neurosis and even psychosis. The fantasy aspect of the story is developed through the "inflamed" senses of the uptight characters. Woodrow Wilson's sexual repression seems to have lead to religious fanaticism and personal asceticism. Upton Sinclair's sexual repression lead to political fanaticism and personal asceticism. Jack London blasts into the story, bombastic, not willing to repress himself in any way - a charismatic representative of pure ego fueled by id. This is a very cleverly constructed Gothic novel unfortunately dragged down by early 20th century type controlled and understated writing.
  • (2/5)
    Quite disappointed in this one.

    I've read a fair amount of Oates' short fiction, so when this was suggested as a book club selection, I was enthusiastically in favor. However, I enjoyed this book less than anything else of Oates' I've read thus far.

    Don't get me wrong - the book is crafted with consummate skill. If someone told me they absolutely loved it, I couldn't argue that their feelings were wrong, or that the work is undeserving. A convincing case could easily be made that this is an excellent novel. It's just not one for me.

    Although billed as a 'gothic' novel, it felt a bit more like a 'family saga' where the 'family' is all of Princeton, NJ, in the early 20th century. The story is supposedly being told by an amateur historian in the 1970's, who is investigating the rumors of a 'curse' which affected the characters at that time. The 'voice' of the historian is intentionally intrusive, and while the way it's done is certainly clever, and might be found hilarious by some - I just found it annoying.

    However, the most disappointing thing about this work, for me, was not this faux-authorial voice, but the actual authorial voice. Joyce Carol Oates treats every single character in this book with disdain, painting each one in the worst light possible. Whether she's talking about the (pre-Presidential) university administrator Woodrow Wilson, or the Socialist Upton Sinclair, or a prominent socialite, or the author Jack London - all the characters we meet are bigoted, hypocritical, stupid, venal, insane, or a combination of those and other repulsive qualities. However, rather than feeling like, as readers, we're getting inside the heads of these flawed characters, we feel like we're simply being presented with flat caricatures of people.

    This caricature-like quality to the book made me feel distanced, and a bit bored, even when extremely dramatic and supernatural events were at hand. Which is not all the time, either. A great deal of the book deals in carefully crafted ambiguities - is there actually a curse at all, or is it all figments of the imagination of paranoid, hostile and high-strung individuals living in a time of racial oppression and sexual repression?

    It all wraps up with an ALL-CAPS epilogue which could easily have gotten its point across equally (or more) effectively with one-tenth the verbiage.



