On beauty zadie smith chapter summary

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on beauty zadie smith chapter summary

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Howard Belsey, a Rembrandt scholar who doesnt like Rembrandt, is an Englishman abroad and a long-suffering professor at Wellington, a liberal New England arts college. He has been married for thirty years to Kiki, an American woman who no longer resembles the sexy activist she once was. Their three children passionately pursue their own paths: Levi quests after authentic blackness, Zora believes that intellectuals can redeem everybody, and Jerome struggles to be a believer in a family of strict atheists. Faced with the oppressive enthusiasms of his children, Howard feels that the first two acts of his life are over and he has no clear plans for the finale. Or the encore.

Then Jerome, Howards older son, falls for Victoria, the stunning daughter of the right-wing icon Monty Kipps, and the two families find themselves thrown together in a beautiful corner of America, enacting a cultural and personal war against the background of real wars that they barely register. An infidelity, a death, and a legacy set in motion a chain of events that sees all parties forced to examine the unarticulated assumptions which underpin their lives. How do you choose the work on which to spend your life? Why do you love the people you love? Do you really believe what you claim to? And what is the beautiful thing, and how far will you go to get it?

Set on both sides of the Atlantic, Zadie Smiths third novel is a brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and political, and an honest look at peoples deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed.
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NW Zadie Smith Book Review

On Beauty Summary

Living in Wellington, a fictional college town in the Massachusetts, their lives revolve around the "snooty" liberal arts college Wellington at which Howard Belsey, the father, is a distinguished professor of art history. Although he has been happily married to Kiki for nearly thirty years, Howard has an affair with one of his college colleagues. Although the affair is in the past, it still haunts the family and creates problems for Zora, one of the Belsey children who sees herself as a poet and desperately wants to get into the class of the person with whom Howard has had the affair. In the meantime, Jerome, the eldest of the Belsey children, has fallen in love with Victoria Kipps, the daughter of Prof. Kipps, the visiting art historian to Wellington from England, who also happens to be Howard Belsey's arch enemy! Finallly, youngest child Levi Belsey has decided to take up the cause of a Haitian "brother" the Levi children are products of an interracial marriage to help restore dignity to their country.

The following version of this book was used to create this guide: Smith, Zadie. On Beauty. New York: Penguin, The novel, told from the third-person omniscient point of view, opens with an e-mail exchange between Jerome Belsey and Howard Belsey. Jerome is staying with the Kipps family in London during a semester abroad.

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Rate this book. A brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and political, and an honest look at people's deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed. Two families, the Belseys and the Kipps, live beautiful lives. Don't they? Howard Belsey, a Rembrandt scholar who doesn't like Rembrandt, is an Englishman abroad and a long-suffering professor at Wellington, a liberal New England arts college. He has been married for thirty years to Kiki, an American woman who no longer resembles the sexy activist she once was.

Howard Belsey , the father, is a politically liberal professor of art history particularly of Rembrandt at the nearby liberal arts school Wellington College, where Zora is also enrolled. Zora is a freshman when the story begins. Her brother Jerome, the eldest, is a student at Brown University. Levi, the youngest, is still in high school, and of a very different culture and disposition than his more academically inclined siblings. At the very beginning of the story, Jerome is studying abroad and interning in the office of a celebrity conservative academic named Monty Kipps.

Among the many tasks Zadie Smith sets herself in her ambitious, hugely impressive new novel is that of finding a style at once flexible enough to give voice to the multitude of different worlds it contains, and sturdy enough to keep the narrative from disintegrating into a babel of incompatible registers. Its principal family alone, the Belseys, comprises its own little compact multiverse of clashing cultures: the father a white English academic, the mother a black Floridian hospital administrator, one son a budding Jesus freak, the other a would-be rapper and street hustler, the daughter a specimen of US student culture at its most rampagingly overdriven. Still more worlds open up beyond them as their lives unravel out through the genteel Massachusetts college town to which they have been transplanted: Haitian immigrants, hip-hop poets, New England liberal intelligentsia, reactionary black conservatives White Teeth had a similarly heterogenous cast, but whereas in that novel Smith kept it together by keeping it light, with a knockabout comic style Dickens, by way of Rushdie and Martin Amis , here the intent is to live more inwardly with her characters, and the model, alluded to throughout, is EM Forster. Forster's style, which looks simultaneously backward to the epigrammatic polish of Jane Austen and forward to the looser, more discursive amplitude we favour today, resonates strongly in the leisured cadences and playful figuration of the many beautiful descriptions and gently ironic authorial interjections that frame and connect the bright pieces of Smith's mosaic. You can hear it in everything from the stately scene-setting passages particularly where rooms or houses are being evoked to the most incidental moments, for example where the lovelorn elder Belsey boy joins his mother and her middle-aged friends at an outdoor festival: "Jerome, in all his gloomy Jeromeity, had joined them.

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