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The City and the Pillar: A Novel (Vintage International) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 2. Dezember 2003

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“An artistic achievement.” —The Washington Post

“One of the best novels of its kind. . . . It isn’t sentimental, and it is frank without trying to be sensational and shocking.” —Christopher Isherwood

“A brilliant exposé of subterranean life.” —The Atlantic Monthly

“Frank, shocking . . . extremely sympathetic, penetrating and exhortive.” —New York Herald Tribune


Jim Willard, a homosexual, is haunted by the memory of a childhood friendship, and is unable to find happiness in casual affairs. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
A beautiful, intens novel about a gay young man in Worldwar 2 exhibiting and searching for his identity . The title refers to Jeremiah 1:18.
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Von Ein Kunde am 21. Februar 1999
Format: Taschenbuch
this is a great book even though i myself is not gay.it moves kinda slow with a booming end. try it.
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Von Ein Kunde am 26. Juli 1999
Format: Taschenbuch
First rate treatment of young gay love in the 50's
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x939463d8) von 5 Sternen 45 Rezensionen
58 von 64 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x93762564) von 5 Sternen A must-read, if only for the historical significance. 27. März 2005
Von Drake-by-the-Lake - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Maybe it is because I was denied reading "The City and the Pillar" for fifteen years, but I really enjoyed this. I fully appeciated the era in which the book was written and the consequences suffered by Vidal, who had to give up novel-writing for a decade after the publication of novel, which portrayed The Love That Dares Not Speak Its Name. This was considered rank heresy at the time.

After discovering Gore Vidal's books in college (on my own, without the recommendation of professors), I learned that he wrote "The City and the Pillar." Having no idea then what it was about, I asked an English professor, who remembered it being about homosexuals, and advised against my bothering with it, since it would be a bad influence. Of course, this whet my appetite.

Next, I searched for this book in the campus library, unsuccessfully. Then I visited the local city library--nada. Then I searched in other college libraries...in bookstores...other city libraries... you get the drift. It became clear to me this book was Entirely Disapproved Of and Censored.

Over a decade later, with the advent of Amazon, I finally found a copy for sale and eagerly ordered it. I was not in the slightest disappointed, even though I am not unaware of its defects, as listed by reviewer "GFT", whose review I marked Helpful. Obviously, Jim, an athlete of average intelligence, is not the most interesting character to grace the pages of fiction. But Jim does not have to be. Personally, I did not care about any of the characters in the novel! Jim is merely the vehicle through which we examine, deplore, and admonish the American homosexual underground of the 1940s. This book is a time machine to another era, much like Vidal's other works.

Vidal offers faint praise for his "kindred" (for lack of a better word), but that is his way, and his attitude is the same toward almost any kind of people throughout his entire works. Vidal finds fault first; then reluctantly admits a few good points. I have grown used to his style over the years and take it in stride. He tries to be honest and frequently is.

I take exception with reviews that find this novel stupid or only for Young Adults or whatever; simply unjustified and reflective of a disappointment in finding little erotic or romantic content. Indeed, this is neither Eros' nor Aphrodite's playhouse, and do NOT purchase with such an expectation! Despite the subject matter, it is rather tame by all standards.

