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RE: [Czechlist] Re: Reading in Prague / Alex Zucker

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  • vtalacko@ageng.pair.com
    My subjective opinion: I ve read Konec starych casu, Rozmarne leto and Pekar Jan Marhoul (although a while ago now) but have never been attracted by Marketa
    Message 1 of 13 , Nov 15, 2012
      My subjective opinion:

      I've read Konec starych casu, Rozmarne leto and Pekar Jan Marhoul
      (although a while ago now) but have never been attracted by Marketa
      Lazarova. The other three, however, I enjoyed a lot, in large part
      because of the language, combined with the fact that they weren't too
      long (and in the case of PJM, the story is compelling). It's the same
      with Proust - the whole work may be very long, but the individual books
      aren't, and I've found them pretty readable (although I'm only on no. 4,
      I think - and that was a while ago, too!).

      However, I'm almost incapable of reading a very long book in one
      volume, even if the language isn't complex. I just look at it and think
      there's no way I'm going to make it through that, even if it's supposed
      to be a good book.

      I'll admit to struggling with Henry James, too. Sometimes it's easier
      to read language that is rich and unusual than language which is dense,
      if you know what I mean.

      I'm sounding here as if I read more than I actually do (it's terrible -
      so much of my reading was done before the advent of the internet! And
      most of my Czech reading was done in the 1990s when I was first over
      here). But I did like Vancura, and found him easier to read than many
      other writers. (Is Marketa Lazarova very different from the three I've
      read? will go and have a look. I'd like to read POAV, too).

