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Author Topic: What is everyone reading?  (Read 375740 times) Average Rating: 5
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« Reply #1485 on: September 11, 2010, 11:25:07 PM »



Undercover: Judging People by Their Books
by Beth Carswell


Of all – wait, I mean both – my faults, I am most aware of my nosiness. I love to know things, and delight in ferreting out information about people. Fortunately, this excludes celebrity gossip, so I haven’t become a vacuous bubblehead as yet. But I find ordinary, everyday folk fascinating, and love to know what they listen to, watch, eat, and especially read.

Books, and the books that people choose to read for pleasure, are an endless joy and fascination for me. One of my favourite things to do (occasionally surreptitiously but usually unabashedly) when I am in a new friend’s home for the first time is to peruse their bookshelves. Is it neat, orderly, and tidy? Does it consist largely of textbooks and career books? Is it stuffed to overflowing, books crammed here and there at various angles? Does he have rare and collectible books? Does she have a secret shelf of shame devoted to bad romance and old Sweet Valley High from her tween years? What’s on the nightstand? Which book looks to have been read the most?


It’s a joyful way to judge someone by the contents of their bookshelves, and I fear we’ll lose that, with e-readers becoming so prevalent. Sure, they have their benefits. E-readers make it feasible to carry many books at once, without breaking your back or bag. They’re tidy, efficient, and some technophiles love the look and feel of them. And as someone with mild hoarding tendencies, an e-reader is a tempting way to reduce clutter (though my entire being revolts at the idea of books as clutter).


But in 10 or five or even two years, when I enter a friend’s home for the first time, what might I find? Sure, most people will still have books. But many of their reading choices will be hidden away in the impersonal, pixelated depths of their reading device. And while I imagine it would be considered rude to pick up someone’s e-reader and start idly flicking through, it is perfectly acceptable to openly snoop by inching from one end of a shelf to the other, head cocked at an uncomfortable angle, glass of wine in hand. I love exclaiming when I find one of my favourites on their shelf. I love begging to borrow a book I’ve been dying to read for years. I love silently evaluating their choices and smiling smugly if I feel mine are better.


How can we weed out ill-advised love partners if their stacks of Tom Clancy, John Grisham and Dean Koontz aren’t on display? Should people be obliged to reveal it upfront if they indulge in Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Jackie Collins? How can we fall in love that much more quickly if we can’t see his amazing collection of noir and pulp in the hallway, or her extensive heap of Calvin & Hobbes? I imagine we’ll at least still be able to peruse each other’s cookbooks, since I can’t imagine a minestrone-splattered screen is good for an e-reader.


For me, books are part of my house, part of my decor, and part of who I am. When you come into my home (mind the clutter), I expect and welcome you to eye the shelves, laugh at some inclusions, ask about some inclusions (yes, I collect Roald Dahl, and have almost everything he ever wrote; yes, I have a surprising number of comics and graphic novels including all of Garth Ennis' Preacher and Neil Gaiman's Sandman; yes, I read all those zombie books, and my favorite of them was Max Brooks' World War Z which was very intelligent and detailed; yes, I am a woman in her 30s; no, I am not ashamed) and to pull down copies, admire my few cherished collectible books, borrow, discuss, argue – and yes, even draw conclusions.


Don’t worry. I’ll do the same to you.
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« Reply #1486 on: September 11, 2010, 11:28:51 PM »

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« Reply #1487 on: September 12, 2010, 12:55:31 AM »



Undercover: Judging People by Their Books
by Beth Carswell


Of all – wait, I mean both – my faults, I am most aware of my nosiness. I love to know things, and delight in ferreting out information about people. Fortunately, this excludes celebrity gossip, so I haven’t become a vacuous bubblehead as yet. But I find ordinary, everyday folk fascinating, and love to know what they listen to, watch, eat, and especially read.

