Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

The Accursed

by Joyce Carol Oates

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Gothic Saga (5)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6052616,147 (3.19)54
  1. 00
    Goethe's Faust: Part One and Sections from Part Two by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (WSB7)
    WSB7: The protagonist of The Accursed makes a deal with God. How does this compare with Faust's deal with the devil?

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 54 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
While I managed to get through it there were many parts that reminded me of the lonely person all retail/public service people have dealt with. The one that rambles on about things that have no relevance to the current situation, to you, or to anything important. There were many parts like this where I found myself saying get on with it, huffing and wanting to stop reading, but continuing on in the hopes it would get better. It did not.

The writing was beautiful but disconnected, wondering about, and all in all nothing to keep me wanting to turn the page. Usually with a book I have trouble stopping reading it to go do whatever I need to do but with this my problem was the opposite. I see what the author tried to do but it did not work. I do not need almost a full chapter going into random detail about diaries nor do I need long random bits about why the "historian" chose to interpret something a certain way or why the other historians did not do it correctly. If all that random and irrelevant stuff was taken out it might have been a good book. As it was the story kept being rudely interrupted by these snippets. I read on hoping eventually the story would develop into something and the snippets would cease but found myself at the last pages of the book still thinking, maybe this next page the story will really start.

I have no issue with non-fiction history books or academic books but I did not pick this up looking for that kind of read. Though it has some paranormal, some is even pushing it, it read more like what I'd expect from a very old academic journal or non-fiction novel. I wanted Gothic, supernatural, and/or horror. I got none of this, only a teasing glimpse at a story that never really got satisfyingly developed. ( )
  Alexis_D. | Sep 22, 2016 |
Quite disappointed in this one.

I've read a fair amount of Oates' short fiction, so when this was suggested as a book club selection, I was enthusiastically in favor. However, I enjoyed this book less than anything else of Oates' I've read thus far.

Don't get me wrong - the book is crafted with consummate skill. If someone told me they absolutely loved it, I couldn't argue that their feelings were wrong, or that the work is undeserving. A convincing case could easily be made that this is an excellent novel. It's just not one for me.

Although billed as a 'gothic' novel, it felt a bit more like a 'family saga' where the 'family' is all of Princeton, NJ, in the early 20th century. The story is supposedly being told by an amateur historian in the 1970's, who is investigating the rumors of a 'curse' which affected the characters at that time. The 'voice' of the historian is intentionally intrusive, and while the way it's done is certainly clever, and might be found hilarious by some - I just found it annoying.

However, the most disappointing thing about this work, for me, was not this faux-authorial voice, but the actual authorial voice. Joyce Carol Oates treats every single character in this book with disdain, painting each one in the worst light possible. Whether she's talking about the (pre-Presidential) university administrator Woodrow Wilson, or the Socialist Upton Sinclair, or a prominent socialite, or the author Jack London - all the characters we meet are bigoted, hypocritical, stupid, venal, insane, or a combination of those and other repulsive qualities. However, rather than feeling like, as readers, we're getting inside the heads of these flawed characters, we feel like we're simply being presented with flat caricatures of people.

This caricature-like quality to the book made me feel distanced, and a bit bored, even when extremely dramatic and supernatural events were at hand. Which is not all the time, either. A great deal of the book deals in carefully crafted ambiguities - is there actually a curse at all, or is it all figments of the imagination of paranoid, hostile and high-strung individuals living in a time of racial oppression and sexual repression?

It all wraps up with an ALL-CAPS epilogue which could easily have gotten its point across equally (or more) effectively with one-tenth the verbiage.

( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Good god. Kinda fun but pretty lousy. I love the Puss character. JCO is formidable but she needs to hold herself to a higher standard. ( )
  wordlikeabell | Oct 27, 2014 |
This novel is a Gothic piece that weaves through Princeton's elite in the early 1900's, a fun and darkly comedic view from the top. This is a book in a grouping of Gothic novels from Oates, however... this was my first novel of Oates that dealt with the whimsical macabre. Although different from expected, Oates succeeds in the creepy, offensive, and unearthly with such charm.