      Valerie


      On 14.11.2012 23:04, Pilucha, Jiri wrote:
      > Melvyn,
      >
      > First of all - and I hope it was obvious - I was in many ways
      > exaggerating. Secondly, as I've now realized, some of my points were
      > hastily made and not very well thought out.
      >
      > Anyway, rather than systematically following up on your questions one
      > by one I'll just throw in a few more comments, hopefully not entirely
      > irrelevant to the points raised by yourself.
      >
      > I would say that one thing is indisputable. Artistic significance of
      > Marketa Lazarova the movie (within the context of film art) is far
      > greater than artistic significance of Marketa Lazarova the book
      > (within the context of literature). Thus the fact that many people
      > have seen the movie but not read the book is - in a way - "justified"
      > (unlike in many other cases where the reason why people prefer the
      > film version is that it is "easier" on them than the book version,
      > i.e. due to intellectual laziness if you like; for instance -
      > speaking
      > of Proust - "Swann in Love" the movie is arguably more easily
      > digestible than the book. Not the case with Marketa Lazarova.) In
      > other words, you've seen Marketa Lazarova the movie - world-class
      > masterpiece of creative and experimental film-making - which makes
      > you
      > open the book, and guess what, you don't find it that extraordinary;
      > yes you do notice the uniqueness of Vancura's language (which does
      > not
      > surprise you, though, since you've read Rozmarne leto) and it's quite
      > noteworthy, no question about that, but perhaps not enough to keep
      > you
      > captivated through to the end. Please note that these observations
      > are subjective ones - but after all that's what you were interested
      > in, personal opnions, right? (At best I can speak for a circle of
      > people whose experience in exploring the art I could closely follow
      > along with mine.) Myself, after seeing the movie I opened the book
      > in
      > order to compare certain scenes (images) in the movie with their
      > verbal "prototype", but did not read the book from start to end.
      > Yes,
      > the language is unique and you take pure delight in enjoying it as
      > such, but maybe you just take a taste of it ("a bit at a time" as you
      > say) and don't overeat. And maybe I just talk nonsense. It's
      > difficult to put your finger on things when discussing arts.
      >
      > "Too rich for consumption in large amounts" is perhaps more true of
      > Topol than Vancura (if we stick to comparing these two.) Vancura
      > seems
      > to be lighter. "Ironically remote" is a great observation of yours.
      > I
      > would say: quasi-archaic whilst not hiding the "quasi". Artificially
      > archaic whilst making it joyfully obvious that the artificialism is
      > deliberate.) But if you really want something "too rich for
      > consumption in large amounts" then I would recommend Hrubin's
      > "lyrical
      > prose" Zlata reneta (of the classics) or anything by Jan Balaban (of
      > the newer ones). And one last recommendation: if you want a taste of
      > another sort of "rich" language go back to Jaroslav Durych. His
      > voice
      > is extremely expressive bordering on linguistic extasy. You may try
      > something short to start with, such as Masopust.
      >
      > Jiri
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > From: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Czechlist@yahoogroups.com] On
      > Behalf Of Melvyn
      > Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:48 PM
      > To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [Czechlist] Re: Reading in Prague / Alex Zucker
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Many thanks for your comments, Jiri,
      >
      > --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Czechlist%40yahoogroups.com>,
      > "Pilucha, Jiri" <jiri.pilucha@...<mailto:jiri.pilucha@...>> wrote:
      >> Oftentimes the language is so unique that
      > you cannot read the book through. You get excited about the
      > uniqueness of the language and you soon get exhausted; just cannot
      > sustain the excitement - and there's not much left. That's why nobody
      > has ever finished Sestra by Topol. (I'm sure you'll say that you
      > have,
      > but nobody else that I know of ever has).
      >
      > Cross my heart I have never read Sestra by Topol, though quite a few
      > people have recommended it to me. Better go back to them and make
      > sure
      > they have actually read it themselves then.
      >
      >>That's why nobody reads Vancura. A big paradox at work here.
      >
      > Too good to be read, eh? Or at least the language is too good to be
      > read. Is that it? A bit like Proust perhaps? I hear his language is
      > so
      > rich that the French find it all a bit of an artificial confection
      > and
      > they don't usually actually "do" Proust in their school system.
      > That's
      > the kind of silly job the English were put on this earth for.
      >
      > So his language is too rich for consumption in large amounts? A bit
      > at a time, eh?
      >
      > I was foolhardy enough to attempt the first hundred or so pages of
      > his Pole orna a valecna (where I am currently stuck). I found his
      > style archaic, flowery and somehow ironically remote. The author's
      > voice comes in quite a lot to give an overview, "explaining" how the
      > old values have been superseded by the new. This authorial
      > omniscience
      > may rub people up the wrong way a bit these days IMHO.
      >
      > Archaicka slova a knizni vyrazy spojuje s lidovou mluvou. Vetna
      > stavba je zastarala, uziva slozita souveti, zduraznuje jimi
      > dulezitost
      > daneho okamziku. Tento jazyk dava dilum monumentalni raz. Dej je
      > potlacovan, dulezite misto ma vypravec, ktery vyjadruje svuj nazor k
      > deji, prerusuje vypraveni a oslovuje ctenare, hodnoti chovani postav.
      > Casti pribehu pripomínaji filmove scenare. Opevuje zivot, zduraznuje
      > prozitky, detailne vyjadruje naladu, barevnost pribehu, city.
      > http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladislav_Van%C4%8Dura
      >
      >>I put it to Alex the other day how strange it is to be translating a
      >> novel that nobody reads in Czech in the frst place.
      >
      > And what did he say?
      >
      > I fear this may be the case with some of Topol's works too. I read
      > Kloktat dehet together with a very nice translation by David Short
      > (Gargling Tar - note to self, must send some more of the neat
      > translations I noted down to Czechlist). Myself, I quite liked the
      > novel premise in the first half of the book, there were some neat
      > ideas to begin with, but then it just spiralled round and round in
      > increasingly surrealistic scenes, like a computer game when you can't
      > get to the next level and monsters break in from another program.
      > Fine
      > language, fine imagination, but overall groggy tedium. That was my
      > impression anyway. And then I checked out the online reviews by
      > obycejny Honza readers, i.e. not by professional lit critters, and I
      > could not find a single one that praised the book overall. Everyone
      > seemed very underwhelmed by it.
      >
      > I do like Topol's shorter works, mind. And I am a great fan of Alex
      > Zucker's translation work. Just a couple of weeks back I noted
      > something down from his translation of Topol's Vylet k nadrazni hale
      > -
      > neat inversions of clause order to avoid a jerky effect.
      >
      > A pak uz svitalo, videl jsem to z okna
      > Then I looked out the window, it was already light.
      >
      > Knizky jsem si nes v pytliku, tasku jsem nemel.
      > I didn't have a shoulder bag, so I carried the books in a sack.
      >
      > Pretty clever IMHO.
      >
      > BR
      >
      > M.
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
    • Melvyn
      ... aren t, and I ve found them pretty readable (although I m only on no. 4, Crumbs, next you ll be telling us that you are past Harry Potter # 5. :-) I bet
      Message 2 of 13 , Nov 18, 2012
        --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, vtalacko@... wrote:
        > Proust - the whole work may be very long, but the individual books
        aren't, and I've found them pretty readable (although I'm only on no. 4,

