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Being There by Jerzy N. Kosinski
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Being There (original 1971; edition 1999)

by Jerzy N. Kosinski

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1,267166,234 (3.75)54
Member:nusch
Title:Being There
Authors:Jerzy N. Kosinski
Info:Grove Press (1999), Edition: 1st Grove Press Ed, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:fiction, politics, postmodern

Work details

Being There by Jerzy Kosinski (1971)

  1. 00
    Candide by Voltaire (st_bruno)
    st_bruno: Il libro comincia dove "Candido" di Voltaire finisce.
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In Chance, or Chauncey Gardiner as he becomes known to the world, Jerzy Kosinski, has provided the other characters of this story as well as the reader a way to project what they want to see and hear in a person.

Chance, who appears to suffer from some form of mental impairment (some version of autism?), cannot read nor write, he can converse without a problem, although his conversations are mostly limited to television and his gardening, as he knows nothing outside these two elements. Fate throws Chance into the political consiciousness of the world, and everyone who encounters him takes his simple answers as deep thought analogies or admissions. Chance is not lying, simply speaking of what he knows, which is pretty limited. People project their hopes, desires and plans on him and his words, not realizing that he is unable to understand even their most basic needs.

A great (but short) read. Will provide plenty to discuss and ponder. ( )
  Melkor81205 | Dec 8, 2013 |
A delightful modern parable. Chance, who has worked as the gardner at The Old Man's estate for as long as he can remember, finds himself - through no fault of his own and without hardly saying a word - is transformed into Chauncy Gardiner, and projected into the highest levels of international politics. When he does speak, he frames every observation around his experiences in the garden. Everyone around him takes his very literal answers as deep allegorical philosophy. As Rock Man said, "People see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear." A very quick read, which will leave you with plenty to think about. ( )
  zenhead | Jun 26, 2013 |
Just a quick addendum to what others have said. Beyond the political and sexual satire, there is a comprehensive moral tone here recalling Anatole France at his best. There are also, in pleasing contrast, occasional poetic touches of considerable grace. Consier this (from page 43): "He watched the thousands in their ranks, who were reduced by the TV screen to mere mounds of leaves swept forward by a driving wind." Or this (from page 53): "Of all the manifold things there were in all the world -- trees, grass, flowers, telephones, radios, elevators -- only TV constantly heldup a mirror to its own neither solid nor fluid face." ( )
1 vote HarryMacDonald | Nov 8, 2012 |
Chance is a simple-minded man who has always lived in the same house, where he's always taken care of the garden. He's never learned to read and write and never set food outside the grounds of the house, not even to see a doctor. But his life is turned upside down when the "old man"—the owner of the house—very sick in his very old age, passes away without making any provisions for Chance. Indeed, as far as the insurance company is concerned, Chance doesn't exist at all and might never have lived in the house, since there's not a scrap of paper mentioning him or his role in the household. What Chance does have is a thorough understanding of the world based on the countless hours he has watched television, as well as a very good set of clothes which fit him to perfection and which had once belonged to the old man, so that when he steps out onto the street with his bespoke (to another man) suit and elegant valise and meets with an accident with a chauffeur-driven limousine, he is immediately taken in by the passenger of the car, a Mrs. Rand, and brought to her home to be attended by her ailing husband's doctor who is often there on house calls. The husband, Mr. Rand, when he asks Chance about himself, mistakes our hero's reply and understands that his name is Chauncey Gardiner, whom he assumes to be a successful and very astute businessman based not only on his clothes, but on the remarkably wise observations Chance makes, wherein speaking only of what he knows—which is limited to the realm of gardening—his remarks are taken as being incredibly clever and profound. Before he knows it, Chance is introduced to the President of the USA (a close friend of the Rands) and becomes the man of the hour.

I had seen the movie version when I was just a young girl, where Chance was famously interpreted by Peter Sellers, and I remember the story and the acting making a strong impression on me. So when I saw this newly released (and inexpensive) audio version interpreted by none other than Dustin Hoffman, I pounced on it. Needless to say, Hoffman's reading is brilliant, and the story is still just as excellent and darkly funny as I remember it being, and still all too relevant today. I've only given a five-star rating once before so far this year, and this recording fully deserves a full score as well. ( )
2 vote Smiler69 | Jul 14, 2012 |
Being There is about George W. Bush. ( )
  mexicangerry | Aug 31, 2010 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
For KATHERINA v. F. who taught me
that love is more
than the longing
to be together
First words
It was Sunday.
Quotations
'In a garden,' he said, 'growth has its seasons. There are spring and summer, but there are also fall and winter. And then spring and summer again. As long as the roots are not severed, all is well and all will be well.'
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802136346, Paperback)

A modern classic now available from Grove Press, Being There is one of the most popular and significant works from a writer of international stature. It is the story of Chauncey Gardiner - Chance, an enigmatic but distinguished man who emerges from nowhere to become an heir to the throne of a Wall Street tycoon, a presidential policy adviser, and a media icon. Truly "a man without qualities," Chance's straightforward responses to popular concerns are heralded as visionary. But though everyone is quoting him, no one is sure what he's really saying. And filling in the blanks in his background proves impossible. Being There is a brilliantly satiric look at the unreality of American media culture that is, if anything, more trenchant now than ever.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:10 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The story of Chauncey Gardiner--Chance--an enigmatic but distinguished man who emerges from nowhere to become an heir to the throne of a Wall Street tycoon, a presidential policy advisor, and a media icon.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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