Read Autumn (Seasonal #1) by Ali Smith Online

Autumn (Seasonal #1)

Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That's what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer.Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever. Ali Smith's new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first installment of her Seasonal quartet--four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)--and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d'esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making. Here's where we're living. Here's time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic. From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in time-scale and light-footed through histories, a story about aging and time and love and stories themselves....

Title : Autumn (Seasonal #1)
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780241207000
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 264 pages
Url Type : Home » Autumn » Autumn (Seasonal #1)

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Autumn (Seasonal #1) Reviews

  • Simon

    I really enjoyed Autumn, which is possibly Ali Smith’s most accessible book yet, however I wasn’t as wholly blown away by it as most people. I mean it’s still BRILLIANT because it’s Ali Smith. I adored the story of Daniel and Elisabeth over the years, I loved how Elizabeth’s mother developed. I agreed politically on Brexit and her observations of the good and bad... the art bit though just didn’t feel needed and dragged me away from what I was loving. And loving so much. Just my thoughts. Will b ...more

  • Gill

    December 2016

    I re-read this at the start of December and still think about it. I've upgraded it to 5 stars.

    'Autumn' by Ali Smith

    4.5 stars/ 9 out of 10

    From the opening sentence (which is referential to the opening of one of Dickens' novels), to the end of this novel, Ali Smith has created a beautiful story which can be read on many levels. Ostensibly it is the story of the friendship between a young woman and an elderly man, that started when the young woman was a child. But there are layers behi
    ...more

  • Ilse

    This is England

    Autumn is to be the first instalment of ‘a seasonal quartet’ that Ali Smith plans to write - a cycle ‘exploring the subjective experience of time, questioning the nature of time itself'. Triggered to read it by the title – autumn is my favourite season – this first instalment was a wondrous introduction to Smith’s prose for me, so I eagerly look forward to the next parts now.

    Autumn is a playful, multi-layered and at times delectably subversive novel on the floating of time, aging,

    What you reading? Always be reading something, he said. Even when we’re not physically reading. How else will we read the world? Think of it as a constant.
    Smith parallels two key moments in recent history and present day UK by connecting them both to dishonesties in politics, suggesting these lies had critical impact on society, the Brexit vote and the Profumo Scandal of 1963. She astutely smuggles the latter into the novel by interlacing the scandal and the life of her main characters, Daniel and Elisabeth, with the vibrant and tragically short life of Pauline Boty (1938-1966), the only female representative artist in British Pop Art, whose legacy is continuously oscillating between oblivion and rediscovery. Pauline Boty used a shot of the famous chair photograph series by Lewis Morley of the women at the heart of the Profumo scandal, Christine Keeler, in a collage painting which has been mysteriously missing soon after she had painted it, Scandal ‘63.





    To say the least, these lies make people sick: She hadn’t known that proximity to lies, even just reading about them, could make you feel so ill. By showing the effect of lies by the powerful on society, how they divide people and infuriate them, Smith makes one ponder on the significance of truth. Is there really anything new under the sun in this acrimonious year of the prevalence of post-truth politics? Or it is just an illustration of the unchangeable nature of power and the corroded order of things?

    By reviving feminist artist Pauline Boty, Smith thematises the position of women in modern art. Some titles of Boty’s paintings, like ‘It’s a man’s world’ speak volumes in that respect. Smith’s Boty proclaims I am a person. I’m an intelligent nakedness. An intellectual body. I’m a bodily intelligence. Art’s full of nudes and I’m a thinking, choosing nude. I’m the artist as nude. I’m the nude as artist’.. This assertion reminded me of the mission statement of the Guerrilla Girls, a feminist group denouncing discrimination, tracking and keeping statistics on the representation of female artists in museums. Art still is a man’s world, to a very high extent.



    However obvious Smith’s sympathies in the debate, do not expect pure doom and gloom. Instead of wallowing in woeful defeatism, the characters shine in heart-warming and infectious combativeness and witty insurgence. The Kafkaesque scenes at the post office resemble absurdist sketches, while they are at the same time a virulent critique on the ridiculously bureaucratic demands regulation imposes on people - and on a society that turns a blind eye to the homeless which have to shelter in public buildings, without anyone blinking.

    The energetic pace of the writing, brimming with jocular wordplay, literary references and puns smoothly coincides with the melancholic undercurrent of this novel, as Autumn breathes an atmosphere of transience. People die, at young age. Everything is temporary, like the leaves falling in autumn. Entering history equals finding ‘endless sad fragility’:
    Elisabeth had last come to the field just after the circus had left, especially to look at the flat dry place where the circus had had its tent. She liked doing melancholy things like that. But now you couldn’t tell that any of these summer things had ever happened. There was just an empty field. The sports tracks had faded and gone. The flattened grass, the places that had turned to mud where the crowds had wandered round between the rides and the open-sided trucks of the driving and shooting games, the ghost circus ring: nothing but grass.


    Il faut reculer pour mieux sauter. Perhaps one could say that Ali Smith in a way indulges in facile preaching to the choir, mollycoddling the right-minded citizens mourning the present state of the world. But why not just delight in her eloquently phrased discourse and lithe sentences, nodding approvingly while licking one’s wounds instead of sinking into despair? Fite dem Back.

    I thank NetGalley, Penguin and Ali Smith for granting me an ARC.

    ...more

  • MJ Nicholls

    Ali Smith is a prolific story writer, critic, and playwright, but her novels alone have blasted her into the mesosphere of critical adulation, and this first part of an exciting seasonal quartet furthers her familiar brand of humorous, gentle, playful, and bedazzling brilliance. Timehopping across the century, the novel focuses on the adopted father relationship between an art lecturer and an enigmatic former dancer, lyricist, and sixties art scenester. Featuring another of Smith’s precocious yo ...more

  • Fionnuala

    What are you reading?

    A tale of two people.

    Tell me about it.

    It's a book full of leaves, green ones and brown ones. And white ones too, of course.

    Ha! But seriously, describe it to me.

    It's a book with a hole in the middle.

    Now you're just being absurd.

    No, wait. There's really as much absence as presence in this book.

    Tell me what's in it - not what's not in it.

    It's a book of fragments that fit together in odd arrangements.

    Give me an example of the way the fragments fit together.

    There's a sister who
    ...more

  • Matthew Quann

    I finished this novel a few days ago, but put off the review. To speak quite frankly, I think Autumn is a novel that is a touch too smart for me to properly wrap my head around. Smith's prose flips, twists, jumps, and skitters across the page with vivacity and wit, but also left me feeling overwhelmed with stylistic experimentation. So, I turned to interviews with Smith and reviews others have written to better understand what I had just read.

    It isn't simply the writing that left me confused, bu
    ...more

  • PattyMacDotComma

    4.5★ (Read and reviewed February 28, 2017)

    Oh my, what to make of this book? I’ve not read Ali Smith before, and I can’t recall anything that was quite the mix of poetry, history, art, family dynamics, and philosophy – not to mention politics.

    I love her writing – I would have enjoyed the Pop Art more if I’d had any idea who the artist was (link below). And I’m overloaded with politics and populism and Brexit, so less of that would have suited me better, because I was really enjoying the “story”,
    ...more

  • Cheri

    "April come she will

    When streams are ripe and swelled with rain

    May she will stay

    Resting in my arms again

    June she'll change her tune

    In restless walks she'll prowl the night"


    --“April Come She Will” lyrics by Paul Simon

    "It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times."

    Traveling back and forth through time, the past to the present, from Elisabeth’s childhood and meeting her new neighbor Daniel Gluck, to the brink of the political climate that began with Brexit, this story covers a lot of terri
    ...more