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February 19th, 2008, 19:36
I read a couple of Gothic novels — The Castle Otranto and Vathek. They must've been really cool when they came out around 1800, but now they're the novel equivalent of Barbarella or Zardoz.

Originally Posted by Horace Walpole
"Oh! wound not my agonising soul!" said Hippolita; "thou never
couldst offend me—Alas! she faints! help! help!"

"I would say something more," said Matilda, struggling, "but it
cannot be—Isabella—Theodore—for my sake—Oh!—" she expired.

Isabella and her women tore Hippolita from the corse; but Theodore
threatened destruction to all who attempted to remove him from it.
He printed a thousand kisses on her clay-cold hands, and uttered
every expression that despairing love could dictate.
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February 19th, 2008, 19:42
Reading older novels can certainly be…..challenging.

Last of the Mohicans is one of my favorite movies (Daniel Day Lewis version). So a few years back I decided to actually read the novel. While I liked the story still, the style of writing and dialogue made me want to tear my eyes out at times!
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February 19th, 2008, 19:58
Mark Twain has written a couple of essays on Fenimore Cooper's style that will bring tears to your eyes, too. here's a brief sample if you haven't read them:

Cooper's gift in the way of invention was not a rich endowment; but such as it was he liked to work it, he was pleased with the effects, and indeed he did some quite sweet things with it. In his little box of stage properties he kept six or eight cunning devices, tricks, artifices for his savages and woodsmen to deceive and circumvent each other with, and he was never so happy as when he was working these innocent things and seeing them go.

@ Prime J—-I commend your literary perseverance in working through Otranto—I can't make myself slog through the purple prose, gasps and swoons;-pretty over the top stuff- and as the equivalent of the modern bodice-ripper, extremely demeaning to the intelligence of the female of the species —but also very seminal in the formation of the genre we now call horror. Lovecraft and even Poe himself can be a little thick to read at times.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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February 19th, 2008, 20:17
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
@ Prime J—-I commend your literary perseverance in working through Otranto—I can't make myself slog through the purple prose, gasps and swoons;-pretty over the top stuff- and as the equivalent of the modern bodice-ripper, extremely demeaning to the intelligence of the female of the species —but also very seminal in the formation of the genre we now call horror. Lovecraft and even Poe himself can be a little thick to read at times.
It's short.

Vathek was better written, but rather unpleasant in other ways; in particular, it contained just about every Orientalist cliché ever invented, and it had a distinctly perverted twist to it — sort of an Arabian Nights tale written by a slightly anal-retentive Marquis de Sade with less literary talent.

Originally Posted by William Beckford
So beautiful a cemetery must be haunted by Gouls! and they want not for intelligence; having heedlessly suffered my guides to expire, I will apply for directions to them, and as an inducement will invite them to regale on these fresh corpses."

After this short soliloquy she beckoned to Nerkes and Cafour, and made signs with her fingers, as much as to say, "Go, knock against the sides of the tombs, and strike up your delightful warblings, that are so like to those of the guests whose company I wish to obtain."

The negresses, full of joy at the behests of their mistress, and promising themselves much pleasure from the society of the Gouls, went with an air of conquest, and began their knockings at the tombs; as their strokes were repeated a hollow noise was heard in the earth, the surface hove up into heaps, and the Gouls on all sides protruded their noses, to inhale the effluvia which the carcases of the wood-men began to emit.

They assembled before a sarcophagus of white marble, where Carathis was seated between the bodies of her miserable guides; the princess received her visitants with distinguished politeness, and, when supper was ended, proceeded with them to business. Having soon learnt from them everything she wished to discover, it was her intention to set forward forthwith on her journey, but her negresses, who were forming tender connections with the Gouls, importuned her with all their fingers to wait at least till the dawn. Carathis, however, being chastity in the abstract, and an implacable enemy to love and repose, at once rejected their prayer, mounted Alboufaki, and commanded them to take their seats in a moment; four days and four nights she continued her route, without turning to the right hand or left; on the fifth she traversed the mountains and half- burnt forests, and arrived on the sixth before the beautiful screens which concealed from all eyes the voluptuous wanderings of her son.
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February 19th, 2008, 20:28
At the moment I'm reading the french translation of «War and peace», by Tolstoy.

A must read for anyone interested by history.
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February 19th, 2008, 20:42
That's a classic if there ever was one. He does tend to go on about free will and the lack thereof, though…
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February 19th, 2008, 23:17
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
It's short.

Vathek was better written, but rather unpleasant in other ways; in particular, it contained just about every Orientalist cliché ever invented, and it had a distinctly perverted twist to it — sort of an Arabian Nights tale written by a slightly anal-retentive Marquis de Sade with less literary talent.
I'll have to find a copy of that one, it's new to me—thanks for the rec. A lot of the tedium of early literature is that it was so busy establishing what is now cliche, though no doubt there's good grounds to assume it was already existing or at least becoming cultural cliche—nonetheless I perversely love the style:

…but her negresses, who were forming tender connections with the Gouls, importuned her with all their fingers to wait at least till the dawn. Carathis, however, being chastity in the abstract, and an implacable enemy to love and repose, at once rejected their prayer, mounted Alboufaki, and … four days and four nights she continued her route…and arrived on the sixth before the beautiful screens which concealed from all eyes the voluptuous wanderings of her son.
Someone always has to spoil the party.
And Allboufaki would have to be a) her spirited Arab/Mameluke steed or B) an undead mount and apparition of ghastly spectral countenance, no doubt…awesome.
One can only wonder wth is going on and surmise it may be best not to know—
it doesn't get much more evocative of sinister befouled graveyards, convoluted supernatural plottings and dark mistresses than that.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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February 20th, 2008, 10:15
Erm, well, don't blame me if you do read it. The text is on-line if you don't mind reading from the screen: [ http://digital.library.upenn.edu/web…ookup?num=2060 ].
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March 4th, 2008, 22:43
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Erm, well, don't blame me if you do read it. The text is on-line if you don't mind reading from the screen: [ http://digital.library.upenn.edu/web…ookup?num=2060 ].
I may end up going that route, though I normally don't like reading a whole novel online—went to the only bookstore likely to carry it around here, and they were not able to supply it, even though it's listed online in their inventory. So I was forced to pick up Matter @ 40% off instead. It's an insidious capitalist bookseller's plot if you ask me-(-they even had buy 2 Neil Gaimans get 1 free…unfortunately my funds were exhausted by that point.)