Books, and the books that people choose to read for pleasure, are an endless joy and fascination for me. One of my favourite things to do (occasionally surreptitiously but usually unabashedly) when I am in a new friend’s home for the first time is to peruse their bookshelves. Is it neat, orderly, and tidy? Does it consist largely of textbooks and career books? Is it stuffed to overflowing, books crammed here and there at various angles? Does he have rare and collectible books? Does she have a secret shelf of shame devoted to bad romance and old Sweet Valley High from her tween years? What’s on the nightstand? Which book looks to have been read the most?


It’s a joyful way to judge someone by the contents of their bookshelves, and I fear we’ll lose that, with e-readers becoming so prevalent. Sure, they have their benefits. E-readers make it feasible to carry many books at once, without breaking your back or bag. They’re tidy, efficient, and some technophiles love the look and feel of them. And as someone with mild hoarding tendencies, an e-reader is a tempting way to reduce clutter (though my entire being revolts at the idea of books as clutter).


But in 10 or five or even two years, when I enter a friend’s home for the first time, what might I find? Sure, most people will still have books. But many of their reading choices will be hidden away in the impersonal, pixelated depths of their reading device. And while I imagine it would be considered rude to pick up someone’s e-reader and start idly flicking through, it is perfectly acceptable to openly snoop by inching from one end of a shelf to the other, head cocked at an uncomfortable angle, glass of wine in hand. I love exclaiming when I find one of my favourites on their shelf. I love begging to borrow a book I’ve been dying to read for years. I love silently evaluating their choices and smiling smugly if I feel mine are better.


How can we weed out ill-advised love partners if their stacks of Tom Clancy, John Grisham and Dean Koontz aren’t on display? Should people be obliged to reveal it upfront if they indulge in Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Jackie Collins? How can we fall in love that much more quickly if we can’t see his amazing collection of noir and pulp in the hallway, or her extensive heap of Calvin & Hobbes? I imagine we’ll at least still be able to peruse each other’s cookbooks, since I can’t imagine a minestrone-splattered screen is good for an e-reader.


For me, books are part of my house, part of my decor, and part of who I am. When you come into my home (mind the clutter), I expect and welcome you to eye the shelves, laugh at some inclusions, ask about some inclusions (yes, I collect Roald Dahl, and have almost everything he ever wrote; yes, I have a surprising number of comics and graphic novels including all of Garth Ennis' Preacher and Neil Gaiman's Sandman; yes, I read all those zombie books, and my favorite of them was Max Brooks' World War Z which was very intelligent and detailed; yes, I am a woman in her 30s; no, I am not ashamed) and to pull down copies, admire my few cherished collectible books, borrow, discuss, argue – and yes, even draw conclusions.


Don’t worry. I’ll do the same to you.


Awesome! I do the same thing. I know it's judgmental and snobbish, but I do judge people partially by what they read. Like the lady who wrote this article, I too look to see what books are in someone's home when I first visit.

I also admit that I am ostentatious about displaying my own books in my house. I hope people will notice what I read and assess my intellect, morality, and spiritual and social convictions by what I read. I confess that this reveals my insecurity and pride, which are two sides of the same coin. But in my defense, I also hope that the books people notice in my home will generate substantive discussion.

What I usually notice is that most people have a collection of books that cater to one point of view. You can usually look at someone's bookshelf and tell whether they are a conservative or a liberal. Most people think think that erudition is reading a plethora of books that cater to one point of view. But I have always thought that diversity of reading is far more valuable than quantity. I would be willing to bet that if someone merely looked at my book collection, they would be hard pressed to determine whether I am a liberal or a conservative (and as many of you know, I'm neither.)

Anyway, I appreciated the honesty of this article. I can definitely relate. Thanks for sharing it. Smiley

BTW, I am such a snob that I made my wife put her "Left Behind" series out in the storage shed. I did not want people judging me by that set of books! Like I said, I really am very insecure.  Embarrassed


Selam
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« Reply #1488 on: September 16, 2010, 12:40:19 AM »

A New Model of the Universe - Peter D. Ouspensky
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« Reply #1489 on: September 17, 2010, 04:08:51 PM »

Rereading Homer's Odyssey.
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« Reply #1490 on: September 17, 2010, 06:10:52 PM »

St. Thomas' Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics.
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« Reply #1491 on: September 24, 2010, 02:28:53 AM »

Aside from textbooks, and a couple books I'm skimming (ie. quote mining) for a management paper, right now I'm reading...

