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Summer Will Show (New York Review Books Classics) [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Sylvia Townsend Warner , Claire Harman

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Kurzbeschreibung

16. Juni 2009 New York Review Books Classics
Sophia Willoughby, a young Englishwoman from an aristocratic family and a person of strong opinions and even stronger will, has packed her cheating husband off to Paris. He can have his tawdry mistress. She intends to devote herself to the serious business of raising her two children in proper Tory fashion.

Then tragedy strikes: the children die, and Sophia, in despair, finds her way to Paris, arriving just in time for the revolution of 1848. Before long she has formed the unlikeliest of close relations with Minna, her husband’s sometime mistress, whose dramatic recitations, based on her hair-raising childhood in czarist Russia, electrify audiences in drawing rooms and on the street alike. Minna, “magnanimous and unscrupulous, fickle, ardent, and interfering,” leads Sophia on a wild adventure through bohemian and revolutionary Paris, in a story that reaches an unforgettable conclusion amidst the bullets, bloodshed, and hope of the barricades.

Sylvia Townsend Warner was one of the most original and inventive of twentieth-century English novelists. At once an adventure story, a love story, and a novel of ideas, Summer Will Show is a brilliant reimagining of the possibilities of historical fiction.

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"It's a wildly leftist novel of love, war and death; Townsend Warner chucks the
lot into her simmering story, but it remains skilfully crafted.  Brilliantly
entertaining and far ahead of its time. " — The Guardian

"Sophia Willoughby leaves her disloyal husband. Both of her young children die of smallpox. Sophia flees to Paris, where she enters a relationship with her husband's mistress, a woman raised in czarist Russia. It is 1848, and Sophia finds herself caught in the revolutionary crossfire. It is a long, hard fall from the landed gentry of her native England to the bloody streets across the Channel...Anxiety, harsh, impossible choices and the fugitive life -- these are Warner's stations of the cross." --Los Angeles Times

"As the denouement of Summer Will Show, where elegance burns into fervor, seems to me the most triumphal single moment in revolutionary fiction, so the whole elaborate, fine-spun novel seems the most skilful, the most surefooted, sensitive, witty piece of prose yet to have been colored by left-wing ideology." --Mary McCarthy, The Nation

"Sylvia Townsend Warner has always possessed a cachet lifting her fantasies above mere prettiness and artifice...now she has produced a more imaginative work which begins with no indication of how it will end, and becomes by turns a period comedy of manners, a stylized comedy of temperaments and at last the drama of a woman's conversion to a new order of life...It is a very difficult thing to begin a book on a light and mocking note, make it gradually grow deeper and more resonant, and charge it finally with passionate sound; but Miss Warner has done it with unmistakable success." –The New York Times

"This book is indeed a woman’s handiwork, with a woman’s insight, malice, exquisiteness; in its wit, its instinct for style, its drawing-room urbanities, it will suggest at one time or another the work of a Rebecca West, a Virginia Woolf, an Elinor Wylie." –Louis Kronenberger, The New York Times

“Townsend Warner has to be one of the great under-read British novelists of the twentieth century. This, my favourite of her novels, has a disaffected Victorian wife falling for her husband's charismatic mistress, and discovering revolutionary politics along the way.” —Sarah Waters

"There is need for a respectful tone in speaking of Miss Warner, for she manages certain things superlatively well...Her imagination and verbal skill place her far above the average contemporary novelist; Summer Will Show is filled with original phrasings and apt figures of speech." –Ralph Thompson, The New York Times

"We learned to expect excellence of [Warner]...when she published Summer Will Show...She has an extraordinary capacity for being subtle without holding her narrative to the plaintive, precious, minor key that usually accompanies subtlety in modern novels." –Charles Poore, The New York Times

"The novel of [Sylvia Townsend Warner]'s with the strongest lesbian subtext is Summer Will Show; it's also, I think, her best book. It's a novel of female fascinations, in which a conventional Victorian wife, Sophia Willoughby, follows her philandering husband to Paris, only to find herself falling in love with his charismatic storytelling mistress, Minna." --Sarah Waters, Out Magazine

"Playing the game of choosing the century's finest writers, England's literary pundits conspicuously failed to mention Sylvia Townsend Warner. The omission was, frankly, bizarre...Shame on the list makers, then, for such aberration. It's almost as bad as leaving Jane Austne out of a roundup of early 19th-century British novelists." –The New York Times Book Review

"Her novels, short stories, poems--and now letters--are the work of a minor artist, but an artist blessed with a poised, felicitous command of language and the ability to portray both the ordinary and the odd with charming, compassionate wit." –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"The unifying elements in her work were always a compassion and understanding for those whose lives were constricted, foreshortened bereft of promise...Miss Warner was one of the most stylish, one of the most civilized and cultivated of writers. Idea and word worked together like engaged gears. Trying to suggest her quality, reviewers drew comparisons between her and Jane Austen or Elinor Wylie or Katherine Mansfield." –New York Times

