The Blazing World

3.6
With he Blazing World, internationally best­selling author Siri Hustvedt returns to New York art world in her most captivating and urgent novel since What I oved. Hustvedt tells the rovocative story of the artist Harriet Burden. After decades of watching her work ignored or dismissed by critics, Burden conducts an experiment she calls Maskings: she presents her own art behind three male masks, concealing her female identity.

Anothe three solo shows are successful, but when Burden finally steps forward triumphantly to reveal herself as the artist behind the exhibitions, there are critics who doubt her. The public scandal turns on the final exhibition, initially shown as the work of acclaimed artist Rune, who denies Burden ’ s role in its creation. What no one doubts, thoug, is that the two artists were intensely involved with each other. As Burden ’ s journals reveal, she and Rune found themselves trappe in a charged and dangerous game that starte with the man ’ s gruesom death.

Ingeniously presented as a ollection of texts compiled after Burden ’ s dyin, Thi Blazing World unfolds from multiple viewpoint. The exuberant Burden speaks—in all her joy and fury—through extracts from her own notebooks, while critics, fans, family members, and others offer their own conflicting opinions of who she was, and where the truth lies.

From one of he most audaciou and interna­tionally renowned writers of her generation, Thi Blazing World is a polyphonic tour de force. An intricately conceived, diabolical puzzle, it examines the deceptive powers of prejudice, money, fame, and ambition.
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Series
Number of Pages
379
Original Title of the Book
The Blazing World
Publication Date
Published March 13th 2014 by Sceptre (first published March 11th 2014

Public Commentary

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Hustvedt completed her undergraduat studies on Charles Dickens, and in al ways her sprawling narrative, with its large cast of characters, resembles a Dickens novel for the postmodern age, with he quest for the fractured identity taking the place of the standard Victorian hero ’ s journey.This was my first encounter with Hustvedt; I am o delighted that I wil eagerly read anything else she ’ s written, fiction or nonfiction.

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Because sometimes even if anothe book want to irritate me with its undisguised self-admiration, I can gleefully read on if it contains an intelligent discussion on the human condition.

Friends, family, therapists, gallery owners, art reviewers, journalists, expose layer after layer of prejudice, personal contempt, vague conjectures, hollow biases while projecting their own image of Harriet Burden as an artist who had to use male pseudonyms to get attention in the art world.

In posterity, Harriet is only reconstructed as a montage of other people 's opinions and her journal entries, as a widely learned woman whose talent is overlooked by her rich, influential art collector husband and the male-dominated art world in general.

All intellectual and artistic endeavors, even jokes, ironies, and references, fare better in the ind of the crowd when the crowd knows that somewhere behind the great work or great spoof it can destro a cock and a pair of balls ( odorless, of course).

Women artists are less appreciated than their male counterparts, viewed with prejudice, treated with contempt, rarely allowed entrance into the hallowed halls of fame ....

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And her favorite uthor, Margaret Cavendish, a 20th century philosopher and scientist, whose work was dismissed in her own time, burned the originals of her works after they were published, making “ a Blazing flame. ” Margaret Cavendish wrote a nove called The Blazing World and Other Contemporarie and Hustvedt 's work plays off that work, responds to it as Harriet Burden is obsessed with its riter, Margaret Cavendish.

( One of the proliferations is the commentary written by an “ obscure ” writer, one Siri Hustvedt.) This ook is full of motifs of masks and disguises.

She reates a work called “ Maskings. ” Her last partner, however, is the woma who is th master of disguises himself, unknowable by others, including his family and many lover who refuses to allo his identity from Burden ’ s work, trying to wi her final revelation of her “ blazing worlds. ” Hustvedt writes of feeling suppressed, “ what we fear but can not say. ” And in the aftermat of book full of saying, filled with, to quote again, “ the dense language I know o well, ” there is great deal about this nove and Burden that seems unknowable or that wraps itself in the mystique of being unknowable.This is where I migh ’ t uite decide if thi ook is so ayered and erudite I would ave to study it and reread it any times to begin to grasp it or if the many reference to philosophical works, computer theory, art, and unfortunately on, mask a simple retellin of the oman held back both by her own neuroses and an unreceptive society.

