The Forum Book Club thread 2020. July: My brilliant Friend

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kanewai
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Re: The New Forum Book Club thread 2019. SEPTEMBER: Small Country

Postby kanewai » Fri Nov 01, 2019 7:45 pm

Mista wrote:
kanewai wrote:I also finished Légende de Saint Julien l'Hospitalier, but I'll hold off writing about it until next week.
I'd love to hear what you think about it. I was wondering at one point if I would be able to finish it, because it was so disgusting. I did get through, though. But I think the objective and unemotional style of writing made the emotional effect even stronger. The ending, however, had more of a cleansing feeling to me, although I think that must have been meant to feel disgusting too. Maybe? Also, I suppose the story is based on a real legend (haven't checked that, though), so there's always the question of what was in the original story and what Flaubert has done to it.

I've also read Hérodias, but there I'm mostly left with a feeling that I missed something. I'm considering if I should read the story in the Bible and then read the Flaubert story again, now with a computer on my side so I can look up the words that aren't in my Kindle dictionary (I think some of the vocabulary in that story was exceptionally obscure, due to the setting).
I don't remember any real "bad guys" in anything else of Flaubert's. Even when characters leave a path of destruction behind them, like Emma Bovary, you understand them. The cold cruelty of Julien disturbed me too.

I looked up the legend of St. Julien afterwards, and it helped me understand the short story better. In the legend Julien is too pious to be interesting - he loves Jesus, he loves his parents, and he's a friend and counselor to the king. He's also a great hunter. He's just perfect, and it's the devil who tricks him into committing the big crime.

This made Flaubert's take much more interesting: Julien is an arrogant p.o.s., and it's his arrogance that destroys him. He earns his redemption after losing everything he ever loved. And I admired the short story more now that I know how Flaubert played with the legend.

I should get to Hérodias next week. I figure that Flaubert was writing for people who probably knew their bible far better than I do, so it should help to know the story ahead of time.
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Re: The New Forum Book Club thread 2019. November: Roadside Picnic/Quo Vadis

Postby marie39 » Sat Nov 02, 2019 10:09 pm

I finished reading last month's book, Trois Contes: Un coeur simple. I read the book in Spanish but I don't really have much to say because I feel like my reading comprehension was terrible. I also found it difficult to focus on what I was reading. It might just be because I did not like the stories or maybe the writing was too challenging. I might try reading it again next year or sometime in the future. Maybe I just don't like it. I did make a list of vocab words so I'll make some new flashcards out of that.

I started reading Quo Vadis? in Spanish and it feels less difficult to read than Trois Contes.
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Re: The New Forum Book Club thread 2019. SEPTEMBER: Small Country

Postby kanewai » Tue Nov 05, 2019 7:21 pm

Mista wrote:I've also read Hérodias, but there I'm mostly left with a feeling that I missed something. I'm considering if I should read the story in the Bible and then read the Flaubert story again, now with a computer on my side so I can look up the words that aren't in my Kindle dictionary (I think some of the vocabulary in that story was exceptionally obscure, due to the setting).
I finished Hérodias last night, and I think you'd need a degree in biblical studies to keep track of the characters and their backstories. I was lost after a page, so looked up the main characters. Ready? From wikipedia: Herod the Great executed his sons, Alexander and Aristobulus IV, in 7 BC, and engaged Herodias to Herod II her half-uncle. The marriage was opposed by Antipater II, Herod the Great's eldest son, and so Herod demoted Herod II to second in line to the throne. Antipater's execution in 4 BC for plotting to poison his father left Herod II as first in line, but his mother's knowledge of the poison plot, and failure to stop it, led to his being dropped from this position in Herod I's will just days before he died. ... There was one daughter from this marriage, Salome. Herodias later divorced Herod II, although it is unclear when they were divorced. According to the historian Josephus: Herodias took upon her to confound the laws of our country, and divorced herself from her husband while he was alive, and was married to Herod Antipas.

And that's just the back story for three of the main characters. Add in the Jewish sects, conflicts with the Romans, Arab armies outside the gates, tax collectors, Iokannon (John the Baptist) locked up for insulting the Herods, and worries about riots and sympathetic soldiers ... there was far too much going on for one very short story. The other Flaubert stories and books I read take you inside the minds of the characters. This didn't happen here.
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Re: The New Forum Book Club thread 2019. November: Roadside Picnic/Quo Vadis

Postby Mista » Sat Nov 09, 2019 5:47 pm

marie39 wrote:I finished reading last month's book, Trois Contes: Un coeur simple. I read the book in Spanish but I don't really have much to say because I feel like my reading comprehension was terrible. I also found it difficult to focus on what I was reading. It might just be because I did not like the stories or maybe the writing was too challenging. I might try reading it again next year or sometime in the future. Maybe I just don't like it. I did make a list of vocab words so I'll make some new flashcards out of that.

I started reading Quo Vadis? in Spanish and it feels less difficult to read than Trois Contes.


