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Thread: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

  1. #41
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom
    ...but... I cannot begin to tell you how much I loathed "Catcher in the Rye" when I was forced to read it in high school! I tell you, it was one of the books which turned me OFF reading and contributed to the downfall of my vocabulary! That and "The World According to Garp" by John Irving and as I mentioned previously, The Grapes of Wrath. These books did nothing for me except make me hate to read as a child and young adult.
    How old were you when you had to read those books? "The Grapes of Wrath" is definitely not a book for children, and I rather liked it when I read it as an adult. "The Catcher in the Rye" was also originally written as a book for adults, although many teens came to love it... And it is a well-known fact that chidrens almost never appreciate any books they are made to read as a part of their school curriculum.

    And you know, it is sometimes hard to explain why you like what you like... Maybe I liked "The Catcher in the Rye" because I could really relate to the hero? I know it is a rather trite thing to say, but he became like a real, living person for me. And I could really, really sympathize with his protest against all things phoney. (By the way, many of his heroes seem to be on a sort of personal anti-phoney crusade. Does it tell us something about the author himself?). And then, it was about an American kid—which meant I could have a glimpse into how people live in America. You know, books of foreign authors always held some kind of charm for me for that exact reason: reading them helped me to better understand the life and the people of other countries. That was one of the reasons I was so eager to learn foreign languages. And, of course, Salinger is just a good writer. I mean, he has his way with words.

    Stainbeck, in my opinion, was less of a wordstmith than Salinger was, but I still liked The Grapes of Wrath because of the insight into a part of the pre-war American history and American life it provided to me. I didn't find it boring at all. It was actually interesting to follow the adventures and struggle of the Joads family. Maybe it was just because I was learning something new while I was reading it?

  2. #42
    Hanna
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    I more or less agree with I translationsnmru's comments and experience on this.

    The Catcher in the Rye was fabulous! I read it voluntarily as a teenager, at my own initiative. I completely identified with Holden Caulfield. I was at boarding school like him and was very close to expulsion a couple of times, exactly like Holden. I completely related to the idea that people were "phoney". Some pretty outdated English expressions were used in the book, I think. But at that time I felt this was one of the top ten books I'd ever read. I suppose I just liked the style of writing, the nonsensical plot and the anti-hero style of Holden.

    Did you really read "The World According to Garp" in school? It has a VERY x-rated scene in it! I haven't read the book, but as a kid I looked in it because I knew of that scene... That killed any desire I had to read the book later in life.

    Personally I didn't care much for Steinbeck; read "Of Mice and Men" in school but I just barely remember the plot - it failed to engage me. I did not know about Steinbeck's book on Russia that Basil mentioned. Sounds interesting judging from the Wiki entry. I think I'll check that out and perhaps add to my super-long "to read" list.

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Did you really read "The World According to Garp" in school? It has a VERY x-rated scene in it! I haven't read the book, but as a kid I looked in it because I knew of that scene... That killed any desire I had to read the book later in life.
    Yup! 11th grade English class (Ms. Rosner) along with the other mentioned books. So I was about 15/16 years old.
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    translationsnmru & Johanna, thank you for sharing with me your points of view. They help a lot for me to understand. I never would have thought about those books as windows on "my" world. To me they were just dull dry books as dry as the dust bowl!

    ---------------

    I am VERY excited though!!! My older daughter has her new book assignment and the book is... drum roll please..... The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Once again, I HAVE NOT read this book before and therefore I am pleased as punch with this choice by her teacher. I picked up a copy last night from the library. Now, I did of course watch all of the Lord of the Rings movies so I have a general idea about the characters; however, it is my understanding that this book is a prelude to those movies.

    Someone on this forum MUST have read this book, no? What did you think of it?
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As



    Would someone please point me in the right direction here???

    Younger daughter has been given the assignement "to write a poem, so that the "essence" of that poem would be fathers. Two stanzas is the requirement, anything else (rhyming, free flowing, etc.) is their choice. The poem should also have a "wow" factor."

    Maybe I am just thinking too hard here or the brain cells are dying off from the meds... but I am lost with this "essence" term. Does anyone have an example to share (in English of course ) or can someone explain to me what this means? So I in turn can then help poor said child?

    coffeecup, olya, basil, it-ogo, johanna, bitpicker, BappaBa, ekaterinak, lampada, translationsnmru ???....have I left anyone off??? If so.... and your help is still wanted and appreciated!

    Thanks!
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    Почтенный гражданин Winifred's Avatar
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Well, rockzmom, I don't know any Russian examples - actually Iknow one Russian example, but first:

    Robert Frost's poem, Birches, although long (sorry!) is a great example of the ESSENCE of growing up as a boy, on his own, among other things. Frost's father died of tuberculosis when he was 11 years old, he grew up with his mother and mother's family. To me, this poem captures both memory (the ice falling off the trees, leaving them as they were when he was young) and the way a young boy faces the world - through play on birch trees, he learns to overcome difficulties and bend them to his will - hopefully! Frost's life was tragic, hence the overlay of cold ice bending the trees as well.