I was very lucky to attend an event with Joyce Carol Oates discussing/signing "The Accursed" at RJ Julia Bookstore in Madison, CT. The event was surprisingly intimate which was a stroke of luck since Oates had practically lost her voice. Even with a hoarse voice, her talk was a nice surprise. I wasn't expecting a "cute" and "funny" Author, more a Princeton snobby Professor. Don't get me wrong, I love JCO as a writer but I didn't know if I would like her personality as well. She exceeded my expectations ten fold and made light of this novel in such a fun way. After her talk about "The Accursed", I ended up enjoying it even more.

To share some of the main points Oates discussed about this book...

The most important thing I took away from Oates was historical accuracy. The characters, although embellished, follow a fairly accurate history. This surprised me since there was quite a bit of appalling behavior in the actions of some of these famous historical figures. I understand this was the majority of thought back then but it's hard to digest in this era. Prejudice, hate, lynchings, etc... very common, especially among the upper class where they have hired hands still at their beck and call.

I don't want to give away much of this book since there are so many stories, all lightly woven together and discussing much of this book would be unfair to you. Pick up this book BUT keep an open mind and remember there is a very important lesson to be learned from the story. ( )
1 vote yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
Listened to audio book and I loved every minute of it. ( )
  southernpsych | May 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Some novels are almost impossible to review, either because they’re deeply ambiguous or because they contain big surprises the reviewer doesn’t wish to give away. In the case of “The Accursed,” both strictures apply. What I wish I could say is simply this: “Joyce Carol Oates has written what may be the world’s first postmodern Gothic novel: E. L. Doctorow’s ‘Ragtime’ set in Dracula’s castle. It’s dense, challenging, problematic, horrifying, funny, prolix and full of crazy people. You should read it. I wish I could tell you more.”
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, Stephen King (Mar 14, 2013)

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joyce Carol Oatesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Boldini, GiovanniCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chong, Suet YeeDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dziekonski, KarenExecutive producersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eljin ProductionsProducersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gardner, GroverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saltzman, AllisonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
From an obscure little village we have become the capital of America.  - Ashbel Green, Speaking of Princeton, New Jersey, 1783
All diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to demons. - St. Augusstine
For my husband and first reader, Charlie Gross; and for my dear friends Elaine Pagels and James Cone
First words
It is an afternoon in autumn, near dusk.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Princeton, New Jersey, at the turn of the twentieth century; a tranquil place to raise a family, a genteel town for genteel souls.  But something dark and dangerous lurks at the edge of the town, corrupting and infecting its residents.  Vampires and ghosts haunt the dreams of the innocent.  A powerful curse besets the elite families of Princeton-their daughters begin to disappearing.  A young bride on the verge of the altar is seduced and abducted by a dangerously compelling man-a shapeshifting, vaguely European prince who might just be the devil, and who spreads his curse upon a richly deserving community of white Anglo-Saxon privilege.  And in the Pine Barrens that border the town, a lush and terrifying underworld opens up.  When the brides brother sets out against all odds to find her, his path will cross those of Princeton's most  formidable people, from Grover Cleveland, fresh out of his second term in the White House and retired to town for a quieter life, to soon-to-be commander in chief, Woodrow Wilson, president of the university and a complex individual obsessed to the point of madness with his need to retain power; from the young Socialist idealist Upton Sinclair to his charismatic comrade Jack London and the most famous writer of the era, Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain-all plagued by "accursed" visions.  (ARC)
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

In 20th century Princeton, New Jersey, a powerful curse, which besets the wealthiest of families, causes the disappearance of a young bride, and when her brother sets out to find her, he crosses paths with the town's most formidable people, including Grover Cleveland and Upton Sinclair.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
139 wanted

Popular covers


Average: (3.19)
0.5 1
1 8
1.5 3
2 19
2.5 1
3 21
3.5 7
4 27
4.5 5
5 12

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 114,414,449 books! | Top bar: Always visible