Author Topic: What are you currently reading?  (Read 1003562 times)

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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10420 on: January 17, 2021, 06:52:13 AM »
I just found a book I've been seeking out for some time, at one of those "take a book, leave a book" outposts right around the block from my apartment:



What luck! So I reckon I might read this next. I've been dying to read Mishima for a couple of months now.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10421 on: January 17, 2021, 07:11:57 AM »
I just found a book I've been seeking out for some time, at one of those "take a book, leave a book" outposts right around the block from my apartment:



What luck! So I reckon I might read this next. I've been dying to read Mishima for a couple of months now.

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.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2021, 08:44:50 AM by Dry Brett Kavanaugh »

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10422 on: January 17, 2021, 07:29:43 AM »
I agree, good as the film is, it doesn't approach the intimacy created by the book's extraordinary prose, which for me is on another level.

I've read three other Ishiguro books, The Unconsoled, Never Let Me Go and When We Were Orphans. The Unconsoled is a rare and unforgettable novel, one of my favourites. Never Let Me Go is as usual brilliantly written, though I found it somewhat depressing and harrowing at times. And When We Were Orphans I found somewhat confusing and the least engaging.

For all of these, it's well over a decade since I read them last, but the first two certainly, have left very vivid impressions.

Thank you for the helpful reviews. I need to get The Unconsoled.

Offline Brian

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10423 on: January 17, 2021, 09:35:42 AM »
You didn't like the translation, or are you saying its widely disliked?

I've read it twice, but both times the Constance Garnett translation. I'd like to do a third in another version.
I've never read The Brothers Karamazov but the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation has been sitting on my bookshelf for about a year. I did not know it was "much disliked"; rather, I thought it was supposed to be "the one to get". Anyway, I read their translation of Crime and Punishment several times and loved it each time. Ditto for Notes from Underground.

Yesterday I started yet another Ishiguro: A Pale View of Hills, his first novel. So far, so good.
"Controversial" probably would have been a better word choice. P&V are much-liked by some and disliked by others. The reason is their unusual translation style - Volokhonsky translates the text literally, and then Pevear goes through and tweaks the phrases and word choices to be more colloquial and authentic sounding in English. They've been criticized for often missing the bigger picture on some of the authors' jokes or political/religious double meanings. The upside of their work is that they do not "fix" long, crazy sentence structures (Garnett did this) or try to smooth out the stranger word/grammar choices some of the Russians made. The downside is, basically, a sort of miss-the-forest-for-the-trees critique.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10424 on: January 17, 2021, 10:01:05 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.

Big fan of Dostoyevsky, but I don't personally consider the Karamazov his successful work.

« Last Edit: January 17, 2021, 03:42:14 PM by Dry Brett Kavanaugh »

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10425 on: January 17, 2021, 10:08:01 AM »
I actually think renouncing one's faith, whatever it happens to be, is justified in all circumstances.

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?
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Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10426 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 #10427 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 #10428 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 #10429 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 #10430 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.
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Offline Jo498

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10431 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.

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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 #10432 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 #10433 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 #10434 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 #10435 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, literary expression and creating and contrasting characters? Do you have negative opinion about them?

Any opinion on Endo's Silence?
« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 07:13:35 AM by Dry Brett Kavanaugh »

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10436 on: January 20, 2021, 03:49:22 AM »
Well I've started Mishima's Sailor and am finding it bewildering, but fascinating, so far. It's already abundantly clear that Mishima has created a totally unique aesthetic, to which he has committed his life and work. I am unfamiliar with his connections to Western culture, but I'm under the impression that surely, he must have been inspired by Wagner? The titular sailor's musings about love and death seem to be straight out of Tristan. Again, a fascinating read. I'm only about 50 pages in.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10437 on: January 20, 2021, 04:29:22 AM »
The Yage Letters. William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.

Burroughs’ experience with shamanism in Amazon and Ginsberg’s responses.

Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10438 on: January 21, 2021, 07:17:55 AM »
Well I've started Mishima's Sailor and am finding it bewildering, but fascinating, so far. It's already abundantly clear that Mishima has created a totally unique aesthetic, to which he has committed his life and work. I am unfamiliar with his connections to Western culture, but I'm under the impression that surely, he must have been inspired by Wagner? The titular sailor's musings about love and death seem to be straight out of Tristan. Again, a fascinating read. I'm only about 50 pages in.

I don't know musical influences on him. Literary influences on Mishima include Nietzsche, Cocteau, Oscar Wilde, Marquis de Sade, Kawabata, Akutagawa, etc.

Weird thing is that Mishima wrote a few comedies, and they are hilarious and hysterically funny.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 07:26:03 AM by Dry Brett Kavanaugh »

Offline Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10439 on: January 21, 2021, 11:25:49 AM »
FMD was an orthodox reactionary

I'm currently reading his Diary of a Writer



So far, it contains several recurrent topics, such as: the housing and sanitation condition of the St. Petersburg underdogs; cruelty against children and animals; dissolution of community, solidarity and brotherhood and its effect on humans and society; rampant alcoholism, more often than not associated with violence against women; the moral condition of factory workers; the rule of money and money-making; usncrupulous lawyers; lack of care and compassion for the "humiliated and insulted"; the sterile self-righteousness of the liberal imtelligentsia, their professed love for Humanity (capital H) and their open disdain for the flesh-and-blood fellow man. Honestly, he reminds me much more of Dickens than of Pobedonostsev; anyway, if this is orthodox reactionarism, then count me in.

Quote
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.

Yes, this probably explains why Dostoevsky gets such a bad rap in some liberal circles: long before liberals took power and began to act on their principles, he saw with prophetic clarity where and how they would end and the implacable dialectics wich starting by unlimited liberty arrives necessarily at unlimited despotism.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 12:16:43 PM by Florestan »
"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." - Victor Hugo