A very, very pleasant English translation by A. T. Hatto. Much recommended if you want to know how Gottfried von Strassburg's tale ends, as this inclu...moreA very, very pleasant English translation by A. T. Hatto. Much recommended if you want to know how Gottfried von Strassburg's tale ends, as this includes the fragments of the 'Tristran' by Thomas de Bretagne, on whose version Gottfried's version was supposedly based. By a stroke of luck, we have the complete text by Gottfried (2/3 of the story), and history has left us the last 1/3 of Thomas' version too. Hatto here presents the whole tale, as best as he can, by combining several sources.
It really is a wonderful translation, much recommended!(less)
There's no use posting updates for this reader, as I won't be reading the entire thing (nowhere close to it, I'm afraid). It's full of excerpts of 121...moreThere's no use posting updates for this reader, as I won't be reading the entire thing (nowhere close to it, I'm afraid). It's full of excerpts of 121 of the more important texts related to post-colonial studies. As judged by the page numbers, each text only gets a few pages to itself. As such, the book is very good for orientation, but mostly leaves out a good part of the original argumentation.
Then again, you simply can't put everything into one single reader. It is what it is, a very good organised reader: you can find excerpts per topic, which is extremely handy and gives you most relevant texts within seconds. Definitely can be put to good use when you're studying about post-colonial theory.(less)
This book and I didn't get off to a good start. In the end, I still didn't like the book very much, but at least I don't hate it as much as most of my...moreThis book and I didn't get off to a good start. In the end, I still didn't like the book very much, but at least I don't hate it as much as most of my fellow students seem to do.
This book is supposed to be an overview of the history of anthropology, and other fields of study that have influenced it (like linguistics, sociology, etc.). Agar mentions interesting studies, but overall the book is hardly scientific (e.g. no sources mentioned). It puzzles me that one of the supposedly most difficult courses in my university prescribes this book. It doesn't seem like a book aimed at a student audience.. I got the feeling Agar wrote this to get random people interested in anthropology. Without extensive side material and good classes, I feel this book fails as a scientific effort.
Agar has definitely had some nice experiences in his life, however. As a story teller he's not half bad (though he still has some issues there, as well). I do enjoy reading about his experiences, particularly because he's lived in Vienna for quite a while, so I expected to be able to relate to that. Maybe it's the time difference, but he and I had very different experiences. Still, I liked reading about Agar's experiences in getting used to other cultures, even if at times he really seemed overly American (and ignorant).
What I did not like was his attitude at times, mostly in the beginning. For instance his criticism on the Sie/du-issue in German. This is mostly fueled by the fact that English doesn't use this distinction, I do think. To say that most people would be happier if this distinction were to disappear altogether? Well, I seriously doubt it. I've encountered difficulties with Sie/du as well, but taking them out of the language would just create a myriad of other problems in a culture where this system is embedded, and used as a means to show, amongst other things, respect. It's a throwaway comment of Agar's, but at times it seriously made me wonder to which extent I should trust this guy as a narrator. Sometimes he's just an ass, too. When talking about De Saussure for instance, he mentions that the guy's work was published by his students, and that it was based on their notes. This is common knowledge, but his comment saying that he hopes his students wouldn't do that, because he'd seen the kind of notes they make.. well, that's both unnecessary and disrespectful. These little things bothered me while reading.
The book is also written in 1996, and quite dated in some aspects by now. The most obvious issue being that the Yugoslavian war has ended, but you do wonder what else we would question in the light of the other newfound knowledge from the past 15 years.
In short: some personal anecdotes were interesting, but on the whole.. don't bother. There are surely better introductions out there.(less)
Heinrich von Morungen is like a combination of the Medieval Minnesänger and the modern Nice Guy TM. The Minnesänger is, to put it way too easily, a po...moreHeinrich von Morungen is like a combination of the Medieval Minnesänger and the modern Nice Guy TM. The Minnesänger is, to put it way too easily, a poet at court who writes love poetry for one specific lady. The lady is generally of high standing and unobtainable. The poet will write about his pain of her not accepting him, but stays near her because the pain she gives him is sweeter than her absence from his life would be.
Heinrich von Morungen is (pretends to be) one such individual. His lady ignores him, forbids him to sing, and is basically interesting because she also has her bad moods. Often the chosen ladies are perfect in every way, this lady can be mean, this lady can be cruel, he even calls her a witch and a murderer. In other words, as far as Minnesang-heroines go, she's kind of awesome.
Morungen laments that she does not like him despite everything he's done for her (which is where the Nice Guy TM comes in) and he starts calling her names because he's so bitter about it all. And yet, he loves her too and would love to speak to her. This does not redeem him in any way for me, as he also damns her to hell, promises he will come back to haunt her in the afterlife and will make sure his son will continue his revenge of her, should Morungen die before she does.
Let's be honest, the dude is kinda creepy. I'm not surprised she wanted to have nothing to do with him (even if it's unlikely this lady really existed in real life).
