Easy & Hard to Read Stuff?

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philchenevert
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Post by philchenevert » October 20th, 2017, 9:25 pm

Some authors are a real struggle for me while others just seem to flow. Do you, like me, have an unconscious 'rating' of the book as you go along and a list of people you want to avoid? i sure do. I just finished recording a translation of Xenophone and his phrasing was so awkward that it just drove me to distraction; needing to re=record again and again because it just was hard to make sense of the sentence.

So, my question is: which authoers in your opinion are the easiest to record and which are the h ardest? Personally I find Chesterton and Poe require the most work t o get right while Mark Twain and Robert Howard just are as smooth as silk and I can do a paragraph and never once need to stop. How 'bout you? Any favorites? Any hates? Image
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barbara2
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Post by barbara2 » October 20th, 2017, 10:55 pm

philchenevert wrote:Some authors are a real struggle for me while others just seem to flow. Do you, like me, have an unconscious 'rating' of the book as you go along and a list of people you want to avoid? i sure do. I just finished recording a translation of Xenophone and his phrasing was so awkward that it just drove me to distraction; needing to re=record again and again because it just was hard to make sense of the sentence.

So, my question is: which authoers in your opinion are the easiest to record and which are the h ardest? Personally I find Chesterton and Poe require the most work t o get right while Mark Twain and Robert Howard just are as smooth as silk and I can do a paragraph and never once need to stop. How 'bout you? Any favorites? Any hates? Image
I've come across what seem to be the works of hack translators and dodgy publishers. So I guess the translator could have made reading Xenophon even tougher? I'm trying to avoid such translations. Oh, and Thomas Carlyle's jagged, contortions of his mother tongue.

Sir Thomas Browne was my greatest challenge. His style is ornate, baroque, stocked with untranslated (!) references from the ancients, from Christian theology, from esoteric learning and from the new sciences which were supplanting it. When Browne was a schoolboy, Shakespeare was still alive. But, Browne's prose was worth every bit of the effort I had to make - "But the iniquity of oblivion blindly scattereth her poppy, and deals of the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity. Who can but pity the founders of the pyramids?"


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Barbara

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Post by lurcherlover » October 21st, 2017, 12:18 am

Well, yes, I agree. I don't find English writers such as Chesterton at all difficult, but I've just read something by Gustav Kobbe who was a German who settled in the US, as a music critic. His sentence structure and obviously his English was pretty poor. Often qualifying words were at the end of sentences, which I suspect is normal in the German language. (correct me if I'm wrong).

I really wanted to re-order the words in some of his sentences - but this was not allowed, so you got what he said, in the strange way he said it. He also had a certain amount of German and French in whole sentences, which I always find a struggle.

I find English writers the easiest, followed by US writers (who use a fairly close form of English!) Having said that, some translations of French works such as Maupassant and others, are not too bad at all. I suppose it may be down to how good the original translators were. As I tend to mess up badly most of the time anyway, I suppose it's not making that much of a difference. (But I am slowly improving - I think ...)

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Post by TriciaG » October 21st, 2017, 4:51 am

I don't know that I have a list of authors I find harder or easier. It seems to me in general that the older the works are, the harder they are for me to read. I think that sentence structure, vocabulary, etc. changes over time, so the more recent stuff is closer to what I'm used to.

There are exceptions, of course. Children's works from all times will be easier than theological discourses or other really wordy authors. And some authors are just plain more difficult. But generally, I find this to be the case.
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Post by lurcherlover » October 21st, 2017, 5:01 am

TriciaG wrote:I don't know that I have a list of authors I find harder or easier. It seems to me in general that the older the works are, the harder they are for me to read. I think that sentence structure, vocabulary, etc. changes over time, so the more recent stuff is closer to what I'm used to.
Yes, very true. Except that I find old Will Shakespeare relatively easy - but then it's all been in my head for a long time - around 60 years. Of course I had to work a bit at the sonnets - since I came very late to reading them.

Some of the problems with the older writers is, I think, that some can be very dry, and obscure. (Or maybe I need a proper brain to understand them). (Just like the late Beethoven quartets. It seems you have to be nearly forty before they make sense). it was the case for me.

The strange thing for me is that poetry is so much easier than prose - It seems more direct and less around the bushes to get to the point. (At least in the great poems).

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Post by barbara2 » October 21st, 2017, 7:20 am

lurcherlover wrote:
....

Some of the problems with the older writers is, I think, that some can be very dry, and obscure. (Or maybe I need a proper brain to understand them). (Just like the late Beethoven quartets. It seems you have to be nearly forty before they make sense). it was the case for me.

....
Butting in to say that I'd just taken an Op. 131 CD out of its sleeve when I read that :lol:

Best,

Barbara

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Post by lurcherlover » October 21st, 2017, 9:36 am

Op 131 in C sharp minor is my absolute favourite. Played by the Quartetto Italiano.

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Post by chocoholic » October 21st, 2017, 5:54 pm

I tend to find 20th century American writers easy to read aloud, I assume because their sentence structure and rhythm is close to the way I talk myself. F Scott Fitzgerald's short stories were a joy. Shakespeare is also usually no problem because, well, he intended his plays to be spoken aloud, which makes a big difference. I had probably the most trouble with one (about chocolate!) that was translated from Spanish to English in the 1600s. That one had a combination of weird spellings, unfamiliar words ("pinguifie," seriously), and convoluted logic. And the US Constitution was not that easy for me to read aloud because of the 18th-century legalese.
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Post by david wales » November 4th, 2017, 5:40 pm

I have taken an oath on my children's lives (actually they are dachshunds) never to read Henry James or Charles Dickens again. I know, I know!!! There are those who simply love these writers but I find it really difficult to get my mouth around them. Life's too short (especially at my age) to butt my head against them. But I do enjoy the challenge of reading George Crabbe. I have to psyche myself up because it's a lot of work not to fall into singsong with his heroic couplets but he is so unsentimentally observant and (often) humorous. Benjamin Britten used Crabbe's section on Peter Grimes in The Borough for his eponymous opera(though Britten changed the meaning of the story). I'm now in the process of reading for lv Horace Porter's Campaigning With Grant and it turns out Porter's style is so easy and just goes on and on like soft butter. I'm lovin' it!
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Post by Piotrek81 » November 5th, 2017, 2:41 am

I found HP Lovecraft hard to read due to his ornate style. The English translation of "The Mysterious Island" had me stop every now and again as I had to repeatedly make sense of the syntax.

Slightly different, but one of main reasons why I dropped my second Polish solo was because it was written in a sentimental style full of exclamations, oh's and ah's which I found I couldn't handle.
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