Random Literature Thread

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2016-12-22, 6:36

mōdgethanc wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Then you'll be happy to hear that the only thing I ever associate Faust with is Tintin. :lol:
No way would that make me happy. You know Tintin fills me with rage.

Oh, I'm sorry! But if someone associates two things you don't like with each other...does that make you unhappy? :hmm:

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2016-12-22, 15:23

vijayjohn wrote:That sounds so much like what my dad found that I just had to retrieve his copy. In the version he has, it's just a little over 9 pages (straight of mostly French dialogue, including a long paragraph at the end), pages 335 to 343 (the end of Chapter V, from the section called "Walpurgisnacht" in the original and "Walpurgis-Night" in this translation). He has a bookmark at the beginning of Chapter VI since it's right after where he gave up. :P He didn't mind the couple lines here and there, either, because he could just ignore them, I guess, but he seemed to have lost hope after that part.

That's the spot. I wonder what accounts for the large discrepancy in length. My edition* has relatively small print but still runs 984 pages. Which edition does your dad own?

*
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby mōdgethanc » 2016-12-22, 22:11

vijayjohn wrote:Oh, I'm sorry! But if someone associates two things you don't like with each other...does that make you unhappy? :hmm:
You know, normally it's pairing an aversive stimulus with a pleasant one. Two of them together would strengthen the effect, I imagine. So basically, yes.

No one else has attempted to read Faust? If anyone is planning on it, I strongly recommend pretending the second part doesn't exist. It's like the most pretentious fanfic ever written.

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2016-12-22, 23:44

mōdgethanc wrote:No one else has attempted to read Faust? If anyone is planning on it, I strongly recommend pretending the second part doesn't exist. It's like the most pretentious fanfic ever written.

I've read Part One, but not straight through.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby mōdgethanc » 2016-12-22, 23:58

linguoboy wrote:I've read Part One, but not straight through.
In German? That would be a slog.

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2016-12-23, 0:16

mōdgethanc wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I've read Part One, but not straight through.
In German? That would be a slog.

It's not. His language is beautiful. I'm not sure how well it translates. So far I haven't heard an English verse translation I thought was worth a damn.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby mōdgethanc » 2016-12-23, 0:37

linguoboy wrote:It's not. His language is beautiful. I'm not sure how well it translates. So far I haven't heard an English verse translation I thought was worth a damn.
I thought my problem might have been an overly flowery translation, actually. I imagine in German, it's not any harder than Shakespeare. Maybe I should give The Sorrows of Young Werther a try.

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2016-12-23, 1:08

Yasna wrote:I wonder what accounts for the large discrepancy in length.

Maybe because of the length of German words? Idk.
Which edition does your dad own?

The March 1969 Vintage Books Edition, translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter. Its cover looks like this.
mōdgethanc wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Oh, I'm sorry! But if someone associates two things you don't like with each other...does that make you unhappy? :hmm:
You know, normally it's pairing an aversive stimulus with a pleasant one. Two of them together would strengthen the effect, I imagine. So basically, yes.

Aw man, I was hoping maybe two wrongs would make a right! :P

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby mōdgethanc » 2016-12-23, 1:38

vijayjohn wrote:Aw man, I was hoping maybe two wrongs would make a right! :P
If you receive an electrical shock with each bite paired with having cold water sprayed at you, while being forced to eat your least favorite food, is that more likely to make you enjoy it?

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2016-12-23, 1:45

That bad, eh?

But that reminded me of an old cartoon in Malayalam where the main characters proclaim that they've found a cure for headaches. The proposed cure turns out to be putting the patient's foot in a mousetrap, so it hurts so much the patient will forget all about their headache.

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2016-12-23, 18:10

vijayjohn wrote:The March 1969 Vintage Books Edition, translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter.


I made it through the French part without too much trouble, but I was wrong to think that Mann wouldn't include an important plot point in French. It appears to be the only section in the novel with extensive French, and it can basically be summed up as:

Hans Castorp and Clawdia flirt with each other, and she tells him she is leaving the sanatorium the next day to return to Dagestan.

So your dad should continue reading if he otherwise liked the novel.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2016-12-23, 19:14

Yasna wrote:So your dad should continue reading if he otherwise liked the novel.

Okay, thanks, but he must have stopped reading it like five years ago or something, so I'm afraid it might be a tad too late. :? But maybe I'll try sometime anyway.

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2017-01-13, 23:10

Yesterday I attended a salon on the subject of translation (with special focus on Arabic-language fiction) at a local bookstore. The featured readers/speakers were Adam Talib, who has translated works by Raja'a Alem, Fadi Azzam, Mekkawi Said, and Khairy Shalabi; his wife Katherine Halls (who co-translated Alem's novel The dove's necklace); and Rebecca Johnson, who translated a work of Sinan Antoon's.

The whole discussion was fascinating, but a couple of points particularly stuck with me. One was the revelation from Talib that many Arabic-speakers have told him they prefer to read Arabic texts in translation rather than the original, which--as he put it--rather upends their idea of who they're translating for. One of the authors (Alem) reportedly even composed the novel in English (though "not an English that you could publish", as Halls delicately put it) and then translated it into Arabic.

