Montag, 21. November 2011

Because he's right in general

I've been worrying for quite a long time how to read accurately. No, I don't want to start a philosophic discussion right now, don't worry, I'm tired and Dicken's Great Expectations are waiting for me.
I've been simply thinking a lot about whether I should read the German translations of English classics or the original versions. I'm learning a lot of languages (English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, hell, I'm even learning Latin) and thankfully I'm pretty gifted in this area. My English is rather good (well, at least I hope so!) and I love it but German is my mother tongue and there are undoubtedly some fine literary nuances that escape my attention when I'm reading in English.
Anyway, after almost falling asleep over a dreadful translation of A Christmas Carol I swore never to read anything by Dickens again, but since my curiosity was stronger I couldn't resist buying a cheap English copy of the book when I saw it in a shop window. You kno what?
It turned out to be one of my favourite (Christmas) stories ever.
With the support of Robert Frost's wisdom I've finally come to a decision. I'm going to read the original versions of all books which were originally published in English but the German versions of all books whose original languages I don't know well enough (Spanish, Italian, Japanese and French if you don't count The Little Prince) or not at all (I couldn't animate myself yet to learn ancient Greek or Russian). I know that a translation, even a good one can never be more than a faint reflexion of the original work, so I'll do my best to concentrate and understand the English versions.There it is, after all:
Poetry is what gets lost in translation.
One does not argue with Robert Frost.

Sonntag, 20. November 2011

The End

What an ironic title considering that this is my first blog post ever! It came to life last night when I finished reading Wizard's First Rule from Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. While I know that fantasy isn't commonly regarded as "valuable" reading (and believe me, I feel guilty enough every time I read something that isn't part of the canon) it is my weak spot. Anyway, if The Lord of the Rings is considered a classic, then why shouldn't any other fantasy books be? Wizard's First Rule is a great book, it's touching, thoughtful and very philosophic, the fantastic world in it mirrors our society and the heroes have to deal with realistic (and partly absolutely heartbreaking) problems.
However, I didn't so much want to write about the book itself as more about my reading process. With more than 800 pages it isn't exactly a short story and I was rather busy lately so it took me quite a long time to read it;
Despite the fact that Goodkind's novel is a page-turner I had been working through it for almost two months when I finally finished the last chapter yesterday.

Honestly, I don't know what to say.

For two months I accompanied Richard and Kahlan, the main characters, I felt their pain, their fear, their excitement. They became a part of me. It's been a long time since a book touched me so much, had so much influence on my life. For two months I would turn to their story every time I was fed up with my own world, I knew they would be waiting for me. Even when I wasn't reading, in boring classes or on the bus for example, I thought about them, I pondered over their relationship, I agonised over a way how they could possibly defeat their nemesis.
Now that they have done that (and what a finale it was! It proved once again that words are stronger than weapons) I'm alone in my world again.
There are some sequels, but I was told that none of them is in the least as good as the first book and that's generally true in fantasy literature. For me, Kahlan and Richard's story is over, and they have left me. Sure, a part of them will stay with me forever, but nonetheless I'm feeling hollow, empty.

With really good books you don't just read a story, you start to feel the books, you start to live inside of them, and when you finish the last chapter a little bit of yourself dies. Killing a part of their readers' hearts, that's the gift of all great authors.
Thankfully that part comes alive again every time we re-read their works.