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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
Posts: 2108


Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:37 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

This is a toughie - the relatively short extracts don't help.

A. I'm confused by mention of Petersburgh - I can't think of one that's due north of London, though I suppose "far north of London" could simply mean at a more northerly latitude (there's one in New York, and of course the famous one in Russia). I think this is reasonably modern, unless it's a translation, because of the slight informality ("Do you understand this feeling?"). I thought "foretaste of those icy climes" was a bit overdone. But I liked the last sentence - "Inspirited" is a great word, and "fervent and vivid" daydreams has a whiff of the literary about it.

B. Again, fairly recent I think - I suspect an earlier writer wouldn't have said "the thermometer was dropping" unless it was falling off the wall. "Ten or twenty below" is also slightly informal. However, there's some literary flair there too - "wrapped myself in my dirty blankets and fell on the floor like a dead man" is a strong image, as is the closing one: "my own corpse, hair stiff with ice and eyes wide open".

C. I think this is older than the others - late 19th or early 20th century? Part of me wants to say this is American. Steinbeck, maybe? Hmmm, not sure.

D. The prose seems a little uneven to me. "the decision was taken out of their hands" jumps out as rather colloquial, and "you didn't need a weatherman to tell you it was serious snow" also leaps out as a bit hackneyed (doesn't help that it immediately makes me think of that Bob Dylan song!). On the other hand, this may be a deliberate stylistic decision - hard to tell from a short excerpt. I don't like all those pluperfects at the end of the first paragraph. In the second para, I like the image of windows "bearded with snow", but find the repetition of "now" ("now bearded with snow, indifferent to the fact that it was now...") rather clumsy. I do like the image of microbes in the intestine of a monster. I think this is my least favourite though.

Literarityness: CBAD
Personal pref: BCAD



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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 10:35 pm    Post subject: Re: A Winter Challenge Reply with quote

A: I recognise this, and so won't comment on it.

B: I'd guess this is a memoir or an autobiography rather than fiction. "The thermometer was dropping" seems a bit strange: "the temperature was dropping" would surely have been more correct. Overall, the language is fairly simple, but effective: it does give the impression of the narrator at the end of the tether.

C: Not too recent, I'd guess: no modern author would refer to the "Annunciation" and expectthe readers to know what time of year they were referring to. And I thoihht I was bad for sticking in lots of semi-colons! I'm not entirely sure what to make of this. The prose tells of hardship, but doesn't really convey a sense of hardship in the way that B does. I like the sentence towards the end: "Winter would not give way, but one warm day overpowered it at last..." but I doubt a writer who takes pride in teh craft of writing would let pass such lazy formulations such as "As ill-luck would have it..." Overall, I don'tthink the prose is as effective here as it is in B.

D: Not impressed with this one at all. The author seems to try so hard to appear literary, but it just isn't very good. The dark windows "bearded" with snow merely seems affected: the point of teh metaphor was, presumably, to convey a vivid impression, but this doesn't really convey any impression at all. Similarly with the simile at the end: it conveys very little. There's no point using imagery if the images don't convey much. And what's all that at the beginning about J's left arm of so-and-so's shoulder and his right arm somewhere else? It's a clumsy sentence, and, once again, doesn't really convey much. Ithink this is a writer who is desperately trying hard to write in a literary style, but not succeeding too well.

Leaving out A, my preference is B, C, D.


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Marita



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 511


Location: Flanders, Belgium

PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A
This is a travel journal or perhaps a letter. It is addressed to a person who is not with the author. Not a modern work, literature

B
This seems modern. I find ‘the thermometer was dropping’ a very strange expression. Is it American? Apart from that I like this. The corpse ‘hair stiff with ice and eyes wide open’ is a strong image. Literature.

C
This goes through a whole season in a two paragraphs. A short story rather than a novel perhaps. The rural poverty sounds like a Flemish classic but I don’t think any have been translated. There is too much snow anyway.  

D
I liked this least of all. Somebody trying very hard, too hard, to write literature.

Literary: ABCD
My preference: BACD

Marita


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county_lady



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 633


Location: N Worcs.

PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apologies for the very quick and brief reply.

I like A.  
The writing reminds me of an alternative history from my youth wish I could remember who's. I do get the impression of a flight or a quest.

and B.
The writing is clear and desciptive but as others have mentioned surely it is barometers that drop not thermometers?

To me C seems Irish/American a family history? The tone and writing doesn't inspire me to read on.

D I didn't like and it seems a version of a 'literary lite saga'.

Literary  BACD
Preference ABCD


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2993


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2009 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Sandra,

I found these passages all shared a clarity and simplicity of style without the need for embellishment.  This did make it rather difficult to differentiate them.  I felt that most of them could be either literary fiction or reasonable good popular sagas perhaps.  The last one seemed to be to be rather striving for effect with its last phrase and some of its metaphors.

In a little but not much more detail:  

A:  This struck me as an older style of writing, perhaps because of the conversation with the reader (or is it a letter?  - still likely to be older if so), perhaps because of the use of such words as climes and inspirited.  Fervent vivid daydreams may indicate something fantastical is to be narrated.  Not sure.  I think this is likely to be literary.

B: Later than Poe, anyway! Another one mentioning a dream, but not I think to foretell actual fantasy.  I think this is reasonably literary too, though I am not sure why.  Perhaps something about the wrapping in dirty blankets and fall on the floor like a dead man.  Perhaps because a popular novel set in such a chilly environment would try more for the picturesque.  

C: I am trying to work out where this is set - not I think Britain, but somewhere in the northern hemisphere.  Somewhere in Europe?  Scandinavia? Russia?   Could be a short story perhaps.  I like "Oh, what a long grim winter!" and that makes me feel this is not just a popular novel.  

D:  As mentioned before this is one I take to be least literary.  Modernish writing I think.  "You didn't need a weatherman to tell you..."  Still quite well put together all the same.

Literary:  A, C, B, D.

My preference:  (not much in it really) B, A, C, D

(Now to see what I really should think!)


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miranda



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 758


Location: over there somewhere

PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2009 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When is the reveal?



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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1170



PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When do you want it?  Has everybody entered who wishes to enter?


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2993


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2009 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As soon as I put my responses in, Sandra, I itch for the answers!  So as soon as you like, as far as I am concerned.  I would give it another day or so to see if anyone says they want more time.  

Cheers, Caro.


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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 1170



PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think I'm going to get any more entries so here's the reveal:

A was from "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley.  Good spot, Himadri.

B was taken from "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt.   This is one of my favourite books so I'm glad it got a favourable response.

C is from the Chekhov short story "Peasants."  Caro got pretty close.  I'm afraid I'm not a huge Chekhov fan but I do like that passage and was slightly surprised by some negative comments.

D is from "The Shining" by Stephen King.  I did abridge the piece as it was rather long and contained details which I felt would make the source too obvious.  I find the part of the book when the family, after having experienced the novelty of being alone in this huge luxury hotel, face snow fall and then the claustrophobia of being completely snow bound, the best part of the book.

I thought King captures the atmosphere rather well but I found the criticisms perceptive.


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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2993


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Sandra.  I feel very pleased with myself!  I didn't say anything completely foolish at all this time.  And even got close to being accurate once or twice.  Congratulations to me!!

Cheers, Caro.



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