Cover image for The goddess of small victories
Title:
The goddess of small victories
Author:
Grannec, Yannick., author.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Déesse des petites victoires. English
Publication Information:
New York : Other Press, [2014]
Physical Description:
458 pages : illustration ; 22 cm
Summary:
"Princeton University, 1980. A young and unambitious librarian named Anna Roth is assigned the task of retrieving the records of Kurt Gödel--the most fascinating and hermetic mathematician of the 20th century. Her mission consists of befriending and ultimately taming the great man's widow Adele, a notoriously bitter woman set on taking belated revenge against the establishment by refusing to hand over these documents of immeasurable historical value. But as Anna soon finds out, Adele has a story of her own to tell"--Amazon.com.
General Note:
Translation of: La déesse des petites victoires.

"A love story"--Jacket.

Includes a conversation with author (pages 452-458).
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9781590516362
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Princeton University, 1980. A young and unambitious librarian named Anna Roth is assigned the task of retrieving the records of Kurt Gêdel: the most fascinating and hermetic mathematician of the 20th century. Her mission consists of befriending and ultimately taming the great man's widow, Adele, a notoriously bitter woman set on taking belated revenge against the establishment by refusing to hand over these documents of immeasurable historical value. But as Anna soon finds out, Adele has a story of her own to tell


Author Notes

" Yannick Grannec is a graphic designer and illustrator. After obtaining a degree in the Sciences, she began studying art and joined Les Ateliers, where she received a degree in design. A Freelance Art Director, Professor of Fine Arts in Reims, and enthusiast of Mathematics, she lives in Saint Paul de Vence. This is her first novel. Willard Wood has translated widely from the French, including The Last Rendezvous by Anne Plantagenet (Other Press) and the novels of the Goncourt Prize-winning author Jean-Christophe Rufin. A recent NEA Fellow in Translation, he lives and works in Connecticut. The author lives in Saint Paul de Vence, France."


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Acclaimed as the genius who strolled the streets of Princeton arm-in-arm with Einstein, Kurt Godel here appears as the enigmatic shadow of his irascible widow, Adele the feistiest resident at a Pennsylvania retirement home. In this impressive first novel, Grannec makes readers invisible companions of Anna Roth, emissary for ­Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, as she tries to pry from Adele the trove of papers left behind by her late husband. Though loath to part with those papers, Adele shares her tangled memories of how she improbably traded her role as sexy dancer in a Vienna cabaret for that of plucky wife of a distinguished mathematician fleeing Nazi Europe for America. An outsider both to her husband's rarefied intellectual pursuits and to his privileged social circle, Adele still recognizes Kurt's revolutionary incompleteness theorems as portents of a cultural crisis in reason and certainty. By shrewd intuition, she also understands how her spouse's very insistence on sound reasoning leaves him vulnerable to lethal paranoia in an era of McCarthyite hysteria. Privy to Adele's at-times acerbic, at-times tender exchanges with Anna, readers share with both women the task of deciphering a baffling life, a tragic death. Painstakingly researched, seamlessly translated, this is historical fiction of exceptional daring.--Christensen, Bryce Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Grannec depicts the life of historical mathematical prodigy Kurt Godel and his mismatched but devoted wife, Adele, in this overly earnest debut. In 1980, young translator Anna Roth, tasked by her mathematician parents, visits the widowed Adele in a nursing home and tries to persuade her to release Kurt's papers for study. Adele recounts her early life, beginning with her first meeting with Kurt in Vienna. Older and worldlier than Kurt, the earthy Adele holds considerable allure for the young genius, but only gains his iron-willed mother's consent to marry him when Kurt flees Nazi Austria just after the outbreak of WWII for a position in the United States. In Princeton, Adele is initially lonely, but soon makes friends, with Einstein, no less. Meanwhile, in chapters told in the third person from Anna's perspective, the young woman learns valuable lessons from the older woman in everything from beauty to standing up to her smothering family and oppressive bosses. Yannec's attempts to evoke period can be clumsy, as when, in 1955, Adele listens to the radio and asks her friends, "Do you know Chuck Berry, ladies? They are calling this 'rock and roll.'" More off-putting, though, is the afterword's admission that the novel's premise-Adele's reluctance to part with Kurt's papers-is utterly untrue. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

In French author Grannec's first novel, which focuses on real-life couple Kurt and Adele Godel, love is more powerful than anything, from family disapproval to mental illness. Adele devoted her life to taking care of her mathematical genius husband, a paranoid recluse who never showed her even the smallest affection. Kurt, who believed that others were trying to poison him, ate less and less, eventually dwindling to 66 pounds and dying of anorexia. The novel alternates between Adele's memories of her difficult marital life and the efforts of a young woman named Anna, who has been charged with the task of gaining Adele's trust in order to secure rights to her late husband's papers. The women develop a true friendship that comes to mean a great deal to both of them. VERDICT While some of the mathematical discussions are hard to follow, the book offers insight into a little-known historical figure, as well as a portrait of Kurt's close friend, Albert Einstein. And Adele, who always lived in her husband's shadow, rightfully takes center stage, with readers marveling at how love can survive when it receives no nourishment. For fans of Sylvia Nasar's A Beautiful Mind.-Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.