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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3367


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:46 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

What makes this a poem?


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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3423


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know. Himadri used to cite his daughter's definition, which is the best I can come up with: the lines don't go all the way to the edge of the page.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 689


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing leads to another and now I'm well into Robert Byron's The Road to Oxiana, a 'literary' travel book, 'what Ulysses is to the novel between the wars and what The Waste Land is to poetry,' says somebody or other on the front or back cover.

It is starkly different in style and tone than the just-completed 'As I Walked Out....' by Laurie Lee. Lee is quite unpretentious; Byron is showing off, all the time. But he is clever, funny and knows how get the most out of his observations and encounters. He sees absurdity everywhere and misses no opportunity show it. I see in Byron a certain familiar tendency to turn conventional sentiment on its head, by way of illustrating his own superior taste. Maybe that. Or maybe he was just a contrarian who enjoyed shocking people of his class. He certainly likes to puncture British pretension.

Where Byron abandons the sardonic observer persona is when he describes Persian or Islamic architecture, becoming almost enthusiastic. But even then, he can't resist taking shots at conventional taste.

At Hamadan we eschewed the tombs of Esther and Avicenna, but visited the Gumbad-i-Alaviyan, a Seljuk mausoleum of the XIIth century, whose uncoloured stucco panels, puffed and punctured into a riot of vegetable exuberance, are yet as formal and rich as Versailles - perhaps richer considering their economy of means; for when splendour is got by chisel and a lump of plaster instead of the wealth of the world, it is splendour of design alone. This at last wipes the taste of the Alhambra and the Taj Mahal out of one's mouth, where Mohammadan art is concerned. I came to Persia to get rid of that taste.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 689


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My reading of The Road to Oxiana has slowed. One reason is Mr. Byron has taken a long detour through Persia, abandoning Afghanistan for the time being. In the course of this tour from monument to monument, he has helped me discover my tolerance threshold for descriptions of Persian architecture; not very high as it turns out. I grow impatient for him to get back on the road. I find myself craving more of the acerbic observations of people and less of his effusions about Safavid or Seljuk art. Not that I don't acknowledge the value in it.
Just now, though, Byron has managed to sneak into the great mosque in Meshed, disguised as an Iranian, at considerable risk. Good fun for him and the reader. Adding to the pleasure for me is that I saw that magnificent edifice in the fall of 1976, albeit from a good safe distance. I am happy to leave its description to Byron.


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Hector



Joined: 10 Jan 2009
Posts: 294


Location: Leeds

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello All

I've (finally!) finished Don Quioxte by Cervantes! Given it is over 1000+ pages - I read both parts in one go - it has taken me some time to finish.

As you will all know, its a book that is regularly near or at the top of all the best book list - although I note it didn't make the top 100 on the BBC Big Readers list all those years ago.

It is often referred to as one of the first "modern" novels having been written at the turn of 17th century. It really is a clever book and, although I hesitate to use the word, seems incredibly post modern (for its time). The whole idea of the book being based on a transcript that was found and subsequently translated from Arabic really brings an added dimension. Even more so in the second part where our protagonists (the utterly brilliant Don Quioxte and Sancho Panza) become aware that a book has been written about their exploits thus far as they meet characters who are aware of their story. An extra layer is then added when they discover that an inferior "book 2" by an unknown author is also in circulation (which was the case at the time and the existence of which prompted Cervantes to write his official (and superior) version) and the two of them take active steps to prove that the illegitimate part 2 is false by changing the destination of their travels.

Thrown into the mix is a huge amount of affection (and criticism) of the chivalric stories of the time and humour shines through on every single page. I found Sancho's repeated (mis)use of proverbs to be particularly entertaining.

In summary, a truly great novel which is extremely accessible. I guess the story is not as tight as one might expect from today's perspective (I'm sure an editor would be all over it trying to make it tighter) but that forms part of its charm. Has anyone else read it?

Regards

Hector


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3367


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember reading Don Quixote and enjoying it, I think.  But I have a sense of smug satisfaction at having finished it.


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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember the feeling of achievement better than I do the book itself, though I'm sure I enjoyed the book. Which translation did you read, Hector? I read the Edith Grossman one, but perhaps I should reread it at some point in a different version.


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Hector



Joined: 10 Jan 2009
Posts: 294


Location: Leeds

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gareth - the translation was by John Rutherford (Penguin Classics). The Introduction to the Translation goes into detail about how a lot of Don Q has, in effect, been mis-translated over the years. For example, Don Q gets named "the Knight of the Sorry Face" for a time in Part one and Rutherford's notes go into detail about how this has been translated incorrectly in numerous ways which remove a lot of the humour. I think "Knight of the Sad Countenance" being one of them.

Mike - yes, there's often a sort of smug satisfaction when one finishes a particularly long book. I quite like to skim through all the pages quickly before returning it to the shelf!


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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Rutherford translation was the one I had in mind. I think it may be the one Himadri read on his most recent reread of the book. It's quite low on my list of priorities, I confess. This year I'm reading through the EU, and next year I'm thinking of giving Proust a go.


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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
Posts: 731



PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chibiabos83 wrote:
The Rutherford translation was the one I had in mind. I think it may be the one Himadri read on his most recent reread of the book. It's quite low on my list of priorities, I confess. This year I'm reading through the EU, and next year I'm thinking of giving Proust a go.


I'm intrigued by your plan for 'reading through the EU'. Have you explained this elsewhere - I have been MIA for a while, so it may have slipped under the Radar. I would love to know more; just a pointer to an earlier post would be fine if you don't want to repeat something you have already written. It might put me in the mood for Saturday's march, if it goes ahead after the events of this afternoon.



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