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Cloudsplitter

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Cloudsplitter Cover

ISBN13: 9780060930868
ISBN10: 0060930861
Condition: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

Topics for Discussion

1. How reliable a narrator is Owen Brown? What parts of his narrative do you find circumspect?

2. Owen states that he does not believe in God, that for him, his father was his God. Is this an apt analogy? If so, how would you characterize his faith in his God?

3. With regard to the Kansas Wars, Owen writes, "It was no longer clear to me: were we doing this for them, the Negroes; or were we simply using them as an excuse to commit vile crimes against one another? Was our true nature that of the man who sacrifices himself and others for his principles; or was it that of the criminal?" What do you think, and why?

4. Owen claims, in his account of his life, to settle once and for all the question of his father's sanity. Does he do so? Do you think his father is sane or insane? Is Owen sane? What sort of criteria would you use to differentiate moral conviction from insanity?

5. Owen writes of his father and the mountain, Tawanus: "I have come over the years to associate the two, as if each, mountain and man, were a portrait of the other and the two, reduced to their simplest outlines, were a single, runic inscription which I must, before I die, decipher, or I will not know the meaning of my own existence or its worth." What might he mean by this? Why is the novel entitled Cloudsplitter?

6. In his Author's Note, Russell Banks makes it clear that Cloudsplitter is a work of fiction, and not a version or interpretation of history. Nevertheless, the novel contains much historical information. What is the relationship between fiction and historical fact in Cloudsplitter? Is "historical fiction" a deceptive distortion of history, or does it add to our understanding of history? Of the present?

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Julie Sloane, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Julie Sloane)
An epic story of John Brown, America's most famous abolitionist, as told by his semi-fictional son, Owen. I was awed by the breadth and depth of Russell Banks' vision, which sets the most important struggle of the United States' first 100 years within the relationship of a father and son. Banks has elsewhere written that a story might exist in three equally true but distinct versions: the mythic, the social, and the psychological. "Cloudsplitter" braids all three together. Reading it, I was alternately shattered and uplifted, and finally came away feeling that although this was a work of fiction, I understood this country's struggle to survive on a more profound level than I had ever achieved through a study of history.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060930868
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Banks, Russell
Author:
Banks, Russell
Author:
by Russell Banks
Author:
Patten, Arturo
Publisher:
Harper Perennial
Location:
New York, NY :
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
History
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
West virginia
Subject:
Antislavery movements
Subject:
Harpers Ferry (W. Va.) History John Brown's Raid, 1859 Fiction.
Subject:
Harpers Ferry
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Harpers Ferry (W. Va.) History.
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Publication Date:
19990127
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
768
Dimensions:
11 x 8.5 in 13.54 oz

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Related Subjects

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Cloudsplitter Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$1.50 In Stock
Product details 768 pages Perennial - English 9780060930868 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , A triumph of the imagination and a masterpiece of modern storytelling, Cloudsplitter is narrated by the enigmatic Owen Brown, last surviving son of America's most famous and still controversial political terrorist and martyr, John Brown. Deeply researched, brilliantlyplotted, and peopled with a cast of unforgettable characters both historical and wholly invented, Cloudsplitter is dazzling in its re-creation of the political and social landscape of our history during the years before the Civil War, when slavery was tearing the country apart.But within this broader scope, Russell Banks has given us a riveting, suspenseful, heartbreaking narrative filled with intimate scenes of domestic life, of violence and action in battle, of romance and familial life and death that make the reader feel in astonishing ways what it is like to be alive in that time.
"Synopsis" by , This brilliant recounting of the events surrounding John Brown's legendary raid on the armory at Harper's Ferry is a masterpiece of modern American storytelling.

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