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Butcher's Crossing [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

John Williams
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  • Gebundene Ausgabe
  • Verlag: Gollancz; Auflage: Second impression before publica (1960)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B0000CKMZ2
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 19,4 x 14 x 2,2 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 4.793.592 in Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Bücher)

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4.0 von 5 Sternen OK 13. Januar 2014
Format:Taschenbuch|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
Nog niet gelezen. Het was niet voor mezelf, maar een kadoo.
Bestelling en levering door Amazon, als vanouds, was vlot.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 von 5 Sternen  59 Rezensionen
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Brilliant! On a Par with McCarthy's BLOOD MERIDIAN 27. August 2007
Von Steve Koss - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
If such a thing as the Great American Novel can be said to exist, it would very likely encompass the country's 19th Century westward expansion. After all, it was this irresistible land grab - with its ruthless expulsion and genocide of native Americans, its hunting to exinction of buffalo, and its struggles against Nature in search of the better life - that defined America's cultural personality and self-image for the following 150 - 200 years. The rootless but ever-hopeful individualist, the lonely conqueror of Nature, the rugged Marlboro Man begat the robber barons and industrialists, the real estate, oil, and hedge fund tycoons, the Internet entrepreneurs, and even the self-righteous, Iraq-invading neoconservatives.

Amazingly, John Williams's utterly brilliant BUTCHER'S CROSSING - perhaps, indeed, THE Great American Novel - appears to have gone largely unnoticed among the general reading public. Published in 1960, five years before the author's equally impressive STONER and 25 years before Cormac McCarthy's deservedly renowned BLOOD MERIDIAN, BUTCHER'S CROSSING encapsulates many of the American West's mythologies. Yet Williams is hardly a romantic in his interpretation. He presents the opening West as harsh and brutal, populated by socially challenged obsessives who view the land and everything in it as their private domains, seized by choice and held by force of will and gun.

Williams's ostensible hero is William Andrews, fresh from three years at Harvard and seeking an adventure in the West with a childlike enthusiasm and understanding. His mind filled by a romantic, Emerson-inspired view of Nature and his pockets filled with an inheritance from his uncle, Andrews heads for the decidedly uninspired, six-building town of Butcher's Crossing, Kansas. Within a matter of days, greenhorn Will has met the local buffalo hide trader McDonald and a long-time buffalo hunter named Miller. The traditional hunting grounds in Kansas have already been depleted to the point where only small herds of a few hundred animals can be found. However, Miller had discovered a hidden mountain valley in Colorado nine years earlier teeming with buffalo and has been waiting for enough money to finance the expedition. In return for accompanying the party as an apprentice hide skinner, Andrews underwrites the hunt. Miller recruits his neurotic sidekick, the Bible-beating Charley Hoge as the wagon man and a taciturn German named Schneider as their skinner. While Miller is away purchasing the necessary supplies, Will meets a prostitute named Francine. She falls for his soft hands and not yet hardened heart, but the immature Will is frightened off by her aggressive sexuality.

The bulk of BUTCHER'S CROSSING concerns the journey to find the buffalo, Miller's rediscovery of his Shangri-la valley, the hunt itself, the life-threatening storms the group endures, and finally, the difficult return trip to Butcher's Crossing to sell their hides. Along the way, Williams's book becomes a classic coming of age story, a discourse on ecology and species survival, and the story of an irrational, Ahab-like obsession that nearly ends in the men's destruction. In the end, Williams levies his own ironic form of judgment against Miller and McDonald for their repeated violations of Nature. Despite reconciling his feelings for Francine on his return to town, Andrews's future in the West is left deliberately uncertain. Perhaps he has finally learned to live with and respect Nature and will eventually find his rightful place. Or perhaps he, too, will be punished for his sins, forever banished to wandering the wilds alone, scarred by the real-life education he so enthusiastically sought from Miller.

