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A Separate Peace by John Knowles
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A Separate Peace (1959)

by John Knowles

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Gene was a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas was a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happened between them at school one summer during the early years of World War II is the subject of “A Separate Peace”. On of the most starkly moving parables ever written of the dark forces that brood over the tortured world of adolescence. The story tells of several boys at a New England private school. Jealousy, longing, friendship all get mixed up during one summer as the boys are on the edge of growing up and the brink of being shipped off to war. A brief moment of anger leads to the crippling of Phineas and his eventual death while Gene’s innocence and belief in good in the world is tortured and dies at the same time. A coming of age story and rife with symbolism as to the changes occurring in the world as the result of the war. The writing is fluid and smart with dark descriptions and a sense of foreboding throughout. It shows that the war was able to ruin lives even so far removed from the front. No doubt the author was accomplished, this being my first novel by him but the means of conveying his themes and even the imagery itself is a bit dated, creating a certain separation of experience and readability between the author, the characters and the modern reader. His control of tone, however, would make me read more, if only just one more novel. ( )
  loafhunter13 | May 5, 2014 |
Again, it's been a while. This is one of the books we read in school that I actually remembered just from the title. It's probably worth a read. ( )
  briealeida | Feb 6, 2014 |
This is my fourth time through the book (reading it along with a class I've assigned it to). Still stunned by those last few pages, and Gene's journey to eliminate the I/other distinction. Do I sometimes wish Knowles' language was more direct? Yes, but the slow pace and unfurling of his language can be really beautiful in spots. Still one of the better school stories out there, even if it is a bit of a Brideshead Revisited knock- off. Recommended. ( )
  JWarren42 | Oct 10, 2013 |
I liked it, but I do feel like it ended a bit too quickly! ( )
  whimsicalwattle | Sep 27, 2013 |
What I got out of this book: Finney is Jesus. Yup, that's about all I got from this--for me, it felt like a sad little allegory wrapped in maudlin prose.
As a coming-of-age story, I know it's supposed to be profound. For me, it just wasn't. I felt it was too direct, the allegory too straightforward, the allusions to war too obvious.
I also read it in English class, so I'm probably biased. In any case, I think Catcher in the Rye is a better coming-of-age story. ( )
  page.fault | Sep 21, 2013 |
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To Bea and Jim with gratitude and love
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I went back to Devon School not long ago, and found it looking oddly newer than when I was a student there fifteen years before.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A Separate Peace is a story about two young boys who are close friends and go to Devon school together. Phineas, the more athletic of the two, and Gene, the more intellectually inclined seem to balance eachother out. The story is set in New England during WWII. It is full of insight, friendship, and also a tragedy. I really enjoyed this book because I found it to be one of the more interesting yet realistic stories that I have had to read for an English class. It was also fun because in my English class we had to make videos of different scenes of the book and I just had a lot of fun with it.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743253973, Paperback)

Set at a boys’ boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.

A bestseller for more than thirty years, A Separate Peace is John Knowles’s crowning achievement and an undisputed American classic.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:23 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Set at a boys' boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world. A bestseller for more than thirty years, A Separate Peace is John Knowles's crowning achievement and an undisputed American classic.… (more)

» see all 9 descriptions

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