25
   

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

 
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jun, 2013 06:06 am
@gungasnake,
With all due respect gunga might I suggest that you have not looked at Jane Austen with due attention.

What do you want from literature?
0 Replies
 
saab
 
  3  
Reply Tue 4 Jun, 2013 09:54 am
-best author - all times - in the world or whatever you say.
It is in no way easy to choose "the best"
The majority of us do not read litterature from too many different countries - and not all when the books are not translated.
I enjoy a Russian book, but cannot feel for it like one from an area which I know better. I simply do not have a Russian soul.
James Joyce never got the Nobel Prize and is certainly a fantastic author. But not at the time he should have gotten it. It was not the right time and place.
2004 Elfriede Jelinek got the Nobel Prize. Hardly any had heard about her, nobody liked her and noone ever mentions her - execpt me now.
spendius
 
  0  
Reply Tue 4 Jun, 2013 12:36 pm
@saab,
Nobel Prizes are handed out because of the joy of handing out prizes and having a good time with the money from the bequest. If there is a prize somebody has to win it whether they deserve it or not.

The EPA has been caught awarding a prize to a non-existent entity.

But of the two referred to in this thread Jane Austen is far and away a better writer than Mark Twain. Herman Melville is a better rival.
0 Replies
 
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jun, 2013 01:44 pm
@saab,
Twain, of course, never won the Nobel either. And Austen died before the prize was ever instituted. I have a whole list of deserving authors who never got a Nobel prize, Joyce at the top of that list.
0 Replies
 
saab
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jun, 2013 02:25 pm
On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes. As described in Nobel's will one part was dedicated to “the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”.
That was very important the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”.
As far as I remember is was in the beginning more or less just on book, later it got to be a lifetime writing.
The qestion of ideal changes from time to time, from generation to generation and I think to in some way the political thinking in a country or in a group.
Nobel himself was a very litterate person with a great library with books in several languages.
I do not think that the idea of the Nobel Prize was ever started nor have I the feeling it is given just to give a prize.
My impression is that it is taken seriously, the Swedes take it serious and it is given with dignity - at least the ones given in Sweden.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jun, 2013 05:02 pm
@saab,
Quote:
My impression is that it is taken seriously,


Obviously it is taken seriously. Being on the committees is very prestigious and the social occasions on which they meet, with their advisers, provide opportunities for getting plenty grub and beverages down their necks and appearances on TV.

I don't know but I imagine the capital is well protected and the prizes come from the interest less the amount necessary for the presentations to look good and be generally satisfying in every other respect.

There are people in England who have refused knighthoods on the grounds that they couldn't afford them. Our gracious Queen's central London investments are concerned with providing the proper attire for those being enobled and various other services deemed to be necessary in our modern age.

Who do you think collects the rents from the shops providing Royal Ascot approved gear?
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Jun, 2013 05:06 pm
@spendius,
Serious readers of Jane Austen should note Mrs Norris's concern about the welfare of horses when they see the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. favourite come to join battle about a furlong from the winning post in a race at Ascot.
0 Replies
 
saab
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Jun, 2013 01:03 am
@spendius,
The Swedish Academy was founded in 1786 by King Gustav III is behind the Nobel Prize .The motto of the Academy is "Talent and Taste" ("Snille och Smak" in Swedish). The primary purpose of the Academy is to further the "purity, strength, and sublimity of the Swedish language" ("Svenska Språkets renhet, styrka och höghet") (Walshe, 1965). To that end the Academy publishes two dictionaries.
Of course the academy is prestigious but certainly has little to do with the social gatherings like Oscar or songcontests and other likes or looking great or getting plenty of food and beverages.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Jun, 2013 01:56 pm
@saab,
Quote:
Of course the academy is prestigious but certainly has little to do with the social gatherings like Oscar or songcontests and other likes or looking great or getting plenty of food and beverages.


The only difference I see saab is in the denseness of the smokescreen. At a Nobel nosheroony there will be present about 70% cooks, waiters, washersup, coat protectors plus a small army of ancillary servants and about 30% committee members. When they take leave of each other they depart to opposite ends of the city although they are free to choose a stately carriage or a bike.

Wouldn't any sensible group of people do that with the old boy's bequests? I certainly would.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Jun, 2013 02:11 pm
@spendius,
Every Thursday at 17.00 the 18 members of the Swedish Academy meet NOT to eat and drink, but for around 1 1/2 hours to discuss the subjects concerning the academy incl. scolarships, language questions from the different areas.
When you are voted into the Swedish Academy you have to promise to take part in the meetings 7 months out of 12 the rest of your life.
You do not really get an income but travelcosts are paid.

And do inform me about life in GB but not about Sweden if you do not really know facts, which you in this case certainly do not know.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Jun, 2013 02:56 pm
@saab,
I'm only kidding saab.

But the "not-for-profit" expression is very rarely used in GB. The great and the good here respect us too much.

Are you suggesting they are sacrificing themselves for the public good? I bet not a one of them understands what any of the top ten mathematicians and physicists are talking about.

And from even an elementary economic's point of view they are uneconomic.