Well-worth reading, as well as Vidal's seven early short stories.
24 von 27 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x937625b8) von 5 Sternen A haunting, spare story of a gay youth's search for love 19. Dezember 1996
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
While reading this apparent classic, first published years
ago, I was surprised, because it seemed so contemporary.
Apparently this novelette was one of the first to deal with
homosexuality in 'normal', untainted youths. In any case,
I liked the spare prose, which suggested
a documentary, which both suited and clarified the central
character of Jim. The images that the book invokes are
clean-edged, there is very little that is extravagant des-
cription. The basic story is of Jim and Bob, two youths
that find passion on the last day of Bob's last year of
high school. Jim is changed by this experience, and the
rest of the novel details his search for Bob, or for the
sort of wholeness being with Bob gave him. Ultimately, the
journey ends tragically, after Jim has experienced a number
of relationships, but while he is still in his early 20s.
I found the tone of the novel to be bleak, a numbed journey
from hope and optimism into nihilism at the end. Because
of the very simplicity of the story, I didn't think it made
much impression on me while reading. However, I now find
myself continually thinking of Jim and his life and it seems
the story has indeed got to me. I can't describe what it
is, but the tale has left me empty and feeling a
great deal of pity and empathy for Jim and what will happen
to him afterwards. There are some glorious moments in the
book, and the multitude of personalities in the gay world
that Vidal illustrates are varied and non-stereotypical,
surprising for a book written before supposedly
'enlightened' times. I recommend this book, as it is
a fascinating read, one thatcontinues to haunt the reader
long after the conclusion.
16 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9376278c) von 5 Sternen Restrained, but Powerful 10. März 2007
Von Gregory Baird - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Certainly, as other reviews have pointed out, 'The City and the Pillar' is notable because of its social significance; it was published in 1948 -- a time when homosexuality was still relegated to the fringes of society, so the last place you would expect to see it is in a novel. Gore Vidal put homosexual life out there for everyone to see, and if the picture that he paints isn't a pretty one consider that life for a gay man in that time period wasn't exactly peaches and cream. To start with, Vidal's portrayal of his protagonist, Jim Willard, is mightily restrained. There is a distance between Jim and the reader that at first seems cold, but is somewhat fitting when one considers that there is a distance between Jim's wants and needs that he is completely unable to reconcile. He's not warm and cuddly because he just doesn't understand who he is, and while he delves into the gay society of the time he can't help but mock it because he doesn't want to think of himself as part of it. Jim is constantly trying to rationalize his sexual behavior so that he won't have to believe that he is like the other gay men he meets. If he could bring himself to have a straight relationship he would -- as evinced by his continued friendship with Maria Verlaine. But Jim isn't straight, and putting on airs only makes him dislike himself even more. One could wish that Vidal had put a more humanized, relatable character at the forefront of his novel, but it just wouldn't have been so honest -- which Vidal undoubtedly understood, being a gay man living at the time.

Vidal, in addition to putting homosexuality into mainstream consciousness, acknowledged the stereotypes that have been attributed to gay men whilst taking a sledge-hammer to them at the same time. There was a pervading sense in Jim's time (and there still is today) that to be a gay man is to be feminine. Sure enough, there are feminine gay men populating Vidal's novel, but there are numerous masculine men that you wouldn't expect to be gay -- Jim included. Jim is an ace tennis player whose sculpted body and masculine features attract girls in droves, which for a long time helps feed Jim's denial of who he is. He didn't think he could possibly be gay because he wasn't 'girly', but by the end of the novel he has realized that, just like every other type of person, gay people come in all shapes and sizes. "Obviously the world was not what it seemed. Anything might be true of anybody," he notes at one point. This is also reflected in Jim's ventures into Hollywood and New York's high society. In Hollywood he has a relationship with Ronald Shaw, a mega-watt movie star who must hide his homosexual dalliances from the public in order to keep getting parts. At parties in New York Jim meets countless gay intellectuals who casually pretend not to know him when they run into each other in restaurants and such -- 'straight' locations where it would be too dangerous for them to reveal their link to each other. There is a lot of mask-wearing that goes into gay life in Jim's time, and he is no exception.

Through it all Jim is waiting to reconnect with his childhood friend, Bob Ford -- with whom Jim had his first homosexual experience in one surprising moment after Bob's graduation from high school. The moment has become hopelessly idealized in Jim's mind, and in his desperation to not see himself as part of gay society he continues to place what happened between them on higher, and more precarious, pedestals. He is convinced that when they meet up again (Bob went to sea after graduation, and the two lost touch) they will instantly resume their relationship; it never occurs to him that Bob might not feel the same way.