When I asked him about this, he ascribed it to a couple of things. One was the educational system, which puts emphasis on reading works by European writers. He quoted Ahdaf Soueif (an Egyptian novelist who writes in English) as saying that the narrative voice in her head is English even when describing the unfolding events of her own life. I asked if availability factored in and he offered the observations that he'd had an easier time buying one novel in Arabic in Paris than in Cairo and that one of the books he'd translated was already out-of-print in Arabic whereas his English version could be easily downloaded for Kindle.

Another point that Talib made forcefully in response to a question about MSA vs dialect was that range of acceptable narrative style (as he put it, "the range of narrative styles we're willing to accept in a novel") was much more compressed in English than in Arabic. In fact, he went on to say that one of his reasons for translating literature from Arabic into English was to hopefully expand that range.

He seemed to think most people make too much of the gulf between MSA and the dialects, saying he was comfortable translating from any dialect and that MSA has a range of registers from casual to extremely formal, just like English. (He gave Shalaby as an example of someone who writes in what is "as close to dialect as you can get in [MSA]" and Antoon as someone with an "extremely florid style".)

From a practical standpoint, it was interesting to see the range of interaction between the translators and the authors--everything from "That's nice, good luck" (Shalaby) to forwarding all their e-mails to the French and German translators (Alem). Johnson started working on Antoon's manuscript as a personal favour without any idea what she was getting into. (Besides being florid, his style is dense with récherché diction, wordplay, and allusions. She had to ask him questions about everything.)

Topics we didn't have time to get into included how publishers choose covers and titles ("It's all driven by Amazon keywords"--Talib). And it was interesting to see how many people assumed Talib was a native speaker on account of his surname and appearance, when actually he was born in California and learned the language at university just like his blond English wife.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-14, 2:43

Malayalees must be even more extreme about this in some ways. We just don't take our own literature seriously as a whole, though at least if it's originally written in English like The God of Small Things, we might pretend to care. Yet apparently, these days, Malayalee kids (and perhaps Indian kids in general) start having to memorize entire poems in English at school before they even start learning the alphabet for their own language. And it sure as hell is easier to find good Malayalam literature, say, at my alma mater's library than at a bookstore in Kerala (I think this is also the case for other Indian languages, maybe even Hindi). It's also amusing to me when people assume I managed to learn Malayalam just from listening to my parents talk when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. My parents' conversations were boring as hell, and I've never had much interest in listening to almost any of them (I say "almost" because sometimes, they did have to do with me...).

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2017-03-10, 10:08

I spent a good amount of time perusing book stores while in Taipei (the 诚品书店 Xinyi branch is massive, and its Dunnan branch is open 24 hrs), and one thing that struck me was how underrepresented original Chinese works were in some genres. Genres as diverse as mystery and chemistry are absolutely dominated by translations from Japanese and English.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-03-10, 16:50

One of the few comic books I have from Taipei is 印度寻宝记, the (Traditional) Chinese translation of the Korean comic book 인도에서 보물찾기 from this series (it's available in other languages including English, too). The amount of information it has on India is impressive for a children's comic book, but it's always an instant turn-off for me whenever I find out that what I'm reading is actually a translated work because I'd rather try to just read the original. :P

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2017-03-10, 17:07

Yasna wrote:I spent a good amount of time perusing book stores while in Taipei (the 诚品书店 Xinyi branch is massive

看起來不太正確啊!
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2017-03-14, 16:26

linguoboy wrote:
Yasna wrote:I spent a good amount of time perusing book stores while in Taipei (the 诚品书店 Xinyi branch is massive

看起來不太正確啊!

看吧。

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2017-03-15, 15:24

多好看啊!
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2017-03-17, 0:09

Here is a nice ode to reading by Hisham Matar.

"But the most magical moments in reading occur not when I encounter something unknown but when I happen upon myself, when I read a sentence that perfectly describes something I have known or felt all along. I am reminded then that I am really no different from anyone else. [...]

How many times, and in ways that did not seem to require my consent, have I suddenly and in my own bed found myself to be Russian or French or Japanese? How many times have I been a peasant or an aristocrat? How many times have I been a woman? I have been free and without liberty, gay, disabled, old, loved and loathed.[...]

That is perhaps what the author of the iconic novel “The House of Hunger,” the Zimbabwean writer Dambudzo Marechera, meant when he said, “If you are a writer for a specific nation or a specific race,” then he had no use for you. What he was resisting was narrow provincialism, the sort of identitarianism that has invaded our academies and public discourse, and which sees individual life as, first and foremost, representative of a racial, religious or cultural category. [...]

This is why literature is the greatest argument for the universalist instinct, and this is why literature is intransigent about its liberty. It refuses to be enrolled, regardless of how noble or urgent the project. It cannot be governed or dictated to. It is by instinct interested in conflicting empathies, in men and women who are running into their own hearts, in doubt and contradictions. Which is why, without even intending to, and like a moon to the night, it disrupts the totalitarian narrative. What it reveals about our human nature is central to the conversation today."
Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka


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