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution, by Richard Dawkins
Pleasure and the Good Life: Concerning the Nature, Varieties, and Plausibility of Hedonism, by Fred Feldman
The Quotable Atheist: Ammunition for Non-Believers, Political Junkies, Gadflies, and Those Generally Hell-Bound, by Jack Huberman

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« Reply #1492 on: September 24, 2010, 03:21:58 AM »

The Lazlo Letters

I recently pulled this book out and revisited it. It is hilarious! One of the funniest books ever. Here's a sample of the book (these are actual correspondences mind you, basically the premise is "prank letters."):

http://www.sullivansfarms.net/s1dneycom/lazlo/


Selam
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« Reply #1493 on: September 24, 2010, 11:01:42 AM »

"The Cyclist's Manifesto" by Robert Hurst - common-sense suggestions for using the bicycle for more of your transportation needs. I like that he isn't anti-automobile, just encouraging more bike use as well.
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« Reply #1494 on: September 24, 2010, 12:18:26 PM »

St John Apocalypse.
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« Reply #1495 on: September 24, 2010, 12:50:01 PM »

On Being and Essence - St. Thomas Aquinas
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« Reply #1496 on: September 24, 2010, 02:04:29 PM »

Just downloaded some new audiobooks from the library.   Smiley  I'm hoping my autumn reading will go a little better than the summer reading did.

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« Reply #1497 on: September 27, 2010, 02:48:22 PM »

Just finished Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization by Lars Brownworth (wonderful book, btw).

Starting Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire by Judith Herrin.

Re-reading Partakers of Divine Nature by Archimandrite Christoforos Stavropoulos (transl. Fr. Stanley Harakas) for a book study I'll be leading soon.

And still trudging through The Way of the Spirit: Reflections on Life in God by Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra.  As soon as I finish this one, I'll move on to C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves.
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« Reply #1498 on: October 02, 2010, 09:33:22 AM »

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

A great book.


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This is the second time I hve tried to read this book (since so many praise it on this web-site) but I can only make it through the first chapter.  I can see how this book would appeal to a practicing Christian, but it just seems so dull while I read it. I don't know if it is just Dostoevsky's writing style or just the story itself, but I just can't get through this book.  I'll try again later.
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« Reply #1499 on: October 02, 2010, 11:27:20 AM »

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

A great book.


Selam


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This is the second time I hve tried to read this book (since so many praise it on this web-site) but I can only make it through the first chapter.  I can see how this book would appeal to a practicing Christian, but it just seems so dull while I read it. I don't know if it is just Dostoevsky's writing style or just the story itself, but I just can't get through this book.  I'll try again later.


You may want to try another translation. The most difficult part of the book for me was learning all the names and characters. Once I finally got the who's who straight, the book was a real page turner. I also had to look up a lot of the words back then, as my vocabulary was not as advanced as it is now. I was a Christian at the time, but not Orthodox. Now that I'm Orthodox, I'm sure I would enjoy it even more. I really should read it again sometime. Here is the translation I have:

http://www.amazon.com/Brothers-Karamazov-Vintage-Classics/dp/0679729259



Selam
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« Reply #1500 on: October 02, 2010, 12:09:22 PM »

Out of curiosity, does anyone else have a specific translation that they'd recommend (I am not, of course, ignoring your suggestion Gebre Smiley )? I also had difficulties with The Brothers Karamazov.  The version I tried before (and still have, since I was planning on giving it another shot) is a Barnes and Noble edition translated by Constance Garnett. Anyway, speaking of Barnes and Noble, I just got back from there with a new book, which I'll be starting today...

