کتاب سنتائور

اثر جان آپدایک از انتشارات مروارید - مترجم: سهیل سمی-دهه 1960

رمان سنتائور در سال 1963 در آمریکا به چاپ رسید و بلافاصله مورد توجه منتقدان ادبی قرار گرفت. یک سال بعد، جایزه‌ی ادبی «نشنال بوک اوارد» آمریکا را به خود اختصاص داد و سال بعد صاحب جایزه‌ی بهترین رمان خارجی در فرانسه شد. از آن پس کمتر سالی بوده که رمان سنتائور تجدید چاپ نشود.
سنتائور از یک سو بُعدی اساطیری دارد و از سوی دیگر، زندگی معاصر طبقه‌ی متوسط آمریکا را به زیبایی تحلیل می‌کند. کمتر رمانی است که رابطه‌ی پدر و پسر در آن تا این حد زیبا و موجز تصویر شده باشد. این رمان روایت‌گر عشق پسری است به پدرش، پدری که همچون شیرون فرزانه با روح ساده و افکار بغرنجش ناخودآگاه طالب مرگ است.


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One of John Updikes first novels. Combines references to Greek mythology with autobiographical elements of his early life in telling the tale of a father and son over three days adventures one winter. Having read a biography of Updike last year, I was able to see hints of him, his parents, and their life in rural Pennsylvania in the novel, which made it more interesting and enjoyable to me.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
For the first 30 or so pages (I read this electronically so I cant be sure) this book glides along on limpid pools of poised prose that sparkle like gentle waves in water. Then a woman appears, and not only do all the commonplaces about updike come true but he seems to stop trying at everything else too. This book has little to say that doesnt involve updike and is not so much a celebration of the world as of his ability to perceive it. Occasionally hell write something nice again and I enjoyed myself but largely this is a dull book.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
The Centaur is a well-structured narrative which for the most part, succeeds in detailing a world based in a metaphysical realm of abstraction, and a more familiar, concrete reality. These do not occur simultaneously, but share the same continuity of events and an abstract sense of place. The concrete world were introduced to sets itself in Pennsylvania during the winter months of the mid-1900s. Were introduced to a sympathetic high school teacher named George Caldwell in an event which foreshadows the surreality of the books metaphysical events. As a prank, one of Georges students shoots him in the leg with a metallic arrow. The sequence inflates itself to nearly dream-like proportions, transitioning to hallucinations resulting from blood-loss, and an encounter near the locker rooms which transitions into the metaphysical reality.
This secondary setting, oddly enough, takes the form of a Greek myth. The characters weve become familiar with transform into their mythological character counterparts. In place of a school, the building gives way to a proverbial Olympus ruled by the domineering principals counterpart, Zeus. George becomes Chiron, a Centaur notable for his self-sacrificial nature in ancient texts.
My understanding of Greek mythology is layman at best, so I wont delve too much into the circumstances of the metaphysical, as I had to interpret them through the storys contextual lens. Given the likelihood that this layman status pertains to the common reader, Im sure forgiveness can be had over such an omission. I give fair warning that the introduction of the Greek tale is at first disorienting, and may provoke the reader to skip pages in order to move past the crawling momentum. One can appreciate the artistic approach, unheard of in its fusion between a distinctly American setting, and one that holds no restraint in its Greek expression. However, this approach arrives at the price of the conventional readers expense.
Stylistically, the prose elevates itself above the expressed novelties through its own simplicity. A typical narrative will often oversimplify the way a character observes and comments from the minds eye and inner voice. We may have come to accept this as a convention in the realm of literature, but it doesnt hold true to reality.
In this rhetorical narrative of which I speak, the inner monologue of the characters are linear, singular-faceted thoughts that pale in comparison to the complex clustering of details that flood average human thinking. The Centaur is the exception. Updike describes character thoughts in massive details that feel overwhelming at first, but your mind eventually adjusts to the pacing of inner monologue, and in turn it flows more naturally.
This is simple, in that the observations dont stumble into overly complex territory. Were not bashed over the head with metaphor. Instead, were introduced to the way our opinions filter through social stigmas before being expressed. Observations show up in oversimplified similes from the character perspectives which are senseless and lacking design by narrative standards; but in reality our thoughts arent always perfect, and the book acknowledges this.
The result is an artistic narrative that while abstractly flawed, gives us one of the most concrete narrative forms. The Centaur is a story that presents humanly realistic characters and situations, creating an experience which successfully captures the essence of true, simulated reality.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
Perhaps the best that can be said of Updikes story is that it is relatable. But then, in my small, three-person reading group, only two of us (poignantly, both men) were actually able to relate. The trouble is, Updike can prove very alienating in most of his work, depending on your taste. And The Centaur, being an early effort, does not necessarily have all the benefit of experience behind it. On top of that, the book essentially lacks a plot, its characters frequently tend towards shallowness, Updikes misogyny and homophobia excrete themselves all over every page, he takes too much pleasure in his own prose, and the lack of a consistent narrator proves more jolting and frustrating than helpful. For all of these reasons, I was astounded to find that this mostly forgotten book had been awarded the National Book Award. And while it still doesnt deserve the award, it certainly deserves some recognition. Updike struggles to tell a tale of a boy, and his relationship with his father. And while he fails in many respects, that failure captures the complexity of father/son relationships in an unexpected way that is touching, even if (or perhaps because) it is unintended on the part of the author.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
Updike goes for some surprisingly cheap shots. Doc says: @...Constant irritation of the digestive track can produce pain and the sensation of anal fullness you describe. Patient, in response, says, @I wouldnt mind plugging ahead...@ Oh, Updike, really? After giving us the beautiful, brilliant @Rabbit, Run@ we get lame scat jokes and a non-story? I dont know much about the utilization of ancient myths in modern literature, but I do know when Joyce goes for broke with scatological, filthy jokes in @Ulysses@, he does just that, while Updike dares only to give us a bad, sad, pg-rated non-joke. Its hard for me to believe Harper Lee went from the abysmal @Go Set a Watchman@ to a very good @To Kill a Mockingbird@ in two years. Likewise, how did Updike go from one of the twentieth centuries greatest books, @Rabbit Run@, to this in a similar period? (And dont get me started with the homophobia displayed here. Good grief, Updike, how hateful!)

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