i read pretty

Saturday, December 18, 2010

introductions & (pre-pre-)pre-introduction materials.

clearly, the penguin classics are all about giving you your money's worth in pre-reading material. whew. reading all these seriously took about as long as it took to get through the first two-chapters-times-three... i won't get too bogged down in describing the pre- material, but here's a breakdown, a first pgh comparison and some notes/thoughts.

1. Index
2. Translator's Introduction
3. Suggested Reading
4. Chronology

1. Translator's Introduction
(then right into to the book. blammo. not even an index!)

1. Contents
2. Preface by Michele Roberts
3. Acknowledgments
4. Chronology
5. Introduction
6. Further Reading
7. A Note on the Translation

there are things you come to understand about the translators and translations, right off the bat. for instance, out of all the introductions, only davis' began in the voice of flaubert. which isn't to say the other translators are more callous to flaubert's voice, but their priorities are more about revelation, than davis who seems immediately dead-set on establishing a super-high degree of transparency.

is quote-heavy and talks about the story through flaubert's letters to louise colet. describes flaubert, his working conditions right down to the time of day his mother would leave the house... it's an assessment more than a theory, which, much like "story" in her fiction, is something that colors itself in, in the background, while you're absorbing her collected, organized data.

honestly, it just reads like a pretty standard intro/essay? illuminating, but with a very scholarly mouth-feel.

i read last and it was definitely a sock in the gut, compared to the crispness of s & d's. he is one, dark motherfucker. like he mentions flaubert saw his father working on dead bodies. and it gets darker from there. while davis opts for translucency, wall is very... visceral.

phrases like:
"The grotesque conjunction of the sacred and the profane pleased him."

"He had promised himself and his friends that his first book would be a thunderclap."

"It was to be a luxury item, gratuitously crafted and minutely detailed. His mother remarked, judiciously, that the pursuit of the perfect phrase had desiccated his heart." (BURN!)

worth noting:
both wall and davis include steegmuller in their recommended reading lists.
wall is the first to point out in his breakdown of characters that there are three Madame Bovarys in the novel. also the first to draw a connection between emma/femme and hommais/homme. uh. he is also the only one to break down every single character.

a cool discrepancy also worth noting:
wall edition, in the introduction by roberts, flaubert was "crying" as he wrote the final lines ("Closing the novel, you might be crying your eyes out as Flaubert himself was when he wrote the final, tragic scenes.")--but wall says flaubert was "vomiting repeatedly as he wrote the closing scenes."


but don't take my word for it!-- the three openings:

"'Yesterday evening, I started my novel. Now I begin to see stylistic difficulties that horrify me. To be simple is no small matter.' This is what Flaubert wrote to his friend, lover, and to fellow writer Louise Colet on the evening of September 20, 1851, and the novel he was referring to was Madame Bovary. He was just under thirty years old."

(flaubert-y! also, i guess that means he started three days before my birthday. well--three days and about a hundred thirty-one years...)

"Scholars with a calendrical turn of mind have computed that the first scene of Madame Bovary--Charles's entry into the classroom--takes place in October, 1827, and the last scene--Charles's death--in August, 1846. The married life of Charles and Emma extends over a period of nine years, beginning in 1837."


"Born in 1821, Flaubert was the son of a highly successful provincial doctor, the director and chief surgeon of the municipal hospital in the town of Rouen. His family lived in the gloomy residential wing of the hospital, in the midst of blood and death, as Flaubert always remembered it. Just over the wall of the garden where he played as a child, there were corpses laid out in the dissecting-room. He and his sister would peep over the wall to observe their father, with his sleeves rolled up, probing and slicing, pausing to wave them angrily away from the forbidden spectacle."

(see what i mean about viscera? actual viscera.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

hot madame bovary on madame bovary on madame bovary action.

i have the wicked lady-hots for lydia davis('s brain). this is news to absolutely no one who knows me or has seen me clutch to my bosom the gargantuan maurice blanchot reader, wherein davis' translations cozy-up ever-so-neatly in the same volume with paul auster's. like baby cats. sexy, deconstructivist baby cats.

when davis' translation of "swann's way" came out, i spent a good year, year and a half carting around two translations of "remembrance of things past" to read side by side. mainly because i couldn't remember many of the details the first run-through. (first time with proust i was sixteen and didn't know exactly what i was getting into before it was too late. all i knew was: nin was cool and sure seemed to like proust.) sure, it was heavy (actually heavy) but it was an excellent way of reading, where the two versions created between themselves a spectrum for the original french to make itself clear as it could be to a girl who doesn't read french. which is fantastic. because i don't read french.

as there are upwards of 15(,000,000,000....) translations of "madame bovary" and as there are less volumes (only one! it's all in one book!), i figured carting around three wouldn't be obscene.

so, folks, that is what i am doing. i am reading "madame bovary" for the first, the second and the third time -- at um... the same time. and revive this old lit blog of mine/ours to house whatever thoughts/progress come of all that. for what it's worth. (for science?)

