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Quartet in Autumn von Barbara Pym
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Quartet in Autumn (Original 1977; 1992. Auflage)

von Barbara Pym (Autor)

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen / Diskussionen
1,1064913,992 (4.04)1 / 299
Am Beispiel von 4 Angestellten - 2 Männern und 2 Frauen, die kurz vor der Pensionierung stehen - schildert die Autorin mit subtiler Ironie die beklemmende Tristesse des (englischen) Alltagslebens und des Älterwerdens überhaupt.
Titel:Quartet in Autumn
Autoren:Barbara Pym (Autor)
Info:Plume (1992), Edition: Reissue, 224 pages
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek


Quartett im Herbst von Barbara Pym (1977)

  1. 30
    Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont von Elizabeth Taylor (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Deals with the pathos of ageing.
  2. 10
    Memento Mori. SZ-Bibliothek Band 87 von Muriel Spark (dmenon90)
    dmenon90: Theme of people aging together though not by choice, their eccentricities, their thoughts and of course the ever-present reminder of death. Also, the English-ness!
  3. 10
    A Very Private Eye: An Autobiography in Diaries and Letters von Barbara Pym (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Barbara Pym's diary shows how closely autobiographical this novel is.
  4. 10
    Kleiner Wellenschlag : Roman von Elizabeth Taylor (LBV123)
    LBV123: Strangely affecting quiet book in which not much happens. How do we move on?
  5. 10
    At the Jerusalem von Paul Bailey (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both novels present the problems of old age.
  6. 00
    These Foolish Things von Deborah Moggach (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both novels present the problems of old age.
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This one started as a little bit of a slow burner, but once I gave it some proper concentration this poignant tale of loneliness in later life became really quite affecting.

It's a quiet book of life's every day minutiae, yet at the same time it shouts loudly of the desperate sadness of the long-stretching days of those lonely in their autumn years with few family or friends and only a modest income. The story revolves around two men and two women, all in their 60s and living alone, who have worked together for years yet never manage to evolve their relationship beyond that of polite colleagues. When the two women retire, the loss of the routine of work leaves a gaping void of endless days to fill, shining a heartbreaking spotlight on the abject isolation of Marcia in particular, a prickly, private individual, who ironically ends up becoming the linchpin that draws the other three together.

Plot seekers look elsewhere, for this is a lens on the sadness of every day lives in our midst. Barbara Pym books rarely leave you feeling joyful, but there's an unflinching honesty and truth to her writing about quintessentially English middle-aged women from a bygone era.

4 stars - quietly impacting in its ordinariness. ( )
  AlisonY | Oct 24, 2021 |
Pym is bijna een genre op zich, kabbelend verhaal maar wel aangenaam. Deze roman heeft een donker kantje: de eenzaamheid, de herfst van het leven, hoe de komende pensioentijd opvullen en doorkomen als alleenstaande? De vier hoofdfiguren (geboren rond de Eerste Wereldoorlog - zijn collega's in een Londons kantoor, bij het hoe of waarom van hun job wordt nauwelijks stilgestaan. Ze leiden een eenvoudig leven, kantoor en de collega's zijn een belangrijke houvast. De weinig luxueuze levensomstandigheden springen in het oog: keurige Letty en alledaagse Norman huren een een kamer, de mensenschuwe Marcia overleeft in een ietwat onderkomen villaatje, - wat op het bord komt is van een minimale culinaire kwaliteit - Edwin, een weduwnaar heeft de meeste sociale en familiale contacten, hij is een betrokken gelovige die zijn vrije tijd vult met vrome kerkdiensten. De 3 anderen hebben nauwelijks bindingen. De doelloosheid hangt als een zwaard van Damocles over de komende jaren. ( )
  Baukis | May 15, 2021 |
This is said to be Pym's masterpiece and, as much as I hate to, I disagree. I'd still give that honor to Some Tame Gazelle, but then I haven't gone thru half Pym's work yet.

Which isn't to say that Quartet isn't well-written with sharp observations into the psyches of the characters, because it is. My problem is that this must be the dreariest book I've ever read, it was actually a chore to finish it. The four main characters are neither interesting nor likable, and so detached from everything it would be hard to tell if they died. In fact, with one character, it is.

The story centers around four aging office workers in London during 1970. Their work is so unimportant that it's never once described, and when two of them retire they aren't replaced. In fact, the intention is to close their department entirely when the remaining two finally leave. That's about as unambiguous a hint as possible that these peoples' lives are going to turn out to be totally meaningless.

The four are Letty, Marcia, Norman and Edwin. Only Edwin has been married and has a family, tho his wife is long dead and his son lives nowhere close by; Edwin spends all his free time going to various church services and drinking with the local vicar. He's the one who comes closest to actually having something resembling a life, tho he too is almost pathologically detached.