"Set in Paris during the revolutionary spring of 1848, Summer Will Show tells of the struggle of Sophia Willoughby, a woman set adrift by the death of her children, for self-understanding, commitment, love. With the arrival of Minna Lemuel, her husband's mistress, the novel unexpectedly takes a turn that gives it greater dimension and weight. In Minna, Warner created one of the more memorable female characters in modern fiction. Summer Will Show...demonstrates the same virtues of wit and compassion that grace all of her work." –Newsday

"Warner will be mostly known to American readers I imagine, for the many short stories that appeared in the New Yorker from 1936 almost until her death in 1978. Her offbeat, whimsical talent was in fact well suited to the short story, but her output was actually surprisingly large and included also novels, biography, poetry and translations. She was such an original, so indifferent to fashion, that she may never be assigned a place in mainstream literature but will be rediscovered and rediscovered again and again." –The New York Times Book Review

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893–1978) was a poet, short-story writer, and novelist, as well as an authority on early English music and a devoted member of the Communist Party. Her many books include Mr. Fortune’s Maggot and Lolly Willows (both published by NYRB Classics), The Corner that Held Them, and Kingdoms of Elfin.

Claire Harman’s first book, a biography of Sylvia Townsend Warner, was published in 1989 and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. She has since published biographies of Fanny Burney and Robert Louis Stevenson. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  5 Rezensionen
22 von 22 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Warner's lesbian Marxist masterpiece 29. März 2000
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
A witty, romantic, political, feminist classic, Summer Will Show is the coming-out story of Sophia Willoughby, an apparently rigidly conventional upper-class early Victorian lady. Her history is gloriously downwardly-mobile as she abandons her arid marriage and ancestral home to find love in the arms of her husband's ex-mistress and life in the underground activities of the new communist movement during the Revolution of 1848 in Paris. Warner's delight in the absurd and the romantic is balanced by her meticulous sense of history; first published in 1936, her narrative's vitality reflects her new political excitement--she joined the communist party in its fight against fascism in 1935--and her day-to-day delight in her ongoing lesbian relationship with poet Valentine Ackland. Summer Will Show is the best "lesbian novel" I have read; celebratory, funny, and worldly-wise, it carries no trace of the anxiety in Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness and most other representations of lesbianism of that time.
15 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Summer Will Show 8. Mai 2000
Von Elizabeth Ewing - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
Summer Will Show is Sylvia Townsend Warner's most bold lesbian novel. The book uses numerous scenes and even characters from other great English novels such as Great Expectations. After Sophia Willoughby loses her children to smallpox, she goes to find her husband with his mistress in Paris. She finds them both and his mistress Minna and Sophia find themselves unnaturally drawn to each other. Eventually they find themselves to be soulmates and both become actively involved in the French Revolution. The book contains the wonderful style and metaphors characteristic of Sylvia Townsend Warner. A must-read for Warner fans.
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Unexpected 3. Juli 2009
Von Jay Dickson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
NYRB's reissue of one of Sylvia Townsend Warner's greatest novels could not be more welcome. Written after her conversion to communism the year before, Townsend Warner's 1936 novel is her most romantic, and shows the pleasures of abandoning yourself both to another heart and to a larger political cause (and indeed the two are often conflated in the novel). SUMMER WILL SHOW is not as formally innovative as Townsend Warner's next novel, THE CORNER THAT HELD THEM, but it may well be more challenging because of its intellectual sophistication: though this is a love story and a historical novel, it is also very much a novel of ideas.

Its heroine, Sophia Willoughby, enjoys a great measure of independence living at her ancestral mansion Blandamer House overseeing the management of the estate and the raising of her two children. Her rakish husband spends most of his time in London, or in Paris seeing his mysterious mistress; this is largely as Sophia prefers it because his absence allows her to do largely as she pleases. But when smallpox carries away both children in 1847 in the novel's bravura first section, Sophia is left without much purpose in life, and she surprises herself the next Feburary by traveling to Paris to see if her husband will grant her more children. And then she surprises herself again by falling in love with his mistress, Minna, an extremely ugly but mesmerizing storyteller who is also a leading figure in the February 1848 revolution against Louis-Phillipe.

The third and fourth sections of the novel have their longeurs as far as action goes, but they are absolutely essential to the meaning of the novel. Townsend Warner's characters never do or say quite what you'd expect (or what they would), and the movement of their ideas--and of Sophia's character--is so complex as to be nearly impossible to chart out. Yet nothing here feels forced or unnatural. This is one of the smartest books of the 1930s, and absolutely essential to understanding how British writers of the period were attracted to the promises of international communism particularly during the Spanish Civil War.
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Revolution from the Inside 4. Oktober 2010
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
I can't speak for everyone else, of course, but to me Sylvia Townsend Warner is a bit of a surprise. She doesn't seem to be very much read these days, and in many respects she'd be perfect for today's audiences. She had some profound political wisdom, she never did the same thing twice, and she was one of the earliest writers in English to examine gay themes and content on a regular basis. So get with it, audience.

