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  1. #46
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    I finished The Confession of a Child of the Century by de Musset. First part very good, but when he drowned it in that romance for like 3/4 of the whole book... it was more and more annoying. Whole pages filled with hysterical love stuff. Not that I wouldn't enjoy hysterical love stuff, but that was too much and too hysterical. And often banal, silly, pretentious. But overally I'm glad I read it. Sources claim it's strongly autobiographical so it's one of these rare moments when I can say to myself: "so there are people even more awkward than me!". That's such a positive experience for me.

  2. #47
    Staff Writer & Reviewer - Life-time Donor Veteran Member Jephtha's Avatar
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    Last night I pulled my tattered old copy of Dubliners off the shelf and once again read the final tale, 'The Dead'. This certainly has a claim to be considered the most beautiful story ever written in English. I have read it many times over the years, but last night, for some reason, I noticed things that had never struck me on prior readings. The final scene, in which a married couple find themselves in a situation worthy of Ibsen, is so poignant as to be almost unbearable. If there is anyone reading this post who has yet to experience 'The Dead', please do yourself a favor and get a copy of Dubliners at once. You have a transcendent read in store.

  3. #48
    Senior Member Involved Member Tardis's Avatar
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    I have always liked the story 'Clay' in Dubliners.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jephtha View Post
    Last night I pulled my tattered old copy of Dubliners off the shelf and once again read the final tale, 'The Dead'. This certainly has a claim to be considered the most beautiful story ever written in English. I have read it many times over the years, but last night, for some reason, I noticed things that had never struck me on prior readings. The final scene, in which a married couple find themselves in a situation worthy of Ibsen, is so poignant as to be almost unbearable. If there is anyone reading this post who has yet to experience 'The Dead', please do yourself a favor and get a copy of Dubliners at once. You have a transcendent read in store.

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  5. #49
    Senior Member Involved Member brianwalker's Avatar
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    Liking it better than Ulysses or Proust's In Search so far, to which this book has been compared to in the cover blurb and with which it forms, supposedly, the trinity of the 20th century modernist novel. The narrator is neither a psychotic neologist nor a neurotic dilettante with an Oedipal Complex.

    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    I'm not a big fan of 20th century history, but this book was a really good reading:

    I read The Memory Chalet, also by Judt, some time ago. It was touching, personal, informative, effectively sentimental. He wrote it as a dying man and held nothing back.

  6. #50
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    I just finished a very intriguing book:

    The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick.

    Highly recommended.

    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  7. #51
    Schigolch
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    I'm very fond of Philip K. Dick's works myself, though my favorite is indeed The Man in the High Castle. Composer Tod Machover wrote an opera based on VALIS. I would have adapted The Man in the High Castle itself.


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  9. #52
    Opera Lively Coordinator - Donor Member Top Contributor Member tyroneslothrop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianwalker View Post
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    Liking it better than Ulysses or Proust's In Search so far, to which this book has been compared to in the cover blurb and with which it forms, supposedly, the trinity of the 20th century modernist novel. The narrator is neither a psychotic neologist nor a neurotic dilettante with an Oedipal Complex.
    I read all three of those works (Ulysses--and Finnegan's Wake as well--with Tindall's guides laying alongside!) and I completely disagree. Musil cannot be compared to Joyce or Proust. Sorry, it's sad but completely true. I read Musil hoping to capture some of the same magic I got from Proust. Nada. Bored to tears. Forced myself to slog through its 1000+ dull pages. Being super charitable, I'd say that perhaps it bears more resemblance to Thomas Mann's writings than Proust. And I can't imagine how it could even be compared to Joyce as it is completely different in style. My 2 cents.

    The French worship Proust. Germans can't stand Musil. We should take a hint!

  10. #53
    Schigolch
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    Well, we know that French people tend to be very fond of... French literature, so nothing new under the Sun there. In fact, I remember that when Le Monde published one of those lists of the "The best 100 books of the Twentieth Century", I think it was during 1999 or 2000, more than half of the works listed were French, as well as 7 or 8 of the first 10.

