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In Partial Disgrace (American Literature)by Charles Newman
Synopses & Reviews
The long-awaited final work and magnum opus of one of the United States’s greatest authors, critics, and tastemakers, In Partial Disgrace is a sprawling self-contained trilogy chronicling the troubled history of a small Central European nation bearing certain similarities to Hungary—and whose rise and fall might be said to parallel the strange contortions taken by Western political and literary thought over the course of the twentieth century. More than twenty years in the making, and containing a cast of characters, breadth of insight, and degree of stylistic legerdemain to rival such staggering achievements as William H. Gass’s The Tunnel, Carlos Fuentes’s Terra Nostra, Robert Coover’s The Public Burning, or Péter Nádas’s Parallel Lives, In Partial Disgrace may be the last great work to issue from the generation that changed American letters in the ’60s and ’70s.
"Acclaimed critic and novelist Newman (White Jazz) offers a weighty historical satire in this posthumous work set in the fabled kingdom of Cannonia. The narrative splits between two protagonists and time periods: Iulus Psalmanazar details pre-WWII Cannonia — which is modeled on Hungary — and an American soldier, Rufus, explores the conquered nation near war's end. The son of an aristocratic dog breeder and goddess mother — who claims descent from indigenous Cannonians, the Astingi — Iulus tells of former days at his majestic home of Semper Vero. Newman's prose is as limpid and meandering as his Mze river, 'the spinal fluid of Cannonia,' which informs all life and invokes a sort of magic for the boy. The beauty and specificity of Newman's prose, and the book's conceit that Rufus is presenting Iulus's papers, often excuses the 'old-fashioned idiom' of Iulus's first person narrative, though at times the novel feels static. The narrative thrust arises from the contrast between extremes: the rich and cultured world of pre-war Cannonia on one side — filled with Astingi magic, prize winning dogs, gourmet meals, music, literature, and many a 'conversazione galante,' — and the nation's impoverished post-war landscape on the other, threatened as it is by American power. Newman's wide-ranging, ambitious work effortlessly blends fact with fantasy. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In Partial Disgrace is a sprawling self-contained trilogy chronicling the troubled history of a small Central European nation whose rise and fall might be said to parallel the strange contortions of 20th century political and literary thought. More than twenty years in the making, this may be the last great work to issue from the generation that changed American letters in the ’60s and ’70s.
About the Author
Charles Newman (1938-2006) was born in St. Louis and grew up in the Chicago area. In 1964 he became editor of TriQuarterly, which he nurtured into a journal with an international reputation. Newman's own novels have been compared to the work of both Thomas Pynchon and J. D. Salinger, and his two works of nonfiction are both classics of the form. Newman was a Professor at Washington University in St. Louis from 1985 until his death.Richard Howard is the author of eleven books of poetry, including Untitled Subjects, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1970. He is the translator for more than 150 works from the French language. He received the American Book Award for his translation of Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal.
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