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Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers
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Galatea 2.2 (1995)

by Richard Powers

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Galatea 2.2 is book that feels very 90s. Its prose is littered with postmodernist buzzwords and now obsolescent technical jargon, its parallel plots of the construction of Helen and the failed relationship with C both feel unsatisfactorily contrived and its motifs of globalization and the fear of creeping computerization are both now hopelessly dated.
But even if Galatea 2.2 didn't suffer from these faults, it would also have to contend with the author's unartful "Pynchonian" use of technical metaphors, scads of minor characters who should have contributed much more, and the stalking obsession he has with a graduate student near the end of the book.
I feel that the author is capable of much better and was probably emotionally distressed when he wrote this and I'm honestly hoping that it was only written to fulfill a contract, because a book this sloppy cannot possibly be a work of passion for a MacArthur fellow. ( )
  noonaut | Jan 19, 2017 |
Despite longeurs and navel-gazing, a brilliant and rewarding novel of ideas. ( )
  middlemarchhare | Nov 25, 2015 |
very clever. Autobiographical novel, main character is Richard Powers, working on a special grant, in a neuropsych/computer project, working to teach a computer to think, specifically to be able to pass a test at a English literature master's level ... also the heartbreaking story of his relationship (finished) with C... ( )
  DavidO1103 | Aug 23, 2014 |
I tried. I really did. But I just couldn't get into this book. It just seemed to be a bit muddled, while trying a bit too hard to be something like a Pynchon novel.
  tlockney | Feb 5, 2012 |
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Epigraph
The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will contain
With ease, and you beside.

The brain is deeper than the sea,
For, hold them, blue to blue,
The one the other will absorb,
As sponges, buckets do.

The brain is just the weight of God,
For, heft them, pound for pound,
And they will differ, if they do,
As syllable from sound.

-Emily Dickinson
Dedication
First words
It was like so, but wasn't.
Quotations
I told her that the Library of Congress contained 20 milion volumes. I told her that the number of new books published increased each year, and would soon reach a million, worldwide. That a person, through industry, leisure, and longevity, might manage to read, in one life, half as many books as are published in a day. (p.290)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312423136, Paperback)

Cognitive neurologist and well-known writer team up to produce a machine that can pass a comprehensive exam in English literature, with predictably unpredictable results. Like The Gold Bug Variations, this is another of Powers' wild, unforgettable novels encompassing science, philosophy, and the frailty of mankind.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:19 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A man's experiment in creating the ideal woman. He is Richard Powers, a professor with a taste for the cerebral. As no woman matches his expectations, he creates Helen, a talking intelligence which he programs with his favored books. The novel follows Richard and Helen's relationship to its sad and inevitable conclusion. By the author of The Gold Bug Variations.… (more)

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