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Synopsis: When this richly written novel first appeared in 1974, Samuel R. Delany began to sweep up what would eventually exceed a million readers with his tale of Bellona, a city at the center of the United States, shaken by a catastrophe that has unhinged the very structure of reality. Skies darkened by smoke from burning buildings, population reduced to youth gangs, drifters, prophets, and perverts, Bellona is a city where a young man known only as the Kid - poet, lover, and finally a leader of the volatile "scorpions" - tries to create a life for himself and those around him in a landscape where two moons can suddenly shine through the night clouds or a sun thousands of times larger than any ever seen before may rise - and set - in a day. Dhalgren is a novel that interrogates a range of inchoately American oppositions: black and white, male and female, gay and straight, sane and mad.
Review: What is Dhalgren? Dhalgren is one of the greatest novels of 20th-century American literature. Dhalgren is one of the all-time bestselling science fiction novels. Dhalgren may be read with equal validity as SF, magic realism, or metafiction. Dhalgren is controversial, challenging, and scandalous. Dhalgren is a brilliant novel about sex, gender, race, class, art, and identity.
A mysterious disaster has stricken the midwestern American city of Bellona, and its aftereffects are disturbing: a city block burns down and is intact a week later; clouds cover the sky for weeks, then part to reveal two moons; a week passes for one person when only a day passes for another. The catastrophe is confined to Bellona, and most of the inhabitants have fled. But others are drawn to the devastated city, among them the Kid, a white/American Indian man who can't remember his own name. The Kid is emblematic of those who live in the new Bellona, who are the young, the poor, the mad, the violent, the outcast--the marginalized.
Dhalgren is many things, but instantly accessible isn't one of them. While most of this big, ambitious, deeply detailed novel is beautifully pellucid, the opening pages will be difficult for some: the novel starts with the second half of an incomplete sentence, in the viewpoint of a man who doesn't know who he is. If you find the early pages rough going, push on; the story soon becomes clear and fascinating. But--fair warning--the central nature of the disaster, of its strange devastations and disruptions, remains a puzzle for many readers, sometimes after several readings.
Spoiler warning: If you want to figure out the secret of the novel as you read Dhalgren, then stop reading this review right now! If you want to know the secret before you start, this is what the novel is about: the experience of existence inside a novel. Time passes differently for different characters. A river changes location. Stairs change their number. The Kid looks in a mirror and sees not himself, but someone who looks an awful lot like Samuel R. Delany. Central images include mirrors, lenses, and prisms, devices that focus, reflect--and distort. The Kid fills a notebook with a journal that may be Dhalgren, and is uncertain if he has written much, or any, of it. The characters don't know they're in a novel, but they know something is wrong. Dhalgren explores the relationship between characters and author (or, perhaps, characters, "author," and author).
The final chapter can be even tougher going than the opening pages, with its viewpoint change and its stretches of braided narrative--and the novel ends with the beginning of an unfinished sentence. But the last chapter becomes clear as you persevere; and when you get to that unfinished closing line, turn to the first line of the novel to finish the sentence and close the narrative circle. --Cynthia Ward
Publication Date: 1996
Book Condition: New
Book Description Wesleyan, 1996. Paperback. Condition: Good. Item may show signs of shelf wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. Includes supplemental or companion materials if applicable. Access codes may or may not work. Connecting readers since 1972. Customer service is our top priority. Seller Inventory # S_209744782
Book Description Wesleyan, 1996. Condition: Good. A+ Customer service! Satisfaction Guaranteed! Book is in Used-Good condition. Pages and cover are clean and intact. Used items may not include supplementary materials such as CDs or access codes. May show signs of minor shelf wear and contain limited notes and highlighting. Seller Inventory # 0819562998-2-4
Book Description U.S.A.: Wesleyan, 1996. Soft cover. Condition: As New. Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng. Seller Inventory # 1709
Book Description Wesleyan, 1996. Paperback. Condition: Used: Good. Seller Inventory # SONG0819562998
Book Description Wesleyan University Press, 1996. Paperback. Condition: Fine. Trade Paperback. Seller Inventory # 035846
Book Description Condition: good. 907 Gramm. Seller Inventory # M00819562998-G
Book Description Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press ( WUP ), 1996, 1st Edition Thus, First Printing, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1996. Soft Cover. Condition: Near Fine (see description). Photo Cover (illustrator). First Edition. -------------trade paperback, about 5.25w x 8.5h inches, a near Fine copy, foreword by Gibson, 801 pages, any image directly beside this listing is the actual book and not a generic photo. Not Signed. Seller Inventory # 159239
Book Description Wesleyan, 1996. Paperback. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0819562998
Book Description Wesleyan, 1996. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0819562998
Book Description Wesleyan, 1996. Paperback. Condition: Very Good. Great condition with minimal wear, aging, or shelf wear. Seller Inventory # P020819562998