Random Literature Thread

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Yasna
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2018-11-24, 20:50

The Untranslated

An interesting blog about literature not yet available in English.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2018-12-11, 3:59

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-12-13, 13:22

Does Japanese and Chinese poetry (or even, more in general, literature) have more of a visual element to it than languages which use an alphabet do? i.e: choosing words not just because of their meaning or sound or general rythm but also because of the beauty of the character(s).

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-12-13, 13:26

Generally, in East Asia, my understanding is that it isn't individual characters that are considered more or less beautiful but rather calligraphic style. In Japan in particular, the less legible the calligraphy, the more beautiful it's considered to be. :P

IpseDixit

Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby IpseDixit » 2018-12-13, 13:30

vijayjohn wrote:In Japan in particular, the less legible the calligraphy, the more beautiful it's considered to be. :P


xD

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2018-12-13, 15:26

IpseDixit wrote:Does Japanese and Chinese poetry (or even, more in general, literature) have more of a visual element to it than languages which use an alphabet do? i.e: choosing words not just because of their meaning or sound or general rythm but also because of the beauty of the character(s).

As Vijay says, calligraphy is its own art form and I'm sure there are lots of considerations which go into which style is used for a particular piece. One of the few guidelines I know of which I've seen followed pretty consistently is not using the same form of a character which appears more than once in a poem in order to add variety.

It seems likely that authors chose the words they used with a view to how they would appear on a page, but I don't recall reading anything about that in analyses of famous poems. It could be their choices are somewhat obscured by the fact that often we don't have their original calligraphy so we don't know which style they chose for which poem and, therefore, how this might have influenced the choice of characters. Also, despite the Qin standardisation of the script, variant forms do exist and have persisted.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2018-12-18, 21:42

So I got to page 655 of the 735-page anthology of contemporary American short stories I've been reading and I realised that I could only recall coming across a single queer character--and a horrible stereotype at that. In the second-to-last story, two teenage guys head to Florida in the 70s and one of them ends up letting a hotdog stand owner blow him for spare change. The man and his living space are described in highly unflattering terms; they end up bashing him in the head, possibly leaving him for dead. (Either this is left for the reader to puzzle out or it's not considered germane to the story, which is about one of the two teenagers, after all.)

I wouldn't be particularly surprised at that from an anthology published in, say, 1985. But this came out in 2015 and it seems like a huge omission. I don't know anything about the editor, but I'm not the least bit surprised to find out that he's a straight white guy from Texas. He did go to Brown, though, which I guess explains why at least half the writers are women. Guess he didn't meet any queer folks there? (Or at least not any he thought could write.)
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-01-07, 16:39

Almost everything I've been reading in Arabic and Urdu lately has been such a slog. I don't even have anything to read in Persian (though to be fair, Persian isn't technically one of my TAC languages, either).

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2019-02-04, 19:08

This list is NOT helping my wanderlust afflictions.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/01/19/books/new-books-international.html

How is it possible to resist the urge to read these works in the original?!

Max Havelaar by Multatuli
A renegade Dutch colonial struggles to end the exploitation of Indonesian peasants.

River of Fire by Qurratulain Hyder
Considered the most important work of 20th-century Urdu fiction, this book follows four central characters over the course of two millenniums in India.

Acts of Infidelity by Lena Andersson
A young woman who begins an affair with an actor comes to terms with her role as a mistress.

Salt of the Earth by Jozef Wittlin
After being drafted into the army, a man from a remote village is forced to fight a war he does not understand — against his national and personal interests.

The Polyglot Lovers by Lina Wolff
Ellinor, a smart and unsentimental woman, gets stranded by a snowstorm with a literary critic after trying online dating.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby suruvaippa » 2019-02-13, 16:54

I swear, this happens every single time I come to Finland:

kirjat20190213_2.jpg


This is all supposed to somehow fit into the half of the carry-on sized suitcase I had reserved for shopping sprees like this, but it might not end up being enough even if I manage to resist buying any more in the next month and a half I'm still here for (yeah right :lol: )
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2019-02-19, 21:46

An interesting video about how some books and authors gain outsize popularity in a particular country, like Zorba the Greek (Βίος και Πολιτεία του Αλέξη Ζορμπά) in South Korea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxfqSW8pamk
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2019-03-04, 16:34

In one of my online librarian groups, a poster recently asked people to respond with "your favorite adult or YA novel set somewhere other than the United States" and I just can't get over how parochial a question that is. Like how is that even a category? You might as well just ask me, "What's your favourite novel?"
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2019-03-12, 17:16

It's long been a source of frustration to me that there's no really good one-volume introduction to Irish mythology for the beginner. This is particularly puzzling given how easy it is to find good retellings of the Greek and Norse myths, both of which I read avidly as a child.

Maybe it's because the source material is just so unwieldy? The Norse myths were neatly summarised by Snorri Sturluson, the Greek myths by Hesiod, but no one ever performed a similar service for the Irish myths. Most of the stories are contained in a single work, the Lebor Gabála Érenn (or "Book of Invasions" as it's often called in English), but this is not the work of a sole author and it shows.

By contrast, it's not hard to find translations and retellings of the Welsh Mabinogi. It's a lot shorter and the stories have been rewritten in an Arthurian vein for a mediaeval Christian audience, so they're more comprehensible to a modern reader than a grab bag of late-Iron-Age stories like the LGÉ. Still I feel like there's a huge missed opportunity here.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-03-17, 4:42

I wish I could get back into reading Malayalam literature, but that surely won't happen before my contract ends (which, to be fair, is less than two months away). I've also started feeling like maybe I should buy something to read in Persian.

Looking at a list of Persian-speaking writers just now is making me realize that I have absolutely no clue where to start with Persian-language prose. I've never heard of any of those people who wrote prose. Well, except I guess Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda.

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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2019-08-06, 14:52

Toni Morrison died last night. For most of my lifetime, she was the USA's greatest living novelist, one of the very best writers to ever chose English as her medium of expression. If you've never read anything from her, I strongly encourage you to. You could begin with her 1993 Nobel Prize Lecture: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1993/morrison/lecture/.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2019-08-09, 0:27

linguoboy wrote:Toni Morrison died last night. For most of my lifetime, she was the USA's greatest living novelist, one of the very best writers to ever chose English as her medium of expression.

I've only read Beloved, and wasn't terribly impressed. What's your favorite work by her?
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2019-08-09, 15:04

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Toni Morrison died last night. For most of my lifetime, she was the USA's greatest living novelist, one of the very best writers to ever chose English as her medium of expression.

I've only read Beloved, and wasn't terribly impressed. What's your favorite work by her?

Beloved is widely considered her best work. If you weren't impressed by it, it's difficult to imagine you'll be impressed by anything she's written.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby Yasna » 2019-08-09, 15:55

linguoboy wrote:Beloved is widely considered her best work. If you weren't impressed by it, it's difficult to imagine you'll be impressed by anything she's written.

Hum. I guess I'll just have to give it another go later in life.
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby linguoboy » 2019-08-09, 16:08

Yasna wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Beloved is widely considered her best work. If you weren't impressed by it, it's difficult to imagine you'll be impressed by anything she's written.

Hum. I guess I'll just have to give it another go later in life.

FWIW, I quite enjoyed Sula. It's a much shorter novel (192 pp vs 324 pp).

Do you have a favourite African-American fiction author?
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Re: Random Literature Thread

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-08-09, 16:50

linguoboy wrote:Do you have a favourite African-American fiction author?

I've never read all that much, especially not by black authors, but I think I'm already torn.


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