        Crumbs, next you'll be telling us that you are past Harry Potter # 5. :-)

        I bet you read them in French too. :-) I would be afraid of native speakers' blank stares if I tried to use vocabulary from Proust. I found this was the problem with reading too many fin de siecle Czech poets and First Republic novelists. When I show my vocabulary notebooks to Czech friends in their twenties they often burst out laughing. A huge linguistic generation gap seems to be opening up.

        >However, I'm almost incapable of reading a very long book in one
        volume, even if the language isn't complex. I just look at it and think there's no way I'm going to make it through that, even if it's supposed to be a good book.

        Svejk started well, but then went round in circles IMHO, so I gave up somewhere north of Budejovice. Even staunch Catholic friends here seriously tell me off for my lax attitude over this. BTW a friend of mine once cycled from London to our village over two weeks - he said that whenever he entered a Czech village all the dogs started barking uncontrollably and he was reminded of Svejk's anabasis.

        Same impression from Petra Hulova's Pamet moji babicce. Very compelling until half time. Maybe I should make more of an effort with Topol, but I approach his longer works with similar trepidation now. On the other hand Ajvaz keeps the innovative ideas coming. And he knows when to stop, which is just as important IMO as knowing how to start.

        >I'm sounding here as if I read more than I actually do (it's terrible -
        so much of my reading was done before the advent of the internet! And
        most of my Czech reading was done in the 1990s when I was first over
        here).

        Funny that. I find I read more novels now thanks to the internet. Perhaps I should get out more. :-) But then I would use my Nokia 9300 reader.

        What else did you get into?

        >But I did like Vancura, and found him easier to read than many
        other writers. (Is Marketa Lazarova very different from the three I've
        read? will go and have a look. I'd like to read POAV, too).

        I believe ML and POAV are much more complex. My previous comments referred mostly to the latter.

        >Zeme, jez sotva pokryva porfyr, rulu a svor v koncinach stredni Vltavy, nehluboka ornice a spetka jilu na zapadnich svazich pahorkatiny nepojmenovane, dno vsednosti, podlaha bidy, daleko neni tak nicotna, aby z ni nevzesly lesy.
        Vzejdou prave tak, jako rec, nez konecne zazni hlasem, vzchazi za dlouheho mlceni.

        =:-O

        M.
      • Melvyn
        ... would recommend Hrubin s lyrical prose Zlata reneta (of the classics) or anything by Jan Balaban (of the newer ones). And one last recommendation: if
        Message 3 of 13 , Nov 19, 2012
          --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "Pilucha, Jiri" <jiri.pilucha@...> wrote:

          >
          would recommend Hrubin's "lyrical prose" Zlata reneta (of the classics) or anything by Jan Balaban (of the newer ones). And one last recommendation: if you want a taste of another sort of "rich" language go back to Jaroslav Durych. His voice is extremely expressive bordering on linguistic extasy. You may try something short to start with, such as Masopust.

          Many thanks for the recommendations, Jiri. My Kladno Library online basket is now quite full. Now where is the Deliveries button? I'm sure they have a little van with a siren.

          > Anyway, rather than systematically following up on your questions one by one I'll just throw in a few more comments, hopefully not entirely irrelevant to the points raised by yourself.

          Well, that sounds very reasonable. :-) But does this mean we will never know what Alex answered? :_(

          BR

          M.
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