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What books do you read and read again?

 
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 06:28 pm
@Setanta,
I read Ivanhoe a lot as a kid!! It's now looking a lot like getting the turf.

It's a nice old copy, though.

I have not heard of O'Brian.
spendius
 
  0  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 06:31 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
I will re-read a history or a biography if i am satisfied that the scholarship is sound, and the subject is sufficiently interesting to me.


That is putting everything you don't consider sound scholarship or sufficiently interesting on Ignore. It's called tunnel vision.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 06:32 pm
culling is difficult. I will reread MArk Twain and Steinbeck but never the popular writers like King, Clancy,etc. I always feed our ocal library's book sales and restock (I donate a lot of tech books and , consequently, our little town library has a geology section that rivals many small colleges).
Some books I reread and mark up so bad that I need another ":clean copy".

LAtely Im downloading the MP3 and other format books for audio enjoyment in a car. (I like to take Ken Follet like that, as well as Michael Chrichton).
I have a sizable collection of humorists and illustrated versions of Mellville and Dickens. Ive not tossed any Rushdi's orBowden.
spendius
 
  0  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 06:36 pm
@farmerman,
The very idea of tossing books out is foreign to me. I won't even mark the paper. Sacrilege.

Tell me effemm-- these "tech books", how do you come by them?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 06:56 pm
@dlowan,
I highly recommend O'Brian, although the subject matter may not necessarily be of that great an interest to you. But even from the very beginning, from Master and Commander, his works were never just sea stories. The character Stephen Maturin is an Irish Catholic who was raised and educated (as so many were in the 17th and 18th centuries) in Spain, in his particular case, in Catalonia. When Jack Aubrey brings him aboard his first command, Sophie, Maturin is disconcerted to find that an old companion from the United Irish, now a potential enemy (either could betray the other) is appointed first Lieutenant of Sophie. The military adventures of Aubrey in Sophie are based almost verbatim on the incredible adventures of Thomas Cochrane in HMS Speedy. O'Brian has included the very subtle interplay between Dr. Maturin and James Dillon, the first Lieutenant, and between Aubrey and Dillon. Dillon becomes convinced that Aubrey is only interested in profit (taking prizes) and that he may in fact by shy--or, as we would say, a coward. Jack Aubrey is the bluff, "Roast Beef of Old England" type of sailor, who is not very quick, but who can, in the old expression, see through a brick wall if given enough time. He eventually comes to realize that Dillon thinks he might be shy.

In all of O'Brian's novels, there is an historical basis, into which he inserts Aubrey and Maturin. Returning from a disastrous cruise to the Southern Ocean, Botany Bay and the east Indies, Aubrey and Maturin are passengers aboard HMS Java when she is taken by USS Constitution. The novel has them acting rather improbably in Boston as prisoners of war, and they then escape to join Captain Broke in HMS Shannon. Broke was about the only Royal Navy officer to do credit to his service in what the English call the American War, and Broke's defeat of USS Chesapeake was the first bright spot in the long gloom of 1812 and 1813, when the Royal Navy lost one frigate or sloop of war after another to American ships of the same rating, but which show better seamanship, better gunnery, and willing crews--willing crews were not a feature of the Royal Navy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Far Side of the World is loosely based on the hunt of USS Essex by HMS Phoebe in 1813 (very loosely), with Aubrey's favorite frigate, HMS Surprise pursuing USS Norfolk. O'Brian does some violence to history for sake of his characters, but the cruises and battles at sea are lifted almost wholesale from existing logs books and reports. He seemed to know that you really can't improve upon the records of the Royal Navy and the United States Navy in the early 19th century.

