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The Intuitionist: A Novel by Colson…

The Intuitionist: A Novel (original 1999; edition 2000)

by Colson Whitehead

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Title:The Intuitionist: A Novel
Authors:Colson Whitehead
Info:Anchor (2000), Edition: 1st Anchor Books Ed, Paperback, 255 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead (1999)



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Credo di non essere riuscita a cogliere tutti i messaggi che Colson Whitehead vuole trasmettere con questo romanzo, ma sicuramente lo consiglio come lettura, prima di tutto per l'ambientazione in una New York futuribile, poi per il tema del riscatto sociale incarnato dalla protagonista, Lila Mae Watson, ispettrice degli ascensori, donna di colore in un mondo dominato da uomini bianchi che non riescono ad accettarla come loro pari. ( )
  deborina | Feb 5, 2017 |
Whitehead's first novel, about an elevator inspector in pre-Civil Rights New York, an alternate reality where the "Empiricists" and "Intuitionists" are duking it out for supremacy in the prestigious inspection business. The protagonist, Lila Mae Watson, must investigate an elevator accident to clear her name, but her investigation soon centers on James Fulton, the mysterious founder of Intuitionism, whom Lila Mae learns was actually a black man passing for white. As the first black woman to work as an inspector, Lila Mae begins to understand Fulton's theories differently. The story really picks up steam as it progresses, and I liked the way that the elevators allegorized the discourse of racial uplift. Really interesting novel. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
Sentence by sentence, Whitehead is a dang master. Lila Mae is an elevator inspector and a new elevator that she just inspected, using a new method called Intuitionism, has crashed. Political intrigue ensues. A wonderful allegory about race and misogyny. ( )
  Brainannex | Sep 8, 2016 |

I read Whitehead's 'Zone One' for post-apocalyptic book club, and liked it - someone at our meeting recommended 'The Intuitionist' to me - but all they would say is 'Well, it's about elevator repairmen. But I think you would like it.'

Admittedly, I didn't immediately think that reading about elevator repair sounded like the most thrilling activity. You may not be instantly hooked by that description. You might even think it sounds dull. Well, you would be wrong!

'The Intuitionist' is set in an alternate-history late-1950s-early-1960's, in a United States where elevator technology has changed the world by introducing verticality to urban centers. Moving far beyond mere functionality, elevators are a both a rich field of study and a lucrative business. There are business conventions. There are corporate rivalries (and espionage). There is a conflict between the two main 'schools' of elevator inspection theory (The Empiricists and the Intuitionists). And there is the mystical philosophy of Theoretical Elevators.

In this world, we are introduced to Lila Mae - an excellent elevator inspector, an Intuitionist, brilliant and passionate about her field, and a trailblazer - the first black woman to become an Inspector in an overwhelmingly white boys' club.

A terrible accident occurs - and it looks like Lila Mae is going to be framed as the one culpable. To clear her name, she will have to both navigate a hostile world and delve deeper into the hidden secrets of the history of elevator inspection.

Colson Whitehead's writing is just gorgeous, and the intricate combination of social commentary, philosophy and technology woven through the story means, I believe, that this book would appeal both to fans of steampunk and cyberpunk - it's doing a lot of the same things, just in a different era. (What if William Gibson tackled the recent past, rather than the near future?)

( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This started out really interesting, but as I went on I had a harder and harder time staying focused and into it. I barely finished it. I think the author was trying too hard to make it allegorical--more specific details about the time and place and world the characters inhabited would have made it better. As it was, I had a hard time picturing the story and setting in my head and couldn't keep a lot of the characters straight. ( )
  nicole_a_davis | Sep 27, 2015 |
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Bagnoli, Katiasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385493002, Paperback)

Verticality, architectural and social, is the lofty idea at the heart of Colson Whitehead's odd, sly, and ultimately irresistible first novel. The setting is an unnamed though obviously New Yorkish high-rise city, the time less convincingly future than deliciously other, as it combines 21st-century engineering feats with 19th-century pork-barrel politics and smoky working-class pubs. Elevators are the technological expression of the vertical idea, and Lila Mae Watson, the city's first black female elevator inspector, is its embattled token of upward mobility.

Lila Mae's good ol' boy colleagues in the Department of Elevator Inspectors are understandably jealous of the flawless record that her natural intelligence and diligence have earned, and understandably delighted when Number Eleven in the newly completed Fanny Briggs Memorial Building goes into deadly free fall just hours after Lila Mae has signed off on it, using the controversial "Intuitionist" method of ascertaining elevator safety. It is, after all, an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the Empiricists would do most anything to discredit the Intuitionist faction. Everyone on both sides assumes that Number Eleven was sabotaged and Lila Mae set up to take the fall. "So complete is Number Eleven's ruin," writes Whitehead, "that there's nothing left but the sound of the crash, rising in the shaft, a fall in opposite: a soul." Lila Mae's doom seems equally irreversible.

Whitehead evokes a world so utterly involving to its own denizens that outside reality does not impinge on its perfect solipsism. We the readers are taken hostage as Lila Mae strives to exonerate herself in this urgent adventure full of government spies, underworld hit men, and seductive double agents. Behind the action, always, is the Idea. Lila Mae's quest reveals the existence of heretofore lost writings by James Fulton, father of Intuitionism, a giant of vertical thought, whose fate is mysteriously entwined with her own. If she is able to find and reveal his plan for the Black Box, the perfect, next-generation elevator, the city as it now exists will instantly be obsolescent. The social and economic implications are huge and the denouement is elegantly philosophical. Most impressive of all is the integrity of Whitehead's prose. Eschewing mere cleverness, resisting showoff word play, he somehow manages to strike a tone that's always funny, always fierce, and always entirely respectful of his characters and their world. May the god of second novels smile as broadly on him as did the god of firsts. --Joyce Thompson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:59 -0400)

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An elevator inspector becomes the center of controversy when an elevator crashes. The inspector, Lila Mae Watson, is a black woman who inspects by intuition, as opposed to visual observation, and now she must prove her method was not at fault. A study of society's attitude to technology and a debut in fiction.… (more)

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