50 "Incredibly Tough Books" for "X-treme Readers"
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Blackthorne
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RE: 50 "Incredibly Tough Books" for "X-treme Readers"
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

Hmm...

You goddamn communist heathen, you had best sound off that you love the Virgin Mary... or I'm gonna stomp your guts out!
2013 Nov 11 07:18
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Osweo
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RE: 50 "Incredibly Tough Books" for "X-treme Readers"
Some on the list surprise me. I found Moby Dick fascinating from cover to cover, no problems. Must read it again, actually. War and Peace has a strange reputation too - it's not THAT long or hard, really. Just takes a bit to get used to the names at first, if you don't speak Russian, and the final chapter can surprise those who weren't warned in advance. THat's it.

(I do, however, routinely read toponymical dictionaries in alphabetical order, though...)

"And now if a whole nation fell into that? In such a case, I answer, infallibly they will return out of it. For life is no cunningly-devised deception or self deception, it is a great truth that thou art alive, that thou hast desires, necessities: neither can these subsist and satisfy themselves on delusions, but on fact. To fact, depend on it, we shall come back: to such fact, blessed or cursed, as we have wisdom for."
Thomas Carlyle
2013 Nov 12 01:53
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Blackthorne
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RE: 50 "Incredibly Tough Books" for "X-treme Readers"
(2013 Nov 12 01:53)Osweo Wrote:  Some on the list surprise me. I found Moby Dick fascinating from cover to cover, no problems. Must read it again, actually. War and Peace has a strange reputation too - it's not THAT long or hard, really. Just takes a bit to get used to the names at first, if you don't speak Russian, and the final chapter can surprise those who weren't warned in advance. THat's it.

(I do, however, routinely read toponymical dictionaries in alphabetical order, though...)

Melville bah. I couldn't read much more than a chapter or two or three of it.

You ought to read some of the works of James Fenimore Cooper sir (he's as tedious as Melville), such as...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_of_the_Mohicans

You goddamn communist heathen, you had best sound off that you love the Virgin Mary... or I'm gonna stomp your guts out!
2013 Nov 12 08:28
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W. R.
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Post: #14
RE: 50 "Incredibly Tough Books" for "X-treme Readers"
(2013 Nov 10 08:32)Blackthorne Wrote:  Mein Krapfh is a god-awful read. 1) I read an unabridged translation; 2) In English.

Ach. Hmm...

Actually a good translation may improve a bad book, at least a little.

[...] just as it is not left unto us to choose our ancestors, so we may not choose our nation; we can only fulfil, or not fulfil, the obligations that come from being a member of our people’.
© Dr. Jan Stankievič ‘From the History of Belarus’

[Image: now.jpg]
2013 Nov 12 11:11
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RE: 50 "Incredibly Tough Books" for "X-treme Readers"
(2013 Nov 12 08:28)Blackthorne Wrote:  Melville bah. I couldn't read much more than a chapter or two or three of it.
I'm shocked! I'd even call Moby Dick the best novel in the English language, if I was pressed to pick a sole winner for that title! Can't think of anything grander off the top of my head, anyway.

I'm also a great aficionado of Lord Lytton, who is routinely mocked in literary circles. Have you got round to trying him yet? They laugh up their sleeve at his 'It was a dark and stormy night' beginnings, while praising all manner of 'experimental' shite and downright filth as 'literature'.


Quote:You ought to read some of the works of James Fenimore Cooper sir (he's as tedious as Melville), such as...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_of_the_Mohicans
Remind me never to ask you to write a review on one of my Amazon pages. What a 'recommendation'! I do have that book at home somewhere, and fully intend to try it again (I got a bit fed up with it after a few pages when I was about 19), but I haven't actually been 'home' for a good two years or so! Big Grin

"And now if a whole nation fell into that? In such a case, I answer, infallibly they will return out of it. For life is no cunningly-devised deception or self deception, it is a great truth that thou art alive, that thou hast desires, necessities: neither can these subsist and satisfy themselves on delusions, but on fact. To fact, depend on it, we shall come back: to such fact, blessed or cursed, as we have wisdom for."
Thomas Carlyle
2013 Nov 12 23:11
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RE: 50 "Incredibly Tough Books" for "X-treme Readers"
(2013 Nov 12 11:11)Whiteruthenian Wrote:  Actually a good translation may improve a bad book, at least a little.

The translation that I have of the book isn't bad but what is bad is that the book is in serious need of a good puree in the blender of an editor. I found it hard to tell if Hitler was narrating a political treatise, a self-glorified biography, a propaganda tract, etc. The man was positively full of himself and it goes on for hundreds of pages!

By way of comparison Mussolini's much briefer primer of Italian fascism was easier to read.


http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Doctrine_of_Fascism

You goddamn communist heathen, you had best sound off that you love the Virgin Mary... or I'm gonna stomp your guts out!
2013 Nov 12 23:29
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Blackthorne
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RE: 50 "Incredibly Tough Books" for "X-treme Readers"
(2013 Nov 12 23:11)Osweo Wrote:  I'm shocked! I'd even call Moby Dick the best novel in the English language, if I was pressed to pick a sole winner for that title! Can't think of anything grander off the top of my head, anyway.

