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Richard Powers


昨日、丸の内オアゾの丸善に1月20日発売予定のRichard Powersの新作Orfeoがすでに発売されていました。電子書籍の注文だと発売日より早く手に入れることができないので、こういう時は紙の書籍がうらやましくなります。ちょうど雑誌Timeの最新号で紹介されていたので、明日まで待つことが出来そうです(笑)

雑誌Timeに挑戦したばかりの人には大変ですがCover to Coverを勧めたくなるのは長く続けると幅広い分野に食らいつけるようになるからです。文学なんて読まないと断言する英語教師や自称英語の達人がうじゃうじゃいますが、そんな偏った人になってしまうのを防げると思います。

Richard Powersは大変博学な作家なので、どうしても頭でっかちで心に届かない作家とみなされやすいようです。Timeで書評をしたライターもHe seemed more interested in ideas than in people.と書いています。

The Man Who Loved Music Too Much
Richard Powers' story of a composer who dabbles in DNA
By Lev Grossman Monday, Jan. 27, 2014

I had been taking a break from Powers when I picked up Orfeo. The last book of his I read--full disclosure--was Galatea 2.2 in 1995. I felt vexed by that novel, and vexed that I was vexed: Powers is and was even then one of the more critically celebrated writers of his generation, but somehow I couldn't manage to be charmed by his work. He seemed more interested in ideas than in people. So in that selfish way that readers do--and I think a certain amount of selfishness is allowable when one reads for pleasure--I skipped his next five novels, one of which, The Echo Maker, won the National Book Award. With Orfeo I thought it was time to see whether Powers or I had changed.

ニューヨークタイムズの書評でも、whether this time, at last, he has succeeded in fusing ideas and life into an organic wholeとこの当たりのことを話題にしていました。

The Music Gene
‘Orfeo,’ by Richard Powers
By JIM HOLTJAN. 10, 2014

Is it premature to talk of the “Powers Problem”? For the last three decades, Richard Powers has been bringing out hefty novels at the rate of one every 2.5 years: 11 in all. At his current age of 56, he is, as a novelist, midway on life’s path; presumably he has another 11 or so novels still in him. Powers has won a National Book Award and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; he has been the recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant”; he has elicited lavish praise from the critics — most of them, anyway. Two of the words most frequently employed in connection with his literary output are “cerebral” and “ambitious.” “Cerebral” refers to his tendency to lace his novels with scientific and scholarly themes, like artificial intelligence in “Galatea 2.2,” game theory in “Prisoner’s Dilemma” and musicology cum genetic recombination in “The Gold Bug Variations.” “Ambitious” refers to his penchant for fashioning narrative structures and symbolic networks on a heroic scale.

These words cut both ways. “Cerebral” suggests a surfeit of ideas at the expense of life: more head than heart. And “ambitious” . . . well, that’s a terrible thing to say about a writer of novels; it’s like calling a politician “brave.” It suggests that the novelist has set aims for himself that he is doubtfully capable of attaining. And for Powers’s severest critics, the aim at which he signally fails is that of creating fully human characters with interesting motives and emotions. His rather conventional stories of love and loss, they say, never take flight. As the critic James Wood put it in The New Yorker, Powers “makes beautiful connections between concepts (genetics, music, computers, consciousness, memory), but primitive and mechanistic connections between his characters.” Everyone concedes that Powers is prodigiously talented. Besides being fearfully erudite, he writes lyrical prose, has a seductive sense of wonder and is an acute observer of social life. He has every gift, it is sometimes implied, but the gift of literature.

That is our Powers Problem. Each new novel he produces becomes an occasion to ask whether this time, at last, he has succeeded in fusing ideas and life into an organic whole.

TIMEでもNYTでも今作の評価は厳しめでしたが、whether this time, at last, he has succeeded in fusing ideas and life into an organic whole.について明日から自分で読んで判断したいと思います。