The Unknown Shore and The Golden Ocean are two novels he wrote in the 1950s, which precede the Aubrey/Maturin series, but somewhat prefigure them. Both are based on the circumnavigation of Admiral Anson during the War of Jenkin's Ear/War of the Austrian Succession, when Anson took the Spanish treasure ship from Manila. I highly recommend both of those novels, as well.
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 06:56 pm
Tolstoy - Short stories only, especially the ones involving peasants and imps.
Issac B. Singer - all his short stories & In My Father's House
Emile Zola - the Terra series such as Germinal & Nana
Laura Ingalls Wilder - Little House in the Big Woods & Prairie, Farmer's Boy
Dickens - Xmas Carol
Arthurian Legends - various authors
Hans Christian Anderson & Grimms' Brother's Fairy Tales
Tolkien - Lord of The Rings
EB White - Charlotte's Web
The Nearings - The Good Life and various books like it.
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited and some of his short stories



ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 07:05 pm
@Green Witch,
Damn, I need to read Zola. Alas, a fat book of Zola was one I culled - and it was from my dear aunt, my "hundred year old aunt" though she was not usually a hundred years old - which makes that worse. Maybe not. I've been through the 24 cardboard boxes, but not some other larger boxes that had books tucked in here and there.

I think I read Tolstoy short stories but it would have been really long ago. Good excuse to put them on my list.

On E B White, I'd like to chase down NYer articles of yore.




When I saw the name O'Brien, I remembered Edna O'Brien. Wouldn't mind running across her again.
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 07:15 pm
@ossobuco,
You should be able to find Zola in any library, but look for the Penguin Classics edition for a well done translation. For Tolstoy I like Modern Library.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 07:33 pm
@dlowan,
uh oh

don't let M. Andrew and debacle hear you say that about O'Brian. There were several lengthy discussions about his books on Abuzz (I'm pretty sure you were in the tavern for at least one of them).

0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 07:57 pm
I would like to reread The Catcher In the Rye. So Many Books - So Little Time (from a button made by the Gotham Bookmart that used to be in NYC, specializing in poetry and classical/modern literature).
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George
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 08:03 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
I highly recommend O'Brian, although the subject matter may not necessarily be of that great an interest to you...

I read all of the Hornblower series. I was thinking of starting O'Brian.
You must have read Hornblower, Boss. Comparison?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 09:39 pm
I would say that the Hornblower novels show a more pedestrian, and to that extent, realistic view of how a young man made a career in the Royal Navy. The O'Brian novels feature "Lucky Jack" Aubrey, whose career is somewhat, though not outrageously, improbable. Aubrey is a pastiche of the more flamboyant actions of the careers of several officers in the Royal Navy in the early 19th century. However, O'Brian is far more true to the speech and knowledge (as it then was) of men in the Royal Navy in the early 19th century. I like them both, and probably, if i were forced to choose, would prefer O'Brian. Tastes vary, though. Marryat's Mr. Midshipman Easy is to my mind a thoroughly improbable tale, fraught with credulous melodrama--and yet people as diverse as Virginia Wolfe and Joseph Conrad liked it a great deal.

Each to his own, said the old lady as she kissed the cow.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 09:43 pm
@Green Witch,
The series of novels which Zola wrote, 20 of them, was the Rougon-Macquart series. I highly recommend them, and of course, they are always in print in French--but you might find it difficult to find all 20 in English.

I also love novels based on the Arthurian cycle. I don't know if you are aware, but John Steinbeck was writing his version of the Arthurian romances when he died. The books he had completed at the time of his death were published. You might enjoy them.
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:44 am
@Setanta,
I don't know why I always think of the Rougon-Macquart series as The Terre series, it's just one of the novels. I have (somewhere) an old, leather bound collection of all the books translated into English, but they are not a very good translation. They date from about 1920. I discovered the Penguin editions at some point and have stuck with them. I don't think all the books are available from Penguin, maybe Oxford Press has the full 20. The problem with Oxford is that they have inserted a lot of British slang and it's a little jarring when you know the character is French and speaking like a Cockney peddler ("Eh Govn'r, would ya stop ya bloody yellin'.")

