Author Topic: Fave Books / Currently Reading  (Read 706568 times)

Austin From Chicago

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1800 on: November 20, 2012, 04:31:16 PM »
I liked The Pale King. Ultimately it felt like more of a story collection than a novel, though. My opinion of DFW was strained a bit after reading his book 'Everything and More', about Georg Cantor, the (severely) troubled genius who came up with set theory and the idea about multiple types of infinity (and other things). I have a math background, but that was far in the past, and I'm not a pro like DfK (who I believe is very pro-DFW). There were some problems in the book with his descriptions of some mathematical ideas to the point where it really bothered me (although the historical background and discussion of the cast of mathematical characters was quite good). Same story in Infinite Jest where he described the kids using existence theorems to calculate things. Existence theorems don't help you do that. Anyhow I shouldn't let something like that bother me, but I did.

I will probably at some point read the biography, but will have to be 'ready' for it.

Next up is the second in the Succession series. I'm mostly in a sci-fi mood at the moment.

DFW is one of my literary idols, but the guy really did have feet of clay. I have absolutely NO head for math (highest grade I ever got in high school Algebra was a C minus) so I must admit that I just skimmed over the math-y sections of "IJ" and allowed the technical jargon to wash over me in the manner of  the supposed information overload the book was supposed to be about. I kinda surmised that those parts of the book that were impenetrable to me (like the whole Eschaton scene) were impenetrable for a reason (i.e. a postmodernist trope/metaphor to showcase how we're in an age of unprecedented and unasked for access to information, often inflicted on us against our will, with no time to digest or process what it means). I also guessed that DFW was a maximalist show-off and those sections were like victory flourishes or end-zone dances ("See? I can write English like a motherfucker - AND I know math real good! How you like me now?!").

In other words, not knowing what the math stuff amounted to in DFW's work never stopped me from enjoying the work, just as knowing that he was kinda full of shit w/r/t the math stuff also didn't stop me from enjoying the work.

Still....can't help but wish he hadn't been so full of it.
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Bryan

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1801 on: November 20, 2012, 04:47:40 PM »
Just finished Empire of the Sun after putting it off for 20 years. It's a little samey, but I think that's part of the point. Didn't realize when I saw the movie so long ago that it was autobiographical; the stuff Ballard saw before he hit 15 boggles the mind. Very interesting, despite the monotony of extended passages of Japanese prison camp life. Found his burgeoning adolescent sexuality in the face of literal starvation to be handled extremely well. (At one point he brings a piece of hail to a woman who has shown him nothing but contempt throughout the imprisonment in lieu of water, and he can focus on is her tongue on his fingers.)

I loved this book. I came to it after reading a bunch of his other books (which are REALLY samey, but I liked them). I think it's clearly his masterpiece, and really helps to decode his subsequent apocalyptic literary obsessions. I love the over-the-top nihilism of this passage, which I also quoted back on page 100 or so of this thread:

Quote
[Jim] welcomed the air raids, the noise of the Mustangs as they swept over the camp, the smell of oil and cordite, the deaths of the pilots, even the likelihood of his own death. Despite everything, he knew he was worth nothing. He twisted his Latin primer, trembling with a secret hunger that the war would so eagerly satisfy.

dave from knoxville

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1802 on: November 20, 2012, 07:36:50 PM »
I liked The Pale King. Ultimately it felt like more of a story collection than a novel, though. My opinion of DFW was strained a bit after reading his book 'Everything and More', about Georg Cantor, the (severely) troubled genius who came up with set theory and the idea about multiple types of infinity (and other things). I have a math background, but that was far in the past, and I'm not a pro like DfK (who I believe is very pro-DFW). There were some problems in the book with his descriptions of some mathematical ideas to the point where it really bothered me (although the historical background and discussion of the cast of mathematical characters was quite good). Same story in Infinite Jest where he described the kids using existence theorems to calculate things. Existence theorems don't help you do that. Anyhow I shouldn't let something like that bother me, but I did.

I will probably at some point read the biography, but will have to be 'ready' for it.

Next up is the second in the Succession series. I'm mostly in a sci-fi mood at the moment.

I am indeed pre-DFW. I have the book on Cantor here on the bookshelf, but it never got in the "read soon" stream. Currently reading In Cold Blood, Absurdistan, and Will Self's "The Bppk of Dave." May try to pick up "Everything and More" after that. Still have the Keith Richards book and the Stephen King JFK book staring at me over here too.

ndmvhc

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1803 on: November 27, 2012, 05:38:13 PM »
I just finished One Hundred Years of Solitude. I have no desire to ever read it again, but it was alright. I thought the ending was pretty good.

Next up is Demons/The Possessed (whatever you want to call it) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1804 on: November 27, 2012, 06:26:31 PM »
Next up is Demons/The Possessed (whatever you want to call it) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

HEAVY FRIGGIN' DUTY.  Which translation?
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ndmvhc

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1805 on: November 27, 2012, 07:23:32 PM »
Next up is Demons/The Possessed (whatever you want to call it) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

HEAVY FRIGGIN' DUTY.  Which translation?

