ALSO BY JONATHAN FRANZEN. NOVELS. Freedom. The Corrections. Strong Motion. The Twenty-Seventh City. NONFICTION. Farther Away. The Discomfort. At the center of Jonathan Franzen's new novel, “Purity,” is a young college graduate called Pip, whose full first name, -bestowed by her not-quite-sane mother, is. Purity has been labeled an anti-feminist book, and proof that Franzen hates women. Jonathan Franzen's fifth novel, Purity, appears, like his previous one.
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PDF | A central project of Jonathan Franzen's 'Purity' () is the attempt to situate the development of the Internet and of technocratic. “Isn't that everybody's life?” the girl, Pip, said. She'd taken to calling her mother midway through her lunch break at Renewable Solutions. It brought her some. *Spoilers Ahead* Purity by Jonathan Franzen Rating: Stars Published: September by Farrar, Straus and Giroux Genre: Fiction Series: No Young Pip Tyler.
Like his last two novels, Purity bends time, easing in and out of characters' pasts and presents until, before you know it, the disparate pieces of a life suddenly fit. Purity offers the sense of ease of a virtuoso giving every appearance of enjoying himself. The cathartic power of tennis; the debilitating effects of jealousy; the fickle, fleeting nature of fame; and the slow death of youthful idealism are all beautifully captured.
To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices. About the author. Shelby Graham. Related Links. From the Publisher Picador. Anabel comes from a wealthy family worth hundreds of millions of dollars but refuses any of the family fortune. Much to Tom's mother's dismay Tom decides to marry Anabel.
Their marriage quickly becomes abusive as Anabel descends into anorexia and isolates Tom from members of his family and his own friends and also does her best to punish him for his journalistic success. When Tom's mother Clelia reveals she is dying Tom travels with her to East Germany where she is briefly reunited with the family she abandoned.
Tom's mother eventually dies and East Germany crumbles. The day that Andreas appears on television Tom also happens to meet him and is quickly enchanted by him. After Tom reveals that he wants to leave Anabel after eleven years together, Andras confesses to Host's murder and persuades Tom to help him remove Host's body and rebury it at a different location.
When they are finished reburying the body Andreas masturbates on the grave leaving Tom unsettled. He then leaves East Germany without meeting Andreas again. Tom returns to America where he divorces Anabel, continues having sex with her and finally, to end their relationship tells her he is going to accept a huge check from her father.
She disappears, leaving no trace except for a taunting note. Though Anabel's brothers believe he has killed her he remains on good terms with her father.
She and Wolf's mother Katya become best of friends, and Wolf finds himself having great internal rages, which he dubs the "killer. He becomes an Internet celebrity and a wanted man in most countries of the world for his leaking of secrets, eventually settling his operations in a hidden paradise within Bolivia.
In his growing paranoia, he endlessly searches for information about himself, and when a journalist, Leila Helou, castigates him for "dirty secrets," he connects her with Tom Aberant, who, he is convinced, has betrayed him.
Seeking revenge, he discovers Tom's wife vanished long ago, and starts a deep trawl with face-recognition software on American databases. Eventually, he discovers Penelope Tyler Anabel's new name , and learning of Pip's existence and of Tom being her likely father, asks Annagret to recruit Pip. When Tom finally learns he has been spied on, he comes to Bolivia to have it out with Wolf, who is surprised to learn that Tom has kept his secret.
Wolf leads Tom to a high, isolated cliff, taunts Tom with his private knowledge about Pip and his reading of Tom's secret memoir. When he can't goad Tom into killing him, even by telling him he has mailed the secret memoir to Pip, Wolf leaps off the cliff.
The Rain Comes[ edit ] Pip is trying to come to terms with the knowledge of who she is. She reveals herself to her mother's trust fund manager, whose hands are mostly tied without Anabel's signature at some point.
Pip convinces her mother into lending the smallest amounts and arranges for Tom to meet Anabel again. The reunion goes poorly. The novel ends with Pip and Jason, her boyfriend, sitting in a car outside of Anabel's cabin, listening to a furious argument between Tom and Anabel.
Pip has hope that she might be able to do better than her parents. Characters[ edit ] Purity "Pip" Tyler, a young woman from California who has been raised to be codependent with her mother and struggles to escape from her emotionally.
Pip sees herself as average in every way but finds herself constantly drawing the attention of other, more powerful people. Continuing in the vein of The Corrections and Freedom , Franzen operates in the mode of naturalist fiction, with Dickens and Tolstoy not only featuring prominently as intertexts, but also offering a framework for the amalgamation of the political and interpersonal concerns that frames Purity.
While naturalistic features remain widely present in contemporary fiction, the question of the continued relevance of the social novel has become more fraught in an era in which the death of the novel itself has become a topic of concern.
While growing stores of free and immediately accessible digital knowledge may have stripped the novel of its presupposed moral authority, the immediate social crisis with which Purity, in a self-justifying move, concerns itself is the failed promise of a democratizing Internet.
Focalized through the experience of leaker pioneer Andreas and the volunteers who devote themselves to his mission of web-facilitated transparency, Purity considers the new forms of social hierarchy posed by the Information Age.
