Bluebeard

The Autobiography of Rabo Karabekian (1916-1988)
Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
Length: 7 hrs and 19 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (498 ratings)

Audible membership

$14.95 a month

Free with a 30-day trial
1 audiobook of your choice.
A monthly selection of Audible Originals.
$14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $19.95

Buy for $19.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Bluebeard, published in 1987, is Vonnegut's meditation on art, artists, surrealism, and disaster.

Meet Rabo Karabekian, a moderately successful surrealist painter who we meet late in life and see struggling (like all of Vonnegut's key characters) with the dregs of unresolved pain and the consequences of brutality. Loosely based on the legend of Bluebeard (best realized in Bela Bartok's one-act opera), the novel follows Karabekian through the last events in his life, which are heavy with women, painting, artistic ambition, artistic fraudulence, and as of yet unknown consequence. Vonnegut's intention here is not so much satirical (although the contemporary art scene would be easy enough to deconstruct), nor is it documentary (although Karabekian does carry elements of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko). Instead Vonnegut is using art for the same purpose he used science fiction clichés in Slaughterhouse-Five: as a filter through which he can illuminate the savagery, cruelty, and essentially comic misdirection of human existence.

Listeners will recognize familiar Vonnegut character types and archetypes as they drift in and out through the background; meanwhile Karabekian, betrayed and betrayer, sinks through a bottomless haze of recollection. Like most of Vonnegut's late works, this is both science fiction and cruel, contemporary realism at once, using science fiction as metaphor for human damage as well as failure to perceive.

Listeners will find that Vonnegut's protagonists can never really clarify for us whether they are ultimately unwitting victims or simple barbarians, leaving it up to the listener to determine in which genre this audiobook really fits, if any at all.

©1987 Kurt Vonnegut (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Bluebeard

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    339
  • 4 Stars
    112
  • 3 Stars
    38
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    342
  • 4 Stars
    90
  • 3 Stars
    16
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    303
  • 4 Stars
    97
  • 3 Stars
    40
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Kurt Vonnegut explores the arts

"What a fool I would have been to let self-respect interfere with my happiness!"
― Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard

A pseudo memoir of Rabo Karabekian a minor Abstract Expressionist whose art literally disappeared (thanks to a poor choice in paints). It is hard to relay what the book essentially is, but obviously it is an autobiography of an almost loner, a hermit with a roommate. He lives in his big house in the Hamptons among the art he bought cheap (Rothkos, Pollocks, etc) years ago. He is being bullied into writing his memoirs by Polly Madison, a writer of cheap blockbuster novels. At its heart, this novel is Vonnegut working his way through some of his previous big themes (war, isolation, humanism, pacifism) along with explorations of art, commerce, &c.

This isn't one of his better novels, but is firmly in the middle of the pack. I personally wish Vonnegut spent more time playing with the artistic canvas, but the sections he spent dealing with Rabo apprenticing under Dan Gregory (I get a N.C. Wyeth or Howard Pyle vibe), a very popular illustrator, is worth the entire cost of reading anything clunky in some of the other sections.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Masterful

A profoundly american experience of wit and solidarity with the world at large, history at large. The best critique of mid century art on record.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Still as great as I remember

Great book and great performance. I was wondering if it would hold up after 20 years and it did and the performance even made it better.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Vonnegut is Timeless

An everything story told as only KV can write it. Excellent performance by the narrator as well.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A classic, timelessness of the human condition and

It holds up and the insights are more relevant than when it was first published. My favorite of his books.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The art of Vonnegut

I enjoyed Bluebeard overall, ripe with the classic dark-ish humor of Vonnegut. I'll admit I struggled a bit in the latter part of the book and was pleased when I made it through to the climax.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A tale of painting and war and one big secret

Vonnegut is in top form in this tale of a painter whose secret barn contains a mysterious project he will tell no one about. Coaxed by a roommate to write his autobiography, we read his life story as he types it, with frequent interjections of current events--a clever pacing technique that I quite enjoyed.

The title refers to the legend of Bluebeard, a man who tells every new wife that they can have the run of the mansion, as long as they do not look behind one certain door. Inevitably, the new wife looks behind the door and finds the bodies of his previous wives--who have looked behind the door. This short story is similar to the passion project (or is it nothing?) in the barn behind the protagonist's house.

Woven into the story is a surprising tale of how poorly women are treated throughout history, and particularly during war, that I found very moving.

Nicely paced and well narrated, I enjoyed this book very much and definitely recommend it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

very good read

Another enjoyable book by Vonnegut. one of his better works. The reader was particularly good.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut

I thoroughly adored this book! Production and performance were superb. This is a story filled with humor, irony, and love. It is the story I will return to again and again.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

interesting

Kurt has good , cynical insights about the puffery of art and war. interesting characters.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-26-20

meh, not anything special.

interesting to see the topic of the armenian genocide being tackled. otherwise, no deep insights. i was looking forward to a criticism on abstract expressionism but nothing interesting was said about it