    A similar attempt by Stern, in Germany, but reduced to the best German Novels of the 20th century, gave as winner.... yes, Musil's "Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften", preceding Kafka, Mann, Grass,...

    Having said that, I also got bored by Robert Musil's novel, that I was able to finish only on a powerful act of will, some thirty years ago. On the other hand, I simply love "À la recherche du temps perdu", and tolerate quite well "Ulysses"... but I guess this is just my personal taste.

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  12. #54
    Opera Lively Coordinator - Donor Member Top Contributor Member tyroneslothrop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    Having said that, I also got bored by Robert Musil's novel, that I was able to finish only on a powerful act of will, some thirty years ago. On the other hand, I simply love "À la recherche du temps perdu", and tolerate quite well "Ulysses"... but I guess this is just my personal taste.
    Hear, hear! Agree on all counts! (Although admittedly, without a well-annotated "roadmap", I don't know how well I would have done on with Joyce!)

  13. #55
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    I haven't read Musil's book, but I have read À la Recherche du Temps Perdu and loved it, and also Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake and loved both. This was all done, however, when I was much younger. I don't think I'd want to start a book with 1,000+ dull pages these days. I'm too busy with my work (and the need to stay up to date by reading scientific journals) and with opera... No more time to engage in looooong literary pursuits. I think I'm pretty much done with the classics, having read practically everything that was relevant as a teenager and young adult. These days I pretty much only read books on opera and shorter novels that are certain to be very entertaining for me, such as Sci-Fi which I love, or else, when a relatively new and spectacular author pops up out of the blue and reading him/her becomes sort of mandatory - for example, so that you get what I mean, when José Saramago won the Nobel Prize I made a point of reading one of his novels, and liked it so much that I went on to read several others by him (all of them outstanding, I must say). But these bouts are becoming rarer. I've not kept up with world literature. I wish I could... but a day has only 24 hours and a week has only 7 days.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  15. #56
    Opera Lively Coordinator - Donor Member Top Contributor Member tyroneslothrop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post
    In fact, I remember that when Le Monde published one of those lists of the "The best 100 books of the Twentieth Century", I think it was during 1999 or 2000, more than half of the works listed were French, as well as 7 or 8 of the first 10.

    A similar attempt by Stern, in Germany, but reduced to the best German Novels of the 20th century, gave as winner.... yes, Musil's "Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften", preceding Kafka, Mann, Grass,...
    I hate to be a cynic, but in both the case of Le Monde and Stern, I think that is more a case of national pride speaking than anything else. For example, if I go visit Amazon.de (which is a direct measurement of what people do and not just what they say), I find that:
    Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften I: Erstes und Zweites Buch [Taschenbuch]
    Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 7.245 in Bücher
    Nr. 78 in Bücher > Belletristik > Klassiker
    And on Amazon.fr:
    A la recherche du temps perdu [Broché]
    Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 5.768 en Livres
    n°7 dans Livres > Littérature > Littérature française > XXe siècle
    n°75 dans Livres > Sciences humaines > Linguistique
    n°84 dans Livres
    On the other hand, it's obvious Joyce is much more highly regarded in the Ireland and GB as on Amazon.co.uk:
    Ulysses (Classics) (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]
    Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 326 in Books

  16. #57
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tyroneslothrop View Post
    I hate to be a cynic, but in both the case of Le Monde and Stern, I think that is more a case of national pride speaking than anything else. For example, if I go visit Amazon.de (which is a direct measurement of what people do and not just what they say), I find that:
    (---)
    And on Amazon.fr:
    (---)
    On the other hand, it's obvious Joyce is much more highly regarded in the Ireland and GB as on Amazon.co.uk:
    Well, but there are so many intervening factors that your comparison can't be taken at face value. For one thing, one would have to adjust for the rate of book buying among the French, German, and UK population. If the French, say, are more in the habit of consuming literature than the Brits (which by the way is probably true), then every individual book will suffer from more competition in France and will have a lower ranking.