  • (5/5)
    It's long, it's complicated, it's weird, and it's delightful if you like a combination of mystery, actual historical characters, and a bit of real history thrown together with demons. I loved the telling of the story through the voice of M. W. van Dyck, a historian who is "privy to many materials unavailable to other historians." What a great set of documents are explored: the secret coded journal of an nervous invalid wife (humorous with a tinge of horror), the "personal letters of Woodrow Wilson to his beloved wife," and a ton of other research materials. For the reader, one really has to stop and think "this is fiction?"Oates has created some wonderful characters inhabiting Princeton University in the early 1900's. Adelle Burr is a woman whose nerves and "condition" make her a humorous and meddling narrator. Yet, is she at the same time a victim of an unscrupulous doctor? Then college president, Woodrow Wilson is just a hoot! Uptight with a "lantern-jaw face", he suffers so many ailments even requiring his own stomach pump. Together with a host of other "Genteel Christian women" of which it is "A man's responsibility to shield them. No good can come of them knowing all that we must know." Add to the colorful mix, Axson Mayte (is he a gentleman or a fiend brought from the depths of hell). Cybella Peck, a mysterious society woman whose charms can turn Wilson into something of a poet. Obese ex-president Grover Cleveland and his wife Francis are woven into the mix along with other real people such as Mark Twain, Upton Sinclair, and Jack London. The pedigrees are long for most of the people that inhabit Princeton.Usually administrative power struggles of a major university are not the stuff of titillating drama; however, Wilson's battle with the head of the graduate school, Dean Andrew West, is a interesting subplot.This book reminded me somewhat of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, or The Historian thrown in with just a bit of The Da Vinci Code: A Novel (Robert Langdon).I'm not a fan of the supernatural, ghosts, demons, or goblins, but I am a huge fan of this fascinating tale.
  • (4/5)
    Whew! I loved this weird, crazy story. It's one of Oates's gothic novels, with a supernatural twist: demons plaguing a prominent Princeton family at the turn of the 20th century. Not metaphorical demons: real, topaz-eyed, supernatural entities haunting their upper-crust prey and driving them to murder and suicide, and in some cases imprisoning them in a Hell that's a ghastly parody of aristocratic society. Actual historical figures enter the narrative, including awkward and naive socialist Upton Sinclair, brash Jack London and an exasperating, self-obsessed Woodrow Wilson. The reader is clearly expected to believe in the reality of this curse, but those demons are obviously metaphorical as well, as we learn how compromised this elite circle has been by racism, antisemitism and unbridled capitalist greed.
  • (2/5)
    I really struggled with this work. It had many elements I should have liked; but, didn't. The story is too complicated, outlandish and tries to involve one too many historical figures.
  • (2/5)
    I don't know why Oates wrote this book, and I don't know why I spent so much of my precious summer reading time slogging through it. I did get some interesting biographical information on Woodrow Wilson, but I didn't think I was really that interested in him (now, I actually am) There's a ghost, I think, that makes an appearance every 50 pages or so. These appearances are separated by looooong sections of journals and discussions of Upton Sinclair, Wilson and his wife, and others too numerous and tedious to mention. I've often loved Oates' work, but this was just terrible.
  • (4/5)
    The AccursedJoyce Carol OatesOctober 15, 2013The setting is Princeton in 1905 and 1906. A bride leaves the altar and runs off with a mysterious man, and her brothers, and cousins, meet unusual fates. There are murders and outrages, and the university president, Woodrow Wilson, suffers a stroke. It seems there is a curse on the Slade mansion, Crosswicks. It is broken at the end of the story, and everything is set right, but not before the devil and his minions are defeated in their bog castle, and a minister confesses. A very entertaining, but very long novel, partly historical fiction and partly gothic horror.
  • (3/5)
    I was excited at hearing that Joyce Carol Oates had written a "vampire" novel and couldn't wait to read this book. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I had originally hoped to. The narrator is a historian who happens to decrypt a journal that describes the "Curse" of Princeton which was broken in 1906. This novel describes his discovery of the journal that allows him to read the actual events and how the Curse was broken. The story is written through several historical characters' view points including former President Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, and Upton Sinclair.

    My main problem with this novel was its slow pace and the avoidance of the word vampire. Oates tries to use description to allude to vampires and vampirism, however, it can lead to a reader's confusion and lost interest in the story. (As was the case with me.) In general, I thoroughly enjoy Oates' novels, her candor on life, and the horror of everyday experiences. This novel just seemed to struggle along, winding through multiple character perspectives trying to clarify the story - resulting in confusion and a lost reader.
  • (3/5)
    Stephen King wrote the most appealing review of this book in the NYT. I wish I could feel as enthusiastic about it as he does.

    Not awful, but too long and sprawling, and in need of something to unify the different scenes and characters. Aggressively and irritatingly narrated.

    Shades of Ragtime and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but not as good as either of those books.
  • (3/5)
    Really have to think about this one for awhile. I've always loved her books but this one is really different. I kept thinking I would stop listening but didn't. Glad I did finish but still not sure if I really liked it.
  • (4/5)
    This novel is a Gothic piece that weaves through Princeton's elite in the early 1900's, a fun and darkly comedic view from the top. This is a book in a grouping of Gothic novels from Oates, however... this was my first novel of Oates that dealt with the whimsical macabre. Although different from expected, Oates succeeds in the creepy, offensive, and unearthly with such charm.

