E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime, part of Chelsea House Publishers' Bloom's Guides collection, presents concise critical excerpts from Ragtime to provide a scholarly overview of the work. This comprehensive study guide also features "The Story Behind the Story," which details the conditions under which Ragtime was written. This title also includes a short biography on Doctorow and a descriptive list of characters.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 4.75" Height: 7.5" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2006
ISBN 8489746397 ISBN13 9788489746398
Availability 0 units.
More About E. L. Doctorow
E. L. Doctorow's works of fiction include Welcome to Hard Times, The Book of Daniel, Ragtime, Loon Lake, World's Fair, Billy Bathgate, The Waterworks, City of God, The March, Homer & Langley, and Andrew's Brain. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle awards, two PEN/Faulkner awards, and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, honoring a writer's lifetime achievement in fiction, and in 2012 he won the PEN/ Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, given to an author whose "scale of achievement over a sustained career places him in the highest rank of American literature." In 2013 the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him the Gold Medal for Fiction. In 2014 he was honored with the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. From the Hardcover edition.
This book is exceptional. It is one of those books that rivets your mind; makes you realize how ordinary other books are by comparison.Sentence builds on sentence creating fantastic images making this book a joy to the senses. Doctorow brilliantly recreates the Ragtime era using actual events and people from the time and interweaving with three fictional families;one WASP, Tateh and his daughter who are poor jewish migrants, and Coalhouse Walkers entanglement with the WASP family. I normally condemn books written about the past as 'unauthentic' or 'lacking the realism' of the age discribed. 'Ragtime' and Doctorow show me that I was talking out of my hat! This really is superb. Anyone giving this less than 5 stars must be a green with envy writer wishing they could write like E L Doctorow!
History? Fiction? Fictory? Who cares, it's great! May 1, 2008
Give this one a few chapters to hook you, as Doctorow's style here won't suit everyone's tastes. There is very little dialogue, and often he employs repetitive staccato sentences in brief summary descriptions, like: "He came in. He sat down. He counted his change. He put it in his pocket and left." Now, the way he does it actually fits each scene perfectly, but occasionally you'll notice it.
That small criticism aside, however, RAGTIME is teeming with historical figures and random tidbits while telling a rollicking story. Along the way you'll meet Houdini, Henry Ford, J. P. Morgan, George Washington Carver, Emma Goldman, Evelyn Nesbitt and many more. You'll get lost in another time and never want to come back.
And while you're reading, ask yourself two simple questions: First, who is telling this story? And second, how do they know all these things? You'll be glad you paid attention.
average Mar 14, 2008
I read this book within 24 hours as I had a paper due the next day on it. I give Doctorow credit for his poetic writing, it however seemed out of place in a dramatic novel, and did not make this a fun read. The sexual themes seemed placed if only to make things for interesting for a time, until the climax of the book near the final chapters. I was left disappointed, and if I had high expectations for the book in the first place, I would have called it's reading a waste of time all together. However, I was forced to read it- perhaps I have no taste for the genre.
The Doctorow is in... Jan 25, 2008
My God, is Ragtime a good book. Absolutely excellent. This is what you WANT in a book. Readable, educational, interesting, and completely devoid of self-conscious grandiloquence, while retaining true beauty of prose: it passes all tests.
The MLA placed Ragtime at #86 on the infamous list of 100, which is a bit of an outrage, considering some of the junk ranked ahead of it--in some cases (viz. On the Road) way ahead of it. (It is not, however, as criminally-underrated as Ironweed...which is a better book even than Ragtime, though listed at #92.)
Ragtime does seem to peter out after the main climax. The plot takes on a rather abrupt tone, with loose ends being tied up a bit too patly; and some of the narrative power leeches away, as though Doctorow lost his muse. However, the early tete-a-tete between J.P. Morgan and Henry Ford is worth the price of admission on its own--Doctorow hits a note here that surpasses all other passages in the novel.
Ragtime is a superb work of modern American literature--I mean that in a good way--and will be a highly rewarding experience for readers to undertake.
Altered History Oct 16, 2007
It's really hard for me to objectively review this book. As someone who has a great love and respect for history I've always stayed away from alternate history novels. "Ragtime" isn't as alternative as Turtledove's "Guns of the South" for example where the Confederacy wins the Civil War; instead Doctorow uses real people in fictitious situations. Was there really a homoerotic massage between anarchist Emma Goldman and renowned beauty Evelyn Nesbit? Unlikely. Did JP Morgan and Henry Ford actually meet to discuss forming some kind of secret society? Probably not. Did Houdini really crash his car into a pole outside a family's home in New Rochelle, New York? No.
But that's where the action begins in this story. An unnamed family consisting of Father, Mother, little boy (or the boy), Grandfather, and Younger Brother meet the famed escapist when he crashes his horseless carriage in front of their house in 1902. From there the family's life proceeds to unwind as Father goes on an expedition to the North Pole, Mother saves a discarded black baby and takes in the mother, and Younger Brother has an affair with Nesbit before getting caught up in revolutionary activities. As for the little boy, he's present.
Written in 1975, "Ragtime" isn't a novel of the 1900s-1910s so much as it's a novel of the disillusionment and rebellion of the 1960s-1970s. The contrast of a loss of innocence for this family against the backdrop of a prosperous America on the verge of becoming a world power is where "Ragtime" is most effective. Viewed strictly on that level it's a good enough book.
Doctorow's short sentences and lack of much dialog make the novel an easy read. It got me in mind--from recent books I'd read--of Cormac McCarthy writing a Gore Vidal novel. The benefit being that unlike Vidal's "Hollywood" I read a couple months ago, there's not a lot of chatting at cocktail parties. So at least the reader will not be bored.
But as I said in the beginning, as a fan of history I really can't endorse this approach. If you're going to use historical characters to create events that never happened--like those mentioned above--then how much difference is there really between that and Turtledove's wholesale approach at altering history? Not much, in my opinion. If I can do anything I want with these people who did exist, then what's stopping me from writing a novel where Abe Lincoln is a bloodthirsty serial killer at night? Nothing, although maybe someone beat me to it. I'm probably all wet on this, but I didn't like it in Vidal's book or in this book, and it's why--along with the bad reviews--I stayed away from Mailer's recent novel about Hitler's childhood. It's fine if you want to write about the past in allegorical terms, but why not just use all fictitious characters as well as situations?