On the other hand, she spent a considerable amount of energy on historical novels - her early career as a musicologist involved collecting church music from the Tudor period in England's 15th and 16th centuries. When she turned to fiction writing, she set several novels in times not her own. Maybe that's why today's audience has missed her. Even with the politics and the gay content, historical fiction is a hard sell these days.

"Summer Will Show", for instance, the author's 1936 offering, takes place about 90 years before that, largely in Paris. We'll get to the characters in a minute, but first let's set the scene. In 1848 France is about to experience yet another in a long series of revolutions. There was a king, Louis Philippe, and the people were sick of him because the economy was lousy. Next thing you know, people are setting up makeshift barricades across the roads and fighting the national troops, waiting for the king to step down. And of course, food is scarce, and there's certainly no time for fancy-schmancy affectations like art.

Meantime, over in England, a wealthy landowning heiress named Sophia Willoughby has sent her philandering husband packing and devoted herself to caring for her two young children. It's no spoiler (the information appears on the back jacket of the book) to tell you that both kids die of smallpox, leaving Sophia with little to do. After a few tries at redefining herself, she goes after hubby to demand that he come home and give her another child, but surprises herself by falling in love with her husband's ex-mistress, the performing Jewish storyteller Minna Lemuel.

So what we've got here is a rich lady who falls in love with another woman and thereby enters into her new partner's association of bohemian artists and secret communist revolutionaries. This actually seems fairly straightforward, and not even an original plotline. In this case, though, the emphasis is not on how the main character changes. Rather, we get to see how both women change and stay the same. It's a risky maneuver, because watching people not change isn't particularly interesting. Townsend Warner pulls it off because she's very wise about one aspect of human nature - people may change their political opinions, their sympathies and even their sexual orientation, but they seldom change their behavior.

Sophia, for instance, approaches every circumstance of her life with the same grand certainty that she knows what's going on and how to bend it to her will. She knows how to manage a great estate and goes about trying to manage the new revolution in the same way. She's in for a big surprise, of course.

Minna, too, clings to pretty much the same behavioral pattern whether it's effective or not. The child of a Jewish community in Poland wiped out in a pogrom, she learns to survive by telling the story of her life in manner that fascinates anyone within earshot. Which is all very well when people have the leisure to sit around and complain - when they're starving, no one has the time or the money to listen to Minna.

So, as usual, Sophia and Minna must confront their public and private lives, a process made more urgent by the fact that both aspects of life are undergoing a revolution. Public life is in flux, to such an extent that Sophia the landowner finds herself providing scrap metal to a communist cell. As for private life, it's fairly clear that neither of these women have even considered gay love before. Not that either one of them tells the other "I love you" in so many words. A professor of gay literature could probably explain why Townsend Warner left that bit out - I can't tell whether she felt overt lesbianism would chase all the publishers away or whether she was just being coy - but interestingly, the absence of any obvious love-talk makes the relationship seem more real. "Summer Will Show", by avoiding any academic discussion or abstract theorizing, shows just how it might be to live as a lesbian during a revolution.

I'll bet most people never even wondered what that would be like, let alone looking for a work of art that would express it, but leaving the specifics aside, there's something exhilarating about a simultaneous revolution in public and private life. You might not enjoy an actual life in which all bets are off - on the other hand, you'd probably enjoy reading about it, especially when the narration is so skillful. It's important, for instance, to see that even with food scarce and possible danger close by, Minna's storytelling abilities are amazing enough to attract an audience of children in a public park without even trying too hard. Townsend Warner was good enough to write that scene in such a way that we believe it, which makes it easier to believe that Sophia would stay with her.

The novel starts with a quick poem to explain the title - "Winter will shake, spring will try / Summer will show if you live or die". Which could mean a great many things, but one thing's for sure; if there's to be a revolution, public or private, our old ways of doing things will not be sufficient. This story is useful in showing us how that might work, for better or worse.

Benshlomo says, One way or another, the revolution's here.
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2.0 von 5 Sternen If you're looking for a romantic love story this isn't it. 18. September 2013
Von BusyBaker - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I did not like this book at all. The writer seemed to have written this with a full blown case of ADD. She constantly jumps from one thought to the next, past to present, changes direction abruptly, and can't seem to fully flesh out any scene. Trying to read this and stay engaged was a constant struggle. I did not feel connected to the main characters in any way because their development was so haphazard and incomplete. If you're interested in this book for the lesbian content be forewarned there is very little of it, and what is there lacks any real feeling and frankly at times the storyline doesn't even make sense.
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