In the Heart of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, by John Chryssavgis
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« Reply #1501 on: October 02, 2010, 02:59:27 PM »

I am currently reading Mother Gavrilia: The Ascetic of Love
by Nun Gavrilia, The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality
Kyriacos C. Markides, and my Orthodox Study Bible.
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« Reply #1502 on: October 02, 2010, 02:59:56 PM »

Right now I'm reading H.P. Lovecraft: Tales. I've enjoyed it though I've only read a small bit of it. I'm not reading it in order but so far I've read "The Colour out of Space" (which is amazing), "The Music of Erich Zann," and I'm currently reading "The Call of Cthulhu"
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« Reply #1503 on: October 02, 2010, 04:43:41 PM »

Quote
In the Heart of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, by John Chryssavgis

I'm reading the same.
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« Reply #1504 on: October 02, 2010, 05:06:51 PM »

Out of curiosity, does anyone else have a specific translation that they'd recommend (I am not, of course, ignoring your suggestion Gebre Smiley )? I also had difficulties with The Brothers Karamazov.  The version I tried before (and still have, since I was planning on giving it another shot) is a Barnes and Noble edition translated by Constance Garnett. Anyway, speaking of Barnes and Noble, I just got back from there with a new book, which I'll be starting today...

There is a version which was translated by Pevear & Volokhonsky that I found quite easy to read (and was told it was a very good translation).  The cover is mostly dark red in colour.

Here it is:  http://www.amazon.com/Brothers-Karamazov-Fyodor-Dostoevsky/dp/0374528373/ref=pd_sim_b_5
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« Reply #1505 on: October 03, 2010, 03:33:26 AM »

I am currently reading Mother Gavrilia: The Ascetic of Love
by Nun Gavrilia, The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality
Kyriacos C. Markides, and my Orthodox Study Bible.


I thoroughly enjoyed The Mountain of Silence!



Selam
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« Reply #1506 on: October 03, 2010, 02:27:04 PM »

Just finished St. Gregory of Nyssa's Life of Moses. I almost wish I had read this before I read the Old Testament.

Not sure what to read next... I've had Le Mort D'Arthur on my shelf for a long time, maybe it's time to dig into that.
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« Reply #1507 on: October 06, 2010, 11:21:15 AM »

My parish was having a used book sale, so I picked some up this morning. Got four of them for $3.50! Grin

Aquinas: Selected Writings
City of God, by St. Augustine
Mary in the New Testament, ed. by Brown, Donfried, Fitzmyer, Reumann
Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics, by Chas S. Clifton

Two things of note that I saw as I skimmed through the book on heresies. First, it has a relatively lengthy entry on my favorite gnostic, Carpocrates, which I didn't expect to see. Second, I found it interesting that author of this book apparently consider the Pseudo-Dionysian texts to be heretical (and I might also add that at least one of the claims is, at best, imprecise or misleading).
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« Reply #1508 on: October 06, 2010, 12:05:36 PM »

I just started reading "Murder at Five Finger Light," by Sue Henry. It's from her Jessie Arnold series.   Smiley
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« Reply #1509 on: October 06, 2010, 01:30:20 PM »

Second, I found it interesting that author of this book apparently consider the Pseudo-Dionysian texts to be heretical (and I might also add that at least one of the claims is, at best, imprecise or misleading).

In what manner does it speculate them to be heretical?
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« Reply #1510 on: October 06, 2010, 08:11:57 PM »

My parish was having a used book sale, so I picked some up this morning. Got four of them for $3.50! Grin

Aquinas: Selected Writings
City of God, by St. Augustine
Got em both. Smiley
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« Reply #1511 on: October 06, 2010, 09:26:40 PM »

Second, I found it interesting that author of this book apparently consider the Pseudo-Dionysian texts to be heretical (and I might also add that at least one of the claims is, at best, imprecise or misleading).
In what manner does it speculate them to be heretical?

It doesn't really go into much detail, with the entire entry being maybe 250 words long, but regarding the (non)orthodoxy of the Dionysian works, here are the parts that are most relevant...