    I was very lucky to attend an event with Joyce Carol Oates discussing/signing "The Accursed" at RJ Julia Bookstore in Madison, CT. The event was surprisingly intimate which was a stroke of luck since Oates had practically lost her voice. Even with a hoarse voice, her talk was a nice surprise. I wasn't expecting a "cute" and "funny" Author, more a Princeton snobby Professor. Don't get me wrong, I love JCO as a writer but I didn't know if I would like her personality as well. She exceeded my expectations ten fold and made light of this novel in such a fun way. After her talk about "The Accursed", I ended up enjoying it even more.

    To share some of the main points Oates discussed about this book...

    The most important thing I took away from Oates was historical accuracy. The characters, although embellished, follow a fairly accurate history. This surprised me since there was quite a bit of appalling behavior in the actions of some of these famous historical figures. I understand this was the majority of thought back then but it's hard to digest in this era. Prejudice, hate, lynchings, etc... very common, especially among the upper class where they have hired hands still at their beck and call.

    I don't want to give away much of this book since there are so many stories, all lightly woven together and discussing much of this book would be unfair to you. Pick up this book BUT keep an open mind and remember there is a very important lesson to be learned from the story.
  • (5/5)
    “The Accursed” is a masterpiece, a writing tour de force. Joyce Carol Oates flexes her considerable literary might to create an old-school Gothic tale that is not for anyone looking for a “quick read.” It is far more in-depth and complicated for that.Narrated by M.W. Van Dyck II, a local historian attempting to make sense of the alleged Crosswicks Curse that plagued Princeton, New Jersey, during fourteen months from 1905 to 1906. Through various journals, letters, and other such documents, we meet the townspeople, including historical figures Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland, and Upton Sinclair. This is not “Oates does Paranormal.” In the vein of nineteenth-century stories, the horror is implied rather than overt, and the demons and vampires much more sly. The true fright is how the curse manifests itself in the townspeople, as well as who and what are ultimately responsible. Here, Oates takes the microcosm of Princeton and broadens the scope to the national level through Sinclair’s luncheon with Theodore Roosevelt at the White House, then extends it even further to explain a plague on society for thousands of years. No holes barred, the formidable Joyce Carol Oates unleashes a stream of prose to solidify her position as “the writing beast,” as I call her, unafraid, powerful, and a force in the bibliophilic universe.“The Accursed” is so many things on so many levels, but the one thing that definitely shines through is Oates’ genius.
  • (3/5)
    I’m a big fan of Joyce Carol Oates, so when I discovered she had a new book out, I was excited. I was even happier when I found that it was another volume in the gothic family saga series she started many years ago with ‘Bellefleur’, which is one of my favorite books. The 660 page length didn’t bother me; she’s an author who, at her best, can fill that many pages with brilliance. I greeted the book like it was a big box of candy. I’m afraid I was disappointed. There are a lot of good things in the book-an extended patrician family living in Princeton is cursed. Voices say bad things to people, ghosts are seen, a shape shifting demon walks among them and leads them into tragedies. At the same time, they have to deal with the demons of their everyday life: racism, misogyny, classism, the Machiavellian politics of Princeton University. I liked having a narrator who only knew the story through the diaries and papers he discovered long after the events took place. Half the population of the book are real people: Woodrow Wilson is president of Princeton U, Grover Cleveland and his wife are part of the social circle, Upton Sinclair has a large part devoted to him, Jack London, Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain all make appearances. But the lessons about society are a little heavy handed, and I’m really not sure that some of the historical characters added to the story. Upton Sinclair and Jack London didn’t seem to be connected to the family and the curse but took up a lot of pages. The only way I could see that they added to the story was by showing the reader what the attitudes of people of the time were, but I know enough history that I didn’t need that and I’m sure there are many other readers like me. Oates has written a great story, but every story needs an editor. At least a hundred pages could have been cut without the story losing anything and the book would have been much sharper. I enjoyed the book, but got impatient with it frequently.
