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Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
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Revolutionary Road (original 1961; edition 2000)

by Richard Yates

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4,7031981,005 (4.05)242
Member:SJELizabeth
Title:Revolutionary Road
Authors:Richard Yates
Info:Vintage (2000), Paperback, 355 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Work details

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (1961)

  1. 70
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (thesearch, JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Einen Autor, den Richard Yates, "glühend liebte" und "bei dessen 'Gatsby' er am Ende meistens in Tränen ausbrach".
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  6. 00
    A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates by Blake Bailey (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Laut Eva Menasse eine "bewunderswert detaillierte" Biographie zum tragischen Leben von Richard Yates. Zitat: "[...] gnadenlosen Handel: privates Glück gegen künstlerisches Talent, körperliche und geistige Gesundheit gegen Ruhm."
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» See also 242 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 180 (next | show all)
This is a sad, we'll-written novel of a flawed couple that move to the suburbs during the 1950s. ( )
  Amusedbythis | Sep 5, 2014 |
Having read the book after seeing the movie--I was a little surprised at how strong and potent it was, and the feelings that it arose. I felt more sympathy (pity?) for the characters even than I had in the movie. I also felt that the characters had more say and responsibility in what happened than I did in the movie. They became more real--but less likable.

Definitely worth it! ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Having read the book after seeing the movie--I was a little surprised at how strong and potent it was, and the feelings that it arose. I felt more sympathy (pity?) for the characters even than I had in the movie. I also felt that the characters had more say and responsibility in what happened than I did in the movie. They became more real--but less likable.

Definitely worth it! ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
This book was infuriating, in the best possible way. Richard Yates wrote characters who are so self-absorbed and realistic that I wanted to reach onto the pages and give them all a smack. It truly is a marvelous book.

I bought the book after I saw the movie, which I loved (Kate & Leo are my favorites), but I only just now got around to reading it (shame on me!). What I loved about the book, as opposed to the movie, was the inner thoughts and feelings of Frank Wheeler, who really is kind of a big butthead, but I still found myself feeling sorry for him, and for April, too. They became stuck in a marriage that was built on false feelings and the seemingly interesting and poignant ramblings of two young people having a good time. The "American Dream" of a stable job, 2 kids, and a house in the suburbs was not enough for the Wheelers, yet they could not bring themselves to fully commit and escape their dreary, "hopeless emptiness" they've found themselves in.

I want to read more by Richard Yates, as he seems to be able to perfectly capture the essence of American life, as frightening and hopeless as it can be. ( )
  kaylaraeintheway | Jun 22, 2014 |
Original post at Book Rhapsody.

***

The Model Couple

Revolutionary Road is a novel that I presumptuously described as an existential suburban drama. Frank and April Wheeler, a self-assured couple, move their family at the end of Revolutionary Road in Connecticut despite the thought that they are intellectually superior to their neighbors. The couple feels a sense of entrapment: Frank sticking with a job that he thinks is too lame for his capacities and April blaming herself for her husband's career. They start to bicker until their marriage nearly disintegrates, and then April suggests that they move out of that town and emigrate to France. This will allow Frank to find himself while April initially supports the family. Their loving relationship is restored, but will they ever get out of the gaping emptiness not only of that town, but also of life?

Have you ever had that feeling that you just have to read a book that you literally have to turn over your shelves to find your copy of it? This is the case with Revolutionary Road, and although I had notions of what it would be like, I never thought that it would perfectly resonate the situation I am in and the feelings that I have. Not that I am going through relationship struggles; in fact, there is more to this than a problematic marriage.

The novel opens with the first performance of the newly founded theater group of the town. This is a perfect way to begin a novel where the characters, especially Frank, have the tendency to act theatrically. Frank, in his college days, acts like a Sartre-type intellectual. He acts like he's too cool to care for his job in the sales department of Knox Business Machines. And worst of all, he acts like he wants to escape. And yet.

April, the lead actress of the play, fails to deliver despite her little background in acting. Frank casually tells her that the play isn't that great, and what ensues while they are on their way home is a vicious exchange of words at the side of the road, which is less about the failure of the play but more about the whole of their lives together.

"Now you've said it. The hopeless emptiness. Hell, plenty of people are on to the emptiness part; out where I used to work, on the Coast, that's all we ever talked about. We'd sit around talking about emptiness all night. Nobody ever said 'hopeless,' though; that's where we'd chicken out. Because maybe it does take a certain amount of guts to see the emptiness, but it takes a whole hell of a lot more to see the hopelessness. And I guess when you do see the hopelessness, that's when there's nothing to do but take off. If you can."