You might as well draw straws for the literature prize. Or have "Buggins' Turn". It won't be too long, I fear, before the Tesco Express Nobel Prize is being proposed.
spendius
 
  0  
Reply Wed 5 Jun, 2013 03:23 pm
@spendius,
Fanny Price’s musings about the nature of memory in Mansfield Park:

“How wonderful, how very wonderful the operations of time, and the changes of the human mind!” And following the latter train of thought, she soon afterwards added: ”If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient; at others, so bewildered and so weak; and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! We are, to be sure, a miracle every way; but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out.”
0 Replies
 
saab
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Jun, 2013 04:18 am
@spendius,
Bet you are totally right regarding the knowledge of economy and mathematics amongst the 18 Academy members.
Luckily they only choose the person in litterature. The rest they leave to the Royal Academy of Sience.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  3  
Reply Thu 6 Jun, 2013 06:23 am
Just read the best blurb on the back of a book referring to Jane Austen as the original chick lit author.
Lustig Andrei
 
  2  
Reply Thu 6 Jun, 2013 02:56 pm
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:

Just read the best blurb on the back of a book referring to Jane Austen as the original chick lit author.


Very good. That's pretty close to how I tend to think of her.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Jun, 2013 05:04 pm
@ehBeth,
Quote:
Just read the best blurb on the back of a book referring to Jane Austen as the original chick lit author.


Those who read her books with care and attention know that your statement is much too downplayed and understated. It's true of course but this is not the place to go into the matter in any detail.

Followers, fans and the fastidious followers of Sam's fashions, and he had quite a range of them, would be too,too outraged. I'm not man enough for such cruelties.

spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Jun, 2013 05:15 pm
@spendius,
Two measly fathoms. That's hardly skin deep. And it's easy to plumb. To take a reading so to speak. For safety's sake.
0 Replies
 
Debacle
 
  3  
Reply Fri 14 Jun, 2013 09:17 pm
Best Writer, Mark Twain or Jane Austen? What about them? If the question is which of the three is the best, well I'd say the hands down winner is contestant number One.

But, if it's a question of who's second best (or best of the other two) that's hard to say in as few words.

Twain and Miss Austen couldn't be more unlike than if they came from different planets. Well, of course, they did write in more or less the same language, though one lived nearer the fount, the King's throne. Moreover both were (and are) considered great humourists in their respective nations, and in the other's land. But there, I believe, the similarities end. From there, you may as well compare Calamity Jane with Virginia Woolf. Or to put both competitors in breeches, Calamity with T.S. Eliot. "Chalk 'n cheese" as someone previously remarked and got her knuckles rapped in the process and sent off to bed. But it's a fitting analogy, chalk and cheese, gritty and creamy.

I'm going on here as though I know of what I write, but that's all bluster. Fact is, I know Jane Austen mostly by hearsay. Miss Jane was by far my missis' favourite author, before she gave up on fiction on the grounds she found an ample supply of it in being yoked up with me, by which I understood she meant romance, adventure and endless charm, though I didn't inquire too deeply into the matter. She took up reading biographies, meaning she's still reading fiction without knowing it as such.

But, as I was saying (I think I was) in spite of having a copy, or copies, of every Austen novel in the house (although they're consigned to a top shelf which requires toting the ladder in from the garage) I've read the odd chapter in one and an odder one in another, etc. I only garnered enough thereby to conclude that Jane was not quite up to George Eliot's level. That's not to say that she wasn't up to Twain's.

I do know quite a lot about Twain having read most of his works, short and long, and because I'm from the same section of country he was, at least until he became famous and went broke up East. Personally I think the best of Twain is to be found in his bons mots, aphorisms and familiar observations. For instance, "If a cat steps on a hot stove lid, it'll never step on a hot one again. Or on a cold one either." And his warning that anyone searching for a plot in this book (Huck Finn) will be shot, or hanged. Twain began his writing career as a journalist and therefore the hearing and making of observations came naturally.

Of course when one hears the name Mark Twain the first thought is "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" which is still touted as the all-time great American novel. It's been idolized, banned, and restored to glory several times. I enjoyed it when I was a kid and once again as an adult. But now I can't make it through the first chapter.

Having mentioned T.S. Eliot, here's something he said which bears relevance. (Eliot presumably knew of what he spoke, since he was born and raised a few miles downstream from Twain.)

"It is Huck who gives the book style. The River gives the book its form. But for the River, the book might be only a sequence of adventures with a happy ending. A river, a very big and powerful river, is the only natural force that can wholly determine the course of human peregrination.... Thus the River makes the book a great book... Mark Twain is a native, and the River God is his God."

I prefer that to the better known Hemingway quote:

"All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called 'Huckleberry Finn.' If you read it you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating. But it's the best book we've had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since."

There are several falsehoods in that observation, but don't worry I won't go into them all. Modern American literature (at least the novel form) arrived before Twain's tomes. For instance, there's the Leatherstocking Tales of Fennimore Cooper which, in spite of their extenuated or combobulated style, are still popular today, The Last of the Mohicans was cinematized in recent years.

Anyway, what would Hemingway know of such truck. He was not the greatest hand at writing literature, so he couldn't have been speaking from experience. (Neither am I, of course, but we'll let that slide.)

My penultimate obserwation, as Sam Weller would say, is that Faulkner had them all beat; serious, comic, long or short, he da man!

Final obserwation: In the above quote, Eliot used the phrase "the River God" and I just want to add that if you're ever lucky enough to get your hands on The River God by Roland Pertwee, you'll be holding one of the grandest short stories ever penned, IMHO.






Roberta
 
  3  
Reply Sat 15 Jun, 2013 01:53 am
@Debacle,
I agree with you about Faulkner.

And I guess I agree with T.S. Eliot. I wrote a paper about Huck Finn when I was in college. My premise was that the river was a character in the book. Too bad I didn't know about Eliot's comments. I coulda used him as a source.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Jun, 2013 05:37 am
@Debacle,
Quote:
Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.


Jane Austen.

Try Mansfield Park very slowly Deb.
 

Related Topics

 
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 05/19/2022 at 05:52:41