Throughout the book, Williams's writing is sparse and direct, unsparing in its treatment of the men's deprivations and the bloodiness of the hunt. His characters are distinctive and memorable; although we never see deeply inside them, we know them for the archetypes they are. Dialog is limited and short, as these are men of few words. The overall effect of the writing remarkably prefigures that of Cormac McCarthy without the density and compound, run-on sentences, resulting in a highly readable and deeply engaging page turner. Fans of McCarthy will certainly appreciate Williams's accomplishment here, but I believe BUTCHER'S CROSSING merits a much wider audience. This is a magnificent but regrettably under-recognized work of literature that feels timeless in its writing style and enduring in its themes.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Another amazing John Williams novel 13. August 2007
Von Ronald H. Clark - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
This is the third of John Williams' major novels I have read, although it preceded his other two significant novels, "Stoner" and "Augustus." Williams is just amazing: this novel (purportedly about a buffalo hunt in Colorado in the late 19th century) is entirely different from "Stoner" (set in an academic setting in early to mid 20th century Missouri), which in turn is entirely different from "Augustus" which focuses upon the first real Roman emperor. Yet, each novel speaks with an authenticity that is truly unique. As is true with the author's other two novels, there is more at issue here than just a buffalo hunt. His carefully structured narrative raises issues of the closing of the frontier, man v. nature, loyalty and honor, and the dynamics of human interaction. His style is also different from "Stoner," which was as lean a novel as I have read; here there is much more description, dialogue, and setting the stage. This very fine New York Review of Books edition (which also published "Stoner") is well crafted and has a helpful introduction my Michelle Latiolais, a former student of Williams. Amongst other things we learn that Williams in effect smoked himself to death, dying from emphysema. What a loss. We also learn from her introduction that some consider this book "the finest western ever written." Well, I guess it is sort of a western, though the characters don't wear funny hats and carry six-shooters; I prefer to think of it as a great novel set in the west rather than necessarily a "western." A truly magnificant work of literary craftsmanship and a great reading experience.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen An "adult western" not to be missed 7. März 2009
Von Timothy J. Bazzett - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
I "discovered" this book when I ordered a new copy of Williams' other novel, STONER. I'd never heard of Butcher's Crossing, but man, this is one helluva good read about the last of the buffalo hunters, but also an example of literary fiction at its finest. You hardly expect a Harvard man to be hunting the buff, but that's what you get here, as well as what he thinks about it all. There are probably many comparisons that could be made here. One other book I thought of while reading this one is THE MOTHERS by Vardis Fisher, an excellent novel about the Donner Party. The truth is though, John Williams is a one-of-a-kind author who, were there any justice in this world, should have been as well known as Updike, Roth and Bellow. This book is well worth your time. - Tim Bazzett, author of the Reed City Boy trilogy and Love, War & Polio
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Camus in the American West 14. November 2008
Von Jakfo - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Poetic prose. Intense descriptions that almost threaten you enough with its unbearable inevitibility to stop your reading--see the buffalo massacre. Existential scenery and action throughout. A minimalist style that sculpts the story neatly. Butcher's Crossing is in the American vein of Cooper's Leather Stocking Tales--see The Priarie-; lifts the "Western" story telling above Oakly Hall and Cormack McCarthy, taking it to a new level--as Jarmusch did in his Western film Dead Man and beyond Eastwood's High Plains Drifter; Butcher's Crossing is a cowboy novel Camus would have written had he located The Stranger in America rather than Africa. Yet this is a great American novel regardless of setting that explores the energies and desires, drives and values that propel American society. The ending is as difficult to bear as the buffalo hunt--the metaphor of both and the novel overall leaves you inspired and disturbed. One of the best books I have ever read from an almost anonymous American novelist.

Last note: John Williams' other novels, Stoner and Augustus are equally amazing works of writing, literature and art.

John Williams should be required reading for every student of literature, at least. For people who love to read great writing, he is mandatory.
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2.0 von 5 Sternen Overpraised, Simplistic Western 10. Dezember 2010
Von zashibis - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
Don't remember how I first heard of Williams, but I bought and read Butcher's Crossing on the strength of the glowing reviews here on Amazon. Wish I could join the bandwagon, but I just wasn't very impressed. A "masterpiece" it certainly is not. Think Zane Grey, not Cormac McCarthy.

The novel tells the story of young Will Andrews who shows up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the tiny Kansas frontier village of Butcher's Crossing with a letter of introduction to a man who at some time in the distant past used to attend Will's father's church in Boston. That this remote connection instantaneously offers a Will a job is only the first of a long string of implausibilities we have to swallow in the first 50 pages. Will is an unreconstructed Transcendentalist, but about 30 years too late. (Will supposedly had seen Emerson--senile and in ill health by the 1870s--read his essay "Nature" (1836) at Harvard...only one of several jarring anachronisms in the novel). Rejecting the job, in very short order Will meets a bunch of stock Western types straight out of Hollywood central casting: the taciturn rugged hunter, Miller (imagine John Wayne), the crippled alcoholic sidekick, Hoge (Walter Brennan), the prostitute with a heart of gold, Francine (Claire Trevor), and the grumbling buffalo skinner, Schneider (Ward Bond). Within a very few minutes of meeting Miller, Andrews has blindly leapt at the chance to finance an expedition to Colorado in search of a huge herd of buffalo Miller had chanced across many years earlier, and has (very improbably) agreed to serve as the junior skinner on the trip (a decision akin to paying for the privilege of being a galley slave).

Frankly, all this struck me as corny to the nth degree, and I came within a whisker of giving up on the novel at the end of Part 1. However, Part 2, which forms the bulk of the novel and details the arduous journey to Colorado and what they find there, was considerably more compelling. The characterization and dialogue in Butcher's Crossing are purely formulaic, but Williams' descriptive writing is effective in its depiction of the landscapes of the West and of the trials the men undergo while completely cut off from civilization. Williams' theme is to de-Romanticize the taming of the West: Andrews, the boyish arch-Romantic, gets a series of brutal lessons in the indifference of nature and the cruelty of humankind. If, more than 100 years after Conrad's Heart of Darkness, none of this is news, the writing in Part 2 still manages to be fluid, evocative and involving.

Unfortunately, the third part of the novel, when the action finally returns to Butcher's Crossing, is as weak as the opening, liberally larded with melodrama (Arson! Madness! Romance?). The problem here is not so much the overly-dramatic turn of events, as that the characterization remains opaque or trite to the very end. Is Miller motivated by something as banal as greed, or does he represent some arbitrarily destructive force in human nature, an Ahab of the Great Plains? As for Will, he remains a too-convenient mouthpiece for the author's musings, and his world-weariness at the end of the novel is no more persuasive than his (literally) virginal naivete at the outset.

In sum, this book is not some forgotten classic. It's a journeyman effort with strong points and weak points in rough equilibrium. It's OK, but hardly deserving of the extremely fulsome praise it's received on this site. Since this novel was first published, Cormac McCarthy and Wallace Stegner (among others) have covered this ground much more insightfully and with far greater skill. 2.5 stars.
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