I feel exactly the same way with the French versions of the same books. Flaubert IS quite challenging, especially if your reading level is intermediate. The book doesn't have the characteristics I normally look for in easy reading material in a foreign language: an action-driven plot and straightforward language. Quo Vadis is much better in that regard, although I have to say that this book isn't going into my top 10 list of great novels. 27% into the book, I'm starting to feel a little bored. My main issue with it, I think, is that the characters feel a little too stereotypical. I haven't given up yet, though.

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New book suggestions
So, according to the plan, we have to find some new short books to vote on for December. I was thinking it might be a good idea to try some plays. They are quite short, they are good for learning stuff you can use in conversations, and you don't have to deal with complicated past tense forms. What do you think?

Some suggestions:
Shakespeare: A midsummernight's dream
Ibsen: An Enemy of the People
Chekhov: Three Sisters
Brecht: Mother Courage and her Children

Please do suggest some others if you have any good ideas. I've deliberately avoided suggesting Ancient Greek drama, as those will be quite complicated even in translation due to the choruses. However, I'd love to do that sometime too if anyone is interested.
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Re: The New Forum Book Club thread 2019. November: Roadside Picnic/Quo Vadis

Postby lingua » Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:49 pm

I would consider An Enemy of the People. I wasn't familiar with it as I am not one to read older literature or classics since often the language is too formal for my taste. However the subject of this one sounded like something I'd enjoy and it made me want to read Ghosts. Also, this is the only one Amazon seems to have in Italian.
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Re: The New Forum Book Club thread 2019. November: Roadside Picnic/Quo Vadis

Postby Mista » Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:35 pm

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Re: The New Forum Book Club thread 2019. November: Roadside Picnic/Quo Vadis

Postby Mista » Mon Nov 25, 2019 4:52 pm

The poll is finished, and we have a winner. The new book for December will be Chekhov's play Three Sisters.
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Re: The New Forum Book Club thread 2019. November: Roadside Picnic/Quo Vadis

Postby lavengro » Mon Nov 25, 2019 6:00 pm

Mista wrote:The poll is finished, and we have a winner. The new book for December will be Chekhov's play Three Sisters.
I took a look just now, and quickly realized that I do not have to read this play, as I am already living aspects of it, at least in relation to my attempts at learning other languages:
Irina wrote: Mio Dio, mio ​​Dio! Ho dimenticato tutto, dimenticato tutto ... Tutto è confuso nella mia testa ... Non riesco a ricordare quale sia la parola per finestra in italiano, o per soffitto ... Sto dimenticando tutto....

("Oh my God, my God! I have forgotten everything, forgotten everything… Everything is confused in my head… I can't remember what is the word for window in Italian, or for ceiling… I am forgetting everything....") - yep, I hear ya, sister.
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Re: The New Forum Book Club thread 2019. November: Roadside Picnic/Quo Vadis

Postby Mista » Fri Nov 29, 2019 11:44 am

lavengro wrote:
Irina wrote: Mio Dio, mio ​​Dio! Ho dimenticato tutto, dimenticato tutto ... Tutto è confuso nella mia testa ... Non riesco a ricordare quale sia la parola per finestra in italiano, o per soffitto ... Sto dimenticando tutto....

("Oh my God, my God! I have forgotten everything, forgotten everything… Everything is confused in my head… I can't remember what is the word for window in Italian, or for ceiling… I am forgetting everything....") - yep, I hear ya, sister.

That looks a little weird in the Italian translation! :lol: :lol: :lol:

Although I already have the physical book, I decided to get it on kindle too, because with A2 Russian, that makes the reading so much more doable - my vocabulary, especially, is in reality too weak for reading unknown texts. Fortunately, kindle and classics are a marvellous combination in many ways - I just got the collected works of Chekhov for a euro. Now I'm all set to start reading Chekhov on the subway on Sunday.

As for Quo Vadis, I took a break from it to finish another book I was reading in French, Han d'Islande by Victor Hugo, but I'm now back again. I'm still just at 47%, but I'm enjoying it more now than in the beginning, so I'm more confident now that I'll actually finish it. I will not, however, wait with Chekhov until I have finished this one. Actually, I usually make sure to read French on my way to all French classes and meetings, and since I have three regular such happenings a week these days, the reading is bound to move forward even if I also start on something else in another language.

I'm also planning to read Heaven and Hell. I have the whole trilogy in a 900 pages brick of a book, so this one is not a subway candidate. Also, I'm not at all sure how much I will understand of it. Harry Potter in Icelandic is fine now, but that may not be the case with this book. So the first thing I will do is read the first chapter and see if I'm up to reading it like that, and based on that, I'll consider how to keep going.
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Re: The New Forum Book Club thread 2019. December: Heaven and Hell/Three sisters

Postby Mista » Sun Dec 01, 2019 5:44 pm

December is here, and the title of the thread is updated. Who will be reading Heaven and Hell or Three sisters?
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