madame bovary / flaubert (trans. by lydia davis)
madame bovary / flaubert (trans. by francis steegmuller)
madame bovary / flaubert (trans. by geoffrey wall)

i briefly thought of adding a fourth translation, so i'd have an even ratio of dude translators to lady translators... but i think i'm going to hold off on that. how i chose them was random, pretty much. steegmuller's had the best cover on the fiction shelves, and i plucked wall's from the penguin classics. the girl behind the counter recommended ajac's translation but of course that one is out of print. it is also worth noting that the hardcover lydia davis was sold out and stefan of unabridged books, chicago so, so kindly let me buy the special back-room staff copy. god fucking bless. seriously.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

my main issue with The Golden Compass

>>A fresh seal lay on the snow. The bear sliced it open with a claw and showed Lyra where to find the kidneys. She ate one raw: it was warm and soft and delicious beyond imagining.
"Eat the blubber too," said the bear, and tore off a piece for her. It tasted of cream flavoured with hazelnuts.<<

I know it's a fantasy book. But is anyone here fooled into thinking raw seal sounds really really good? Cream flavoured with hazelnuts? C'mon, Phillip Pullman.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the best of 2007 (as supposed by kaylen)

top ten favourite things read this year
10. the crying of lot 49 thomas pynchon

9. kafka on the shore & the elephant vanishesharuki murakami

8. here is where we meet john berger

7. murphy samuel beckett

6. the body artist don delillo

5. no one belongs here more than you short stories by miranda july

4. mere anarchy short stories by woody allen

3. new york trilogy paul auster

2. cosmicomics italo calvino

1. moby dick herman melville

honorable mentions: only revolutions mark danielewski; the object stares back: on the nature of seeing by james elkins; varieties of disturbance by lydia davis.

worst/most disappointing of 2007:
the brooklyn follies by paul auster (just disappointing...)
the copwriter's handbook
neverwhere neil gaiman
white noise don delillo
pale fire nabokov (just not what i was expecting)

favourite places to read 2007:
. originally, higher ground
. for a stretch of time, i really enjoyed reading on our front step (back when the pear tree was still lovely)
. my bed
. standing at the kitchen counter on saturday morning (if you haven't tried reading and standing in the kitchen: it feels wonderful)

* catch up *

new copy of swann's way (lydia davis translation)
the stranger albert camus
invisible cities italo calvino
cosmicomics italo calvino
consider the lobster david foster wallace
selected essays john berger
handfull of mcsweeny's collections.
handfull of chapbooks from jonathan.

{i'm sure there's more to it than that, but i forget...}

beowulf (re-read before seeing hte awful awful movie in 3D IMAX)
pig earth john berger
murphy samuel beckett
exile & the kingom & the plague albert camus
selected essays john berger
cosmicomics, invisible cities , numbers in the dark
& six memos for the next millenium italo calvino
how to make love to a negro dany laferrière
the insanity defense collection by woody allen
to begin (+ many more) by jonathan ball.
thumbscrews natalie walschots

plan to read, but who knows for certain:
satanic verses
wind-up bird chronicles
consider the lobster
re-read swann's way (lydia davis translation)
lilac & flag

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

a banville a day

i've never read a book as slowly as i have john banville's 'the sea.' if you knew me, or at least were familiar with my frequently visited places, you'd see me read a few pages - in some cases, a paragraph, or even a single sentence - and throw the book down in a sort of lingering, jealous disgust. banville's prose is thick. ridiculously thick. i haven't read most of his work.

it's really more like eating an incredibly sumptuous meal - i feel full after each time i sit down to read a piece of it, and i can go no further. loosen the belt a notch, sit back, look out the window, and sigh.

it's ridiculous how good this book is.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

boxer's fracture

i sallied forth on november first, intent on writing 50,000 words.

on the fourth, i gave up.

on the sixth or seventh, i retreated into a rabbit-hole of total depression, got insanely drunk, and ended up fracturing my right hand on the side of my friend & roommate's face. he wouldn't leave me alone, you see. so now i have a cast on. makes it difficult to write. (point of order: he also broke his hand on my face - same injury! - though i'm sure he would like it elucidated that he hit me three times whereas i only hit him once.) plus, i have to find a new place to live. so i haven't had much time to read, but in the throaty interim, i've acquired:

the mysterious flame of queen loana (umberto eco)
the wooden sea (jonathan carroll)
blood meridian (cormac mccarthy)

& today:

the sea (john banville) - JUST because of the random line i read:

The past beats inside me like a second heart.

i'm nearly done with the wooden sea. nice little sarcastic, humor-y bit of scifi surrealism.

dying to read the new pynchon, since it's out in paperback. also dying to read the gunslinger graphic novel. there's also a new clive barker (mr b gone?) & a new alan lightman (ghost).


(books i plan to read soon:

half-life (shelley jackson)
suttree (cormac mccarthy)
ghostwritten & cloud atlas (david mitchell)
the possibility of an island (michel houllebecq)
riddley walker (russell hoban)
god is dead (ron currie, jr)
varieties of disturbance (lydia davis)
against the day (pynchon)


Thursday, November 01, 2007

a new personal record...

because i am a deeply disturbed girl with an unhealthy relationship with books (or maybe it is just my relationship to money that is so unhealthy)i have purchased more than $200 worth of books today. in under 15 minutes.

the booty

haruki murakami's the wind-up bird chronicles & my own edition of kafka on the shore

albert camus's the plague & exile and the kingdom

nabokov's pale fire

truman capote's music for chameleons, other voices, other rooms & breakfast at tiffany's (not a book i'd normally read, but i've watched the movie more than enough to warrant giving it a go-round. plus, obviously i was feeling indulgent.)

there are also others that will remain unmentioned, as they are gifts. and don't bother poking about in my room either, rhianna, they're not here.