Franzen has gained a reputation of literary conservatism in recent years, fanned in part by a controversial social media presence. Hardly spurning the Internet as a platform, he has instead engaged actively in web-based self-promotion and publicity, having published articles across a variety of digital platforms in the past decade.
One of the central points of criticism that Franzen offers in the New York Times piece is that the likability culture that characterizes the modern digital world can be productively contrasted to acts of intimacy and love, which he understands as always necessarily local and immediate, and, consequently, unavoidably difficult. Involving a measure of self-reflection and an acknowledgment of the less-than-complimentary qualities and behaviors of both the lover and the loved, Franzen sees love as the antithesis of the ego-gratifying act of Internet liking, with the comfortable psychological distance that it offers in lieu of personal investment.
Franzen particularly takes to task the painlessness that he sees the Internet providing, claiming that a life driven by immediate gratification and the avoidance of pain compromises the moral foundations necessary for meaningful interpersonal experiences.
He advocates instead for more self-aware practices of Internet usage, offering alternatives involving local modes of interaction that, as his novels suggest, might be equally useful as models of political praxis.
As early as with his first novel, The Twenty-Seventh City , Franzen has offered portraits of corrupted or disillusioned leftists. One such figure is Balwan Singh, confidant of new St. Louis Chief of Police S. Similarly, The Corrections sees its protagonist Chip Lambert sell off his Frankfurt School books in the aftermath of his failed teaching career before becoming a willing participant in a fraudulent Lithuanian investment scheme.
Describing the apathy that leads to the anticlimactic referendum vote of The Twenty-Seventh City, Hawkins notes that: The referendum fails, with voter turnout proving abysmal. Election day brings […] indifference. Instead of such a victory, she finds herself confronted with entropy.
His novels suggest that the limitations of many leftist projects arise from their failure to account for the affective investment on the part of others that is necessary for real social change to gain widespread traction. Across his oeuvre, Franzen depicts the failures of a particular type of leftism, with his characters almost universally belonging to the college-educated middle- and upper-class.
Rather, political projects that offer critical commentary on extant class structures need to call into question any uncritical engagement with ostensibly revolutionary spaces or groups that rely on the funding and management of large corporate bodies for their continued existence. Purity, perhaps more than any other Franzen novel, engages explicitly with the possibility of such resolution.
After Pip and her roommates shelter German travelers in their house in Oakland, one of the travelers puts Pip in contact with Andreas Wolf, a technocrat who is the famous leader of the Sunlight Project and a figure reminiscent of Julian Assange.
The Sunlight Project, an organization of international scope, publicizes news leaks regarding public and political figures, as well as the ethically dubious dealings of large corporations.
Upon realizing that she might make use of the vast technological resources of the Project to locate her father and driven to exhaustion from the obligation of caring for her mother and roommates, Pip leaves Oakland to work at its headquarters in Bolivia. Secrecy and its consequences thus form the basis for much of the plot.
Pip is a woman surrounded by people with secrets; indeed, much of the novel involves her efforts to clarify the motives of those around her who style themselves as truth-seekers.
Franzen draws heavily from the structure of WikiLeaks in his creation of the Sunlight Project. Like WikiLeaks, the Sunlight Project relies on volunteers for its operation, having established a culture of ethical technological obligation that Pip enters into upon being recruited. The organization headed by activist leaker Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, gained notoriety in —11 by leaking a military video showing a Baghdad airstrike on civilians, among other classified documents like war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, as well as a set of diplomatic cables originating from the State Department.
Historically, information has been costly in terms of human life, human rights and economics. As a result of technical advances — particularly the internet and cryptography — the risks of conveying important information can be lowered. Because we are not motivated by making a profit, we work cooperatively with other publishing and media organisations around the globe, instead of following the traditional model of competing with other media.
Readers can verify the truth of what we have reported themselves. Wikileaks, This imagined ideal of transparency through democratic access to information, accessible without risk, ignores the mediation of the Internet and the lines of power that underlie it.
Indeed, far from the democratizing possibilities to which proponents of using the Internet for the purposes of social change often lay claim, transparency efforts like the Sunlight Project in Purity instead serve to re-stage dynamics of hierarchical social stratification.
Representing the ironies of building a cult of personality by using the rhetoric of revolutionary populism and democratic access to information, Andreas understands himself as having a privileged relation to the digital age because of his experiences in the German Democratic Republic. Finding himself infatuated with a young girl, Annagret, Andreas murders her Stasi official stepfather with the intention of liberating her. In the New Regime, Andreas observes, surrender to social control is cloaked in the rhetoric of personal liberty, an ideological move he imagines as appealing to impulses of individualism on a global scale Franzen, The totalitarianism of the Internet, Andreas suggests, operates not through the threat of physical violence, but rather through the installation of a self-policing and reflexive insecurity on the part of its users that takes individual identity as its operative object.
This insecurity arises from the definitional qualities of the Internet itself as a medium: its vast size enables it to host a near-infinite amount of information that can be preserved indefinitely.