Still, Morungen is interesting because he did some things differently from his predecessors: he speaks to his lady directly, and she's not just perfect. His anger is more understandable for modern readers, than the chosen suffering is. But because his work broke with tradition to some extent, it was apparently ignored for some time. Poor Heinrich von Morungen.
This edition is a surprisingly nice one. It has the songs in both Mittelhochdeutsch and Neuhochdeutsch/German translations, an introduction to Minnesang, Morungens place in the German Minnesang-history, and it sums up what we know of his life, too. Besides that it talks about the different manuscripts, why these versions of the poems were chosen, and it explains in depth why certain passages were translated in a particular way. It's a very good overview for the guy's work, and will also be understandable for beginning readers of this genre.. provided they read the notes in the back first.(less)
A less philosophical, but more straight-forward retelling of Tristan & Isolde than the Gottfried von Straßburg version. It's also complete, which...moreA less philosophical, but more straight-forward retelling of Tristan & Isolde than the Gottfried von Straßburg version. It's also complete, which is a nice bonus. Though this story is also about Tristan & Isolde, it's fundamentally different from Gottfried's text, most critically differing in how fleshed out the characters are and the role God/fate play in the story.
The translation of this version was quite readable, but probably should've been edited once more before publishing, because the many typoes were astonishing!(less)
It'd have been nice to have a few more Neuhochdeutsche translations.. but it adequately summarizes the story, the history of the Eilhart version and o...moreIt'd have been nice to have a few more Neuhochdeutsche translations.. but it adequately summarizes the story, the history of the Eilhart version and offers interesting comments. But I was mostly looking for a translation, and am therefore a little disappointed in this book.
This book basically shows the disadvantages of having to order books online. Had I seen this one in the store, I wouldn't have spent this much money on it. Oh well. I'll be able to quote from it (yay for knowing the story practically by heart), so it's luckily not a waste of money.(less)
Still a wildly fascinating read. On the reread however, I found I got a lot more from this book than just the horror of war. I had already figured out...moreStill a wildly fascinating read. On the reread however, I found I got a lot more from this book than just the horror of war. I had already figured out different sides to the story after overthinking what happened in the story, but the reread helps you to confirm these thoughts. When you think about this book, you start recognizing the different voices that can be found in the book and you will have to reconsider the character of our Simpleton and the role of the narrative. The book is also surprisingly funny, if you're open for it.
I also want to say that this cover for the English version (which isn't my edition), is especially wonderful. They may have removed a very big part of the introduction to the text *, but all the clues can still be found here. Remarkable.
* The original German cover shows a chimera, as you will see on the cover of the edition I first reviewed. This figure, which is also surrounded by masks, gives you vital clues as to the character of our Simpleton. To some extent the English version does this too, I'm especially amused by the fact that the Alchemist is shown twice, as it were of course the alchemists who supposedly created chimeras. When this book was released, the original cover of the chimera came in place of an introduction: an introduction to this type of novel was the common practice, this book only gets this picture. The picture of the chimera is therefore vitally important, because it gives you important clues as to how you should read and understand the book. Which is why this particular replacement of the cover is actually interesting, because you still get facets of the Simpleton character, if you pick up on the fact that the cover is a very important hint to understanding the book. You can find a better picture of the cover here.(less)
I'm counting this for my reading challenge of 2012, even if I only read the 150 pages that dealt with "Das Wort im Roman". I find it very difficult to...moreI'm counting this for my reading challenge of 2012, even if I only read the 150 pages that dealt with "Das Wort im Roman". I find it very difficult to rate Bakhtin, because his work really is rather difficult to get through and some paragraphs needed several rereads for me to even get a slight idea what Mr. Bakhtin was getting at. It's also not exactly a fun read, it's rather philosophical, and I'm just not sure how to rate it for Goodreads.
The theory discussed in Bakhtin's text itself is wildly fascinating, however. It deals with "Redevielfalt", a term that has also become known as polyphony in English, which is a name borrowed from the musicology. It basically states that within a novel, the writer combines several voices, which has the result that you get different points of view in the novel. He explains more about the different languages, his set-up of his ideas, the various speeches a writer can use to achieve polyphony and the faults in literary research so far (that is, until 1934/1935) in the 5 chapters dealing with "Das Wort im Roman" or, the word in the novel.
The idea is interesting and fascinating to work with, but it's difficult to get your head around what Bakhtin actually wanted. In those moments it's probably best to remember that I haven't heard of anyone so far who fully understood what Bakhtin was getting at. It's part of the frustration in reading it, but also part of the challenge. Though I've cursed myself quite often for choosing a subject for a paper that includes polyphony, which forced me to read, summarize and understand this work of Bakhtin's, I'm sure that when the stress is over I'll look back on this work fondly and think it over in regards to other books I've read, as well.(less)
Encomium Moriae, das Lob der Torheit, the Praise of Folly. With this work Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (Desiderius Erasmus from Rotterdam) has earne...moreEncomium Moriae, das Lob der Torheit, the Praise of Folly. With this work Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (Desiderius Erasmus from Rotterdam) has earned himself longlasting fame. This fellow Dutchie is still very well known, and is honoured too: the Rotterdam university is called the Erasmus Universiteit. Though Erasmus has written more than just this speech by the Goddess of Folly, it is his best known work.