I can't even think of what I'd consider to be the best novel in the English language- I'm not really certain if it'd be something contemporary or something historical. My mind can't quite grasp any names in particular but there are some: Shakespeare, poet to be true, Tolkien, etc. Mellville is one of the greats, but is too meaty for me, but I think the term "best novel in the English language" is a bit misleading- Moby Dick might be the best book in English about Nantucket, whaling, etc. but there is a lot of subject matter for a novel to potentially cover.

Quote:I'm also a great aficionado of Lord Lytton, who is routinely mocked in literary circles. Have you got round to trying him yet? They laugh up their sleeve at his 'It was a dark and stormy night' beginnings, while praising all manner of 'experimental' shite and downright filth as 'literature'.

I've heard of Lytton but I haven't read anything by him yet. Any suggestions? I've recently discovered that I do like 18th and 19th century English literature- only that it's a bit cumbersome for me to read (so I do it a bit at a time; comparatively I can go through an enjoyable contemporary book in a much shorter period of time).

Quote:Remind me never to ask you to write a review on one of my Amazon pages. What a 'recommendation'! I do have that book at home somewhere, and fully intend to try it again (I got a bit fed up with it after a few pages when I was about 19), but I haven't actually been 'home' for a good two years or so! Big Grin

I haven't written a review on Amazon in a good number of years, not that I ever did it much to begin with. I think your good name will remain since I tend to buy books more on Amazon than review them.

I've recently discovered Bernard Cormwell and have been reading Sharpe's Trafalgar. White whiles be damned, I'll take a tale like this any day. I read this amusing bit today:

Sharpe’s place was on the forecastle. Captain Llewellyn and his young lieutenant commanded forty of the ship’s marines stationed on the poop and quarterdeck, while Sharpe had twenty, though in truth the score of forecastle men were led by Sergeant Armstrong, a man as squat as a hogshead and stubborn as a mule. The sergeant came from Seahouses in Northumberland where he had been imbued with a deep distrust of the Scots. “They’re thieves to a man, sir,” he confidently assured Sharpe, but still contrived that every Scotsman among Llewellyn’s marines serve in his squad. “Because that’s where I can keep an eye on the thieving bastards, sir.”

The Scots were content to serve under Sergeant Armstrong, for, if he distrusted them, he hated anyone from south of the River Tyne. So far as Armstrong was concerned only men from Northumberland itself, raised to remember the cattle-raiders from north of the border, were true warriors while the rest of mankind was composed of thieving bastards, cowardly foreigners and officers. France, he seemed to believe, was a populous county somewhere so far south of London as to be execrable, while Spain was probably hell itself. The sergeant possessed one of Captain Llewellyn’s precious seven-barrel guns that he had propped against the foremast. “You can take your eyes off that, sir,” he had told Sharpe when he saw the officer’s interest in the weapon, “‘cos I’m saving it for when we board one of the bastards. There’s nothing like a volley gun for clearing an enemy deck.” Armstrong was instinctively suspicions of Sharpe for the ensign was not a marine, not from Northumberland and not born into the officer class. Armstrong was, in short, ugly, ignorant, prejudiced and as fine a soldier as Sharpe had met.

The forecastle was manned by the marines and by two of the ship’s six thirty-two-pounder carronades. The one to larboard was under the command of Clouter, the escaped slave who was in Chase’s barge crew. The huge black man, like his gunners, was naked to the waist and had a scarf tied around his ears. “Going to be lively, sir,” he greeted Sharpe, nodding toward the enemy line that was now barely a mile away. A half-dozen ships were firing at the Victory, just as another half-dozen were hammering the Royal Sovereign a little more than a mile to the south. That ship, by far the closest to the French and Spanish line, looked bedraggled, for her studdingsail yards had been shot away and the sails hung like broken wings beside her rigging. She could still not return the enemy’s fire, but in a few minutes she would be among them and her three decks of guns could begin to repay the beating she endured.

The sea ahead of the Pucelle was being pockmarked by shot, flicked by white spray or whipped by round shots skimming the waves, though so far none of those shots had come close to the Pucelle herself. The Temeraire, which had failed to overtake the Victory and was now sailing off her starboard quarter, was taking shots through her sails. Sharpe could see the holes appear like magic, making the ship’s whole spread of canvas quiver. A broken line whipped and flew wide. To Sharpe it seemed as though the Victory and Temeraire were sailing directly toward the Santisima Trinidad with its four smoke-wreathed decks of death. The sound of the enemy guns was loud now, punching over the water, sometimes in thunderous groups, more often single gun by single gun. “It’ll be ten or fifteen minutes before we’re in range, sir,” Clouter said, answering Sharpe’s unspoken question.

“Good luck, Clouter.”

