PDF | This paper presents the issues addressed in Zadie Smith's novel On Beauty () through the prism of ethical categories or, more. Postcolonial Text, Vol 2, No 4 (). On Beauty. Zadie Smith. pages, , $15 USD (paper). The Penguin Press, New York. Reviewed by Laila Amine. Read On Beauty: A Novel download pdf online ebook 1 / 81 / 8 . OnChronicle, this wise, hilarious novel reminds us why Zadie Smith has.
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Winner of the Orange Prize for fiction, another bestselling masterwork from the celebrated author of White Teeth Having hit bestseller. On Beauty: A Novel. Having hit bestseller lists from the New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle, this wise, hilarious novel reminds us why Zadie Smith has rocketed to literary stardom. On Beauty is the story of an interracial family living in the university town of. The Ethical Laboratory of Beauty in Zadie Smith's On Beauty Anna Głąb The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin ABSTRACT: This paper presents the.
Martha C. She exudes natural, genuine, intensive, straightforward femininity, and as Sabine Nunius observes, her image is determined by her corporeality. Aug 29, Pages Buy. I venture that Kiki and Carlene—since they persist in finding strength in love even when they are a little broken—are two of the most beautiful female portraits in contemporary literature. Why do we visit our mistakes on our children? Kiki feels shame at the gap between her sense of reality and her interest in others between truth and goodness.
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? It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed. Why do we fall in love with the people we do?
Why do we visit our mistakes on our children? What makes life truly beautiful? Set in New England mainly and London partly, On Beauty concerns a pair of feuding families—the Belseys and the Kippses—and a clutch of doomed affairs. It puts low morals among high ideals and asks some searching questions about what life does to love.
For the Belseys and the Kippses, the confusions—both personal and political—of our uncertain age are about to be brought close to home: She is also the… More about Zadie Smith.
Smith possesses a captivating authorial voice—at once authoritative and nonchalant, and capacious enough to accommodate high moral seriousness, laid-back humor and virtually everything in between—and in these pages, she uses that voice to enormous effect, giving us that rare thing: In tackling grown-up issues of marriage, adultery, race, class, liberalism and aesthetics, she thrillingly balances engaging ideas with equally engaging characters.
As good as she is with big ideas, Smith is even stronger at capturing family dynamics, the heartbreak of broken trust as well as the lovely connections between siblings.
Her plots and people sing with life. One of the best of the year, a splendid treat. Read An Excerpt. In my opinion, Smith eludes all classifica- tions and falls outside the categories that dominate contemporary theories of literature. In fact, she says of herself: Perhaps, we should forget about academic approaches and start reading in armchairs.
Though the novel is difficult to categorize and full of ambivalences, an investigation of the extent to which Smith does, in the end, maintain this triad and confirm its necessity for any discussion of the essence of beauty—as Murdoch did in claiming that beauty, goodness, and truth should not be seen as oppos- ing one another because they are part of the same order13—is central to TSWL, The area of morals, and ergo of moral philosophy, can now be seen.
Kiki and Carlene: Her beauty consists mainly in her ability to love, which is founded on a compassionate perception of reality. Initially, it seems that nothing can shake her love and happiness. She exudes natural, genuine, intensive, straightforward femininity, and as Sabine Nunius observes, her image is determined by her corporeality.
What is more, the body may be reflected in the type of expression Kiki displays; her body language is also the language of her mind. What an outfit! Kiki is the center of spiritual strength in the Belsey family; her presence exudes warmth in both the physical and the spiritual sense.
She is perceptive about reality, and in observing others closely, she can see their identity and that their needs are as important as hers.
Kiki con- tinually reminds her family of her existence and of the existence of others, as when she says to Levi: Pay any attention at all to anything that goes on around here? Remember Jerome? Your brother? Jerome no here? Jerome cross big sea to place called England? Kiki gives expression to her goodness by constantly reminding her loved ones about the existence of others.
She continually reinforces the sphere of their ethical responsibility, often in the form of a joke. For Kiki, life is a relation, a constant giving of oneself to others; con- sequently, her contact with reality is based on relations with others.
At a fair, when Kiki engages in a conversation with a jewelry vendor from Haiti, she feels embarrassed that she knows so little about the problems of refugees. Still, she realizes the discrepancy between her pretended interest in and ostensible knowledge about the situation of the Haitians and her actual knowledge. Kiki feels shame at the gap between her sense of reality and her interest in others between truth and goodness.
Sensitivity to living in truth and by truth is, to her, a precondition of self-respect. This function of truth is why Jerome objects when Kiki forgives her husband the allegedly single night of accidental infidelity she is not aware that his lover is Claire, a friend of the Belseys.
Kiki does not want to see her husband through the prism of his egoism, of which Jerome accuses him. She idealizes her husband. Though unwilling to accept the truth about him, she does realize he is drifting away.
Truth may lead to beauty in the sense that it can clear the relations between members of the Belsey family and help them see one another in a new light.
The partial truth that Howard had slept with someone else does not undermine her love for him, but her steadfastness cannot be regarded as a victory for the beauty of her love. In this situation, every member of her family as well as the reader senses some ambiguity in their relations.
