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The Confusion by Neal Stephenson

The Confusion (original 2004; edition 2005)

by Neal Stephenson (Author)

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5,42364801 (4.2)51
Title:The Confusion
Authors:Neal Stephenson (Author)
Info:Arrow (2005), London, Paperback, 815p.
Collections:Your library, eBooks, Read, Read 2012, Favorites, Buy and Get 2010, Readable
Tags:historical fiction, history, france, uk, netherlands, paris, london, 1600s, fiction, locus

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The Confusion by Neal Stephenson (2004)

  1. 20
    Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World by Timothy Brook (Othemts)
    Othemts: Vermeer's Hat contains a good description of Manilla as a trading port in the 17th century. Chinese merchants settled on the outskirts of the city to sell silks. In return they received silver that arrived from New Spain on a galleon once each year.

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English (62)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  All (64)
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
Tales of derring-do and swashbuckling piracy, combined with the financial shenanigans of financing the wars of France in the court of the Sun King. Will Jack Shaftoe and Eliza meet again? ( )
  orkydd | Feb 2, 2017 |
Non-stop adventure! The links back to the first book in the trilogy, Quicksilver, are very strong, so you'll want to read that first. The whole web of action here is quite complex but Stephenson keeps us well oriented without overdoing it.

OK, I am a bit of an armchair philosopher. I think it was buried in this book, some discussion that the puzzle of the continuum and the puzzle of free will are linked somehow. Actually there is a nice discussion of the theory of monads of Leibniz... that presumable sketches out the link, but it's too slender a link to carry any weight. Of course folks have started from a kite string and gradually built up stronger and stronger cables to build a bridge of interstate highway capacity, so ... will volume 3 revisit the philosophical conundrums? We certainly seem set up for a lot more of that kind of action!

It's a big fat book but enough of a page turner! ( )
1 vote kukulaj | Dec 27, 2016 |
Neal Stephenson's 2004 novel "The Confusion," the second part of his Baroque Cycle, seems aptly named, for readers may often find themselves confused. Its 815 pages contain numerous characters, some of whom travel around the world, and convoluted plot lines. Plus, it picks up a story begun in "Quicksilver" and concluded in "The System of the World," both novels of comparable size. So keeping it all straight can be a challenge.

But the title actually refers to an early meaning of the word as a mixture or co-mingling or fusion. We find references to this idea at numerous points in the novel, including the fact that it consists of two stories, "The Juncto" (involving Eliza, mostly in France) and "Bonanza" (involving Jack Shaftoe on his round-the-world adventures). These stories may seem unrelated most of the time, yet eventually they become "con-fused," as Stephenson usually spells the word. Then, too, there are references to gold, coins and liquids being con-fused.

The great scientist Isaac Newton, although a minor character in the novel, actually lies at its center. Newton was also an alchemist and, for the last 30 years of his life, master of the Royal Mint. Stephenson "con-fuses" these two pursuits by imaging that Newton takes the job at the mint in order to gain access to the gold that passes through there. Alchemists and others in the late 17th century are convinced the gold once owned by King Solomon has special properties useful for alchemy. It is also believed that the gold Jack and his colleagues steal in an act of piracy is King Solomon's gold. Sooner or later some of that gold is likely to pass through the Royal Mint, and Newton wants to be there when it does.

One must read "The System of the World" to discover how this turns out, but in "The Confusion" Jack and Eliza have endless trials. He must survive, evade pursuers and somehow make it around the world and back, he hopes, to Eliza. Meanwhile, she becomes a French duchess, but is separated from her and Jack's son. As Jack is skilled at piracy, she is unusually gifted at financial affairs, and her complicated dealings gain, and occasionally lose, fortunes. She also contracts smallpox, which diminishes very little her astounding beauty.

"The Confusion," if sometimes confusing, provides a wild ride. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Oct 21, 2016 |
So far a good sequel but a little slow.
I'm left a bit confused! ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 2, 2016 |
Second in "The Baroque Cycle" (or, the 4th and 5th books in it, to use Stephenson's reckoning).
I didn't find this to be a quick read.
Stephenson IS a good writer, and the book is really filled with interesting thoughts and turns of phrase. But it just doesn't move you along in the way an entertaining novel ought to - while at the same time being filled with a series of Most Unlikely events and coincidences, sprawling loosely here and there, flitting about the world, mixing historical fact with stereotypes and fiction.

In a way, it's too much about concept, I think. The characters are more Dickensian caricatures than "real" people. Overall, it seems to be trying to be a sort of adventure/thriller about finance and economics... and I don't feel it really worked as well as it could have. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neal Stephensonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aquan, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pariseau, KevinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van De Velde, WillemCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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So great is the dignity and excellency of humane nature, and so active those sparks of heavenly fire it partakes of, that they ought to be look'd upon as very mean, and unworthy the name of men, who thro' pusillanimity, by them call'd prudence, or thro' sloth, which they stile moderation, or else through avarice, to which they give the name frugality, at any rate withdraw themselves from performing great and noble actions.
— Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri,
A Voyage Round the World
The Commerce of the World, especially as it now carried on, is an unbounded Ocean of Business; Trackless and unknown, like the Seas it is managed upon; the Merchant is no more to be follow'd in his Adventures, than a Maze or Labyrinth is to be trac'd out without a Clue.

— Daniel Defoe

A Plan of the English Commerce
To Maurine
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He was not merely awakened, but detonated out of an uncommonly long and repetitive dream.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the second volume of the three-volume edition. Please don't combine with the fourth or fifth volume of the eight-volume edition with the same title.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060733357, Paperback)

In the year 1689, a cabal of Barbary galley slaves -- including one Jack Shaftoe, aka King of the Vagabonds, aka Half-Cocked Jack -- devises a daring plan to win freedom and fortune. A great adventure ensues -- a perilous race for an enormous prize of silver ... nay, gold ... nay, legendary gold.

In Europe, the exquisite and resourceful Eliza, Countess de la Zeur, is stripped of her immense personal fortune by France's most dashing privateer. Penniless and at risk from those who desire either her or her head (or both), she is caught up in a web of international intrigue, even as she desperately seeks the return of her most precious possession.

Meanwhile, Newton and Leibniz continue to propound their grand theories as their infamous rivalry intensifies, stubborn alchemy does battle with the natural sciences, dastardly plots are set in motion ... and Daniel Waterhouse seeks passage to the Massachusetts colony in hopes of escaping the madness into which his world has descended.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:26 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"In the year 1689, a cabal of Barbary galley slaves -- including one Jack Shaftoe, aka King of the Vagabonds, aka Half-Cocked Jack -- devises a daring plan to win freedom and fortune. A great adventure ensues -- a perilous race for an enormous prize of silver ... nay, gold ... nay, legendary gold" --Cover, p. 4.… (more)

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