But wait, what was that? The Goddess of Folly? I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t heard of her. Though this book was written with the humanist ideals at heart (Adfontes! Back to civilisation – or the antiquity, as it meant), there was no Goddess of Folly to be found in the Greek or Roman mythology. This is actually part of the introduction. The Goddess, who loves herself dearly, doesn’t really understand why she has no temples and people don’t worship her. She then starts talking about everything she has done for humankind, and how very important it is. Ironically, later on she mentions that it doesn’t bother her too much that she’s not worshipped: all people behave exactly like she wants them to and some people even carry her image (even though they may not wish it), why ask for more?
The book discusses themes such as stupidity vs. wisdom,, but a big part of the book also focuses on religion. I’m mentioning these two big themes not only because they are what Erasmus mostly talked about in the book, but also to show what my big problem with this book was. The text itself was originally written in Latin. I didn’t read it in Latin, and apparently the original text was written so amazingly well in Latin, that no translation can do it justice. Even so, a translated version of Encomium Moriae is very readable, and at times even very funny. The problem lies in trying to understand the book.
The point is, that the whole speech is given by the Goddess of Folly. The book was written from her perspective. At the same time, this book is hugely critical of the time Erasmus lived in. Just try to imagine to be Erasmus: a learned and intelligent men, but hardly any people at all who have received an education as well. It must have been lonely. Again, try to be Erasmus, who believed in God but also believed there was something fundamentally wrong with the church. Imagine how lonely that must have been. * These two things form, in my opinion, the backbone of the book. Folly addresses both: education and religion. Erasmus, as a learned man, was without a doubt a supporter of the educational system. Folly, the Goddess, is not a supporter and spends a good chunk of the speech making fun of learned men and the stoics. It’s quite easy to see here, that the opinions of Erasmus and of Folly differ, as I think they must in most of the text. But then we get to the point of the church, which Folly criticizes, but Erasmus must have as well. After all, we know he was hugely critical of the church and had written about religion before. That the critical note of the book regarding religion is to be taken seriously, can be assumed from various examples within the text as well. Let me name one:
Folly is not a supporter of pilgrimages. She doesn’t understand why you would go to Rome or wherever you would go to solve your problems. Why go away and leave your wife and children? To her it made no sense. Apparently, to Erasmus it didn’t make sense either. After all, Erasmus was a humanist, and one of the humanist ideals was trying to solve your own problems before turning to a higher power, a.k.a. solving your own problems instead of just praying and hoping the situation would be miraculously solved by the time you get back.
However, this one example shows that Folly and Erasmus share the same opinion sometimes. That raises the question: when does who speak, exactly? Does Erasmus write what he means exactly, or does he mean the opposite of what he’s written? This book is definitely one that calls for critical reading, and some background knowledge.
The book assumes knowledge of the Greek and Roman mythology and culture, as well as Christianity. If either of the two fail you, you will miss important references. (Some background knowledge of the 1500s doesn’t go amiss either.) It’s best to have an active knowledge of the two, but even so, I can only recommend a good, annotated version of the book. If you’re reading it in German, the Reclam edition works fine and is cheap, but it should come as no surprise that there are better (but more expensive) editions out there.
Lastly, I would like to address the point of fools. Why write about fools to criticize society? Think about that. The word fool has three relevant meanings, all of which are important to know to help you understand the book. One of them is a person that is not to be taken seriously. Secondly, people who do incredibly stupid things. Both of which mean, in this book, the whole of society. But most importantly.. both of these qualities are given to the court jester, who is also called a fool. Because of those qualities, the court jester was the only one allowed to criticize whatever was going on at court. This ability, to speak the truth and be allowed to speak the truth, is a jester quality. That Erasmus wrote about a fool is therefore not really surprising.
Now I’m on the topic anyway, literature about fools seems to have been a big thing back in Erasmus’ day. There is something we discussed in class regarding this, that I don’t want to keep from you. It’s art by István Orosz, for a book that was also written about fools in Erasmus’ time. The book is called “Narrenschiff” and was written by Sebastian Brant. But what I wanted to show you was the art, which is wonderfully creepy.. look at it here. It doesn’t have a direct relation to Erasmus, but I thought some of you might like to see it.
Encomium Moriae. Fascinating read, but I would recommend a good annotated version and some background knowledge, or 75% of the text will go over your head.
* Erasmus lived at the time of the Reformation and if I’m not mistaken, has met Luther and was a supporter of the Reformation, but later withdrew his support. (less)