"During the sixth century, however, Dionysius's name was plucked from the New Testament and attached to a body of Neoplatonic writings in order to give a Christian gloss to a work of essentially non-Christian philosophy... As a conduit for introducing Neoplatonic thought into Christianity, the words of pseudo-Dionysius were very influential in both the Eastern and Western churches. They were translated into Latin in the ninth century by the Irish theologian Duns (Johannes) Scotus Erigena and helped influence the medieval theologians' view of heaven as a realm filled with 'light'--an emanation from God that was not material but a force that filled material objects to a greater or lesser degree."

-- Chas S. Clifton, Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics, (Barnes and Noble Books, 1992), p. 36
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« Reply #1512 on: October 06, 2010, 11:36:22 PM »

My parish was having a used book sale, so I picked some up this morning. Got four of them for $3.50! Grin

Aquinas: Selected Writings
City of God, by St. Augustine
Got em both. Smiley
Google books has both online for free. 
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« Reply #1513 on: October 06, 2010, 11:57:56 PM »

Not sure what to read next... I've had Le Mort D'Arthur on my shelf for a long time, maybe it's time to dig into that.

Always a good read.
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« Reply #1514 on: October 07, 2010, 02:49:38 AM »

The Cult of the Saints--St. John Chrysostom's homilies on the martyrs.

The Way of a Pilgrim.
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« Reply #1515 on: October 24, 2010, 05:41:34 AM »

The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: It's Prehistory and the Problem of Its Canon, by Martin Hengel
Transmission of the Text of the Holy Bible, by Constantine Siamakis
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« Reply #1516 on: October 24, 2010, 12:47:42 PM »

My parish was having a used book sale, so I picked some up this morning. Got four of them for $3.50! Grin

Aquinas: Selected Writings
City of God, by St. Augustine
Got em both. Smiley
Google books has both online for free. 
Can they be downloaded?
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« Reply #1517 on: October 24, 2010, 01:59:45 PM »

Short stories by Katherine Mansfield. Quite amazing. Heard about her, but never read her before. What an interesting author, pity that she died so young (34 y.o., tuberculosis...)
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« Reply #1518 on: October 24, 2010, 10:58:27 PM »

My parish was having a used book sale, so I picked some up this morning. Got four of them for $3.50! Grin

Aquinas: Selected Writings
City of God, by St. Augustine
Got em both. Smiley
Google books has both online for free. 
Can they be downloaded?
Without any special software or hacking, no. PM me.
There is also a new Catholic ebooks site.
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« Reply #1519 on: October 25, 2010, 12:27:42 AM »

Rereading "In This House of Brede" by Rumer Godden, a wonderful novel from 1969 about a career woman named Philippa who decides to become a cloistered Benedictine nun.  Godden was a very evocative writer, and this was her masterpiece.
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« Reply #1520 on: October 25, 2010, 12:49:15 AM »

The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: It's Prehistory and the Problem of Its Canon, by Martin Hengel

Would you mind giving a really minimal summary of it, like what you find on the back of books?
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« Reply #1521 on: October 25, 2010, 03:18:09 AM »

The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: It's Prehistory and the Problem of Its Canon, by Martin Hengel

Would you mind giving a really minimal summary of it, like what you find on the back of books?

Unfortunately the back of the Hengel book just has quotes from other people about how great the book is supposed to be… e.g. “It is written with erudition but also with sufficient clarity… etc.” However, Amazon.com gives this description:

“In this work, world-renowned scholar Martin Hengel laments that so few people (including scholars) appreciate the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), considering it a '’mere translation.‘' By contrast, Hengel recognizes the Septuagint's historical and theological value, noting that it is the first complete and pre-Christian commentary on the Old Testament. The Septuagint as Christian Scripture focuses on a key question: How did this collection of Jewish writings in the Greek language become the authoritative Old Testament Scripture in the Christian church? In the process of answering this question, Hengel touches on the development of the canon and the relationship between church fathers and Scripture.”