    Something I didn't know until I went looking: Robert Frost (one of my favorite poets) was actually an ambassador to Russia for awhile!

    Birches
    by
    Robert Frost


    When I see birches bend to left and right
    Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
    I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
    But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
    Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
    Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
    After a rain. They click upon themselves
    As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured
    As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
    Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
    Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
    Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
    You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
    They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
    And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
    So low for long, they never right themselves:
    You may see their trunks arching in the woods
    Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,
    Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
    Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
    But I was going to say when Truth broke in
    With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,
    I should prefer to have some boy bend them
    As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
    Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
    Whose only play was what he found himself,
    Summer or winter, and could play alone.
    One by one he subdued his father's trees
    By riding them down over and over again
    Until he took the stiffness out of them,
    And not one but hung limp, not one was left
    For him to conquer. He learned all there was
    To learn about not launching out too soon
    And so not carrying the tree away
    Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
    To the top branches, climbing carefully
    With the same pains you use to fill a cup
    Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
    Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
    Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
    So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
    And so I dream of going back to be.
    It's when I'm weary of considerations,
    And life is too much like a pathless wood
    Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
    Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
    From a twig's having lashed across it open.
    I'd like to get away from earth awhile
    And then come back to it and begin over.
    May no fate willfully misunderstand me
    And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
    Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
    I don't know where it's likely to go better.
    I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree
    And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
    Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
    But dipped its top and set me down again.
    That would be good both going and coming back.
    One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

    from: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/birches/

    Theodore Roethke is another of my favorite poets. Here is one which, for better or worse, captures the ESSENCE of his father:

    MY PAPA'S WALTZ

    The whiskey on your breath
    Could make a small boy dizzy;
    But I hung on like death:
    Such waltzing was not easy.

    We romped until the pans
    Slid from the kitchen shelf;
    My mother's countenance
    Could not unfrown itself.

    The hand that held my wrist
    Was battered on one knuckle;
    At every step you missed
    My right ear scraped a buckle.

    You beat time on my head
    With a palm caked hard by dirt,
    Then waltzed me off to bed
    Still clinging to your shirt.

    from: http://unix.cc.wmich.edu/~cooneys/poems ... .papa.html

    and, my Russian being what it is lately, here's my Russian example, by Anna Akhmatova, the ESSENCE of this marriage is made obvious by the poem, without really explaining:

    He Loved...

    He loved three things in this world:
    Evensong, white peacocks and very
    Old tattered maps of America.
    He despised it when little kids bawled,
    Disliked tea served with berries
    And women acting hysterical.
    … And I was his wife.

    in Russian:

    Он любил...

    Он любил три вещи на свете:
    За вечерней пенье, белых павлинов
    И стертые карты Америки.
    Не любил, когда плачут дети,
    Не любил чая с малиной
    И женской истерики
    ...А я была его женой.


    Hope this helps a little!

    P.S. to all learning English: I went looking for a Russian translation of Birches. Nothing yet, but, here is someone reading the poem, and commentary, in English: http://www.englishcafe.com/blog/birches ... rost-18757
    Correct my Russian, please! Пожалуйста, исправьте мои ошибки!

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    From Apollonia (Lampada's friend):

    Hello dear Rockzmom, I hope I can help a wee bit.

    A poem where the essence is fathers, with a WOW factor, eh? Your daughter can talk about her own experiences with her father, or she can research "famous" fathers, or fathers in history, or fathers in general. Possibly, if her father has a WOW factor, or perhaps a famous father with a flair for the unsual. I am sure your daughter will make the right decision. I wish her all the best. Please let us know the outcome.

    These are just suggestions, but when Lampada asked me to read your question, I wanted to try and help.


    Peace and Love,
    Apollonia x
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Winifred, Lampada and Apollonia!

    I was beginning to think I had stumped the librarian with my question!

    Winifred, your examples are wonderful. Thank you so very much for finding them and posting the complete text. This helps all here with learning and me from having to look them up

    Lampada, you also went the extra mile for reaching out to your friend. Please thank her and let her know her ideas and explaination were most useful. Said daughter has said that if she gets a good grade she will let me post her poem.

    One of the companies I used to work for had an acronym of GEM for "Going the Extra Mile." Today the three of you earn a GEM Award!!!
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  9. #49
    Hanna
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom
    The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Once again, I HAVE NOT read this book before and therefore I am pleased as punch with this choice by her teacher. I picked up a copy last night from the library. Now, I did of course watch all of the Lord of the Rings movies so I have a general idea about the characters; however, it is my understanding that this book is a prelude to those movies.