Marcia, like Edwin, owns her own house tho in her case she inherited it from her long dead mother. I can't tell whether Marcia has mental problems or is just incredibly bad-natured, probably right on the dividing line of both. In any case, she's the sort of person about whom you'd think "that poor thing" if you didn't know her, and cross the street to avoid if you did. She dies about 2/3s into the story and I swear, her dying didn't seem fundamentally different from her living. It did not improve my attitude toward this book that Marcia was the character who reminded me most of myself.

Norman seems to have a lot in common with Marcia psychologically tho his problem is clearly and completely bad nature. He's lived all his adult life in a bedsitter, which I had to look up. A bedsitter is a one-room apartment, likely but not necessarily with "cooking facilities" (which I take to mean perhaps a kitchenette but not a full kitchen) and no private bathroom. You have to share a bathroom with the other bedsitter residents in the building, or at least on your floor. When Marcia dies she leaves Norman her house, for no apparent reason. Even Norman is baffled.

Letty seems the pleasantest person of the four, tho she's equally detached. In her case it seems more thru lack of will or energy than surliness or indifference. She goes from living in a bedsitter in a building that's sold to a Nigerian preacher whose loud in-home church services she finds alarming to a room in the private home of an elderly church lady of Edwin's acquaintance (if this sounds like Edwin was taking an interest, he wasn't -- he just likes taking charge). Frankly, even I would have stayed with the preacher. Letty was invited to join them for services and dinner, and the food there was probably much better.

And that's about it. I followed these four around for 218 pages and was just grateful it wasn't 219 pages. ( )
  BooksCatsEtc | Mar 21, 2021 |
A little darker than Pym's other books, but very, very good. It teminds me a lot of Muriel Spark's Memento Mori. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
I'd read this before, but now I'm closer to the age of the characters.
This isn't an action-packed story, but that's not why you read Barbara Pym anyway. It is full of people who are like many of the people in our own lives. ( )
  ReadMeAnother | Oct 2, 2020 |
keine Rezensionen | Rezension hinzufügen

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen (4 möglich)

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Pym, BarbaraHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Schuman, JackieUmschlaggestalterCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt

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That day the four of them went to the library, though at different times.
Die Informationen stammen von der englischen "Wissenswertes"-Seite. Ändern, um den Eintrag der eigenen Sprache anzupassen.
How had it come about that she, an English woman born in Malvern in 1914 of middle-class English parents, should find herself in this room in London surrounded by enthusiastic shouting, hymn-singing Nigerians? It must surely be because she had not married. No man had taken her away and immured her in some comfortable suburb where hymn-singing was confined to Sundays and nobody was fired with enthusiasm. Why had this not happened? Because she had thought that love was a necessary ingredient for marriage? Now, having looked around her for forty years, she was not so sure. All those years wasted, looking for love! The thought of it was enough to bring about silence in the house and during the lull she plucked up the courage to go downstairs and tap — too timidly, she felt —at Mr Olatunde’s door. ‘I wonder if you could make a little less noise? she asked. ‘Some of us find it rather disturbing.’
‘Christianity is disturbing,’ said Mr Olatunde.
She had always been an unashamed reader of novels, but if she hoped to find one which reflected her own life she had come to realise that the position of an unmarried, unattached, ageing woman is of no interest whatever to the writer of modern fiction.
Letty stood looking out at Holmhurst [retirement home] ... Three old ladies - an uncomfortable number, hinting at awkwardness - were walking slowly round the garden. There was nothing particularly remarkable about them except their remoteness from any kind of life.
Marcia went into the garden and picked her way over the long uncut grass into the shed where she kept milk bottles. These had to be checked from time to time and occasionally she even went as far as dusting them. Sometimes she would put one out for the milkman but she mustn't let the hoard get too low because if there was a national emergency ... there could well be a shortage of milk bottles.
So many things seemed to come in plastic bags now that it was difficult to keep track of them. The main thing was not to throw it away carelessly, better still to put it away in a safe place ... So Marcia took the bag upstairs into what had been the spare bedroom where she kept things like cardboard boxes, brown paper and string, and stuffed it into a drawer already bulging with other plastic bags ... Marcia spent a long time in the room, tidying and rearranging its contents. All the plastic bags needed to be taken out of the drawer and sorted into their different shapes and sizes, classified as it were.
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Literaturhinweise zu diesem Werk aus externen Quellen.

Wikipedia auf Englisch (1)

Am Beispiel von 4 Angestellten - 2 Männern und 2 Frauen, die kurz vor der Pensionierung stehen - schildert die Autorin mit subtiler Ironie die beklemmende Tristesse des (englischen) Alltagslebens und des Älterwerdens überhaupt.

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Zusammenfassung in Haiku-Form

Nachlassbibliothek: Barbara Pym

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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)

813 — Literature English (North America) American fiction

Klassifikation der Library of Congress [LCC] (USA)


Durchschnitt: (4.04)
1 1
2 2
2.5 3
3 34
3.5 25
4 116
4.5 26
5 56


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