By Jane Smiley
A winning Iowa farmer comes to a decision to divide his farm among his 3 daughters. while the youngest gadgets, she is minimize out of his will. This units off a sequence of occasions that brings darkish truths to gentle and explodes long-suppressed feelings. An bold reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear solid upon a standard American group within the past due 20th century, A Thousand Acres takes on subject matters of fact, justice, love, and delight, and divulges the attractive but treacherous topography of humanity.
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Extra info for A Thousand Acres: A Novel
He keeps himself afloat – “in calm weather, to swim in the open ocean is as easy to the practised swimmer as to ride in a spring-carriage ashore” (321) – but falls into an “intense concentration of self ” (321). The solitary swimmer encounters the God-sea of the ancient world, full of “multitudinous, Godomnipresent coral insects” that break and remake his mind. He gets rescued by the Pequod, “by the merest chance” (321), but not before he has exchanged human for divine sense. Pip’s madness creates a new attitude toward the sea.
He recognizes that Desdemona (like Venice) represents a combination of land and water, and that mixture unsettles him even as he craves it. Like Maximus of Gloucester’s “salmon of / wisdom,” Othello leaps “ecstatically” into his love’s arms, and his system ruptures when plunged into a foreign element. At the heart of Othello’s marriage and his tragedy lie a poetic attempt to transform the sea from Iago’s realm of shifting desires into a place of heroic constancy. This hero from the land of the sun, the catalog of whose adventures provides a tour of classical deserts via Herodotus and Pliny, marries into maritime Venice but wants to solidify its watery world.
The cold mouth of a (supposedly) doomed sailor inverts the pearl eyes of the (supposedly) dead king: this is what happens to human bodies underwater. It’s a terrifying prospect from which The Tempest recoils. Death by drowning: even this play can’t really show it. 14 At the Bottom of Shakespeare’s Ocean Fathom and Half: King Lear . . The ocean is patience, its wisdom is the tare of time. (Édouard Glissant, “Ocean”) The Tempest escapes the waters through music and magic, but a salt taste lingers.
A Thousand Acres: A Novel by Jane Smiley