Author Topic: What are you currently reading?  (Read 1021037 times)

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Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10040 on: July 26, 2020, 02:54:58 AM »
Gogol: Dead Souls





This is, in essence, a look at Russia at a particular point in time. It is an interesting socio-economic commentary as it paints a very interesting picture, particularly of the class structure of the time. However, I found it to be a difficult read. The style is weighty and ponderous, with paragraphs sometimes extending to nearly two pages, and the linguistic style is archaic.
My main grievance with it, however, is that, in Part II, it is incomplete with the text being abandoned at random points throughout and the manuscript itself comes abruptly to an [inconclusive] end in mid sentence due to Gogol himself apparently destroying the document. I was not aware of this prior to reading it  :-[
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline Brian

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10041 on: July 26, 2020, 04:20:35 AM »
Who translated that edition of Dead Souls? I ask because I remember it being a pleasure, even fun to read.

Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10042 on: July 26, 2020, 05:32:17 AM »
Who translated that edition of Dead Souls? I ask because I remember it being a pleasure, even fun to read.

That very thought did cross my mind but I did not mention it because, unbelievably, there is no actual credit for the translation.
Do not get me wrong; I did find the content amusing but the actual reading of it was a chore.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline Jo498

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10043 on: July 26, 2020, 06:38:57 AM »
It's been ages that I read "Dead Souls" and I was not as fond of it as of some other Russian 19th century books and the main plot element (the making up/blowing up of villages for some kind of fraud) is utterly strange for us nowadays but I don't remember it to be so disjointed. It is a fragment in a sense, though, I believe. As far as I recall it ends with some vision/simile of Russia as a troika or sth. like that? or is this another book and I am confused.
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 Florestan

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10044 on: July 26, 2020, 08:03:44 AM »
Who translated that edition of Dead Souls? I ask because I remember it being a pleasure, even fun to read.

+ 1.
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love! --- Rachmaninoff

Offline AlberichUndHagen

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10045 on: July 28, 2020, 07:39:22 AM »
Started reading Anna Karenina today. 50 pages in already, let's see if I'm gonna beat Brian's reading pace with War and Peace with this book.  :) Most likely not and as long as Karenina is, it is still nothing compared to War and Peace which is one of the longest novels there is. And considering War and Peace is one of the few books I voluntarily quit reading would probably have an effect of slowing things down. Karenina, however, took me in instantly. I know there is still a long way to go but the beginning is very promising. I liked the sections that I read the first time too but not this much. I catched many of the nuances which is not the usual case with me when I'm reading Russian literature. In Dostoevsky there is so much happening between the lines what with many mindgames the characters have on each other yet don't say out loud. However, with Dostoevsky I usually notice the extent of them only much later. Here in Tolstoy it seemed much clearer. Maybe I'm simply having a better day.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 07:41:45 AM by AlberichUndHagen »

Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10046 on: July 29, 2020, 12:02:46 AM »
Hartley: The Go-Between





This has been one of the most engaging and engrossing books that I have read in many years. The writing style was so easy and melodious it sounded almost like music in my head.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Online Christo

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10047 on: July 30, 2020, 09:18:26 AM »
Golding: The Paper Men





This is an interesting study of a man spiraling out of control into self destruction through total selfishness. It is an engaging story that is very well told.
Fully agreed, though I find his posthumously published The Double Tongue even more compelling (love all of his novels, each of them more than Lord of the Flies, the first one).  :)
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10048 on: July 30, 2020, 11:46:19 PM »
Fully agreed, though I find his posthumously published The Double Tongue even more compelling (love all of his novels, each of them more than Lord of the Flies, the first one).  :)

Thank you for that. I do not know The Double Tongue.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10049 on: July 31, 2020, 12:14:19 AM »
Just finished Du côté de chez Swann. Poor old Swann, I’d forgotten how much he suffered. And I’d forgotten how much humour there is (f.e. I remember laughing out loud when Swann knocks on the window of an appartement thinking that Odette and Forcheville  are in there up to some hanky panky, and it turns out to be the wrong appartement!) And I’d forgotten how much of a bitch Odette is.