The tall man grinned. “Ain’t a white man alive that can kill me, sir. No, sir, they done all they can to me, and now it’s me and my smasher’s turn.” He patted his carronade, his “smasher,” which was as ugly a weapon as any Sharpe had seen. It resembled an army mortar, though it was slightly longer in the barrel, and it squatted in its short carriage like a deformed cooking pot. The carriage had no wheels, but instead allowed the barrel to slide back, wood on greased wood. The gun’s wide muzzle gaped and its belly was crammed with one thirty-two-pound round shot and a wooden cask of musket balls. It was no pretty thing, nor was it accurate, but bring it within yards of an enemy ship and it could belch a flail of metal that could have torn the guts out of a battalion.

“A Scotsman invented it.” Sergeant Armstrong had appeared beside Sharpe. The sergeant sniffed as he looked at the vast pot on its carriage. “Heathen gun, sir. Heathen gunner, too,” he added, looking at Clouter. “If we boards an enemy, Clouter,” he said sternly, “you stay close to me.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

“Why close to you?” Sharpe asked Armstrong as they walked away from the carronade.

“Because when that black heathen starts to fight, sir, there ain’t a man born who dares stand in his way. A fiend, he is.” Armstrong sounded disapproving, but then, Clouter was palpably not a Northumbrian. “And you, sir?” Armstrong asked suspiciously. “Will you board with us?” What the sergeant really wanted to know was whether Sharpe planned to usurp his authority...


Sergeant Armstrong sounds like quite an upstanding fellow. Big Grin

You goddamn communist heathen, you had best sound off that you love the Virgin Mary... or I'm gonna stomp your guts out!
2013 Nov 13 00:19
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RE: 50 "Incredibly Tough Books" for "X-treme Readers"
(2013 Nov 13 00:19)Blackthorne Wrote:  I've heard of Lytton but I haven't read anything by him yet. Any suggestions?
Zanoni. Smile
Quote:The sergeant came from Seahouses in Northumberland where he had been imbued with a deep distrust of the Scots.
I stayed there a few weeks once in a motorhome. Great beach and sand dunes. Town's a bit shabby, but plenty of good things nearby. Years later, I discovered an ancestress had lived there in the mid Nineteenth Century. Silly woman ended up marrying a second generation Scot, though! Eek

"And now if a whole nation fell into that? In such a case, I answer, infallibly they will return out of it. For life is no cunningly-devised deception or self deception, it is a great truth that thou art alive, that thou hast desires, necessities: neither can these subsist and satisfy themselves on delusions, but on fact. To fact, depend on it, we shall come back: to such fact, blessed or cursed, as we have wisdom for."
Thomas Carlyle
2013 Nov 13 00:45
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RE: 50 "Incredibly Tough Books" for "X-treme Readers"
(2013 Nov 13 00:45)Osweo Wrote:  
(2013 Nov 13 00:19)Blackthorne Wrote:  I've heard of Lytton but I haven't read anything by him yet. Any suggestions?
Zanoni. Smile

Wish listed on Amazon, might be interesting given my interest in occult topics. Hmm...

Quote:I stayed there a few weeks once in a motorhome. Great beach and sand dunes. Town's a bit shabby, but plenty of good things nearby. Years later, I discovered an ancestress had lived there in the mid Nineteenth Century. Silly woman ended up marrying a second generation Scot, though! Eek

So you're partly descended from thieving bastards then- in the opinion of our good fictional sergeant? Big Grin Nothing wrong with that- as long as you don't make it a habbit of eating haggis and muttering about William Wallance. Tongue

Interesting thing about those Sharpe books (and military novels in general, I'm going to get Master and Commander at some point)- I've learned a bit about European geography and general attitudes of the time period, to say nothing of history that I'd had nary any knowledge of before (i.e. the Line of Torres Vedras that the English threw up to keep the frogs out of Lisbon during the Peninsular War).

You goddamn communist heathen, you had best sound off that you love the Virgin Mary... or I'm gonna stomp your guts out!
2013 Nov 13 04:57
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Arnau
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RE: 50 "Incredibly Tough Books" for "X-treme Readers"
Again, as usual, an Anglocentric list, seasoned with some non-English books here and there to look more global. At least this time they didn't call it "The 50 ...-est books of all time". Big Grin

And is the list for real? I mean, why not add the Little Prince? Some of the books there are quite easy-reading. Being long is not the same as being tough. A novella can be tougher sometimes. And while it's obvious that philosophical books have been excluded, why novels like Musil's Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man without Qualities) or Eco's Il pendolo di Foucault (Foucault's Pendulum) are missing is a sort of mystery.

Anyway, I've noticed the list is full with books from the last centuries, when in truth the toughest ones to read are those of several centuries ago, either because of the language, the style, the "lack of action" for our 21st-century perception or simply because we're totally out of context now. I've tried to read Llull's Blanquerna, first novel in my language and regarded by some as the first European novel, and frankly only been able to read parts of it. In fact, books from Ancient times may even feel closer to us than those medieval ones. Writings like Aristophanes' plays are almost immortal precisely because they're written in an easier way and dealing with topics that always will be there.

It is also funny how things can change depending on your age. I would read books regarded as adult or tough when I was 12 that I can't read right now, basically because I don't read any more for pleasure anything that hasn't caught my attention in the very first chapter. I had more patience as a child and it was often rewarding.
2013 Nov 13 17:21
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