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April 8th, 2008, 08:44
I'm currently reading Something wicked this way comes.
While reading it, I constantly feel that I'm somehow left outside.
Like I'm looking at something but not quite understanding what It is I'm looking at.


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April 8th, 2008, 13:15
So you don't have the feeling of being drawn into the story ?

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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April 8th, 2008, 14:23
I read Underground and Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Both good books. I haven't read Norwegian Wood…how is it so far?
It is great… I got crazy about him and kept reading his other books,,, THE ENDINGS are so annoying though, the latest one I finished was sputnick sweethearts, in the beginning it is brilliant, it is about a young japanese girl who fall in love with a 15 years older korean woman…..!! But the ending is ¤#"¤"¤#"%#%&¤/%/&/%&/%/% making me aaaaaangry even a week after I finished it.
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April 10th, 2008, 12:38
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
I commend your literary perseverance in working through Otranto—I can't make myself slog through the purple prose, gasps and swoons;-pretty over the top stuff- and as the equivalent of the modern bodice-ripper, extremely demeaning to the intelligence of the female of the species —but also very seminal in the formation of the genre we now call horror. Lovecraft and even Poe himself can be a little thick to read at times.
You should read it. Otranto is, I freely admit that, not a particularly interesting story - at least not from a modern perspective. What makes The Castle of Otranto outstanding is that it is the first of its kind (at least it's usually credited to be the first one - some critics will throw in Tobia's Smollett's Ferdinand Count Fathom). It contains all the elements of the so called Terror Gothic that you will later on find in Radcliff's novels which I can also recommend. The Mysteries of Udolpho is pretty much a must. She was the dominating figure of the 1790's when it comes to Gothic fiction and one should have really read something from her. Also recommendable is Matthew Lewis' The Monk - a subversive masterpiece that marks the turn from Terror Gothic to Horror Gothic… not entirely serious, it IS transgressive even today. You have incest, matricide, blasphemy and excessive violence.
Another one which you should read is Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer, again a rather subversive novel which picks up the legend of the wandering jew, a story which you can find in almost every western community.
And then there are of course Mary Shelly, Bram Stoker and Poe… but I guess, you've read all of them.

I admit that it is sometimes hard work to "dig" through these old works, but I really think that it always pays out in the end. If you watch "Event Horizon" on TV you'll be surprised how much it resembles the pattern that was laid down by Walpole and others. Sometimes it also helps to read some literary criticism to make things more interesting for you. Dracula which is often seen as the climax of late Victorian pop culture is certainly much more than that. But to fully understand the novel one simply needs some knowledge on Stoker and the Victorian period.

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April 10th, 2008, 16:26
Thanks for the input, ISS. I've read Udolpho, but so long ago it's very indistinct. I think I've missed The Monk, though I'm familiar with its place in the field, so that's one I need to pick up. I definitely agree that it's rewarding in the end to work through these older classics, and I'll give Otranto a try next time my online bookseller has a sale.

Yes, I 've read a lot of Victoriana over the years as well, starting with Conan Doyle who broke me in to the narrative style, and perhaps some of my favorite novelists fall into that period—George Elliot and Thomas Hardy on the more serious end. It's easier I think for me to get into these books because they're quite similar in tone, phrasing and structure to the children's classics I read back in the late Stone Age of my childhood—Treasure Island, The Black Arrow, Black Beauty,Heidi, The Secret Garden etc. So segueing into the adult Victorians wasn't much of a reach. The stuff written a century or so previously, though, is bit more challenging, but as I said, I enjoy it's over the top quality, and sometimes, as in Frankenstein, it's surprisingly fresh and readable.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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April 29th, 2008, 16:19
This thread!!

Sorry couldn't resist.

Other than that, I'm reading The Gods Themselves by Asimov and it sucks, though first half was great.

What you think about most, is what you become.
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April 30th, 2008, 05:28
Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind

tigress is all telling me about the Sword of Truth series, so i'm giving it a try
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April 30th, 2008, 06:14
First few books are pretty good, Sammy. After 4-5 volumes, it really fizzled out, IMO.

Sorry. No pearls of wisdom in this oyster.
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April 30th, 2008, 08:26
I agree, I don't remember if it was the 4th or 5th I couldn't finish!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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April 30th, 2008, 08:57
Seconded (thrided?), the first few were good but I got the impression the author started taking himself too seriously.

I've just finished Winterbirth by Brian Ruckley looks like the start of a pretty decent series. I'd recomend it for fantasy fans, was also impressed by Greg Keyes Kingdoms of Thron and Bone which starts with The Brian King.

Currently reading The Battle for Spain, Antony Beevor's history of the Spanish Civil war.

I've a bookmark in AJP Taylor's The Course of German History which is *cough* interesting.

And Lian Hearn's Harsh Cry of the Heron is sitting on the desk looking at me.
Last edited by V7; April 30th, 2008 at 09:04.
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May 1st, 2008, 00:32
I'm nearly finished 'The Great Book of Amber' all 10 of the Amber novels. Haven't read the whole series through in years, so it's been a wonderful exercise in nostalgia!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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