Which leads us to the ultimate tragedy in 'The City and the Pillar': that to be gay in society was to be doomed to a life on the margins, to be misunderstood, to have to hide who you really are from your family, to live a life of unhappiness because of your unfulfilled dreams, and to hate yourself for not conforming to the "normal" life you were assigned at birth. It may be bleak, but the triumph of Vidal's masterpiece is that he successfully humanizes this tragedy to the reader. No one who reads it can deny that Jim is a real, valuable human being who deserves a life of his own, and that is what makes 'The City and the Pillar' a classic along the lines of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', and in my opinion just as culturally significant.

For another perspective on this subject, albeit an inferior one, I would recommend checking out Carson McCullers' violent 1941 novella Reflections in a Golden Eye.
Grade: A-
10 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x93762dbc) von 5 Sternen The City and the Brokeback Mountain 27. Dezember 2006
Von T. Doherty - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
I just finished The City and the Pillar. I was up until the wee hours to finish it. Recently I've been making my way through the "gay" classics - City of Night, The Farewell Symphony - and now this little, concise Vidal treat.

I usually read the reviews of a book to see what the general story is about and to decide whether or not I might be interested. I had heard so much about this book that I was going to read it no matter what. A few reviews I read said The City and the Pillar wasn't "literary" enough, not full of blooming phrases, semi-colons and powerful metaphors. Others I read said that it was "simple", lacking in complex character development but still a reputable time-capsule from the old gay world.

The City and the Pillar is a quick read, but hardly lacking in beautiful phrasing and character development. This was one of the best books I read this year. Just like Brokeback Mountain (both book and movie), it deals with what it's like to realize you are gay, "normal" and just looking for love. Jim, the antihero, doesn't want to fall in with the "queens" and instead continues to dream about a childhood friend that for one night became more than a friend. This is his ideal and he can't find it in the gay world, partly because it doesn't exist in the gay world or any other - it exists solely in his adolecent mind from long ago, a mind that has churned one night with his best friend into something completely unattainable - at least with that same childhood friend.

This is a beautiful book, full of hope.
45 von 58 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x93762de0) von 5 Sternen Historically Significant; Literarily Weak 21. Februar 2004
Von Gary F. Taylor - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Originally published in 1948, THE CITY AND THE PILLAR is generally considered the first mainstream American novel to place gay men and their lives and loves at dead center of the story. As such, it receives a tremendous amount of attention from critics and historians. Still, for all the stir it caused at the time (most newspapers wouldn't review or advertise it and many bookstores refused to carry it), it is more interesting for its history than for itself.

The story concerns Jim, an all-American boy from Virginia, who has a sexual encounter with classmate Bob just before Bob graduates from highschool and leaves town "to go to sea." This is Jim's first same-sex encounter, and with classic adolescent innocence he concludes that he and Bob are spiritual "twins." As soon as he graduates, Jim goes in search of Bob on the assumption that Bob feels the same--and driven by this obsession he too "goes to sea," and moves from port to port and eventually from relationship to relationship in search of his ever-elusive lost love.

In a sense, THE CITY AND THE PILLAR gives us a window on what it must have been like to have been a young gay man in this era; at first Jim has absolutely no frame of reference for his sexuality, and when he begins to discover that men who have sex with men are not uncommon he resists thinking of himself as "one of those." But the overwhelming problem with the novel is that Jim is not a greatly interesting person, nor is Bob, nor are any of the people that Jim encounters while he looks for Bob. It soon becomes difficult to care about Jim, much less about whether or not he will ever find Bob and what will happen if he does.

Vidal himself was not greatly happy with the novel as it was published in 1948, and he rewrote it for a 1960s reprint. (The original 1948 version, which has a very different ending and slightly different tone, is no longer widely available.) But in rewriting the novel, Vidal did not go far enough: the characters are just as tedious in the second version as they were in the first. While I applaud Vidal for taking on such then-hot subject matter, I can't really praise what he did with it either originally or in the rewrite. Fortunately, if you feel you must read the novel due to its historical significance, it is fairly short--and that, really, is the best thing I can say for it.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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