Hengel actually does something interesting in that, apparently, he disagrees to some extent with the person who wrote the introduction. Hengel says in the preface: “The important introductory essay which Prof. Dr. Robert Hanhart, the great Septuagint scholar, contributed to this volume goes back to a Tubingen Oberseminar during the winter term of 1990/1. At this Oberseminar I delivered a short version of my book which on the whole has a long and complicated history. His opinion deviated from mine on several points, and this makes his contribution especially valuable. The problems of the Septuagint need open discussion.” (pp. xii-xiii)

I haven’t read far enough to discover on which points exactly their opinions diverge. There is a partial preview of the book on Google Books (if nothing else, the table of contents, can probably tell you as much about the contents of the book as the above blurb from amazon).
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« Reply #1522 on: October 25, 2010, 11:14:38 PM »

Thank you.  Smiley
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« Reply #1523 on: October 26, 2010, 12:02:47 AM »

Out of curiosity, does anyone else have a specific translation that they'd recommend (I am not, of course, ignoring your suggestion Gebre Smiley )? I also had difficulties with The Brothers Karamazov.  The version I tried before (and still have, since I was planning on giving it another shot) is a Barnes and Noble edition translated by Constance Garnett.

Asteriktos, I recently purchased the Vintage Classics offering, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.  This is a new translation that came very highly recommended. 

Unfortunately, I can't personally attest to the translation's quality yet, but The New York Times Book Review wrote of Demons (I know you specifically asked about Brothers Karamazov, but these translators also recently did Demons and Crime & Punishment too) that "The merit in this edition... resides in the technical virtuosity of the translators ... They capture the feverishly intense, personal explosions of activity and emotion that manifest themselves in Russian life."
Specifically on Brothers Karamazov:
"This scrupulous rendition can only be welcomed.  It returns us a work we thought we knew, subtly altered and so made new again." -Washington Post Book World
"It may well be that Dostoevsky's [world], with all its resourceful energies of life and language, is only now--and through the medium of [this] new translation --beginning to come home to the English-speaking reader." -NY Review of Books.

Hope this helps.
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« Reply #1524 on: October 26, 2010, 12:24:59 AM »

Asteriktos, I recently purchased the Vintage Classics offering, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.  This is a new translation that came very highly recommended. 

Unfortunately, I can't personally attest to the translation's quality yet, but The New York Times Book Review wrote of Demons (I know you specifically asked about Brothers Karamazov, but these translators also recently did Demons and Crime & Punishment too) that "The merit in this edition... resides in the technical virtuosity of the translators ... They capture the feverishly intense, personal explosions of activity and emotion that manifest themselves in Russian life."
Specifically on Brothers Karamazov:
"This scrupulous rendition can only be welcomed.  It returns us a work we thought we knew, subtly altered and so made new again." -Washington Post Book World
"It may well be that Dostoevsky's [world], with all its resourceful energies of life and language, is only now--and through the medium of [this] new translation --beginning to come home to the English-speaking reader." -NY Review of Books.

Hope this helps.

Yes, thank you for the suggestion Smiley
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« Reply #1525 on: October 26, 2010, 11:07:02 PM »

just started reading 'the case for god' by karen armstrong.
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« Reply #1526 on: October 27, 2010, 08:14:08 AM »

just started reading 'the case for god' by karen armstrong.

Let us know what you think of it.  I've wanted to read it, but I keep postponing it (for some reason!).  I think it's because it might be too academic for my tastes.  But let us know.
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« Reply #1527 on: October 27, 2010, 03:32:57 PM »

The One and the Many: A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics - Norris Clarke
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« Reply #1528 on: October 27, 2010, 03:40:06 PM »

Rereading Homer's Odyssey.

Given your screen name, I hope it is the Lattimore translation. Or if in the Greek, God have mercy on you.

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« Reply #1529 on: October 27, 2010, 03:41:21 PM »

The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: It's Prehistory and the Problem of Its Canon, by Martin Hengel
Transmission of the Text of the Holy Bible, by Constantine Siamakis

Thank you for the reminder about Hengel. He fell off my radar.
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