The Blazing World

A Novel

Hustvedt, Siri

Book - 2014
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
The Blazing World
"When Professor Hess stumbles across an unusual letter to the editor in an art journal, he is surprised to have known so little about the brilliant and mysterious artist it describes, the late Harriet Burden. Intrigued by her story, and by the explosive scandal surrounding her legacy, he begins to interview those who knew her, hoping to separate fact from fiction, only to find himself tumbling down a rabbit's hole of personal and psychological intrigue. Before she died, Harriet had claimed credit for three shows of contemporary art that had been the biggest sensations of the previous decade, sending the critics into a tailspin, since no one had even thought to connect the three shows before. The sculptures and paintings, while all of unquestionable quality, would seem to have nothing in common, and of the three young male artists who presented the work, one has fled the country, another isn't talking to anyone, and the third appears to have committed suicide--though not before denouncing Harriet to the world. So was Harriet Burden one of the greatest artists--male or female--in recent memory, having masterminded a puppet show of grand proportions, or was she a washed-up has-been looking for glory on others' coattails? As Hess seeks to solve the puzzle, he soon finds everyone has a different story to tell, and that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With a playfully intricate narrative structure, flawless prose, and fierce emotional insight, award-winning novelist Siri Hustvedt takes us into the heart of human nature, exposing our prejudices and preconceptions about ambition, feminism, and the complex psychology of love"--

Publisher: New York :, Simon & Schuster,, 2014.
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
ISBN: 1476747237
Characteristics: 357 pages ;,24 cm


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Aug 08, 2014
  • Laphroaig rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

By page 200 I felt such strong antipathy toward the pretentious main character that I found no pleasure reading this. I struggled, but allowed myself to abandon it.

Longlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize

May 13, 2014
  • GummiGirl rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A complex but fascinating novel, for anyone interested in the modern art world and feminist issues. There's lots of political material but also some compelling humans here.


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Jul 16, 2014

All intellectual and artistic endeavors, even jokes, ironies, and parodies, fare better in the mind of the crowd when the crowd knows that somewhere behind the great work or the great spoof it can locate a cock and a pair of balls.” In 2003, I ran across this provocative sentence in a letter to the editor that was published in an issue of The Open Eye, an interdisciplinary journal I had been reading faithfully for several years. The letter’s author, Richard Brickman, did not write the sentence. He was quoting an artist whose name I had never seen in print before: Harriet Burden. Brickman claimed that Burden had written him a long letter about a project she wanted him to make public. Although Burden had exhibited her work in New York City in the 1970s and ’80s, she had been disappointed by its reception and had withdrawn from the art world altogether. Sometime in the late nineties, she began an experiment that took her five years to complete. According to Brickman, Burden engaged three


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