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773 pages, Paperback
First published August 1, 1997
Snow-Balls have flown their Arcs, starred the Sides of Outbuildings, as of Cousins, carried Hats away into the brisk Wind off Delaware,— the Sleds are brought in and their Runners carefully dried and greased, shoes deposited in the back Hall, a stockinged-foot Descent made upon the great Kitchen, in a purposeful Dither since Morning, punctuated by the ringing Lids of various Boilers and Stewing-Pots, fragrant with Pie-Spices, peeled Fruits, Suet, heated Sugar,— the Children, having all upon the Fly, among rhythmic slaps of Batter and Spoon, coaxed and stolen what they might, proceed, as upon each afternoon all this snowy Advent, to a comfortable Room at the rear of the House, years since given over to their carefree Assaults. This Christmastide of 1786, with the War settled and the Nation bickering itself into Fragments, wounds bodily and ghostly, great and small, go aching on, not every one commemorated,— nor, too often, even recounted.
When Brae, once, and only once, made the mistake of both gasping and blurting, “Oh, Aunt,— were you in a Turkish Harem, really?” ’twas to turn a giant Tap. “Barbary Pirates brought us actually’s far as Aleppo, you recall the difficult years of ’eighty and ’eighty-one,— no, of course you couldn’t,— Levant Company in an uproar, no place to get a Drink, Ramadan all year ’round it seem’d,— howbeit,— ’twas at the worst of those Depredations, that I took Passage from Philadelphia, upon that fateful Tide . . . the Moon reflected in Dock Creek, the songs of the Negroes upon the Shore, disconsolate,—” Most of her Tale, disguis’d artfully as traveler’s Narrative, prov’d quite outside the boundaries of the Girl’s Innocence, as of the Twins’ Attention,— among the Domes and Minarets, the Mountain-peaks rising from the Sea, the venomous Snakes, miracle-mongering Fakeers, intrigues over Harem Precedence and Diamonds as big as a girl’s playfully clench’d fist, ’twas Inconvenience which provided the recurring Motrix of Euphrenia’s adventures among the Turks, usually resolv’d by her charming the By-standers with a few appropriate Notes from her Oboe,— upon which now, in fact, her Reed shap’d and fitted, she has begun to punctuate her brother Wicks’s Tale, with scraps of Ditters von Dittersdorf, transcriptions from Quantz, and the Scamozzetta from I Gluttoni.
Cada vez que los topógrafos se separan, se topan con espesuras, ciénagas, pesadillas, pero cuando están juntos avanzan por el aire, están unidos a las estrellas...La novela histórica más histórica que he leído en mi vida. Es un libro complejo, algo que es característico en el autor, pero si no se tiene sabido un mínimo del contexto en el que se desarrolla el relato, una comprensión de lo que se lee sería una posibilidad remota. Por eso recomiendo averiguar sobre la Línea Mason-Dixon (todo lo concerniente a esto). Con respecto a otros temas, es preferible hacer sus respectivas averiguaciones si algo no se entiende o impide que se prosiga la lectura; en caso de no surgir ninguno de esos problemas, es mejor dejar que Pynchon los enseñe. Algunos de esos temas pueden ser: