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War Arrow



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:20 pm    Post subject: I just don't get it... Reply with quote

Larry Niven (science-fiction author) has one hell of a reputation. I've read Ringworld (which won all sorts of awards) and now I'm on Neutron Star (award winning short stories). The guy has some great ideas (the Ringworld itself, the Puppeteers and so on), and the hard science interludes (notably the description of the neutron star itself in the story of that name) are beautiful.... but beyond that, it's just more funny looking aliens hanging around in bars and talking in cliches, pretty much a forerunner to the Star Wars cantina scene (although that was itself great, but then it wasn't trying to be anything other than a cool looking film)... stuff that would work in an old Strontium Dog story in 2000AD but just comes across as a bit crap in Larry Niven's books. I'm still waiting to find out what all the fuss was about, aside from maybe he did it first, or at least before George Lucas and 2000AD comic, but I'm not sure it's going to happen.

I recall someone saying they found Philip K. Dick underwhelming, which I personally don't see at all, but different strokes for different folks....

So who or what do you not get whilst all around are creaming their pants at the mention of his/her/its name?

I think anything to do with NuWho can be taken as given, and opinions on The Beatles have had a good enough airing as it is, so I mean other stuff, generally speaking.
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Professor



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:19 pm    Post subject: Re: I just don't get it... Reply with quote

Orhan Pamuk

I read Snow after he won the Nobel Prize as part of my "read every Nobel Literature Prize Winner" ambition (On hold until I complete my read every Doctor Who novel ambition)

It was crap.

Well, it wasn't crap. It just didn't engage me in any kind of way. In fact very few novelists engage me in the way my favourite two novelists - Lawrence Durrell and JL Carr do.

I also struggle to read any Victorian Literature. 1900+ lit I plough through, but practically anything pre Erewhon just doesn't interest me. Except for Anthony Trollope for some reason. He's great.
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War Arrow



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you ever give Jane Eyre a shot? I found that pretty compelling, though I'm told it's not typical of its era (not sure how true that is).
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B3



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:45 pm    Post subject: Re: I just don't get it... Reply with quote

Professor wrote:
Except for Anthony Trollope for some reason. He's great.


I take it you haven't read The Way We Live Now.
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Cornelia



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:48 am    Post subject: Re: I just don't get it... Reply with quote

War Arrow wrote:

So who or what do you not get whilst all around are creaming their pants at the mention of his/her/its name?



A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel has the reputation of being the best French Revolution novel ever written. Why? It's a tedious rehashing of famous historical events interspersed with extremely dubious fictional scenes involving well-known people acting very out of character. Just a drag from beginning to end really. I could hardly finish it. I'd rather read the Scarlet Pimpernel novels, which are unhistorical trash, but at least entertaining trash.

Actually, the best novel about the French Revolution I ever read was one I picked up in an Oxfam shop for around 50p. Called Jacobin's Daughter by Joanne Willliamson, it's a romantic story obviously aimed at the "teen" market (though still based on true events), but shows more psychological insight and understanding of the period than most of the more "adult" novels that have been written about this time.

Makes you wonder how people get their reputations as "great" authors, doesn't it?
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War Arrow



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:48 am    Post subject: Re: I just don't get it... Reply with quote

Cornelia wrote:
War Arrow wrote:

So who or what do you not get whilst all around are creaming their pants at the mention of his/her/its name?



A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel has the reputation of being the best French Revolution novel ever written. Why? It's a tedious rehashing of famous historical events interspersed with extremely dubious fictional scenes involving well-known people acting very out of character. Just a drag from beginning to end really. I could hardly finish it. I'd rather read the Scarlet Pimpernel novels, which are unhistorical trash, but at least entertaining trash.

Actually, the best novel about the French Revolution I ever read was one I picked up in an Oxfam shop for around 50p. Called Jacobin's Daughter by Joanne Willliamson, it's a romantic story obviously aimed at the "teen" market (though still based on true events), but shows more psychological insight and understanding of the period than most of the more "adult" novels that have been written about this time.

Makes you wonder how people get their reputations as "great" authors, doesn't it?


I think history, whether a fictionalised account or purported documentary, can be a real minefield depending upon how familiar one may be with the subject. For example, I've seen repeated praise given to Michael Wood and the various historical documentaries he's made for the BBC (or was it channel 4?), and those I've watched seemed very well done and engrossing, until he got to 15th century Mexico (a subject with which I am very, very familiar) and I realised most of his patter was drivel, received wisdom, or ideas that had begun to look a bit ropey even by 1950... which doesn't bode well for his coverage of subjects upon which I am less well informed. I tend to find the same is true of some historical novels. I think the reputation of such "great" authors is often made by virtue that they have simply written about a certain subject, regardless of the quality of that writing.
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_Liam_
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bob dylan
ballet
most jazz
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Vector-Victor



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:57 pm    Post subject: Re: I just don't get it... Reply with quote

Cornelia wrote:
War Arrow wrote:

So who or what do you not get whilst all around are creaming their pants at the mention of his/her/its name?