    Yeah it's a good book. I read it when I was eleven or so, but I still remember the plot. It explains how the Hobbits came to be in possession of the Ring, and where the creature "Gollum" came from. I am not sure if Tolkien wrote it before or after the Ring Trilogy. I would guess it was before... It's very well written, of course, and simply a charming "fantasy story" in its own right. I don't think children below 12 or so ought to read it though - despite the "fairytale" plot, it's really a book for adults -- there are some very dark moments. How old are your daughters?

    Tolkien as a person is very interesting, I think, as is his friendship with CS Lewis - both were multi-talented geniuses, academics at Oxford, committed Christians and veterans of the First world war. They also played public roles during the second world war. Two truly outstanding Englishmen in my opinion.

    JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis against a backdrop of Narnia and some figures from the Lord of the Rings



    People who like both Tolkien and Lewis should consider reading this book:


  10. #50
    Почтенный гражданин Martin Miles's Avatar
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    On a point that was made earlier: If you say that "only a native can fully appreciate poetry" I wont argue, I would just point out that "fully appreciating" poetry or whatever is a difficult task and it is doubtful how many native speakers who read only for pleasure (the majority) fully appreciate what they are reading.

    I am not putting myself in the category of someone who fully appreciates, but, if, for example, I wanted to fully understand Tess of the Durbervilles by Thomas Hardy, I would have to read his other novels and poems; I would have to study the history of the novel going back to the 18th century; I would have to learn about the social and intellectual history of England in the 19th century; I would have to read many of the other contemporary writers; I would have to read any other literature that might have influenced Hardy when he wrote Tess, even if it is in French, Latin or Greek; it would be necessary for me to acquaint myself with the pastoral tradition in English literature; I would need to read biographies of the author; since his novels have a strong sense of place I should visit the English West Country to get a feel for the setting; a good knowledge of the Bible would be useful, and after doing all of that I might still not fully appreciate Tess because I have no sympathy for the man and his ideas.

    Because when you read a book you are entering into a relationship with the author. What are his thoughts and feelings, his view of life? There are some English writers I will never appreciate or understand. A sympathetic non-native, I believe, can sometimes understand a poet's message better than a native who can't see the world through the poet's eyes.

    I am not contradicting the statement that in general only a native can fully understand poetry, just qualifying it, and pointing out that full understanding is rare, even for natives.
    Девушка - лoвушка.

    Пожалуйста, кто-то скажи мне, есть ли ошибки где-то.

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Miles
    On a point that was made earlier: If you say that "only a native can fully appreciate poetry" I wont argue, I would just point out that "fully appreciating" poetry or whatever is a difficult task and it is doubtful how many native speakers who read only for pleasure (the majority) fully appreciate what they are reading.
    What's the point of "fully understanding?" What's important is if you enjoy and get something out of what you read. A non-native can, with work, enjoy and appreciate foreign poetry; much more so than someone reading a translation. I would rather do that than read something that I "fully understand" yet don't enjoy or appreciate.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

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    Почтенный гражданин Martin Miles's Avatar
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    You don't have to oppose reading for pleasure and reading for fuller understanding. Some people just get pleasure from getting to the bottom of something, turning it over, finding out how it works, comparing it with other similar things, learning as much about it as they can. I will criticise neither those who read only for enjoyment, nor those with more scholarly inclinations.
    Девушка - лoвушка.

    Пожалуйста, кто-то скажи мне, есть ли ошибки где-то.

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Miles
    On a point that was made earlier: If you say that "only a native can fully appreciate poetry" I wont argue, I would just point out that "fully appreciating" poetry or whatever is a difficult task and it is doubtful how many native speakers who read only for pleasure (the majority) fully appreciate what they are reading........
    Miles... I hope you will not mind if I use your thougths for our topic of conversation at the dinner table tonight. You make very interesting points and I feel my girls should have these nuggets tucked away in the event they get a question like this on a test one day.
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Miles
    I am not contradicting the statement that in general only a native can fully understand poetry, just qualifying it, and pointing out that full understanding is rare, even for natives.
    Agreed.
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Ahhh, another video I have been waiting for someone to post online so that I could share with all of you!!! This is when I start making certain my daughters at least KNOW of these books even if they NEVER read them I can just see them at a press conference one day and ... no... I can't have them be as clueless as one of these people

    Finish this Russian novel...Crime and ...?
    Passion?
    No, Crime and... what usually goes with crime?
    Vodka? It's Russian!
    And of course..
    What books did Homer write
    What?
    What books did Homer write?
    Oh my God, you mean Homer Simpson?
    http://vimeo.com/6959400
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom video clip
    Robinson and Crusoe
    After the movies in the following list were released there was no any way to be anything but "Robinson and Crusoe" .
    Bonnie & Clyde
    Thelma & Louise
    Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid
    Kate & Leopold
    Frankie & Johnny
    Fanny & Alexander
    Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde
    Tom & Jerry
    Turner & Hooch
    Smokey & The Bandit
    Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man
    Tristan & Isolde
    Romy & Michelle
    Tango & Cash
    Harold & Maude
    Homer & Eddie
    Batman & Robin
    Mad Dog & Glory
    Harry & Sally (When Harry Met Sally)
    So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

