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Ragtime (1975)

by E. L. Doctorow

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,362991,389 (3.84)342
Published in 1975, Ragtime changed our very concept of what a novel could be. An extraordinary tapestry, Ragtime captures the spirit of America in the era between the turn of the century and the First World War. The story opens in 1906 in New Rochelle, New York, at the home of an affluent American family. One lazy Sunday afternoon, the famous escape artist Harry Houdini swerves his car into a telephone pole outside their house. And almost magically, the line between fantasy and historical fact, between real and imaginary characters, disappears. Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, J. P. Morgan, Evelyn Nesbit, Sigmund Freud, and Emiliano Zapata slip in and out of the tale, crossing paths with Doctorow's imagined family and other fictional characters, including an immigrant peddler and a ragtime musician from Harlem whose insistence on a point of justice drives him to revolutionary violence.… (more)
  1. 00
    American Pastoral by Philip Roth (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar themes on the American ideal.
  2. 00
    Michael Kohlhaas by Heinrich von Kleist (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Doctorow called his book "a quite deliberate hommage" (sic) to Kleist's story.
  3. 01
    The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld (Booksloth)
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» See also 342 mentions

English (94)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (99)
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
This was an engrossing, thoroughly enjoyable book. The intertwining of fictional characters and historical figures kept me wondering, how much is real and how much is fiction? If you are a history buff, you will do a lot of fact checking. It makes the story even more enjoyable. It also sends a strong message about racism and the dignity of humankind. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
Historical fantasy, the old-school way. No actual magic, mind you, but E. L. Doctorow finds some of the most interesting characters of the Ragtime Era right before WWI and throws them all together in a wild extravaganza.

Add Archduke Ferdinand, Houdini, Freud, J.P. Morgan, Emma Goldman, Henry Ford, and a truly fantastic but made up Coalhouse Porter (a jazz musician with a massive bone to pick throughout the tale), and the novel becomes a who's-who of famous historical personages (including Teddy Rosevelt!) popping up throughout the tale.

I rather like this invention. I'm actually more than a little curious to see where they all go off the rails in fantasy versus the real people. If I was really serious about it, I would have to read about a dozen full biographies to untangle this undeniably fun mess of a novel. :)

Well worth the read! :) ( )
1 vote bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
3.75. Great to read if you love the musical. ( )
  Fortunesdearest | Apr 10, 2020 |
Americana at its best. The modern writing style and treatment of characters is very anachronistic to the actual time when it's set; which I liked.
The writing has a dreamlike, staccato nature to it, which makes you read it unlike regular fiction.
It was educational to read about this time in American history I didn't know much about. ( )
  raheelahmad | Mar 22, 2020 |
Best book I've read in 4 years. ( )
  kvschnitzer | Dec 8, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
E. L. Doctorowprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hoog, ElseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Do not play this piece fast. It is never right to play Ragtime fast ...
Scott Joplin
Dedication
The author thanks the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Creative Artists Program Service for fellowships awarded during the period in which this novel was written
Respectfully dedicated to Rose Doctorow Buck
First words
In 1902 Father built a house at the crest of the Broadview Avenue hill in New Rochelle.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Published in 1975, Ragtime changed our very concept of what a novel could be. An extraordinary tapestry, Ragtime captures the spirit of America in the era between the turn of the century and the First World War. The story opens in 1906 in New Rochelle, New York, at the home of an affluent American family. One lazy Sunday afternoon, the famous escape artist Harry Houdini swerves his car into a telephone pole outside their house. And almost magically, the line between fantasy and historical fact, between real and imaginary characters, disappears. Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, J. P. Morgan, Evelyn Nesbit, Sigmund Freud, and Emiliano Zapata slip in and out of the tale, crossing paths with Doctorow's imagined family and other fictional characters, including an immigrant peddler and a ragtime musician from Harlem whose insistence on a point of justice drives him to revolutionary violence.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141188170, 0143566377

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