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Un alma cándida – tekijä: Elizabeth…
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Un alma cándida (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 1964; vuoden 2018 painos)

– tekijä: Elizabeth Taylor (Tekijä), Ana Bustelo (Kääntäjä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut / Maininnat
3421358,805 (3.97)1 / 92
INTRODUCED BY PHILIP HENSHER 'Elizabeth Taylor is finally being recognised as an important British author: an author of great subtlety, great compassion and great depth. As a reader, I have found huge pleasure in returning to Taylor's novels and short stories many times over. As a writer I've returned to her too - in awe of her achievements, and trying to work out how she does it' SARAH WATERS A brilliant novel about the damage caused by relentless 'niceness'. Uncritical, encouraging, 'the soul of kindness', Flora's help is the cruelest hindrance to those who love her most. 'Here I am!' Flora called to Richard as she went downstairs. For a second, Meg felt disloyalty. It occurred to her of a sudden that Flora was always saying that, and that it was in the tone of one giving a lovely present. Elegant, blonde and beautiful, Flora has everything under control: her perfect home, her husband Richard, her friend Meg, adoring Kit, and the writer Patrick. Flora entrances everyone, dangling visions of happiness and success before their spellbound eyes. All are bewitched by this golden tyrant. Except, that is, for the clear-eyed painter, Liz, who can see that Flora's kindness is the sweetest poison of them all.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:ciudadimaginaria
Teoksen nimi:Un alma cándida
Kirjailijat:Elizabeth Taylor (Tekijä)
Muut tekijät:Ana Bustelo (Kääntäjä)
Info:Gatopardo Ediciones (2018), Edition: 1, 264 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):***1/2
Avainsanoja:novela, Reino Unido, XX

Teoksen tarkat tiedot

The Soul of Kindness (tekijä: Elizabeth Taylor) (1964)

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 13) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
A comedy of manners and sort of field study of the various ways an utter lack of self-awareness can trickle through relationships—in this case, among the mid-1960s British middle class. Taylor has very little sentiment—but is not without compassion—for her misguided, smug, and often lonely cast of characters. She paints them wonderfully with a few brushstrokes, and you get a strong feeling of them going on to live their lives busily off the page, leaving the reader to sit and think about them while they move on. ( )
  lisapeet | Sep 3, 2021 |
The novelist Elizabeth Taylor is quietly cunning, devastatingly precise in her anatomy of the human mind The smallest sentences 'Sometimes, optimism briefly unsettled Mrs. Secretan" - provide so much. I will say that the modern re-releases of these books have the most atrocious covers: a glamorous woman's face in artful black-and-white, as if this were an advertisement for Chanel. I know "novels about slightly weary, deluded mid-20th century British people" is a tough sell, but making them look like upscale romance novels aimed at young urban types who work in marketing...well, that just seems irresponsible!

Other reviewers have said everything required about this novel, so I will just leave you with a longer quote below.
“A quiz programme. Two rows of people facing one another. A pompous, school-masterly man asking the questions. Those answers that Percy knew he spoke out loudly and promptly; when he was at a loss he pretended (as if he were not alone) that he had not quite caught the question, or he was busy blowing his nose to make a reply, or had to go to help himself to whiskey.” ( )
  therebelprince | Jun 24, 2021 |
An interesting character study of the coddled, self-centered person who really believes that her baseless encouragements are helpful to a young man, but in fact are exactly the opposite. There are a number of other interesting characters, including my favorite, Elinor Pringle, who I imagine is closest to the author’s mind. I enjoyed her keen observations, including, Chapter 13, a vivid description of a lonely, desultory Sunday afternoon in London. ( )
  Misprint | Aug 31, 2020 |
”she had always meant well. That intention had been seen clearly, lying behind some of her biggest mistakes.”

“I’ve never done anything to harm anyone in all my life.”
“No; of course not, darling. No one is kinder.”

“Other people have to live with the truth about themselves.”


