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The Grandissimes A Story of Creole Life

The Grandissimes A Story of Creole Life (Paperback) by George W Cable (Author)

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Summary

Product Description

At the centre of this novel is a story of two lovers from feuding Creole families in early 19th century New Orleans. The romance of "the grandissimes" the masked ball at the beginning of the story, the conversations in patois, the scenes between reluctant but eventually blessed lovers, the colours of the Creole spring and the French quarter helped make George Washington Cable famous in America during the 1880s. But in contrast to the idealized romance is Cable's accurate, unflattering portrait of Creole gentility and his arguments for racial equality. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Contemporary Reviews

First Installment of the serialized edition from the November 1879 issue of Scribner's Monthly, an illustrated magazine for the people

Reviews

4 out of 5 stars Best Novel of New Orleans Before JK Toole, May 30, 2000

By "oscar_freak" (Ann Arbor, MI United States)

This review is from: The Grandissimes: A Story of Creole Life (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)

A native Louisianian, I didn't read this book for a long time, but was well rewarded when I finally got around to it. Cable caught a lot of hell for this book (along with OLD CREOLE DAYS) and it's easy to see why. Taking potshots at popular historical myths (and making arguments for racial equality) was never popular, especially in Louisiana right after Reconstruction when this book was written. While the writing and some of the melodrama are considerably dated (if exquisitely lush and beautiful), Cable makes excellent (if occasionally strident and jarring) points of his own while giving us a beautifully entertaining story of forbidden love and the clash of cultures, (themes more than resonant in Southern literature), and his characters, particularly the strong-willed Aurore, the family black sheep Honore de Grandissime, and the idealistic young Anglo (well, German, really) immigrant, Joseph Frowenfeld, stay in the soul's memory long after the book's finish. As an afterthought, the way Cable goes after Creole society has relevance today, as there is probably no other part of Louisiana history and culture as misunderstood and yet sentimentally applauded as its Cajun and Creole components. A great novel not only on its own terms, but also for the impact its had on perceptions of the South and especially Louisiana.

5 out of 5 stars a little known masterpiece, January 26, 2000

By A Customer

This review is from: The Grandissimes: A Story of Creole Life (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)

Critic Rebecca West compared Cable to Balzac and the comparison is apt; this is possibly the closest an american novelist came to the french author. Set in exotic New Orleans during the time when Louisiana was being admitted to the Union, the novel is atmospheric and rich in description. The plot is complex but never enervating. The Grandissimes will be a real surprise to readers who have only read the society novels of Henry James and Edith Wharton.

4 out of 5 stars "Do the Right Thing" - a century before the movie!, June 13, 2000

By Kellyannl (Bronx, NY USA)

This review is from: The Grandissimes: A Story of Creole Life (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)

This farsighted inditement of Southern society is still powerful today.

Much of the story is seen through the eyes of Joseph Frowenfeld, a young Northerner of German background who has just moved to Louisiana with his family. He is soon left bereft by yellow fever, and with nothing to go back to is befriended by several kind souls, chief among them Honore Grandissime, the scion of a filthy rich Creole family.

He is quickly dismayed by the inequities of New Orleans society, a confession that prompts his new friend to pour out his heart to him. Honore, who knows what his family is, longs to reach out to his Mulatto half-brother and share the family business with him. He also wants to do right by the beautiful and virtuous Aurora Nancanou and her daughter Clotilde, who have been left destitute (by genteel standards, anyway) after Honore's father murdered Aurora's husband and swindled her. Honore would like to court Auroura, but honorable man that he is doesn't want to take advantage of her by performing his good deed barely before knocking on the door. In short, he wants an end to the moral decay of the old South.

He is not so deluded, however, as to think he can live happily ever after married to Auroura with his brother at his side. The Grandissime family will not give up it's ill-gotten wealth and prestige without a fight, and with few exceptions save his delightful cousin and protege Raoul - who is still too young to have a voice in family affairs - he is virtually alone.

Inspired by his new friend, Honore finally makes his lonely stand, unsure that his efforts will bear fruit - or even that they won't end with a Grandissime bullet in his back.

Honore must rank as one of the most likable of literary heroes - a good man who you can unreservedly sympathise with and root for. The point is not that he succeeds - we are left very much uncertain on that point - but that he has the strength to be the first to fight for what he knows in his heart is right. It's a struggle that many concientious white people are facing now long after this book was written.


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