Luke's Reviews > Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language

Le Ton beau de Marot by Douglas R. Hofstadter
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's review
Apr 04, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: brain
Read from April 04, 2010 to February 03, 2011

As "Godel Escher Bach" is to computation, "Le Ton beau de Marot" is to language. This is a large book - 600 pages, interleaved with 80 translations of the same short poem each with commentary - and a joy for anyone interested in language, translation, AI, or Hofstadter. For a shorter, more focused read you could try to limit yourself to the story of his life-long obsession with languages (chapters 2, 3, 6, 15), his profession and vocation in cognitive science and artificial intelligence (chapters 4, 11, 15, 16), or his love and collection of literature and their translations (chapters 5, 7-9, 14, 17), or even just read the variations on Clement Marot's "Ma Mignonne". In part this book is a rebuttal of John Searle's "Chinese Room" thought-experiment (focused in chapter 4), and in part about Hofstadter coming to terms with the sudden death of his wife Carol. This is a much more approachable read than GEB; overlaps most with Strange Loop and some of Metamagical Themas; and kept me pleased and entertained throughout the 10 months it took me to read.

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