  • (1/5)
    I have not read any of Oates' other work; however, based on this novel, I will not be reading any more. I expected great things based upon the novel's description, but I was left very disappointed. The 600+ page novel moves very slowly and jumps around frequently, with a number of side stories that don't add anything to the main plot and seem to exist for the sole purpose of throwing in names of famous authors. The story was overall very confusing and jumbled and ultimately didn't make any sense. At the end, you still really don't know what happened in Princeton, but you're very happy that the book is finally over.
  • (4/5)
    A big, sprawling gothic smorgasbord of a book. The Princeton, New Jersey of 1905 may seem idyllic, but there are deep and frightening currents swirling beneath the surface. While the prosperous Slade family seems to have everything going for them, when a malevolent force begins to manifest itself in the town, it is the grandchildren of Rev. Winslow Slade who feel the brunt of its power. But "the curse," as it becomes known, does not limit itself to any particular family or group: many in and around Princeton fall under its dark influence, sometimes to deadly effect.Oates includes amongst her large cast of characters many real-life historical figures, from former president Grover Cleveland to Princeton president Woodrow Wilson to muckraker Upton Sinclair, all of whom end up experiencing the effects of the curse in some way. I liked the way this was framed, written in the form of a historical study by the elderly son of one of the participants in the events at hand, including excepts from diaries and manuscripts and other documents from the earlier period. Sometimes this framing device fails miserably, but it worked well here.While perhaps another editorial pass would have served to tighten up the narrative a bit, on the whole I thought this was a fascinating and absorbing read.
  • (3/5)
    In the early 1980s, Joyce Carol Oates wrote several novels in styles reminiscent of the late nineteenth century: gothic novel Bellefleur, a mystery titled Mysteries of Winterthurn, and period romance called Bloodsmoor Romance. At that point, it seemed that Oates was done with those styles. But, as it turns out, Ms. Oates also completed an early draft in 1984 of a second gothic novel, The Accursed, which she did not finally complete until 2012. Set in Princeton, New Jersey, during parts of 1905-06, The Accursed is the story of the worst years imaginable in the lives of the town’s wealthiest and most powerful families. They are cursed by supernatural forces that are determined to destroy them one person at a time, beginning with their daughters. Particularly hard hit by the curse are the grandchildren of greatly respected theologian Winslow Slade. Some seven decades later, M.W. van Dyck II, descendent of one of those prominent Princeton families, narrates The Accursed and presents all the evidence and history that he has assembled about those fourteen months. The troubles, although no one makes an immediate connection, begin with the arrival of a charming foreigner who is quickly accepted into the homes of Princeton’s finest families. Soon dreams dominated by ghosts, vampires, and bloody slaughter become common in Princeton’s finest homes. Even worse, the exotic “prince” is quietly using his charms to worm his way into the affections of Princeton’s young women, be they married or not – with tragic results for each of his conquests.The Accursed is filled with historical detail built around an assortment of well-known figures: Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Samuel Clemens, Upton Sinclair, and Jack London, among them. Seamlessly mixing historical and fictional characters, Oates uses rather unflattering characterizations of these real-life figures to create the supernatural atmosphere of 1905 Princeton. Each (especially Wilson, Cleveland, Sinclair, and London) will suffer in some way because of Princeton’s “curse.”This novel, however, is dominated by its supernatural elements, and if it were shelved by genre, it would more likely be found on a bookstore’s Horror shelves rather than among its Fiction titles. The demon’s horrific underworld, within which the most unfortunate victims of the curse are ensnared, is a hell on earth, a place dominated by cruelty, sexual perversion, greed, gluttony, dominance, and depravity – the perfect home for our demon and his sister.I have read Joyce Carol Oates for the better part of three decades now, and am not surprised by the breadth of her writing. She has done at least a bit of it all: plays, poetry, literary novels, thrillers and mysteries, journals, reviews, nonfiction, etc. And she does all of it well. Parts of The Accursed, however, make for tedious reading, and the novel would have been a better one if shortened by a hundred or so of its more than 650 pages. Still, JCO fans will not want to miss this one.Rated at: 3.0