How old do you think Swann is?


Now my real reason for posting is this. In the Scott Moncrieff edition there was a really useful index, this



Is there anything similar in French?
« Last Edit: July 31, 2020, 12:25:56 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10050 on: July 31, 2020, 02:13:28 AM »

How old do you think Swann is?


Gilberte is the same age as the narrator. Swann is probably in his early forties in the first book. And in his late twenties at the time of Swann In Love.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10051 on: July 31, 2020, 03:39:41 AM »
Yes that explains my confusion, which was caused by not thinking. The Swann of Un amour de Swann is younger than the Swann of Combray.
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Offline ritter

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10052 on: July 31, 2020, 04:33:43 AM »
Than again, age is a variable "thing" throughout the whole Recherche .Charles Swann never comes through--to me, at least,  as a young man, not even in Un amour de Swann; he's "perennially middle-aged" IMO (akin to the age relationship one has with those one is close too, I'd say)...
ritter
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"Pupillette, fiammette d'amore,
 per voi il core struggendo si va.“

Offline Mandryka

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10053 on: July 31, 2020, 11:17:50 AM »
; he's "perennially middle-aged"

Un ennuyeux, comme disaient les Verdurin?
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline SimonNZ

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10054 on: July 31, 2020, 01:25:06 PM »
The assumption I make is that the narrator is going through his jealousies of Albertine in The Captive at the same age as Swann was with Odette.

There's also some vague triangulation one can do with the seeming ages of the people around Swann and his attitudes to their age as to guessing his own.


TD: finished:



started:

« Last Edit: July 31, 2020, 05:33:30 PM by SimonNZ »

Offline Brian

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10055 on: August 01, 2020, 11:37:15 AM »
This August I'm going to spend a month re-reading old favorites that I haven't read in a long time. I looked at my book log and noticed that in the last few years, I've almost entirely been reading books that are new to me - because there are so many darn books in the world! - and thought it was a shame to have so many beloved books sitting on the shelves waiting until "the time is right" to finally set aside the new book pile and re-read them. So...the time is now!

Among the fluid/unfinished list of re-reads for this month:

A Month in the Country, J.L. Carr
Emma, Jane Austen
the three novels of John Williams
short stories by Tolstoy
On Moral Fiction, John Gardner
Life Itself, Roger Ebert
The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
The Selfishness of Others, Kristin Dombek
maybe some Agatha Christie if there's time?

Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10056 on: August 02, 2020, 03:54:13 AM »
Balzac: At the Sign of the Cat and Racket & Other Stories 


It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10057 on: August 02, 2020, 07:50:07 AM »
Than again, age is a variable "thing" throughout the whole Recherche .Charles Swann never comes through--to me, at least,  as a young man, not even in Un amour de Swann; he's "perennially middle-aged" IMO (akin to the age relationship one has with those one is close too, I'd say)...

The assumption I make is that the narrator is going through his jealousies of Albertine in The Captive at the same age as Swann was with Odette.

There's also some vague triangulation one can do with the seeming ages of the people around Swann and his attitudes to their age as to guessing his own.


Swann’s spiritual middle agedness is linked to his suffering, and the sign of suffering, for both Charles Swann and his father, is the gesture of passing his hand across his forehead and wiping his eyes. This is from quite early on