    Then, you'd also have to consider the pool of offers. Let's say, for instance, just hypothetically (of course these are absurd numbers and they wouldn't differ as sharply between three or four European Union countries which tend to have similar demographics and similar educational level, but just to make the point), that the book market in country X moves around a pool of about 10,000 titles annually while the market in country Z moves around a pool of 100 titles. In this situation, it's much worse to be ranked 99th if the ranking comes from country Z, than say 2,500th if the ranking comes from country X.

    Other intervening factors have to do with economic situation and disposable income to buy books in different countries - not to mention the cost of the individual books - it may for instance be easier for a purchaser to buy one volume of a shorter novel than the several volumes of Proust's major work - maybe people will rather check the latter out of public libraries, not willing to invest as heavily in such a long and more expensive publication.

    There is also the variation in the market (let's say for instance that in a given country a series of books for the juvenile public gets extremely popular and everybody flocks to buy them, thus pushing down the ranking of other books, and then the phenomenon dries out and the other books rebound, etc.).

    Amazon rankings go up and down very fast, depending on a number of factors. I know because at some point I was following the rankings of Jay Morris' book published by Opera Lively Press - rankings would bounce up and down according to publicity given to the book - for example, the Met Opera Radio announcer mentioned it during a Siegfried broadcast and sales (consequently, ranking) jumped up; the Ring cycle at the Met ended and sales (and ranking) tanked, and so forth. The book oscillated to a high of being the third most sold composer/musician autobiography, to several notches down, and this variation would sometimes be by hundreds of ranking positions in a single day.

    A factor as simple as the national educational system in one of these countries publishing a required book list for high school literature classes, will shift dramatically the rankings as students purchase their books for the next school year. So if book X is included but book Z is not, book X will get a temporary ranking boost.

    Access to public libraries is another factor - in communities with excellent access and libraries with extensive inventory, book sales from commercial vendors will be more sluggish, the opposite being true for when people who want to read the books have no option other than purchasing them.

    Another factor - buying habits. The Parisians when I lived there loved to buy from FNAC and were weary of non-brick-and-mortar vendors. I think this has changed (and FNAC may have even closed down for all I know - I actually seem to believe that I read something about their Parisian store closing down, a while ago) but it's just another intervening factor: maybe Amazon sales don't reflect in exactly the same way the buying habits across four different countries. For all I know, maybe the French prefer to get their Proust from brick-and-mortar bookstores rather than from Amazon.

    So, with no control of the numerous intervening factors (I'm sure there are more than the ones I've just mentioned), and looking at a one-point sample (the rankings in the very moment when you looked them up on the three Amazon sites), your numbers may be completely unreliable to give a sense of the respect and esteem that the nationals of these countries grant to these specific works.

    The only way to form an opinion would be to come up with some complicated statistical adjustments to account for the various intervening factors, and then to survey the rankings and their evolution over an extended period of time.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  18. #58
    Opera Lively Coordinator - Donor Member Top Contributor Member tyroneslothrop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Well, but there are so many intervening factors that your comparison can't be taken at face value. For one thing, one would have to adjust for the rate of book buying among the French, German, and UK population. If the French, say, are more in the habit of consuming literature than the Brits (which by the way is probably true), then every individual book will suffer from more competition in France and will have a lower ranking.

    Then, you'd also have to consider the pool of offers. Let's say, for instance, just hypothetically (of course these are absurd numbers and they wouldn't differ as sharply between three or four European Union countries which tend to have similar demographics and similar educational level, but just to make the point), that the book market in country X moves around a pool of about 10,000 titles annually while the market in country Z moves around a pool of 100 titles. In this situation, it's much worse to be ranked 99th if the ranking comes from country Z, than say 2,500th if the ranking comes from country X.

    Other intervening factors have to do with economic situation and disposable income to buy books in different countries - not to mention the cost of the individual books - it may for instance be easier for a purchaser to buy one volume of a shorter novel than the several volumes of Proust's major work - maybe people will rather check the latter out of public libraries, not willing to invest as heavily in such a long and more expensive publication.

