Author Topic: What are you currently reading?  (Read 989446 times)

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Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10440 on: January 17, 2021, 03:22:07 PM »
I'm sure you have faith in democracy. Should your country become a dictatorship (God forbid!) and should the government require that you pledged absolute obedience to them or else, what would you do?

Your connection of religious freedom and (representative) democracy could be fragile at best, theoretically and empirically (historically). Look at how Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists are treated in democratic nations today. The religious minorities in Byzantine empire (and others) were treated much better.

This is a book, not sociology, thread, but I couldn't resist. Sorry.

Offline JBS

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10441 on: January 17, 2021, 04:45:15 PM »
Your connection of religious freedom and (representative) democracy could be fragile at best, theoretically and empirically (historically). Look at how Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists are treated in democratic nations today. The religious minorities in Byzantine empire (and others) were treated much better.

This is a book, not sociology, thread, but I couldn't resist. Sorry.

Speaking as a member of a religious minority whose history includes persecution
 by the Byzantines:  they were not treated better
.

It is often claimed that the Byzantine persecution of Monophysites in Egypt and Syria was one reason the Arab conquest of those countries was so successful.

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Offline JBS

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10442 on: January 17, 2021, 04:49:47 PM »
I'm sure you have faith in democracy. Should your country become a dictatorship (God forbid!) and should the government require that you pledged absolute obedience to them or else, what would you do?

Perhaps a better equivalent in Alberich's case would be science and reasoned inquiry: if a persecution demanded he abandon belief in those things, would he do it to save his own life? To save the lives of others? Would he even be able to do it, given how fundamental those things are to his worldview?

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Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10443 on: January 17, 2021, 06:06:01 PM »
Perhaps a better equivalent in Alberich's case would be science and reasoned inquiry: if a persecution demanded he abandon belief in those things, would he do it to save his own life? To save the lives of others? Would he even be able to do it, given how fundamental those things are to his worldview?

Wonderful idea. Somebody should write a book based on that theme.

Offline Jo498

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10444 on: January 18, 2021, 12:38:20 AM »
Wonderful idea. Somebody should write a book based on that theme.
This book was written a long time ago: How many fingers are there, Winston?
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Jo498

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10445 on: January 18, 2021, 12:53:06 AM »
I wonder if there are a few Russian members and they can provide thoughts/insights about the non-Russian editions of Russian literature. My gut feeling is that about 70 percent of the text could be translated to non-Slavic language accurately and aesthetically.
Do you think that Slavic languages (into say English, French, German...) pose a particular translation problem? I have a very superficial (like one intro class, very far from reading any literature) knowledge of Russian and I am not sure if this is the case. Admittedly, German may be closer in some respects to Russian than English is and there was a lot of cultural influence and immigrants to Russia in the 18th and 19th century as well as many bilingual speakers in the Baltic states and elsewhere so we might have had better translations early on. But there was a huge fuzz in Germany about then (1990s) new Dostoevsky translations by Svetlana Geier who were hailed (usually by people without knowledge of Russian) as very much superior to the ones from the 1920s. (Interestingly, some people who did read Russian felt rather different and saw no clear advantage of the newer translations.) I read Crime and Punishment in that new translation and never got what the fuzz was about. Sure, it encompassed a broader range of language to differentiate between e.g. lower class characters. But overall it was not a hugely different experience and there were also aspects I found stilted in that translation.

Quote
Big fan of Dostoyevsky, but I don't personally consider the Karamazov his successful work.
It is a bit too sprawling (and there was a second volume planned with Alyosha leaving the monastery and town, probably some Entwicklungsroman) and the random collections of the "teachings of Zosima" are boring. But it is nevertheless great. (It's been 20 years since I last read more than a bit of FMD but I read several of the big novels twice and the most brilliant overall is probably "The Idiot")

I don't really get the criticism of the religious themes. FMD was an orthodox reactionary in other writings but I know of no atheist critique as subtle and deep as the one he let's Ivan express (not only in the Grand Inquisitor fable).
(I have seen this also expressed in secondary literature, that Ivan "wins" intellectually and Alyosha and the random teachings of Zosima can hardly balance the brilliance of the Inquisitor story etc. It seems that the suggested answer is practical, Ivan is miserable but Alyosha is quite happy and hopefully will remain so despite not becoming a monk)

In hindsight, I don't know if FMD was correct in his reactionary orthodoxy, but he was very insightful in the "dialectics" of liberalism described in "The demons", long before Adorno and others and long before the real horrors of 20th century totalitarianism. And many aspects seem to play out now very similarly again in the last 60 years (hopefully remaining mostly on the farcical level with a lower body count). What were liberal just causes in the 60s have sped partly out of control and have become dysfunctional madness, including lots of illiberal control.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Artem

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10446 on: January 18, 2021, 04:14:36 AM »
I know nothing about intricacies of literature translation (I'm sure its very laborious process), but as a Russian language speaker I always found Dostoevsky's prose very straightforward and approachable. I have no idea why his work would be difficult to translate, other than the confusion of names that many first time readers of Russian literature usually refer to.

Yesterday I finished . Every year I make an effort to check out Booker's selection and always find them disappointing. This book was also not to my liking.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10447 on: January 18, 2021, 05:04:28 AM »
Thank you for the explanation, Jo and Artem. My knowledge on the matter is very limited. I may have overestimated the difference of slavic languages from other (Indo) European languages.


P.s.. It seems to me that Idiot and Crime and Punishment are not comparisons to the Karamazov.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 10:02:02 AM by Dry Brett Kavanaugh »

Offline milk

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10448 on: January 18, 2021, 06:04:50 AM »
Excellent work. Pinnacle of Mishima's aestheticism. One of David Bowie's favorite books. The original title of the book is A Ship Towing in the Afternoon.  The story is disturbing to many/most readers, but all readers would recognize Mishima's genius in the work.

The movie is a strangely attractive film as well.
It's been years since I read this but nowadays I find Mishima generally disturbing. My recollection of this is alienated, cold, narcissistic and depressing. That could be wrong since it's just a feeling about it that I retained from my youth. Now living in Japan, I can see post-war lit that way, except for Endo. Mishima ends up in a kind of horror - with a coup attempt and then a gory suicide.
Actually, events of late kind of reminded me of Mishima in a way. He didn't have much support at the time but, then again, he didn't have twitter or instagram.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10449 on: January 18, 2021, 06:22:48 AM »
It's been years since I read this but nowadays I find Mishima generally disturbing. My recollection of this is alienated, cold, narcissistic and depressing. That could be wrong since it's just a feeling about it that I retained from my youth. Now living in Japan, I can see post-war lit that way, except for Endo. Mishima ends up in a kind of horror - with a coup attempt and then a gory suicide.
Actually, events of late kind of reminded me of Mishima in a way. He didn't have much support at the time but, then again, he didn't have twitter or instagram.

Very fair. How about his ability of overall composition, depiction, literal expression and creating and contrasting characters? Do you have negative opinion about them?

Any opinion on Endo's Silence?