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My three favourite novelists
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Apple



Joined: 24 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:23 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

I am looking at the posts regarding Jane Austen I have never been really comfortable "reading" these stories, I have never really totally enjoyed them, that way, however, when I have listened to them as audio books I have enjoyed them a lot more and would go as far to say she is one of my fav authors for audio books, I am not sure why I make that distinction or if anyone could offer any theories on that I'd be grateful, I think it links in with how well I think they adapt to tv as well as for me the diffinitive version of Pride and Prejudice will always be BBC version with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy.



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Sandraseahorse



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only reason I can suggest that you prefer to listen to Jane Austen, Apple, is that critics praise the clarity of her language.  I find that often in reading I tend to skim paragraphs and get the gist of the story rather than appreciate the language.  Perhaps in listening to an audio version, we appreciate the language more.

With regard to my three favourite authors, I feel that Mike Harvey has put the case for Thomas Hardy and E.S. Nesbitt so well that I can only concur.  However, I would swop Dickens for Evelyn Waugh.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find myself tempted to skim when the prose is bland and boring. (This is almost invariably the case when I browse through popular bestselling titles in bookshops.) I remember when I had to read The Shadow of the Wind for a book group I belonged to: I would read through entire pages before realising that my mind had switched off, and that I hadn’t taken in a word of what I’d read. And, because I was committed to reading the book, I had to go back and read the whole damn thing over again, making a determined effort to concentrate.

But one thing one can never complain about with Austen is the quality of her prose: it is exquisite. Each sentence is perfectly structured in terms of sounds and cadences and rhythms; each word perfectly chosen to communicate exactly what the author wants – no more and no less - and perfectly placed within the sentence to make just the desired impact; the sentences flowing one from another with a spontaneity and naturalness that can only be a consequence of conscious artistic design. With prose such as this, I find I am in no rush to move on: quite the contrary, I enjoy lingering. Just as I don’t gulp down a quality malt whisky, but, rather, spend time rolling it across my palate to savour the fine subtleties of the flavor – so, I find, with well-constructed prose. (Fizzy drinks, on the other hand, I gulp down as quickly as possible! Smile )



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Ann



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Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mikeharvey wrote:
Hello Ann - I haven't read WET MAGIC!! How did I miss that one?  One of my treasured possessions is a first edition copy of E.Nesbit's short story collection OSWALD BASTABLE AND OTHERS.  One of the line illustrations has been most beautifully and carefully coloured in by a previous child (I presume) owner.  I feel quite tender and sentimental about whoever it was.

Have you read Jaqueline Wilson's recent homage to E.Nesbit -FOUR CHILDREN AND IT?  A group of modern children encounter the Psammead and have wishes granted including - delightfully - meeting the five children from the original story!


No I vaguely think I did hear of it, now you mention it, so I must try and find a copy - it sounds good fun and she is a skilled writer


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TheRejectAmidHair



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since we've been talking about this, I came upon this by Henry James in one of his letters:

"...Emma Woodhouse and Anne Elliot give us as great an impression of 'passion'--that celebrated quality—as the ladies of G. Sand and Balzac."



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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
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Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Austen's language may be precise and accomplished, but for me it doesn't conjure vivid scenes in the imagination. There were maybe two scenes in Persuasion that came to life for me - one was a relatively minor scene involving a child; the other was the well-known accident on The Cobb. This isn't necessarily a failing, as not everyone is particularly interested in sensory evocation, but it's generally one of the things I most look for in a novel.



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Evie
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too look for sensory evocation - but I do find it in Austen, so clearly that in itself is part of the chemistry between author and reader.  Her prose is far more than 'precise and accomplished' to me - it really sings off the page, and I can see and hear everything and everyone.  It is quite classical, but that in itself is evocative of the period.  Delicious.


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TheRejectAmidHair



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The discussion is going into interesting areas here. My own ideas, as ever, are not yet fully formed, but I’ll try to articulate them as best I can, and see if it leads anywhere.

At the risk of over-simplifying, there are two very distinct modes of expression: Classical and Romantic. I am reminded somewhat of Balzac’s novel Les Illusions Perdues, part of which depicts the Parisian literary scene and the world of journalism in the 1830s. Here, everyone is very distinctly either in the “Classical” camp, or in the “Romantic” camp. The two camps live up entirely to the stereotypes (and I guess Balzac is having a bit of fun sending up both factions): the Classicists regard the Romantics as undisciplined and over-extravagant; the Romantic regard the Classicists as being distant and inhibited. Strangely enough, it’s the Romantic camp that is depicted as the more reactionary: it isn’t the case that the more modern one is in one’s outlook, the more Romantic. For instance, the Classicists’ great idol was Racine, whereas the Romantics idolised Shakespeare. We can see this even if we look beyond Balzac’s novel: the Classicist Voltaire adored Racine and Corneille, and described Shakespeare as a “barbarian”; whereas, in a later generation, Romantics such as Berlioz and Hugo idolised Shakespeare.

In music, my ears were tuned first to the Classicists – and to this day, I find myself slightly shocked when I hear people describe Mozart’s music as merely formal and decorous, and lacking in passion. But with literature, my earliest and most lasting loves were that “barbarian” Shakespeare, and then, straight into the Romantic poets and the novelists of the mid- to late- 19th centuries. And I think I don’t really know how to read the “Classical” writers – Pope, Johnson, Racine, and yes, of course, Austen – that Classicist anomalously writing during the height of Romanticism. The distance and the decorous formality I encounter I have not yet learn to look beyond.

Some time ago, the Guardian asked various authors to nominate the most erotic scene in literature:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2...ary-sex-scenes-writers-favourites

Note Howard Jacobson’s choice.

I missed it when I read it. It's easy to miss things when you're not in sympathy with the author's aesthetics. God knows what else I missed.



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Evie
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do think there is a lot of sex in Jane Austen - but it's all as subtle as that.  It was Andrew Davies's reasoning in having, for example, Mr Darcy in his wet shirt, and also watching Lizzie playing with his dogs through the window when he has just got out of the bath and is dressed only in his dressing gown.  Davies said the sexual undercurrents and erotic notes are there, and things such as this were his visual way of conveying them.  It's not that the passion is repressed, but that the reader only gets a hint of it - the characters themselves are passionate.


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Hector



Joined: 10 Jan 2009
Posts: 294


Location: Leeds

PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A little bit late to this thread but I've been having a think. It's difficult to wittle it down to three because I find reading certain authors depends on my mood and particular interests at a particular time. If I had to choose right now it would be (and in no partiular order):

Tolstoy
Delillo
Roth



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