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Briar Rose
     

Briar Rose

4.3 3
by Robert Coover
 

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Robert Coover's many acclaimed works of fiction have established him as a powerhouse among America's postmodernist writers. With Briar Rose, he casts his own unmistakable style on an ageless tale. A brilliant recreation of the timeless Sleeping Beauty story, Briar Rose tells of a prince trapped in the briars; a sleeping beauty who cannot awaken, dreaming of a

Overview


Robert Coover's many acclaimed works of fiction have established him as a powerhouse among America's postmodernist writers. With Briar Rose, he casts his own unmistakable style on an ageless tale. A brilliant recreation of the timeless Sleeping Beauty story, Briar Rose tells of a prince trapped in the briars; a sleeping beauty who cannot awaken, dreaming of a succession of kissing princes; and the old spell-casting fairy who inhabits the princess's dreams, regaling her with legends of other sleeping beauties and trying to imagine the nature of human desire.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Long a favorite of modern poets from Paul Valry to Randall Jarrell, the tale of Sleeping Beauty has given rise to some of the century's deepest meditations on the act of writing and the workings of inspiration and desire. Coover (John's Wife, etc.) has always drawn inspiration from classical narratives (he brilliantly reworked Hansel and Gretel in his short-story collection Pricksongs and Descants), so it will hardly surprise his readers that he has devoted an entire, albeit slim, novel to the princess. Briar Rose returns him to what may be his most fruitful obsession, the absurd and inescapable demands that Romance makes on our lives. "Desire," the fairy godmother asks herself, "what is that?" That's the question at the heart of this remarkable thicket of a novel, where plot and point of view intertwine according to the logic of fable, dream and parody. Coover's allegorical retelling of Sleeping Beauty-hard to put down and impossible to paraphrase-is one of his best, bitterest jokes to date. It is also one of his most accessible works, confirming him as simply wittier, sadder, more precise and more inventive than most novelists writing today. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Touted as a postmodern fairy tale, this brief work is Coover's retelling of the story of Sleeping Beauty. In this dark and unromantic world, a prince hacks his way through the briar hedge surrounding the castle, ever aware that the bodies of dead princes who went before him are swinging in the wind, and the princess dreams of the men who come and assault her as she lies helpless. Though the writing is beautiful, as one would expect, the mood is grim, even dreary, and the whole thing feels like a tedious exercise. A postmodern Pinocchio in Venice will also be released this spring. Not essential, though given Coover's standing, literary collections should consider.-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Kirkus Reviews
A tour de force that rings an astonishing series of changes on the familiar fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty.

The prolific Coover (John's Wife, p. 155, etc.) has always been fascinated with the sheer playful possibilities of fiction, and with the many kinds of intentions that a seemingly straightforward narrative conceals. In this brief, dense work, he explores—in the contrasting voices of Sleeping Beauty and her resolute Prince as he fights his way to her bedchamber to awaken her from a deathly enchanted sleep—a remarkable number of interpretative possibilities lying just below the surface of the tale. The series of brief meditations by the two that compose the book suggest at various times that the story is really about the powers of the imagination (the two lovers-to-be have distinct ideas about what each represents to the other), about the masculine need to create a lovely, will-less female object of beauty, about the need of women to resist (by sleep, if nothing else) the kinds of male yearnings projected onto them, about the nature of desire itself ("You are that flame," Beauty is told, "flickering like a burning fever in the hearts of men, consuming them with desire, bewitching them with your radiant and mysterious allure"), or about the anarchic power of the storytelling drive ("The awful powers of enchantment") to take over a tale, to reassemble itself in a "dangerous and inviolate" form in defiance of an author's conscious intentions. The tale is also an amusing parody of literary scholarship, of its willingness to force polemical meanings onto a work of the imagination. All of this is rendered in a precise, vigorous, droll prose.

There's no doubt that Coover can do almost anything he wants. But his reluctance to finally settle for any culminating metaphor makes this unique work seem more of a collection of masterful, cerebral turns than a living, persuasive tale.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802135414
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
01/01/1998
Edition description:
1 PBK ED
Pages:
94
Sales rank:
1,082,485
Product dimensions:
0.23(w) x 5.00(h) x 8.00(d)

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Briar Rose 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a short book, 86 pages, but gives the impression that the idea was not long enough even for that. There are three figures, the prince trying to cut his way through the thorns, the witch, and the sleeping princess. The chapters alternate between the prince, who initially imagines his triumphant return after an easy victory, but is slowly overpowered by the growth of the thorns, and dies in the thicket, and the witch and princess. The witch tells the princess in her dreams stories of other princesses in the same situation, all of which end badly. Many of these deal with the princess being raped during her sleep, sometimes by a victorious prince (who then does not marry her), sometimes by a sequence of heroes, who use the sleeping princess as an entertaining waystation on the way to other adventures, by her father's household knights, once by a monkey. Several of the stories tell of the princess having children while she slept; in several stories, the princess or her children are killed by jealous wifes, and are either boiled in soup or roasted to be served to the prince. There are many of these stories, each is only 1-2 pages long, and they are all approximately the same. Each motive occurs several times. I had expected more from this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is the best book i have ever read, its the the fairy tales with an interesting twist.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just read and finished the wonderful book called 'Briar Rose' and it's mainly about how a favorite grandchild grows up with her 'Gemma's' story of Briar Rose. On her death bed gemma tells becca 'I am Briar Rose'So becca goes on an amazing adventure to where her grandmother was almost executed by Nazi's in Poland.Becca discovers Gemma's true identity who really noone including becca doesn't know about