Mark'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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really liked it
Read 2 times. Last read October 22, 2018 to November 18, 2018.

Hofstader's ideas are thoughtful, and Marot's vehicle behind the illustrations is delightful in all its permutations. But. Hofstader comes across as a self-indulgent geezer, wandering off on prolix tangents as he follows his threads of exposition. One thread in this book is a hostility to John Searle's arguments about language. As a graduate of Cal Berkeley, I have taken classes from Prof. Searle, and so I was aware that Hofstader, as a Stanford alumnus and faculty member, may have been influenced partly by the Berkeley/ Stanford rivalry. (In fact, he refers to this toward the end of the book!)

His basic thesis is that any translation is an incomplete recreation of an intended communication. Second, that poetry is uniquely a communication in at least two modes, form and substance. Therefore, while it is silly to expect perfect reproduction of an original poem in a new language, it is equally silly to neglect form while translating the substance.

A much shorter book, showing all the variant translations of Ma Mignonne as illustrations of that thesis, would have been all that was needed.
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Reading Progress

October 22, 2018 – Started Reading
October 22, 2018 – Started Reading
October 22, 2018 – Shelved
October 22, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
October 22, 2018 – Finished Reading
November 13, 2018 –
60.0%
November 18, 2018 – Finished Reading

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