A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel has the reputation of being the best French Revolution novel ever written. Why? It's a tedious rehashing of famous historical events interspersed with extremely dubious fictional scenes involving well-known people acting very out of character. Just a drag from beginning to end really. I could hardly finish it. I'd rather read the Scarlet Pimpernel novels, which are unhistorical trash, but at least entertaining trash.

Actually, the best novel about the French Revolution I ever read was one I picked up in an Oxfam shop for around 50p. Called Jacobin's Daughter by Joanne Willliamson, it's a romantic story obviously aimed at the "teen" market (though still based on true events), but shows more psychological insight and understanding of the period than most of the more "adult" novels that have been written about this time.

Makes you wonder how people get their reputations as "great" authors, doesn't it?


I remember one of my friends lauding "City of Darkness, City of
Light" by Marge Piercy as a great French Revolution novel, although I
haven't read it.

Everyone from Ramsey Campbell to Clive Barker has praised Robert
Aickman, but every one of Aickman's stories I've read has just left me
confused. In some of them I haven't even been able to find anything that
would be supernatural,even though these stories were included in anthologies of supernatural fiction. So I'm thinking Aickman must not
be for me.
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Professor



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

War Arrow wrote:
Did you ever give Jane Eyre a shot? I found that pretty compelling, though I'm told it's not typical of its era (not sure how true that is).


Yes. GCSE English. Found it unbearable. Yes I know it's a big thing in women's emancipation along with all the other novels of the time, but my god it's dull.

I don't know about you, but I categorise writing in two ways - personal and social (there are others, religious for example). I find Social interesting if it's about an unknown society, Orwell, Huxley, Tolkien for example do this brilliantly, but the Victorians just go and on in describing the social graces of Victoriana and how people manipulate it or fail it in exactly the long winded way that Evelyn Waugh, Wodehouse or Chesterton could summerise in a line.


I much prefer personal novelists, that explore humanity from the inside out rather than the outside in. Not many Victorians can do this, (Although Lytton Strachey can, Wilde could do both) from those I've read anyway (and I admit I'm not well read in Victoriana).

On the other hand, Russians (Nabokov especially, Checkov, who very cunningly conceals the personal in social and Pasternak), and 20th century novelists (Durrell, Patrick White, Angus Wilson, Virginia Woolf, Graeme Greene and plenty of others) are all experts at extricating the human psyche from a character. To me, that's far more interesting than a comedy or tragedy of manners. It's why I love Hamlet, Iago, Lear, Jaques but despise Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. Two of the most banal characters Shakespeare ever wrote because you only ever see them as they wish to be seen through the eyes of society. Even in the gulling scenes, as the gulling proves that they are fools. Both are badly pretending to be rebels, when actually they are as unrebellious as anyone else. It's utter claptrap. Actually Much Ado is the worst play in the Canon.

Although I haven't yet got round to reading the book, Terence Davies film of House of Mirth is the most perfect example of examining human frailty in a socially bound society. Whereas Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (Same author - Edith Wharton) I found went the other way round, examining a socially bound society within which human frailty exists and I think that film suffers in comparison. Interesting to compare though and how different people prefer which film.
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Professor



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:22 pm    Post subject: Re: I just don't get it... Reply with quote

B3 wrote:
Professor wrote:
Except for Anthony Trollope for some reason. He's great.


I take it you haven't read The Way We Live Now.


Laughing

No. I'm collecting Trollope in the beautiful Oxford centennial editions and Way we live now and Phineas Redux are the two major ones I haven't been able to find yet. In fact I'm not sure Phineas Redux was ever issued in that edition as I can find no mention of it anywhere.

Way we live was televised recently wasn't it, maybe I'll catch up with it when I have time.
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War Arrow



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Professor - for some reason I didn't find Jane Eyre at all dull, although I've actually read very little pre-1900 so perhaps it is the novelty. By contrast, Mary Shelley's The Last Man was like pulling teeth, although to be fair I understand it is generally acknowledged as an extraordinarily dull read.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What school does Jane Eyre at GCSE?!
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iank



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't mind Jane Eyre (it was more palatable than the Virginia Woolf crap), but what got me was the hilarious plot twists in the last third. She runs away and gets taken in this bu this fundamentalist family who later turn out, in a plot twist that would have the same critics who worship this sort of thing sniggering with disdain if done in a soap or something, to be long lost relatives.

Hilariously lame. I pointed this out to the lecturer, who didn't like it one bit. Laughing
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Cornelia



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:29 am    Post subject: Re: I just don't get it... Reply with quote

Vector-Victor wrote:


I remember one of my friends lauding "City of Darkness, City of
Light" by Marge Piercy as a great French Revolution novel, although I
haven't read it.


I haven't read this one, but on the basis of reviews I've read, it doesn't sound too promising. I mean if someone doesn't understand that 18th century people thought and lived differently to people now, there can't be much hope for them.
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"I would", she said. "That is how it would begin. But it would not stop with that, alas!"
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Professor wrote:

Although I haven't yet got round to reading the book, Terence Davies film of House of Mirth is the most perfect example of examining human frailty in a socially bound society.


A wonderful film by a wonderful director with a brilliant performance by Gillian Anderson.
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