Kindness is a virtue. Generally speaking, to be called “the soul of kindness” is high praise. However, Elizabeth Taylor isn’t dealing in generalities in her ninth novel, The Soul of Kindness. Here she explores kindness as blindness, presenting us with a young, newly married protagonist, Flora Quartermaine (nee Secretan), whose compassion and seeming goodwill cause all sorts of trouble. In the early pages of the book, Flora is a character straight out of Disney: a beautiful and saccharine young woman, on whose fingers doves gently alight. Before long, she’s setting up her orphaned and unlucky friend, Meg, with a gay writer, Patrick Barlow. Flora is apparently oblivious of his sexual orientation, in spite of the innuendo of others and his evident preoccupation with his “friend” Frankie. Equally unaware that Meg’s brother, Kit, is hopelessly untalented, Flora encourages and “inspires” him to pursue a stillborn acting career, when his sister is clearly in need of his financial contribution to the household. Meanwhile, Flora’s father-in-law, Percy, is given a cat as a companion he doesn’t want, and he is urged to marry his long-time mistress, when the two clearly prefer living apart.

Why does Flora meddle in this way? The author writes: “Flora’s worries were other people’s worries. With these she tirelessly concerned herself.” She believes herself kind and desirous of the best for her friends and relations, while everyone else finds her naïve, obtuse, and even stupid. “Someone always has to look after Flora and let her think she’s looking after them,” observes one character. She is certainly “high maintenance”. Mrs. Secretan, Flora’s mother, regards her daughter’s wedding day as a sort of ritualistic handing over—from mother to husband—of a “precious burden”. Best friend Meg is a “nannie” to her. While Meg disapproves of cosseting, she recognizes “that it would be dangerous for it to be discontinued—like putting an orchid out into the frosty air.” As for Flora’s husband, Richard: he has the responsibility of preserving her face from any signs of stress—due to the loss of innocence: “it would surely be his fault if it were altered, if the Botticelli calm were broken, or the appealing gaze veiled.” In short, everyone around Flora is more or less complicit in ensuring that she not be presented with “a glimpse of herself as someone she could never bear to live with.”

In all the novels I’ve read by Taylor, she shows herself to be keenly interested in the matter of self-deception. Her characters often tell themselves comforting stories about their own motivations, actions, and lives. They work to hide unpleasant truths from themselves as much as from others. In her seventh and ninth novels, Angel and The Soul of Kindness, Taylor appears to be interested in the role nurture plays in the development of unusually imperceptive, egotistical personalities. At the heart of both narratives, there is an indulgent, overprotective mother and a willful, pathologically oblivious daughter. The daughters, Angel and Flora, are extreme cases—even for Taylor; bordering on untenable and unconvincing, they are almost caricatures. Angel, a writer of third-rate potboilers, fancies herself a literary giant. (Fate strangely treats her kindly, and for a time she becomes enormously wealthy from her novel writing.) Flora, on the other hand, is blind to “otherness”. Though reasonably capable socially, she is self-centred and incapable of perceiving that the needs, wants, and goals of other people differ from her own.

Taylor’s novel, published in 1964, has an interesting resonance over fifty years later in this age of “helicopter parents”, who would spare their children every discomfort and distress. The sheltering and coddling we see from Mrs Secretan (and from modern parents) ensure that young people remain childlike and emotionally immature into adulthood. The untalented Kit’s unrealistic aspirations are in part due to the excessive praise he received as a child for roles in school plays. Such praise, Taylor intimates, is a “disservice” to the young. Meg speculates about the damage of parental indulgence, wondering “what, if anything at all, Flora knew about people. Her mother had encouraged only the prettiest view of human nature and no later aspects she may have come across seemed to have made an impression.” Taylor also makes clear that too much investment in a child’s life leaves a mother without an identity when the child leaves. Mrs. Secretan, we are told, planned everything down to the last detail. “But,” in doing so, she realizes, “I forgot myself and the future.”

Taylor often likes to provide foils to her protagonists. In this book, we have Flora—happy in domesticity, young motherhood, and innocence or obliviousness—and Elinor Pringle, who lives just down from Flora’s crescent in affluent St. John’s Wood. About the same age as Flora, Elinor is the lonely wife of an MP, who “doesn’t give a damn” what she does and would prefer to spend his limited spare time writing dull plays peopled with male characters. Lonely, childless, and bitter about her marriage, Elinor spends many of her days tracking down rare and costly pieces of furniture and objets d’art. She goes on solo trips, eats alone in guest-house dining rooms with a book as her only companion, and walks deserted esplanades during the off-season. Having run into her several times in Mayfair, Flora’s husband, Richard, becomes quite friendly with Elinor, keeping the relationship from his wife. His suppers with his new female friend, especially those that occur when Flora is in the nursing home after the birth of their daughter, lead him to compare the two women. On one occasion he thinks that Flora, unlike Elinor, would be a loyal political wife, but after another visit with the intelligent, opinionated Elinor, he is troubled to have disloyal thoughts about Flora. When Flora rushes to the door to greet him, he uncharacteristically observes that she’s “far too tall” to be speaking in “such a little girl voice.”

