Briar Roseby Robert Coover
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
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.
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 exploresin 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 sleepa 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.
- Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1 PBK ED
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 0.23(w) x 5.00(h) x 8.00(d)
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