HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Master by Colm Toibin
Loading...

Master (original 2004; edition 2005)

by Colm Toibin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,214622,927 (3.85)300
Member:Rosareads
Title:Master
Authors:Colm Toibin
Info:Picador (2005), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Henry James, Historical Fiction

Work details

The Master by Colm Tóibín (2004)

Recently added byCalvinBoesch, CydMelcher, bundi68, DGSBiblio, private library, dbsovereign, davidgarcia, DC25
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 300 mentions

English (61)  Swedish (2)  All languages (63)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
Fun if frustrating because in a way it represents so much that is repressed [in all of us]. Also about sublimation. Venice. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
The Master by Colm Tóibín


The Master is a fictionalized biography of Henry James. Tóibín captures the essence of James as being a man who is the constant observer of human emotion and behavior and never the participant. It is subtle, beautifully written, and a slow-moving tale. The book follows five years of James’ life beginning shortly after the failure of his play, Guy Domville, through his self-imposed exile in Europe.

I enjoyed this book immensely and yet I have a hard time explaining why. The story itself is more a reflection of the great writer’s life and the plot is not a central piece. Reading this book is like taking a meandering walk where the emphasis isn’t on getting from point A to B, but rather about stopping along the way and noticing all the small moments of beauty. Normally, I hate books like this. I find my attention wanders and I get bored. But, there was something about this book that kept me engaged. It was a quiet and beautiful read. Although a fictionalized account of the author’s life, it captures his character and brings it to life in a vividly believable way. The style of writing in some ways mimics James’ style of capturing complex human emotions and raw experience. The sentences were wonderfully rich and fully of vivid imagery and emotion. I especially enjoyed some of the references to James’ work and Toibin’s speculation on how James arrived at his characters and stories. I would recommend this book to anyone who has read and enjoyed James’ works.

Quotes I enjoyed:
“His consolation was that at least he had known her as the world had not, and the pain of living without her was no more than a penalty he paid for the privilege of having been young with her.”

“He loved walking up and down the room, beginning a new sentence, letting it snake ahead, stopping it for a moment, adding a phrase, a brief pause, and then allowing the sentence to gallop to an elegant and fitting conclusion.”

“She had always been, he added, a women so little formed for positive happiness that half one’s affection for her was, in its essence, a kind of anxiety.

“We all liked you, and I suppose you liked us as well, but you were too busy gathering material to like anyone too much. You were like a young banker collecting our savings. Or a priest listening to our sins. I remember my aunt warning us not to tell you anything.”

“Harry, I find I have to read innumerable sentences you now write twice over to see what they could possibly mean. In this crowded and hurried reading age you will remain unread and neglected as long as you continue to indulge in this style and these subjects.”
( )
1 vote JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
I found The Master, Tóibín's biographical novel about Henry James both fascinating and occasionally tedious. Tóibín uses a selective omniscient narrator to get into James's head to seemingly reveal how his reactions, musings and reminiscences informed the crafting of his novels. In actuality, however, what Tóibín has done is used the novels (and undoubtedly biographies and critical studies) to craft his own portrait of James in this novel. Tóibín creates a psychological portrait of James that resembles the kind of psychological portrait of characters created by Henry James himself. If that sounds circular, it is, but it is intriguing.

The action of the novel takes place from 1895-1899 when James was in his fifties. However we learn much about James earlier in his life as he remembers incidents and people from his younger days. The major people with whom James interacts are his siblings, William and Alice; his cousin, Minnie Temple; his friend, the novelist, Constance Fenimore Woolson; and the Scandinavian-American sculptor, Hendrik Christian Andersen. But James seems unable to form deeply intimate ties with anyone -- he needs his own space and solitude. Tóibín does not judge the Master -- he seeks to understand him.

As there are many allusions to the more famous of James's novel in this book, it helps to be somewhat familar with his work. ( )
2 vote janeajones | Nov 20, 2015 |
The fictionalized biography can be a vexing thing! Often focusing on the scandalous or the trivial, sadly out of tune with its inspiration. This fictionalized account of James' life, or a part of it, is lovingly in tune and seems an even better mirror of him than the straight biographies which never seem to capture the subtleties of this most subtle of men and minds. I am in awe of the way Toibin has not only captured the man but also his time. He has a rare sensibility and understanding of the nature of this deeply conflicted author.
One of the things that most caught my attention is Toibin's awareness of James' almost peculiar anxiety for the care and tending of children. It has always struck me as odd that a man who was himself childless, did not spend much time in the company of children, and indeed, seemed to never have ever been a child himself and, finally, even as a child did not have much association with children should take such a deep and anxious interest in children. In the novel, he is keenly interested and saddened by the situation of Oscar Wilde's young sons and concerned for the well-being of a young girl named Mona who is, or it seems to his mind, being unconsciously, or maybe even actually abused by the guests at a house party in Ireland. He is concerned that the child is not properly chaperoned and that she is made much of at an adults' ball and is vaguely sexualized. So often children in James' books suffer from indifferent care or are used in a most calculated way of exacting revenge. From a callow reading of his work one might think that he is using them only as the ultimate examples to highlight is theme of innocence versus corruption. However, readers of What Maise Knew can be only but painfully aware of James' deep concern and anxiety for children. Interestingly the question of the child Mona, which was highly suggestive of the adults at least unwittingly sexualizing the girl, if not actually abusing her, was never returned to. It lingered in my mind exactly what the author was trying to get at. As the tireless efforts Josephine Butler uncovered, child prostitution and the shunting of these children from one wealthy household to another was hardly a secret and seems to have been a vice endemic of the European aristocracy. I still wonder if this is what Toibin was suggesting. James is certainly unsettled by the girl and her presence at a gathering which is all adults, excepting her. In true Jamesian fashion it is left a mystery.

