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A Garden of Earthly Delights Kindle Edition

22 customer reviews

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Length: 429 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for The Wonderland Quartet, four early novels by Joyce Carol Oates

A Garden of Earthly Delights
Expensive People

"Protean and prodigious are surely the words that describe Ms. Oates. From the very beginning, as these impressive and diverse novels make clear, her talents and interests and strengths have never found comfort in fashionable restraint. She's sought, instead, to do it all -- to face and brilliantly, inventively transact and give shape to as much of experience as possible, as if by no other means is a useful and persuasive gesture of moral imagination even conceivable. For us readers these are valuable books." -- Richard Ford

"These four novels reveal Oates' powers of observation and invention, her meticulous social documentation joined to her genius for forging unforgettable myths. She is one of the handful of great American novelists of the last hundred years. " -- Edmund White
"This rich, kaleidoscopic suite of novels displays the young Joyce Carol Oates exercising her formidable artistic powers to portray a turbulent twentieth-century America. They offer the reader a singular opportunity to experience some of Oates's best writing and to witness her development, novel by novel, into one of our finest contemporary writers." --Greg Johnson, author of Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates
"As a young writer, Joyce Carol Oates published four remarkable novels, A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967), Expensive People (1968), them (1969), and Wonderland (1971). They were all nominated for the National Book Award, and Oates won the award for them in 1970....Reprinting the series in modern paperback editions nearly forty years after their composition allows us a new perspective on their collective meaning and illuminates their place in Oates's overall career...The Wonderland...

From the Inside Flap

The first book in Oates's famous trilogy that includes Expensive People and the National Book Award winner them

In her second novel, Joyce Carol Oates, author of many bestselling novels, including We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde, created one of her most memorable heroines, Clara, the beautiful daughter of migrant farmworkers. Intent upon rising above her haphazard life of violence and poverty, Clara struggles for independence while relying on four men to fashion her destiny: her father, a hardened laborer simmering with resentment; Lowry, who rescues the teenage Clara from her family and offers her a first glimpse of love; Revere, the wealthy married man who promises Clara stability; and Swan, Clara's son, who bears the burden of his mother's mistaken identity.

For this Modern Library 20th Century Rediscovery edition, Joyce Carol Oates has revised and rewritten three fourths of the novel, originally published in 1966, a feat comparable to Henry James's revisions of his early novels in 1908, when he was at the height of his artistic powers. With a new Afterword by the author, this is the definitive edition of an early masterpiece by one of our greatest living writers.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3709 KB
  • Print Length: 429 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Rei Rep edition (March 25, 2009)
  • Publication Date: March 25, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002361KVM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,556 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of more than 70 books, including novels, short story collections, poetry volumes, plays, essays, and criticism, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde. Among her many honors are the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and the National Book Award. Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Eric Anderson on August 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is Joyce Carol Oates� second published novel. It is where she proved her ability to write a powerful epic as she would later do again in novels such as Bellefleur. It follows the life of Clara, a woman born to migrant workers in the midst of the Depression. She is born appropriately in the middle of a violent accident. Here we see the delicacy and terrifying indifference of human life swept up in a sea of natural transformation. Children, parents and friends die in this bleak Darwinian environment. It is part of the course and they must accept it as they move to the next field where labour is required. Clara grows into a defensive and powerful woman bent on carving a safe space for herself in this harsh world. She falls in love with a man named Lowry who is independent and intelligent. Through him Clara establishes a new life for herself. Only after the birth of their son, Swan (Steven), must she make the decision whether to join with a wealthy restricted life with a man named Revere or lead a life of tumultuous romance with Lowry. Through Swan, Clara attempts to realise all the desires for living which were denied to her in her restricted upbringing. However, Swan, intelligent and emotional, has desires of an entirely different sort. This is a compelling novel that knowledgably explores the multifarious stages of life: the tense exploration of childhood, the embittered compromises of adulthood and the difficult choices we must make to survive. It is a beautifully crafted work.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Patricia A. Powell on August 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
Joyce Carol Oates revised and rewrote The Garden of Earthly Delights; this new version was just published in 2003 under the Modern Library 20th century rediscovered. (This was the author's second novel originally published in 1966.)
The novel follows the life of Clara Walpole, born in a ditch to migrant workers during the Great Depression. She grows up moving from camp to camp, picking when children are allowed to pick, and going to school when required. There are four important men in her life, and no important women.
There's her father. He loves Clara, but not her brothers, and not her mother. Her mother is worn out and dies leaving Clara to take care of her brothers. Her father brings Nancy into the household. He needs to have a woman. Clara learns about incest when her friend Rosalie's father is taken by the KKK. Terror reigns in the camp. The men think that they can do nothing, perhaps because they think it is a just punishment for getting his daughter pregnant, or perhaps because they fear the Klan.
Shortly after that incident, Clara goes into town and meets Lowry, who takes her away with him. Joyce Carol Oates does the unexpected. She makes Lowry a decent sort of chap. Lowry sets Clara up in his home town. He gets her a job, and a place to stay. Lowry tells Clara that she needs to lie; she must tell everyone that she is sixteen years old. Otherwise, she will end up in an orphanage. Of course Clara is in love.
Then there is Revere, both wealthy and married. And finally there is Clara's son, Swan.
Interwoven with these men are four Claras. There is Clara the child, Clara the teenager, Clara the woman, and finally, Clara as worn out as her mother was when she died.
I love reading Joyce Carol Oates.
Read more ›
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Randall Neustaedter on May 15, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book combines the best of all things Oatesian. If released as a new work today, it would blast through the awards committees faster than a Philip Roth masterpiece. This reworking of Oates's second novel seamlessly integrates the fire of her yuthful writing, full of her own personal experiences, with the seasoned mastery of her later writing style. This completely rewritten book is ultimately satisfying because there is nothing to overlook due to inexperienced enthusiasm (like many of her early works). If anyone is considering an Oates novel to explore her for the first time, to bring into a summer reading program for youth, or to round out a high school curriculum, this is your book. For anyone who already loves her unique style and phenomenal skill, going back to this early novel will satisfy your cravings like nothing else in the world. This is Oates at her best. Though her murder stories (Zombie and the Rosamond Smith serial killer series) and child abuse novels (First Love, Beasts, and You Must Remember This) provide more of her famous poignant horror, Garden of Earthly Delights carries the weight of John Steinbeck's East of Eden. You can't get better than this for mastery of the classic mid 20th century novel form.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By drenchedinwine on July 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
The plot was all right, but I was most impressed by Ms. Oates's lyrical use of language. She has the ability to transform the most mundane actions, feelings, or settings into something that seems really unusual or noteworthy just by describing it a certain way. I love the way the the main character, Clara, sees the is very refreshing and unusual. I can't really tell if the awesome descriptions throughout the book are because of Clara's candid and innocent way of seeing the world, or because of Oates's special way with words. It's nothing big really. Throughout the book, she notes the little things, like how the migrant farm workers don't care how they look while picking fruit, and how they make weird faces as they think things to themselves or how they mumble sorta as they replay conversations that theyve had in their minds. But for me, it's the little things like that that make a book really come alive. This novel is full of really sweet quotes, and the language just really blew me away.
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