Osso - You might really like The Belly of Paris from the series. Zola goes into great descriptions about the food and markets in 19thc Paris. The cheese descriptions alone are worth the read. I also liked The Ladies Paradise, it's one of the few with a happy ending.
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 09:15 am
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:
lately Im downloading the MP3 and other format books for audio enjoyment in a car.


i've been doing more audio books as well, i find it very good for light fiction, especially if the narrator is good, stephen fry reading the harry potter series is wonderful
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 09:37 am
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:

joefromchicago wrote:

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Good Soldier Schweik (Svejk) by Jaroslav Hasek
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol


I read Babbitt as a teenager...remember nothing! Worth a read?
I must have re-read Catch 22 a hundred times.

I have always meant to read The Good Soldier!!!

Gogol...hmmmmmmm.....

Anything by Sinclair Lewis is worth reading -- or re-reading. Except maybe Arrowsmith.

I've put off re-reading my old copy of Schweik because there was a new translation that came out in the last few years. I've seen mixed reviews of that.

You can lead a rich, fulfilling life without ever having read any Gogol. But I can't imagine why you would want to. Read "The Nose" -- it's sort of like Kafka's Metamorphosis, only funnier -- and then you can decide if you want to move on to Dead Souls.
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George
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 09:37 am
@Setanta,
Quote:
Each to his own, said the old lady as she kissed the cow.

Now THAT'S one I haven't heard in a long time.


Thanks for the input. O'Brian gets the nod.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 09:42 am
@Green Witch,
Green Witch wrote:

Osso - You might really like The Belly of Paris from the series. Zola goes into great descriptions about the food and markets in 19thc Paris. The cheese descriptions alone are worth the read. I also liked The Ladies Paradise, it's one of the few with a happy ending.


Thanks, I'll go right now and put it on my amazon wish list (which I can use for the library too). I've always tended to like Penguin. In used book stores, well, any book stores, I tend to look for the Penguin icon as I glance at a shelf. That an SoHo Crime book design are 'signifiers'.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 09:46 am
I also enjoyed Le Ventre de Paris, but found it rather difficult, because the names of plants, animals and foods are not something you can figure out from context, so i was constantly sent back to the French-English dictionary, which is rather annoying, since i can read most French novels without needing to use a dictionary.

The first novel, La Fortune des Rougon, establishes the central theme. The central theme is not actually the Rougon and Macquart families. The central theme is France in the Second Empire. In 1848, while socialist revolutions raged over most of Europe, the French threw out King Louis-Philippe, and Louis Bonaparte, the nephew of Napoleon, was elected president. In 1851, he lead a successful coup d'etat after which he made himself the Emperor Napoleon III. In the first novel, the two central characters (more or less) are a boy and a girl, who produce a daughter, and then march off from Plassans and get themselves killed by the army in the abortive attempt of the French socialists to oppose Bonaparte's coup d'etat.

The real central character, however, is a madwoman named Adelaïde, known as Tante Dide ("Aunt Didi"). Her husband was a common laborer named Rougon, and the ambitious Rougon family is descended from him. But after his death, she took up with a smuggler, drunkard and ne'er-do-well named Macquart, and the other characters of the series are decended from him. But everyone of note is descended from Tante Dide. Tante Dide raised the boy who is killed by the army in the failed attempt of the socialist republicans to take Plassans, who is otherwise not a part of the Rougon-Macquart clans and contrasts.

Basically, the Rougon are the bourgeois social climbers who will profit from Napoleon III's coup, and the Macquart are the constantly exploited working class victims of the new order in France. Zola began the series (little knowing, i suspect, that it would occupy him for the next 20 years) in 1871, the year that the Prussians drove Napoleon III from his throne.