  17. #57
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    I'm reading Lermontov's A Hero of our Time. It's a great book in my opinion, although for some reason this writer is not so much liked by every Russians (if I remember well, Nabokov doesn't even mention him in his Lectures on Russian Literature). It is concisely written and void of old-style grandiloquent declamations (those are in fact mocked more than once). I like the fact that, as opposed to Pushkin, Lermontov was not *too hardly* influenced by French and French literature and does not sprinkle gallicisms every now and then. If I had to investigate the book's influences I'd rather think of, say, Byron.
    Anyway, this book is a very important part of Russian culture, Pechorin's character especially is well-known, to the point that he became some sort of archetype or cliché of some sort. I believe that anyone interested in Russian culture ought to read it.

    Also,
    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    I don't like to read poetry in English.
    Have you read Coleridge?

    Quote Originally Posted by translationsnmru
    Rhythm is also very important.
    It is indeed. This may be hard to conceptualize for non-Russians, because rhythm is not equally important in every languages (French poetry for example is very different), so if you don't mind I'd like to provide an example.

    Опять поминальный приблизился час.
    Я вижу, я слышу, я чувствую вас:

    И ту, что едва до окна довели,
    И ту, что родимой не топчет земли,

    И ту, что, красивой тряхнув головой,
    Сказала: «Сюда прихожу, как домой».

    Хотелось бы всех поимённо назвать,
    Да отняли список, и негде узнать.

    Для них соткала я широкий покров
    Из бедных, у них же подслушанных слов.

    О них вспоминаю всегда и везде,
    О них не забуду и в новой беде,

    И если зажмут мой измученный рот,
    Которым кричит стомильонный народ,

    Пусть так же они поминают меня
    В канун моего погребального дня.

    Stress falls on bold vowels. Every verse shares the same rythm, that is: abcdefghijk.
    Rockzmom, I've hosted a recording of this made by a professional Russian reader for you to listen. It begins at 0:58. http://www.fileshost.com/download.php?id=C8C92EF11

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by Zubr
    This may be hard to conceptualize for non-Russians, because rhythm is not equally important in every languages (French poetry for example is very different), so if you don't mind I'd like to provide an example.
    Rockzmom, I've hosted a recording of this made by a professional Russian reader for you to listen. It begins at 0:58. http://www.fileshost.com/download.php?id=C8C92EF11
    Zubr,

    Thanks for thinking of me (and of course others)!!

    So, this was way cool. I have NEVER heard "professional" Russian poetry before!! I listened to it first and of course I tried to see if I could get a vibe about what it might be about and if I could even match any of the spoken words with the written and "no way Maria" did that happen. BUT, I actually did pick up on the vibe!!! She's a VERY good reader. I know the Google translation is..well... you know, yet after looking at the translation, it appears I did actually get the basic meaning of the poem just by listening to the mood and intonations of her voice!

    Thanks so much for sharing this Zubr!!!!
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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom
    What books did Homer write
    What?
    What books did Homer write?
    Oh my God, you mean Homer Simpson?
    Of course it should be Homer Simpson. Because that blind and illiterate Greek definitely was unable to write anything...
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

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    Re: Literature Talk: Russian & Non -Discuss/Review/Q&As

    If you remember a little while back, younger daughter had her assignment to write a poem with "essence" and a "wow" factor.

    WELL... with YOUR help she was able to understand whole "essence" idea much better and she "thought" she understood the "wow" part. It turns out she did not. The teacher did not want the wow to be so much in the writing of the poem, but in the presentation of the poem. Example, one girl said her mom did cartwheels and then the girl actually DID a cartwheel. That was a WOW factor as you were not expecting the girl to do that.

    Now when my daughter read her poem, she did place dramatic emphasis/pause on the next to last line.

    In any case, my daughter received a "B" for her efforts and here is her poem:

    Essence of a Father

    The adventures we have are exciting yet sometimes odd;
    He can turn a walk in the woods into a trip to a magical forest with creeks turning into raging rivers and branches into swinging vines.

    He does not give many kisses or hugs, that just is not his thing;
    Yet building for me a cat house, window seat and a swing so I can fly to the moon and oh so much more is how he shows me his love.

    Although I am his little girl, he beats me up;
    While instructing me in the fine art of wrestling and sparring, yet always letting me win.
    I only speak two languages, English and bad English.
    Check out the MasterRussian Music Playlist
    Click here for list of Russian films with English subtitles and links to watch them.

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