Taylor provides an even more dramatic contrast to Flora in the person of Liz Corbett, “a fattish young woman with untidy hair”. Slatternly Liz is Patrick Barlow’s friend and an artist. She lives in a squalid flat with all of her painting materials in disarray about her, but in spite of the mess, even filth, of her surroundings, she paints works of great delicacy and increasing originality. Unlike the other female characters in the novel, and in spite of Taylor’s unappealing portrait of her, Liz is the only one to have independent purpose, a vision of what she wants to accomplish. “I don’t want to enchant people. I want to shake them up. . . . People under spells are half dead,” she tells Patrick. “I’ve a lifetime’s work in my head. . . . Some explorations to be made.” Liz also happens to be the only character in the novel with the guts, the toughness, to confront Flora.

I found Taylor’s The Soul of Kindness, a far more unified, mature, and accomplished piece than the many other novels by her I’ve recently read. Characters and plot are better controlled by the author, and all work well to develop, serve, and amplify a central theme. Reading this book was a rewarding experience. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Sep 8, 2018 |
Centred around the beautiful Flora, ever sweet and well meaning, the book draws in other characters in her circle, and the effects she has on them. From her crusty old father-in-law, persuaded into marriage with his long-term mistress...her old schoolfriend, 'poor' Meg, whom Flora hopes to marry off to the lovely - but gay - Patrick...Meg's brother Kit, who worships Flora, and whom Flora encourages in his fantasies of becoming a great actor...Flora's adoring mother, who is saddened on her daughter's wedding day by a well-meaning but thoughtless note left for her:
' "You have been the most wonderful mother...I had a beautiful childhood." So it was regarded as finished? The words were the kind which might be spoken from a death bed.'
Elegant and enjoyable writing. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 13) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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» Lisää muita tekijöitä (3 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Elizabeth Taylorensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetlaskettu
Bailey, PaulJohdantomuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Hensher, PhilipJohdantomuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu

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Tärkeät tapahtumat
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To Elizabeth Cameron
Ensimmäiset sanat
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Towards the end of the bridegroom's speech, the bride turned aside and began to throw crumbs of wedding cake through an opening in the marquee to the doves outside.
The Soul of Kindness: the title suggests a comfy, determinedly life-enchanting novel with Good Works as its theme. (Introduction)
Sitaatit
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
She placed the Bible on the [hotel] bedside table where it would be ready for the next desperate traveller. It had a special index -- for those in hospital wards, prison cells and hotel bedrooms -- to guide one to helpful passages, when Backsliding, Leaving Home, Needing Peace or in the Failure of Friends. Nothing for her. Nothing for those needing a new home, in love with the wrong person, or sick of responsibility. Nothing in the index, rather. In the Bible itself everything can be found, she remembered having been told.
She hoisted him up against the pillows ... and fetched the tray. It was very prettily arranged: he looked down at the smallest piece of fish he had ever seen in his life, palely golden, flecked with parsley and decorated by butterflies of lemon. He had not seen anything like it since his mother died.
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(Napsauta nähdäksesi. Varoitus: voi sisältää juonipaljastuksia)
(Napsauta nähdäksesi. Varoitus: voi sisältää juonipaljastuksia)
Erotteluhuomautus
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

-

INTRODUCED BY PHILIP HENSHER 'Elizabeth Taylor is finally being recognised as an important British author: an author of great subtlety, great compassion and great depth. As a reader, I have found huge pleasure in returning to Taylor's novels and short stories many times over. As a writer I've returned to her too - in awe of her achievements, and trying to work out how she does it' SARAH WATERS A brilliant novel about the damage caused by relentless 'niceness'. Uncritical, encouraging, 'the soul of kindness', Flora's help is the cruelest hindrance to those who love her most. 'Here I am!' Flora called to Richard as she went downstairs. For a second, Meg felt disloyalty. It occurred to her of a sudden that Flora was always saying that, and that it was in the tone of one giving a lovely present. Elegant, blonde and beautiful, Flora has everything under control: her perfect home, her husband Richard, her friend Meg, adoring Kit, and the writer Patrick. Flora entrances everyone, dangling visions of happiness and success before their spellbound eyes. All are bewitched by this golden tyrant. Except, that is, for the clear-eyed painter, Liz, who can see that Flora's kindness is the sweetest poison of them all.

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