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Best writer: Mark (Samuel Clemens) Twain or Jane Austen?

 
 
spendius
 
  2  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 04:36 am
@Setanta,
Quote:
There was a marriage market in the U.S. and Canada, but there were opportunities outside the home for young women that didn't exist in England. At the time Austen died 1817, there just wasn't anything else so important to women, no other opportunities, and it was also the means of either modestly securing one's future (men marrying money) or becoming truly wealthy (men marrying an enormous amount of money). No equivalent existed in North America.


Quote:
In 1870 Clemens married Olivia Langdon, the daughter of a wealthy coal merchant from Elmira, New York. Clemens had become socially ambitious, and he and his wife settled in Hartford, Connecticut, where their "Gilded Age" lifestyle (to use the term that the writer himself coined in the title of his 1873 novel co-authored with Charles Dudley Warner) led to their building the mansion that is today a major tourist attraction. The Clemenses had three daughters, and the family became notably genteel.


Everett Emerson.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  -1  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 05:28 am
@Lustig Andrei,
Quote:
It's required reading here on A2k if one is to maintain an ongoing conversation with Spendius.


That's drivel Andrei. Ten years on A2K with a number of very long conversations (see evolution threads) and Jane Austen has only come up in the last few weeks and then only on a couple of threads. Mainly on Quote of the Day.

I have made much more of Spengler, Flaubert, Proust, Fielding, Dylan, Mailer, Burroughs, Frank Harris, Homer, Ovid, Rabelais, Shakespeare, Haggard, Stendhal, Veblen and a few others that I ever have Austen.

Your comment is shallow and smarty-pants and simply serves the passing moment.

Jane Austen is required reading. So also much literature in which the female of our species is not so much constrained by economic circumstances to be forced to make the best of a bad job. Her writing requires the sort of attention which few people are prepared to give it and a knowledge of literature which few possess. It is not soundbite stuff. She created characters rather than caricatured them.

The first page of Finn is dire in the extreme. Tabloid tripe piled up high.

0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 08:06 am
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

According to Spendius, Jane is perfection; Twain a hack. What do youse think?


Love them both. It's weird having them in the same sentence, almost, though.....they are chalk and cheese. Though both are very funny, in different ways, of course.

George
 
  4  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 09:24 am
She makes me detest all her people, without reserve. Is that her intention?
It is not believable. Then is it her purpose to make the reader detest her
people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the
chapters? That could be. That would be high art. It would be worth while,
too. Some day I will examine the other end of her books and see.


~Mark Twain
(Quoted in Who is Mark Twain?)
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 12:26 pm
@George,
Heh heh
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 01:57 pm
@dlowan,
Quote:
Though both are very funny, in different ways, of course.


What's funny about Twain Bunny Dolly?

I am interested. It is not a rhetorical question.

I think Laurel and Hardy were in the same line of work as Jane Austen. Speeded up of course because descriptions are not required in movies. A man can look a fool walking into a room but try out without pictures.

Have you seen the editions with drawings by Hugh Thomson? You should see how he captures Lady Bertram. And Mrs Norris!! The heroine's name in that one is really funny.

Has Twain any jests as good as that.

What Jane hated was affectation and only a person who does so can do the subject justice. Which she was relentless and brutal about.

She's wonderful.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  -1  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 03:17 pm
@edgarblythe,
Quote:
I am curious to note if the divide falls between English and American tastes in writing or if more of us are more detached than that.


That needs clarification. One might easily prefer Austen to Twain by some distance and be detached.

It was a bit sly was that ed. I'm being detached. If you are trying to suggest that if an English person prefers the former they are being jingoistic or some-such you have another think coming.

The only reason I can think of for comparing the two is to condition people that they are on something of the same level and thus have a bit of lustre reflect onto Twain. Make them seem equivalents. And all we have to justify that is "I like Twain", and "I'd take Twain to the island" nonsense. And the ros special--

Quote:
Twain is better, hands down, no comparison.


I have meditated the matter of Twain digging Jane up and smashing her skull in with her shinbone and I have found a very plausible reason why he thought that way. She had shafted him before he had been thought of. He was affected. White suit!! Proof of not working. And that moustache. "Never trust a man with a tash" my grandad told me. And posing for the camera and the reader and the audience. (Jane tried to keep her identity secret--as well she might). And all those little homely sayings.
It ends up with cream having to be whupped to prove there's hair on the balls.