It's the Andrew R. MacAndrew (that could be a Newbridge residents' name) translation. It's a 1962 edition titled The Possessed. From what I've read, the preferred or more accurate title is now Demons.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 07:26:55 PM by ndmvhc »

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1806 on: November 27, 2012, 09:16:51 PM »
Halfway through Mao II, my first DeLillo--fantastic so far

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1807 on: November 27, 2012, 10:13:23 PM »
It's the Andrew R. MacAndrew (that could be a Newbridge residents' name) translation. It's a 1962 edition titled The Possessed. From what I've read, the preferred or more accurate title is now Demons.

Yeah, "The Possessed" was pretty much the invention of Constance Garnett, the first translator of Dostoevski into English who still commands a following. FD's title is more literally "The Demons" or "The Devils." Never heard of the MacAndrew translation. If it seems weak, there are others!
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ndmvhc

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1808 on: November 28, 2012, 02:22:44 AM »
It's the Andrew R. MacAndrew (that could be a Newbridge residents' name) translation. It's a 1962 edition titled The Possessed. From what I've read, the preferred or more accurate title is now Demons.

Yeah, "The Possessed" was pretty much the invention of Constance Garnett, the first translator of Dostoevski into English who still commands a following. FD's title is more literally "The Demons" or "The Devils." Never heard of the MacAndrew translation. If it seems weak, there are others!

Yeah. So, how would I know if the translation is weak?  And not just for this particular title, but any writing in general. I've seen people mention differences before, but how would I know which translation is a more accurate representation of the original content?

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1809 on: November 28, 2012, 08:59:39 AM »
Well, in terms of fidelity to the original writer's intention, obviously the only way for us peons to judge is to appeal to authority. Google "best dostoevsky translation?" and you'll find a fair amount of discussion including from some who actually know Russian. I meant more like whether it seems to you to read easily, without a lot of awkwardnesses that make you think "Hmm, well, maybe that's a translation problem." My sense is that almost everyone prefers either Garnett or Pevear/Volokhonsky. The latter seem generally to be considered most faithful to FD's intentions, but some find them a little sloppy and crude and prefer Garnett, who may have gentrified things a bit but reads more like what English readers consider a classic 19th-century novel.
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ndmvhc

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1810 on: November 28, 2012, 10:46:28 AM »
Well, in terms of fidelity to the original writer's intention, obviously the only way for us peons to judge is to appeal to authority. Google "best dostoevsky translation?" and you'll find a fair amount of discussion including from some who actually know Russian. I meant more like whether it seems to you to read easily, without a lot of awkwardnesses that make you think "Hmm, well, maybe that's a translation problem." My sense is that almost everyone prefers either Garnett or Pevear/Volokhonsky. The latter seem generally to be considered most faithful to FD's intentions, but some find them a little sloppy and crude and prefer Garnett, who may have gentrified things a bit but reads more like what English readers consider a classic 19th-century novel.

I think I understand you. The only thing that seems off to me is the use of exclamation points. I'm only about 20 pages in and there have been three or four sentences with exclamation points. I have no idea if this has anything to do with the translator's efforts, the original text, or anything really. Aside from the story, it's the only "thing" I've noticed so far.

dave from knoxville

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1811 on: November 28, 2012, 10:50:04 AM »
Sixty pages from the end of In Cold Blood. Pretty impressive. I almost lost interest in the first quarter of the book; while there was some foreshadowing of what was coming, I almost lost patience with descriptions of the bucolic lifestyle of small town Kansas, and occasionally I caught a whiff of "look at how these simpletons live" from Mr Capote. But as it goes on, he's done a pretty crafty job of making use of details that seemed casually dropped in the book early as adornment, but circle back around to become important, even sinister. Very interesting. First Capote I have read.

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1812 on: November 28, 2012, 04:36:40 PM »
It's the Andrew R. MacAndrew (that could be a Newbridge residents' name) translation. It's a 1962 edition titled The Possessed. From what I've read, the preferred or more accurate title is now Demons.

Yeah, "The Possessed" was pretty much the invention of Constance Garnett, the first translator of Dostoevski into English who still commands a following. FD's title is more literally "The Demons" or "The Devils." Never heard of the MacAndrew translation. If it seems weak, there are others!

Commands a following only because her translations are now public domain, if I'm not mistaken.  I got a lot more out of the Brothers Karamazov once I picked up that more recent, heralded translation.  Hers was chalky and awkward.

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1813 on: November 28, 2012, 04:40:16 PM »
Currently reading: The Grapes of Wrath.  Not too bad!  Steinbeck's prose sometimes leaves a little to be desired, but as historical documents I think his books are fascinating.  Westerns.

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Re: Fave Books / Currently Reading
« Reply #1814 on: November 28, 2012, 04:42:18 PM »
I agree, but she still has her contingent. Just over Thanksgiving I talked to my sister-in-law who read Brothers in a small group tutored by a Russian lit. prof who dislikes Pevear/Volokhonsky and goes with the Norton Critical 2nd edition, which is the Garnett somewhat revised & modernized.
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