Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"A Thousand Acres" by Jane Smiley

What are the most tragic elements of A Thousand Acres? Which of these elements are rooted in the exercise of an individual's will, and, which seem attributable to something beyond the scope of human volition?
For a summary of King Lear, which the story is based on, go to:
For more information about the author, check out:
Further reading about the novel:


Anonymous said...

In very short measure, the mood in this book went from sad to depressing. Even though Ginny and Rose were hard working women, their minds were not challenged and therefore endlessly free to roam. Their lives routinely revolved too much around each other and their mundane tasks. Not only did they have time to *think* but they had time to *rethink* and *relive* the past.

It was apparent that many of the farm people living in Zebulon County suffered psychologically. Perhaps it had, as Jess Clark had suggested, something to do with their drinking water or all the chemicals used on or around the farm. Perhaps it was just the isolation of farm life in general. Their neighbors, instead of being a help and something of a pillar to lean on during a crisis, many times provoked discontent among the Cook family members.

As much as Larry Cook professed to hate his two oldest daughters, Ginny and Rose, they were the only ones able to penetrate his senility, if only in thought. Carolyn was forgotten, as if she had never existed or mattered to him at all.

I am not sure if any of the characters knew what it meant to be truthful to others, or even to themselves.

Their life, as everybody knew it, had dissipated like dust in the wind. Yet still, their bodies remembered the abuse and their minds were haunted by the memories of their youth.

It was the old memories that crippled the Cook family, but it was the new memories that finally drove them apart.

Jane Austen said it well: "Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure".

Imagine the Cook family having lived by that wisdom, how different their lives could have been.

Anonymous said...

This book is beautifully written. I especially enjoyed the description of farm life - both on the field and in the home. I am not a fan of the literary tragedy: characters self destruct as a result of their personality flaws. I disliked the three sisters & Jess because they pursued their own agendas without any consideration of whom they were going to hurt.