segunda-feira, 17 de junho de 2013

«A Cidade de Deus», de E. L. Doctorow (sinopse e críticas)

Tradução: Lucília Rodrigues
Editora: Europa-América
Ano de edição: 2002
Nº de págs.: 297
Sinopse de A Cidade de Deus
Um escritor nova-iorquino tem por hábito registar numa agenda tudo o que é produzido pelo seu cérebro fervilhante: esboços de histórias, relatos dos seus casos amorosos, ideias para filmes, obsessões com processos cósmicos. Mas agora pensa que encontrou uma história para o seu novo romance: a grande cruz de bronze que pendia sobre o altar de St. Timothy, uma igreja em Manhattan, acabada de desaparecer… Para voltar a aparecer misteriosamente no telhado de uma sinagoga. Os responsáveis pelas duas instituições estão ansiosos por saber quem foi o responsável pela dupla heresia e o escritor junta-se a eles na busca da solução. Começa então a anotar os resultados das suas pesquisas — para resolver um mistério que envolverá cientistas, veteranos de guerra, prelados, sobreviventes do holocausto, teólogos, jornalistas, realizadores de cinema, cantores. Review

You want ambition? E.L. Doctorow's City of God starts off not merely with a bang but with the big bang itself, that "great expansive flowering, a silent flash into being in a second or two of the entire outrushing universe." It doesn't, to be sure, remain on this cosmic plane throughout. There's a mystery here, along with a romance, a chilling Holocaust narrative, and a deep-focus portrait of fin-de-siècle Manhattan--not to mention cameo appearances by that Holy Trinity of contemporary mythmaking: Albert Einstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Frank Sinatra. But while the author of Ragtime and Billy Bathgate is no slacker when it comes to entertainment, he has more in mind this time around. Even the title, with its Augustinian overtones, tips us off to the author's preoccupation with belief, human consciousness, and "our wrecked romance with God." Let's return, however, to that mystery. In the early pages of the novel, an enormous brass cross is pilfered from a church on the Lower East Side. Father Thomas Pemberton of St. Timothy's promptly sets off in search of it, dubbing himself the Divinity Detective. Yet he suspects from the start that this is no ordinary theft, with no ordinary solution:
So now these people, whoever they are, have lifted our cross. It bothered me at first. But now I'm beginning to see it differently. That whoever stole the cross had to do it. And wouldn't that be blessed? Christ going where He is needed?
Where He seems to be needed is the opposite side of the ecumenical aisle. The cross turns up on the roof of the Synagogue for Evolutionary Judaism, a tiny Manhattan institution to which Pemberton has clearly been led by fate. His encounter with the synagogue's rabbinical duo--a husband-and-wife team struggling to reclaim a pre-scriptural state of "unmediated awe"--transforms his life. It also destroys what's left of his conventional Christian belief. Augustine's spin on original sin, for example, now strikes him as "a nifty little act of deconstruction--passing it on to the children, like HIV." And as his relationship with Judaism deepens, he discards the clerical collar altogether and embarks upon a penitential exploration of the Holocaust--which in turn allows Doctorow to loop his narrative back and forth between several generations of (mostly) Jew and Gentile. Astonishingly enough, the foregoing only scratches the surface of City of God. This marvelous hybrid also includes a metafictional framework (i.e., an author-as-character with a rather Doctorovian resume), an ongoing rumination on city life, and a dozen other major strands and minor players. There are, not surprisingly, a number of misfires. For example, Doctorow has long been interested in the power of American popular song--in the way that, say, Gershwin's work has come to function as a kind of secular hymnal. Yet the author's postmodernist variations on the standards, which appear at regular intervals throughout the novel under the ominous rubric of "The Midrash Jazz Quartet Plays the Standards," are jaw-droppingly awful. One might also argue that the book is too centrifugal, too devoted to the storytelling principle of the big bang. Still, there is an undeniable power to the way Doctorow makes his fictional worlds collide, setting off all manner of historical and philosophical conflagrations. At one point he imagines "the totality of intimate human narrations / composing a hymn to enlightenment / if that were possible." A tall order, yes. But despite its occasional longueurs, City of God suggests that it's possible indeed. --James Marcus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Publishers Weekly

New York at the end of the 20th century--hardly St. Augustine's city of God--is the canvas on which Doctorow paints an impressionistic portrait of man's frail moral nature and the possibilities of redemption. Challenging and provocative, this rambling narrative is a mix of alternating voices that touch on such matters as theology, popular music, astronomy, physics and science, war, carnal love, the verisimilitude of film to life (and distortions thereof). The story is at first difficult to discern, because the abruptly changing voices are not identified. But the episodic selections prove to be passages in a notebook kept by a writer called Everett, who is searching for inspiration for a novel. The easiest thread to follow, since it ties together and finally illuminates the other voices, is Everett's interest in a mysterious theft. In the fall of 1999, the brass cross from the altar of an Episcopal church in the East Village is stolen--and later discovered on the roof of an alternative synogogue on the Upper West Side. Fr. Thomas Pemberton, the spiritually restless rector of St. Timothy's, finds a kindred soul in iconoclastic Rabbi Joshua Gruen, the leader of the Evolutionary Judaism congregation. Together they probe the validity of religion in a century that has fostered epic barbarism and bloodshed. In fugal counterpoint to their conversations, the rabbi's wife, Sarah Blumenthal, herself a rabbi, discloses the story of her father's ordeals during the Holocaust, in which he tells of a manuscript hidden in the ghetto. Ensuing events cause a gentle, grieving Sarah and an unmoored Pem, whose chronic despair, intellectual arrogance and religious skepticism have cost him his pulpit, to draw together in need and understanding. This is merely the scaffolding of a story that ranges from stark tragedy to absurdist comedy, that includes quotations from popular songs from the first three decades of this century as well as speculations on infinity, a scenario for a sadistic love affair, the observations of a bird watcher, a free verse account of a WWII air battle, a consideration of the scientific discoveries that unleashed methodical human extermination and marvelous progress, minibios of Albert Einstein and Frank Sinatra, and the tenets of Christian and Jewish liturgy. Despite the fractured structure, suspense intensifies as the various segments intersect. Doctorow's language is both lyric and bracing, a mix of elegant, precise wordplay and brash vernacular. In a masterwork of characterization, he depicts a gallery of characters (including, hilariously, a retired New York Times editor who becomes an avenging angel) with vivid economy. At once audacious and assured, this profound existential inquiry will surely be ranked as a brilliant mirror of our life and times. 7-city author tour. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
E. L. Doctorow nasceu em Nova Iorque, em 1931. Considerado um dos mais talentosos escritores da segunda metade do século XX, é autor de romances que combinam História e crítica social. E. L. Doctorow tem obras publicadas em mais de trinta línguas e foi já galardoado com o National Book Award, dois National Book Critics Circle Awards, o PEN/Faulkner Award e a Edith Wharton Medal da American Academy of Arts and Letters. Com Billy Bathgate foi também finalista do Pulitzer. Actualmente vive e trabalha em Nova Iorque. 

2 comentários:

teresa dias disse...

Olá Miguel,
Boa dica. Eu desconhecia que E.L. Doctorow tinha sido publicado em Portugal já em 2002. Dele li Homer & Langley (2013)e gostei muito. A sua escrita é simples, cativante e viciante.

Miguel Pestana disse...

Olá Teresa.

Já havia sido publicado quatro livros, em Portugal, de E.L. Doctorow, antes desse livro que leu.

Tenho «A Cidade de Deus» cá em casa para ler. Estou curioso em conhecer a escrita do autor.

Boas leituras.