History: The Home Movie

Overview

History: The Home Movie tells the story of two families, one relatively famous, one completely obscure - the family of Russian poet and novelist Boris Pasternak, and the author's own family, the Raines - whose lives touch each other and are touched by history in different ways. The Pasternaks are part of the European diaspora, driven the length of the continent - first by Stalin, then by Hitler - from Moscow to Munich, and then to Oxford, where the Raines have their home. ...
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Overview

History: The Home Movie tells the story of two families, one relatively famous, one completely obscure - the family of Russian poet and novelist Boris Pasternak, and the author's own family, the Raines - whose lives touch each other and are touched by history in different ways. The Pasternaks are part of the European diaspora, driven the length of the continent - first by Stalin, then by Hitler - from Moscow to Munich, and then to Oxford, where the Raines have their home.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This ``novel in verse'' from British poet Raine (Rich) traces in tercets the 20th-century history of his family in Oxford, England, and of Boris Pasternak's in Russia. The subject matter echoes that of historical fiction or family chronicles like War and Peace or Buddenbrooks, but Raine tells it in family album-sized snapshots, with the verse reminiscent of Auden and Betjeman. From this discrete, disconnected perspective, events are presented with uniform, monotonous diffidence-whether adolescent masturbation, a lecture on theosophy by Yeats or a menacing telephone call from Stalin (major events, like Pasternak's winning of the Nobel Prize, are avoided altogether). History's parallels and coincidences, including musical mothers and leg injuries in both families and variations on trials (from libel suits to Stalin's show trials), thread through chronologically arranged sections alongside recurring poetic images (for example, the moon or spiders) and literary allusions (Shakespeare in particular). Raine's unvarying poetic approach to characters and incidents, whether mundane or complex, eventually fails to amass the sustained density of a novel's narrative and mood, however, and his imagination succeeds in recreating life only in insular England, not in tragic Russia. First serial to the New Yorker; author tour. (Oct.)
Library Journal
The center of this versified novel reveals episodically the sad life of "arrogant, elegant" Boris Pasternak, his extended family, and his fellow writers. Characters who may or may not be fictional weather for almost 80 years the absurdity of uprooted contemporary life with detachment. Raine offers World War I sergeant Henry Raine, long-suffering wife Queenie, and their sons along with fastidious psychiatrist Elliot, Norman-the-boxer, and luckless Jimmy. Historical figures such as Conan Doyle, Eisenhower, Lenin, and Yeats appear and depart like marionettes, and nothing is very real-but it's splendid. With the panache of Aldous Huxley, he revitalizes Point Counter Point (1928), using Pasternak instead of D.H. Lawrence as a balancing agent to the dissipated behavior of the time. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes disgusting, the imagery mingles highbrow refinement with X-rated slang. One doesn't know if this "home movie" is satire or a roman clef. Whichever, it is finely stylized English wit.-Frank Allen, West Virginia State Coll., Institute
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385476607
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/1996
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 340
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

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