For the most part I find The Master a masterful portrait of a complex man, a man who had a genius for subtlety and observation. Toibin captures James as well as any biography ever has, and he has done so much in the manner of James, to wit, the Mona episode. ( )
1 vote lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
The fictionalized biography can be a vexing thing! Often focusing on the scandalous or the trivial, sadly out of tune with its inspiration. This fictionalized account of James' life, or a part of it, is lovingly in tune and seems an even better mirror of him than the straight biographies which never seem to capture the subtleties of this most subtle of men and minds. I am in awe of the way Toibin has not only captured the man but also his time. He has a rare sensibility and understanding of the nature of this deeply conflicted author.
One of the things that most caught my attention is Toibin's awareness of James' almost peculiar anxiety for the care and tending of children. It has always struck me as odd that a man who was himself childless, did not spend much time in the company of children, and indeed, seemed to never have ever been a child himself and, finally, even as a child did not have much association with children should take such a deep and anxious interest in children. In the novel, he is keenly interested and saddened by the situation of Oscar Wilde's young sons and concerned for the well-being of a young girl named Mona who is, or it seems to his mind, being unconsciously, or maybe even actually abused by the guests at a house party in Ireland. He is concerned that the child is not properly chaperoned and that she is made much of at an adults' ball and is vaguely sexualized. So often children in James' books suffer from indifferent care or are used in a most calculated way of exacting revenge. From a callow reading of his work one might think that he is using them only as the ultimate examples to highlight is theme of innocence versus corruption. However, readers of What Maise Knew can be only but painfully aware of James' deep concern and anxiety for children. Interestingly the question of the child Mona, which was highly suggestive of the adults at least unwittingly sexualizing the girl, if not actually abusing her, was never returned to. It lingered in my mind exactly what the author was trying to get at. As the tireless efforts Josephine Butler uncovered, child prostitution and the shunting of these children from one wealthy household to another was hardly a secret and seems to have been a vice endemic of the European aristocracy. I still wonder if this is what Toibin was suggesting. James is certainly unsettled by the girl and her presence at a gathering which is all adults, excepting her. In true Jamesian fashion it is left a mystery.

For the most part I find The Master a masterful portrait of a complex man, a man who had a genius for subtlety and observation. Toibin captures James as well as any biography ever has, and he has done so much in the manner of James, to wit, the Mona episode. ( )
1 vote lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
''The Master'' is sure to be greatly admired by James devotees; just as surely it will strike less ardent readers as the kind of book in which not much actually happens.
 
Whatever Toibin's literary-critical and ideological interest in James, ''The Master'' is unquestionably the work of a first-rate novelist -- one who has for the past decade been writing excellent novels about people cut off from their feelings or families or both.
 

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Colm Tóibínprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bandini, DitteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bandini, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Portuguese (Portugal) Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Till Bairbre och Micheal Stack
First words
Sometimes in the night he dreamed about the dead--familiar faces and the others, half-forgotten ones, fleetingly summoned up.
Quotations
Last words
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743250419, Paperback)

Like Michael Cunningham in The Hours, Colm Tóibín captures the extraordinary mind and heart of a great writer. Beautiful and profoundly moving, The Master tells the story of a man born into one of America's first intellectual families who leaves his country in the late nineteenth century to live in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London among privileged artists and writers.

In stunningly resonant prose, Tóibín captures the loneliness and the hope of a master of psychological subtlety whose forays into intimacy inevitably failed those he tried to love. The emotional intensity of this portrait is riveting.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:03 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In 'The master', his brilliant and profoundly moving fifth novel, Colm To?ibi?n tells the story of Henry James, an American-born genius of the modern novel who became a connoisseur of exile, living among artists and aristocrats in Paris, Rome, Venice and London.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
17 avail.
70 wanted
2 pay8 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.85)
0.5 1
1 3
1.5 1
2 30
2.5 6
3 80
3.5 34
4 174
4.5 32
5 97

Audible.com

4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 103,102,705 books! | Top bar: Always visible