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Raintree County (Rediscovered Classics) Paperback – September 1, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Ross Lockridge spoke with Bessie often to gather historical data for his book as it pertained to the county. So when I finally picked up the book to read it when I was around 20, it was with some trepidation, from the standpoint that I was hoping it would measure up to everything I had heard. It did.
It's been called "the great American novel", "the great flawed American novel", "a masterpiece", "sweeping and epic", and so on. It is all those things.
From a technical standpoint, the book is too long. It could lose 200-300 pages and still be as good as it is. However, does one really want to lose any of Lockridge's language, discriptions, and evocation? Not I.
Much has been written about the book. But I really think you have to go to Raintree County and feel what it's like to be there. Stand up on a ridge looking over the Blue River valley on a summer evening just after the sun's gone down. There is a magical mysticism that radiates out of the land with a positive energy. What Lockridge did was to capture that energy in his book.
This isn't a must read for everyone, although I agree with some of the reviewers that it should be taught in schools, but only for advanced Lit classes. What Lockridge does--while brilliantly describing the historical period of pre- and post-Civil War America--is show us that human nature and behavior are constant throughout time.
Raintree County should be a standard of 20th Century American literature. It is perhaps the greatest novel ever written. I'm mystified as to why it doesn't make Random House's Top 100 Novels List. I think in all honesty that Raintree County is too straightforward, too compassionate, too wise, too loving, too optimistic, too gently humorous, and too accessible to please the moldy and myopic listmakers. Really "great" books, as everyone knows, are dry game puzzles, smug literary fogs, brutal crayon travelogues, or ancient misanthropic sphinxes that museum directors and tenured professors of the academies alike can dust off occasionally without fear of ever having to update their pamphlets.
The texture style and meter of this work is astoundingly lyrical yet clear. To wit: "The world is still full of divinity and strangeness, Mr. Shawnessy said. The scientist stops, where all men do, at the doors of birth and death.Read more ›
Lockridge tells the story of John Wickliff Shawnessy, a child of his age, growing up in ante-bellum Indiana. Told in a series of flashbacks, the novel opens on the Fourth of July 1892, when Shawnessy is 53. The holiday's focus is Shawnessy's reunion with old pals Cash Carney, U.S. Senator Garwood Jones, and Professor Jerusalem W. Stiles.
As Lockridge takes the reader through the events of this day, Shawnessy's friends arrive and depart, each evoking for him memories of his early years. Through this prism the reader is immersed in images of pre-Civil War rural America, the upheaval of the conflict, America's 1876 Centennial celebration, and the excesses of the Gilded Age. Shawnessy passes through it all, "life's young American", a scholar, a romantic, a poet, and an athlete.
Lockridge's imagery and descriptive power are truly matched to an author seeking to sculpt the Great American Novel. His evocative use of language is almost unsurpassed among modern American writers - only Thomas Wolfe approaches him. His characters are powerful and will stay with you always, lingering almost palpably like the memories of earliest childhood.
Curiously, only Nell Gaither, Shawnessy's lifelong flame, fails to march from the pages along with the other denizens of Raintree County, Indiana. Suzanna Drake, Nell's rival for Shawnessy, is a beautiful, brazen, and tormented child of the South. Garwood B. Jones, future U.S. Senator, is Shawnessy's boyhood foil, a garrulous and wickedly charming rake.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This novel is an American classic!!! And I don't often read fiction. I first read this while in the Army back in the early 60s and have picked it up a few times since. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Harry Puncec
This may be the worst book I ever read. I did finish it as I am loathe not to finish a book but it is really long and incredibly verbose. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Lynn Young
sent my copy to an old friend who was overjoyed to receive it..She had ben trying to find a copy for over 7 years...She is 90 y.o. and is keeping this book "forever"...Published 4 months ago by Elisa M. Strong
No author should want to be perceived as having aspired to write the legendary “Great American Novel.” Ross Lockridge, Jr. Read morePublished 5 months ago by JCLARKB
This was a replacement. One of the great American novels, set in my beloved Southeastern Indiana.Published 6 months ago by Mary E. Lowe
I know this is a classic, but it was a laborious read. The same things were said over and over again. It has a great story line that got lost in all of the verbiage.Published 8 months ago by Barbara Clark
An excellent work of historical fiction. It both follows a young man's and a young nation's coming of age. The focal historical event is the Civil War. Read morePublished 8 months ago by daniel