The novel is written in vibrant language that it is hard to feel drowsy even if you are reading while lying on your bed, even if you are reading about the monotonous lives of people in the suburbs: breakfasts promptly prepared by housewives who never earn anything for themselves, husbands rushing to catch the train, employees doing the same things over and over at their cubicles, dinners with a couple of drinks, drinks with the neighbors over the weekends, and conversations of how dreadful their lives are and how far beyond they are from it. But are they?

They only think, or rather imagine, that they are better than most people, but most of the time they don't even know who they are. Franks often finds himself confused at what to feel, and April admits to not knowing herself anymore. The funny thing is that this couple dreams of a better life and yet they settle comfortably, although not admittedly, in the easy cushions that suburban life offers them.

Just as bad as not knowing themselves is not even knowing what they want. They want a life filled with intellect and creativity, but the sad fact of it is, they, or rather Frank, starts to consider that they can be happy in a place that they utterly hate, as long as they do not contaminate themselves with the infectious germs of the brain-deads, and as long as their financial standing allows them to pursue their highbrow activities once in a while.

Initially, April annoyed me with her constant whining about being trapped. I thought it was her who was constantly disturbing the peace. Although the too romantic idea of moving to France without much of a game plan is impractical and quite immature, I admire April for sticking to it. At least she gives the impression that she wants this, that she wants to make it happen, and that she really wants to get out.

But Frank? Oh dear, what's with his moral shuffling? In a novel where he's supposed to be the backbone, it becomes apparent page by page that he doesn't have that backbone, plus the balls, which is splat right in his face by one insane character who makes a short-lived acquaintance with the Wheelers. More so, Frank is not the victim however he puts it in his head. But he becomes a victim anyway by suffering a worse fate than that of April's at the end of the novel.

And also, at this end, one realizes that this isn't at all about the horrors that the suburbs can bring to its residents. Yes, people can be crushed in such a lifeless environment, but upon closer inspection, is the environment to be blamed or is it the people? Don't the people who constantly complain about hopelessness and emptiness, and yet stay stuck, deserve it?

In one interview, Yates was asked about the central theme of the novel. He was quoted to have said that he suspects it's a simple one: that most human beings are inescapably alone, and therein lies their tragedy. Not a comforting thought, just as it's not comforting to finish this sad yet illuminating work of a writer that has been largely ignored during his lifetime. ( )
  angusmiranda | Jun 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 180 (next | show all)
Writing in controlled, economical prose, Mr. Yates delineates the shape of these disintegrating lives without lapsing into sentimentality or melodrama. His ear for dialogue enables him to infuse the banal chitchat of suburbia with a subtext of Pinteresque proportions, and he proves equally skilled at reproducing the pretentious, status-conscious talk of people brought up on Freud and Marx.
 

» Add other authors (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Yatesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Emeis, MarijkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ford, RichardForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Alas! When passion is both meek and wild! -John Keats
Dedication
To Sheila
First words
The final dying sounds of their dress rehearsal left the Laurel Players with nothing to do but stand there, silent and helpless, blinking out over the footlights of the empty auditorium.
Ko so potihnili zadnji pojemajoči glasovi generalke, člani igralske skupine Laurel niso vedeli, kaj bi – kar stali so, tihi in nemočni, in mežikali čez odrske luči v prazno dvorano.
Quotations
Nobody thinks or feels or cares any more; nobody gets excited or believes in anything except their own comfortable little God damn mediocrity.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375708448, Paperback)

The rediscovery and rejuvenation of Richard Yates's 1961 novel Revolutionary Road is due in large part to its continuing emotional and moral resonance for an early 21st-century readership. April and Frank Wheeler are a young, ostensibly thriving couple living with their two children in a prosperous Connecticut suburb in the mid-1950s. However, like the characters in John Updike's similarly themed Couples, the self-assured exterior masks a creeping frustration at their inability to feel fulfilled in their relationships or careers. Frank is mired in a well-paying but boring office job and April is a housewife still mourning the demise of her hoped-for acting career. Determined to identify themselves as superior to the mediocre sprawl of suburbanites who surround them, they decide to move to France where they will be better able to develop their true artistic sensibilities, free of the consumerist demands of capitalist America. As their relationship deteriorates into an endless cycle of squabbling, jealousy and recriminations, their trip and their dreams of self-fulfillment are thrown into jeopardy.

Yates's incisive, moving, and often very funny prose weaves a tale that is at once a fascinating period piece and a prescient anticipation of the way we live now. Many of the cultural motifs seem quaintly dated--the early-evening cocktails, Frank's illicit lunch breaks with his secretary, the way Frank isn't averse to knocking April around when she speaks out of turn--and yet the quiet desperation at thwarted dreams reverberates as much now as it did years ago. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, this novel conveys, with brilliant erudition, the exacting cost of chasing the American dream. --Jane Morris, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:17 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The devastating effects of work, adultery, rebellion, and self-deception slowly destroy the once successful marriage of Frank and April Wheeler, a suburban American couple.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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