There is an unemphasized continuity in all of the novels. In La Fortune des Rougon, Eugène Rougon tells his family in Plassans that he is at the elbow of Louis Bonaparte, and convinces them to back his coup, which makes the fortune of the Rougon family. His brother Aristide, a failed journalist, becomes a central character of in La Curée, the second novel. In l'Assomoir, the central character is Gervaise Macquart, who in the first novel is only briefly seen, and runs off to Paris with her worthless lover. In l'Assomoir, Gervaise--who is a truly beautiful blonde, marred by a club foot--meets a slater who is sober and industrious--after she has been abandoned by her lover from Plassans, Lantier. The slater, Coupeau, agrees to "make an honest woman" of Gervaise, but first she has to dispose of her son, Étienne Lantier, who is fobbed off as an apprentice to blacksmith--and he disappears from the novel. But he is the central character in Germinal--which is considered one of the greatest novels in the French language, and as a consequence has been translated several times, and well translated. Gervaise and Coupeau (a teetotaler who will be corrupted by their success, and become a drunkard) produce a daughter, Anna, who is called Nana by everyone, and who will be heroine of the novel by the same name. Angélique, the central character of Le Rêve, is a cousin of Nana.

The boy in Le Ventre de Paris, Florent, is an escaped political prisoner, one of the republicans who opposed Napoleon III's coup, and when he arrives in Paris, he finds a refuge with the Quenu family, and Lisa Quenu was originally a Macquart. Zola had a goofy theory of heredity, by which he held that the Rougon were destined to prosper as bourgeois exploiters and the Macquart were condemned to constant exploitation as members of the working class. The novels can be enjoyed while ignoring that silly idea.

The reason most English translations of Zola's novels suck so badly is that they were translated in the late Victorian era, by translators who didn't mind the violence, the exploitation, the abuse of women and children or the unscrupulous, grasping greed of the Rougon and their ilk, but were determined to remove all references to sex and its consequences from the novels. They also hoped to popularize the novels (to their own benefit) by writing them up in a manner calculated to appeal to a middle class English audience. Zola is not seen as a popular author in the contemporary English-speaking world, but rather as one of those guys in college lit courses that "you have to read," so it is unlikely that any new translations of his novels will be done any time soon. As i've pointed out, Germinal had been translated several times because it is a great novel, and as attitudes towards sex have improved since the Victorian era, it can be translated faithfully without worrying that it will offend the average reader. By our standards, Zola's sexual content is rather mild, even if it was considered outrageous by the Victorians.

I love the novels, and have read most of them, and have managed to lose most copies of them that i ever possessed. I've never read them in English, and only understand that the translations suck by second-hand information.
spendius
 
  0  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 12:09 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
The reason most English translations of Zola's novels suck so badly is that they were translated in the late Victorian era, by translators who didn't mind the violence, the exploitation, the abuse of women and children or the unscrupulous, grasping greed of the Rougon and their ilk, but were determined to remove all references to sex and its consequences from the novels.


Hey Set-- the anti-IDers do that all the time on the threads dealing with sexual selection. Are you suggesting anti-IDers are similar to "the Rougon and their ilk."

Anyway--fill us in on what we've missed. We are all interested. Like Elvis, we have the "fever".

Darwin wrote to please the English mercantile middle-classes and his sexy bits have obviously gone over your head so there's a chance that the English translations of your books went over the heads of those who you have relied upon for your second-hand information.

Still- you did manage to get over that you are a fluent reader of French literature. Not that I believe it mind you. You'll have missed all the idiom jokes for sure. And allusions to enemies of which Zola had his share.

On the Victorian jibes I might say that an American diplomat once killed the French Ambassador in a duel because one of the Embassy staff had made what he thought an unseemly reference to his wife's breasts. I suppose because they were either too small or too large. One doesn't normally remark on average ones. (38--42 Double D in Imperial measure.) At the time you refer to the "bustle" was just coming into fashion in England and the famous unseemly remark about that by a wit of the times is far too unseemly for me to risk relating before the eyes of enlightened Americans.

I actually don't think you wrote that yourself. The first paragraph is your's as nobody but you would continue the sentence beyond "dictionary" on account of the "CRINGE" Factor.

How would you translate "Mrs Winthrop" into French?



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