    There is also the variation in the market (let's say for instance that in a given country a series of books for the juvenile public gets extremely popular and everybody flocks to buy them, thus pushing down the ranking of other books, and then the phenomenon dries out and the other books rebound, etc.).

    Amazon rankings go up and down very fast, depending on a number of factors. I know because at some point I was following the rankings of Jay Morris' book published by Opera Lively Press - rankings would bounce up and down according to publicity given to the book - for example, the Met Opera Radio announcer mentioned it during a Siegfried broadcast and sales (consequently, ranking) jumped up; the Ring cycle at the Met ended and sales (and ranking) tanked, and so forth. The book oscillated to a high of being the third most sold composer/musician autobiography, to several notches down, and this variation would sometimes be by hundreds of ranking positions in a single day.

    A factor as simple as the national educational system in one of these countries publishing a required book list for high school literature classes, will shift dramatically the rankings as students purchase their books for the next school year. So if book X is included but book Z is not, book X will get a temporary ranking boost.

    Access to public libraries is another factor - in communities with excellent access and libraries with extensive inventory, book sales from commercial vendors will be more sluggish, the opposite being true for when people who want to read the books have no option other than purchasing them.

    Another factor - buying habits. The Parisians when I lived there loved to buy from FNAC and were weary of non-brick-and-mortar vendors. I think this has changed (and FNAC may have even closed down for all I know - I actually seem to believe that I read something about their Parisian store closing down, a while ago) but it's just another intervening factor: maybe Amazon sales don't reflect in exactly the same way the buying habits across four different countries. For all I know, maybe the French prefer to get their Proust from brick-and-mortar bookstores rather than from Amazon.

    So, with no control of the numerous intervening factors (I'm sure there are more than the ones I've just mentioned), and looking at a one-point sample (the rankings in the very moment when you looked them up on the three Amazon sites), your numbers may be completely unreliable to give a sense of the respect and esteem that the nationals of these countries grant to these specific works.

    The only way to form an opinion would be to come up with some complicated statistical adjustments to account for the various intervening factors, and then to survey the rankings and their evolution over an extended period of time.
    All true, but certainly it can be no worse than asking people what their favorite novel is! For example, I happen to adore War and Peace, and many times in my life would say I would learn Russian just to read it in its original language. However, my wife, who can easily read it in the language it was written in, has never read it herself and managed to make it through school without reading it even though it is State-required reading for the equivalent of middle-school in Russia. She tells me this feeling is common among the Russian masses of Tolstoy = . Yet the book is required reading in schools and Russian academics constantly push it so people feel like they "should" like it even if they personally don't! Surveys of top novels in Russia consistently have War and Peace among the top. (Now if you were to ask what Russian masses like from their historic literature then, my understanding is that its more like stuff like Dostoevsky and Bulgakov than Tolstoy.)

    I feel that if you are going to ask people what is their favorite novel, probably a more effective question which would elicit answers which are more honest is, "what novel do you most admire."

  19. #59
    Schigolch
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    I guess this kind of things happen everywhere.

    In Spain, for instance, the winner of such a survey will be, almost guaranteed, Cervantes's "Don Quijote de la Mancha". However, many students do give it a miss on Secondary School, even if it's supposed to be a compulsory reading.

    Personally, I did read the book as a teenager, and come back some years later, but I vastly prefer Pierre Menard's "Don Quijote".

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  21. #60
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    So many books

    I could definitely identify with this. I have a wall of bookcases full of books that I have wanted to read for many years and spend most of my time looking at the covers of the books. Unfortunately, there is so much time in the day, but some of these are books that I read years ago,and because of my enjoyment of them, want to reread the books (e.g. Brothers Karamazov). I do at some point want to go through Sherlock Holmes, where I can read the stories episodically. Perhaps I'm fooling myself, but I would like to be optimistic and believe that at some point I could get to some of the books.

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