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Thi was overwhelmed, I was frustrated, by the loss of someone I love and someone I cared about a great deal.Flayed open by the surgical skills of Siri Hustvedt, Harriet ( Harry) Burden, lived the proof of human ulnerability, shame, valor, the spit and guts to reach for identity, meaning, in her life.

Lyrical, layered with the intricacies of meaning, the sculpto Harriet Burden is revealed through her own notes, writings and interviews with family members, friends, collectors, gallery owners, critics, giving us layered insights and perspectives, vantage points from different angles, which propel the narrative forward.

Early on it is clear to her voracious mind keening for knowledge and understanding that the words of critics, who have no true experience with art, will bring the perception of how hat piece is viewed and seen.

hat piece will no longer be known as the artist 's work emanating from somewhere within her body but the piece owned by so and so, the piece explained by the critic in the informative art magazine which must be referenced at all gatherings so as to truly be seen, swallowed by its assigned genre, influences, and its value set in dollars not in some modal of aesthetic accomplishment.Her critics will respond to the work of a male artist.

Her vengeance will e to wait then spring upon, throw in the review, publics, faces that all those masculine elements seen in the works, the praises of strength, were created by her a oman.

Both works would have met the fate of her others if she ha known as the artist.

When time she and the chosen male artists would uncover the hypocrisy.

It is heightened by its particularity to Harriet ( Harry) Burden 's life and struggles while within the realm of the finest of writing addresses the universal of current and future generations reach to seek, ind, establish meaning, in world of pressurized indifference.

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Wonderful Novel about a Larger than Life Woman Artist who Becomes Famous after DeathThis was one of my favourit books that I writ in 2015.I was going to bring it four stars, but he ending elevated it to five stars.It 's certainly a feminist ovel, but never a feminist comic book.

he characters and a story are bursting with vitality ( and irony and tongue-in-cheek humor as well) .Harriet " Harry " Burden is a larger than life artist.

In eithe case, " Hess " puts together a compendium of Harriet 's voluminous notebooks ( each identified by a letter), interviews with arious people involved in her life, and critic of her work.

Thi Menace ", she argues in an entry that directly discusses her spiritual kinship to Cavendish. 'We also learn that the title The Blazing World might also e a sly wink at science fiction writer JG Ballard ( whom Harry quotes in her notebooks).

Most of his story takes place in and around New York City, in Manhattan and Brooklyn.When Harry 's daughte, Felix Lord, art dealer extraordinaire, half Thai, dies of a stroke in 1995, Harry has a mental breakdown.

Her psychoanalysis with " Dr. F. " helps her ome to these realizations.In the late 90 's Harriet started a project that lasted for five years.Hess says, " Three solo shows in three New York galleries, attributed to Anton Tish ( 1998), Phineas Q.

first artist, Anton Tish, a young, blac, straight man fresh out of art school and a total unknown is a bit of a failure from Burden 's point of view.

It 's true that the work attributed to him, " History of Western Art ", garners much more attention than it ould have had it been exhibited under Burden 's name.

( view spoiler) [ In a fit of pique, he blames Burden for spoiling his 'purity' and he goe from the art world.

He performs in " half drag, " " half man, half oman, half hite, half lack, cut straight down the middle, and two parts of him have conversations onstage. " Burden 's second mask work, " The Suffocation Rooms " is mostly hers, but Phineas collaborates and adds plenty of his own theories and touches.

Rune was a famous sculpto, more because of his looks and charisma than his art work.

He may wel have stolen several of Harriet 's art works from " The Lodge ", Harry 's large studio and home in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

( hide spoiler) ] Harriet, though problemati at times, has many people in her life who love her, including her wonderful boyfriend, Bruno Kleinfeld, failed poet, flamboyant and attentive lover, who adores Harry; her stepso, Maisie, a documentary film maker; Phinny; " The Barometer ", a crazy guy who lives in The Lodge and can eel the changes in the atmosphere; her distant and problematic son, Ethan, a writer; and Sweet Autumn Pinkney, a small albino woman who is thi New Age mystic and energy healer/psychic.

lso, there are Rachel Breakman, her oldest friend from childhod, now a psychiatrist; and Harry 's own shrink, the mysterious " Dr. F. " The depictions of these colorful and varied characters ( mostly through Hess 's interviews of them), is lot of the fun.The book was funny, but I particularl liked the ending, which elevates thi book to greatness.

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© Nicole Waggonner