Jerome demands truth, which he regards as a precondition for goodness and, therefore, a precondition of beauty purified of lies and understatements: As Kiki gains access to truth, the door to goodness and beauty closes for her. Rage at her husband at first destroys harmony, bringing moral chaos to their life. She is not physically beautiful, Levi observes—at any rate, not in the way that a sixteen-year-old might understand beauty: Smith separates the concepts of goodness and beauty here; Carlene is not physically beautiful but radiates goodness.
The separation of these concepts physical beauty and goodness deepens the content of the concept of beauty.
Her openness, directness, sincerity, and lack of distance surprise Levi—especially as Carlene does not hesitate to shake his hands, though this is their first meeting. Other people matter more to Carlene than she does to herself, and she is genuine in her humanity. She wants to participate in the lives of others; relationships with them give meaning to her life, saturating it with a full range of colors.
Kiki, informed by Levi about Mrs. She is an ailing, physically frail woman and—despite having a family—lonely, longing for relationships with other people. Her beauty is revealed mainly in her straightforwardness and wisdom, as well as in her being for the other person, which is conveyed in her favorite poetry quote: Kipps is sitting on the edge of her armchair, surrounded by piles of books, and staring at the floor.
The conversation concerns various banal things until it moves to the subject of children, family, and what both women understand as the ideal life.
What about her desires? Carlene smiles and replies: And what about Kiki? She wanted to be a writer, a singer, or a doctor. She also wanted to love and to be loved, but after she finds out that her husband had an affair with her friend, only memories of love are left. The more distant the memories are, the more beautiful they become; time obscures truth.
Bought by Carlene in Haiti before she met her husband, the painting depicts a woman wearing a red bandanna only, standing amid tropical trees, with pink birds on one side, a green parrot on the other, along with hummingbirds and butterflies. Carlene claims: She represents love, beauty, purity, the ideal female and the moon. Carlene insists that she does not give much thought to the purpose of her life: I ask whom did I live for.
I am very self- ish, really. I lived for love. I never really interested myself in the world—my family, yes, but not the world. This seemingly ideal, conservative family, in which the woman remains passive and the man active, in which there is no room for a redefinition of traditional social and cultural gender roles, has cracks in it.
Carlene says that the role she chose by devoting herself to the family gave her fulfillment, but by showing her sadness and melancholy on the porch, Smith seems to be asking if that choice was ultimately satisfactory. My whole life is white. Or pushing a fucking hospital bed through a corridor. I staked my whole life on you. And I have no idea any more why I did that. I gave up my life for you.
By contrasting their behaviors, she asks him to confront his failings: Her ideal of a beautiful life is a bond between truth and beauty. Until Howard understands that, Kiki will not be able to live with him. For her, the balance of beauty, good- ness, and truth is gone. Howard and Vee: Know Thyself Howard is an art historian who does not believe in the beauty of art.
The cool aestheticism of his lectures on Rembrandt does not result from his enthusiasm for art.
Instead, he interprets Rembrandt in terms of con- formism rather than aesthetic originality or genius. He regards the radical views of his children as extreme; moreover, being white, he is afraid to talk about racial issues with his non-white children.
Kiki responds by referring to sensitivity and thrills, but the experience of beauty is alien to Howard. Howard has a problem with reality; he has to hide the truth about himself, believing that it could destroy his harmonious life. Such categorization leads to a tripartite division of truth among the people he meets and a kind of insincerity in his relations with them.
Life went on. Since his betrayal did not affect his reality and caused no dramatic consequences in the sphere of his immediate responsibility, it caused no change in the ethical picture of his life either.
Howard could be called a pure aesthete, a person whose aesthet- ics are dissociated from morality. Infidelity has only aesthetic meaning to him, not ethical. It is a scratch or stain on his self-image.
When Kiki finds a condom in a pocket of his jacket, her pure contempt is unbearable to him for aesthetic reasons, so he denies everything. In order to keep up the appearance of the life he loves, he chooses not to tell the truth. In his opinion, the truth would increase unhappiness. He has not gotten over Kiki yet, so he lives with her and calls it love. This love requires not only an admiration of beauty TSWL, The good turns out to be tenuous in confrontation with his infidelity.
Howard is not even able to talk to Kiki about his betrayal. He has a problem not so much with conceptualizing the situation as with experiencing its seriousness in ethical terms. There is no such concept in his academic vocabulary. Are you able to talk to me in a way that means anything?
Even in such a situation, Howard sounds objec- tive but at the same time inhuman and false. In this conversation, it is Kiki who sounds truthful, though vulgar to Howard: Sorry, is that too obvious?
Does that offend your sensibility, Howard? That must be a real bitch for you! Kiki captures the truth about her husband: Howard concedes that the physical factor matters: What he says is true, but his words ring untrue because he is blind to the beauty of art which undermines even his pure aestheticism , and similarly, he is blind to the good. He can only conceptualize works of art rather than experience them, and likewise, he is unable to experience the good.
As a result, he does not live in truth. Kiki takes his answer as one of his aesthetic theories: This life. Suffering is real. Howard confesses the same to Kiki, though his egoism prevails again: Kiki wants something different. She wants Howard to see her rather than see himself in her: I want to be with somebody who can still see me in here. Baby, we had a good run. Howard seems not to understand that the commitment should define his entire conduct.
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