And marrying a heiress!!!! What is there left to say. Every line of Austen was telling him he had sold out.

Whilst meditating this amusing matter it struck me that there was a serious political agenda. At the time fears of the French revolution coming to England were in the air. And affectation might be said to be the cause of that. The Pompadour could spend the GNP without breaking sweat.

Jane had a cousin and dear friend whose husband was guillotined.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 03:51 pm
@edgarblythe,
The best writer ever was actually Marcel Proust. :-)
Finn dAbuzz
 
  2  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 04:04 pm
Neither are the "best writer," but of the two I would say that Twain was the "better writer," if for no other reason than his much broader viewpoint.
0 Replies
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 04:59 pm
@Olivier5,
Any self-respecting Irishman would give you an argument on that.

James Joyce. Hands down.
spendius
 
  0  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 05:27 pm
@Olivier5,
Quote:
The best writer ever was actually Marcel Proust.


I used to think that but I realised that best writers are best in their own particular way. Twain is nowhere. He's a white space filler.

By claiming Twain is great literature one might present oneself as a literary expert without suffering any challenges to one's general position and without too much strain on the concentration.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 05:44 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Joyce invented his own language. I mean, for real, not as a metaphor for a particular style: he went beyond English. I don't know if that counts in the competition but it looks like a horse who'd get to fly to the goal post while others are running below.

I kinda of intellectually realise his prose (?) looks beautiful but I can't really sense the beauty. For me as a foreign speaker it's all garbled English, and it can't be translated either (like Proust, or like Celine).

Lustig Andrei
 
  2  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 06:19 pm
@Olivier5,
Proust is damned hard to translate. It's been done, of course, but, for me, it loses something in the translation. Certain turns of phrase that sound so elegant en francais just sound trite and banal when rendered into English. This isn't Proust's fault; it's the difference between the two tongues.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 06:27 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
It's the same with with any poetry... Only a simple, 1st degree descriptive text (eg most journalism) can be translated without loss. Style and poetry are simply not translatable. And in fact that was the sub-text of my entry: the best writer contest can only be done within one given language. Eg the best English writer could have a meaning, though of course it's all subjective.
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 07:03 pm
@Olivier5,
You're right, of course: it is subjective. For me,personally, Joyce is superior to Proust, and I'm not even Irish Smile But that could well be because my knowledge of English is far superior to my knowledge of French. Neither language is my "first" language in that I was not born into either an English or a French speaking family. I grew up with English, however, and am quite comfortable with it whereas reading and properly appreciating the nuances of French is a bit of a chore for me.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 07:15 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Quote:
You're right, of course: it is subjective.


It' a form of rapture.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Jun, 2013 07:21 pm
@spendius,
Quote:
I used to think that but I realised that best writers are best in their own particular way.

Of course, though La Recherche has functioned as a climax of classic French literature of sorts. Nothing remotely as ambitious has ever been attempted, let alone achieved since, except perhaps by Céline.

You read Proust in what language?

Quote:
Twain is nowhere. He's a white space filler.

Never ticked on him (or Austen). But my English classics are a shame.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jun, 2013 05:30 am
@Olivier5,
Quote:
You read Proust in what language?


I spent the whole of our last great summer on a sun lounger in a secluded garden reading the 3 volume Chatto & Windus publication translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin.

I've never read Celine but, as you might guess, I'm a fan of Flaubert. Also Stendhal and de Sade. Have you read Geoffrey Gorer's book on de Sade?

I didn't really do school so the French lessons were wasted on me. Frank Harris, who was multi-lingual, recommended not learning another language.

I can't hardly believe the tripe some people give their time to when literature has more than enough for one lifetime.

I think Salammbo was very ambitious.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jun, 2013 05:42 am
@spendius,
To the exception of his Voyage au Bout de la Nuit, which reads relatively conventionally, with some tortured language but not too much, I seriously doubt one could translate the rest of Céline effectively. It would be the project of a lifetime.

Flaubert I also liked, Salambo in particular (not that ambitious - he wrote it for the fun of it). Sade writes poorly but can be untertaining. To my great shame I never read Stendhal.

Learning another language is useful and funny, too. Try Spanish, it's easier.
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jun, 2013 05:46 am
@edgarblythe,
If those two are the best a nation's literature has to offer, then the nation needs to hope it excels in some other area of life (than literature).



 

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