Quote
J'entendis les pas de mes parents qui accompagnaient Swann; et quand le grelot de la porte m'eut averti qu'il venait de partir, j'allai à la fenêtre. Maman demandait à mon père s'il avait trouvé la langouste bonne et si M. Swann avait repris de la glace au café et à la pistache. «Je l'ai trouvée bien quelconque, dit ma mère; je crois que la prochaine fois il faudra essayer d'un autre parfum.» «Je ne peux pas dire comme je trouve que Swann change, dit ma grand'tante, il est d'un vieux!» Ma grand'tante avait tellement l'habitude de voir toujours en Swann un même adolescent, qu'elle s'étonnait de le trouver tout à coup moins jeune que l'âge qu'elle continuait à lui donner. Et mes parents du reste commençaient à lui trouver cette vieillesse anormale, excessive, honteuse et méritée des célibataires, de tous ceux pour qui il semble que le grand jour qui n'a pas de lendemain soit plus long que pour les autres, parce que pour eux il est vide et que les moments s'y additionnent depuis le matin sans se diviser ensuite entre des enfants. «Je crois qu'il a beaucoup de soucis avec sa coquine de femme qui vit au su de tout Combray avec un certain monsieur de Charlus. C'est la fable de la ville.» Ma mère fit remarquer qu'il avait pourtant l'air bien moins triste depuis quelque temps. «Il fait aussi moins souvent ce geste qu'il a tout à fait comme son père de s'essuyer les yeux et de se passer la main sur le front. Moi je crois qu'au fond il n'aime plus cette femme.»

And much later on, when he’s really going through the mill, the poor chap does the same

Quote
Quand il l'eut compris, sa pitié cessa, mais il fut jaloux de l'autre lui-même qu'elle avait aimé, il fut jaloux de ceux dont il s'était dit souvent sans trop souffrir, «elle les aime peut-être», maintenant qu'il avait échangé l'idée vague d'aimer, dans laquelle il n'y a pas d'amour, contre les pétales du chrysanthème et l'«en tête» de la Maison d'Or, qui, eux en étaient pleins. Puis sa souffrance devenant trop vive, il passa sa main sur son front, laissa tomber son monocle, en essuya le verre. Et sans doute s'il s'était vu à ce moment-là, il eut ajouté à la collection de ceux qu'il avait distingués le monocle qu'il déplaçait comme une pensée importune et sur la face embuée duquel, avec un mouchoir, il cherchait à effacer des soucis.

And here when he gets the terrible anonymous letter saying some nasty things about Odette

Quote
Quel critérium adopter pour juger les hommes? au fond il n'y avait pas une seule des personnes qu'il connaissait qui ne pût être capable d'une infamie. Fallait-il cesser de les voir toutes? Son esprit se voila; il passa deux ou trois fois ses mains sur son front, essuya les verres de son lorgnon avec son mouchoir, et, songeant qu'après tout, des gens qui le valaient fréquentaient M. de Charlus, le prince des Laumes, et les autres, il se dit que cela signifiait sinon qu'ils fussent incapables d'infamie, du moins, que c'est une nécessité de la vie à laquelle chacun se soumet de fréquenter des gens qui n'en sont peut-être pas incapables.



Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline ritter

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10058 on: August 02, 2020, 08:40:06 AM »
Nice rereading those passages, Mandryka.  It’s been so long...

My point is that, from the viewpoint of the narrator, Swann always has the same age, from his visits to Combray when the narrator is a young boy (and even before that, in Un amour de Swann—events that take place before the narrator’s birth) through his death. And this is so for almost all characters in À la recherche... with whom the narrator has contact. Only in Le temps perdu, after the narrator has been separated from the circles he frequented, have the characters (Charlus, the Prince and new Princesse de Guermantes, the Duchesse de Guermantes..) aged significantly (in some cases, beyond recognition). This IMO is a faithful reflection of “real” life: as the age difference between us and those we frequent on a regular basis (family, friends, colleagues) is fixed, the absolute age of each one fades into the background and also becomes “fixed” (unless infirmity or sudden physical decline enter the picture). 
ritter
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"Pupillette, fiammette d'amore,
 per voi il core struggendo si va.“

Offline aligreto

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Re: What are you currently reading?
« Reply #10059 on: August 05, 2020, 12:46:26 AM »
Buchan: The Three Hostages


It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.