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The 7th Function of Language
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International Booker Prize > 2018 MBI Longlist: 7th Function of Language

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message 1: by Hugh (last edited Mar 13, 2018 03:31AM) (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3164 comments Mod
The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet Laurent Binet (France), Sam Taylor, The 7th Function of Language (Harvill Secker)


Meike (meikereads) I really liked Binet's HHhH, which won the Prix Goncourt, so I have high hopes for this! And apparently, there's lots of semiotics in it - how can you not love this? :-)


message 3: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert | 1995 comments Meike wrote: "I really liked Binet's HHhH, which won the Prix Goncourt, so I have high hopes for this! And apparently, there's lots of semiotics in it - how can you not love this? :-)"

Easy I read Eco's Name of the Rose before this :) - I don't hate this novel. It is playful and fun but you know who it reminds me of.

However some Booktubers are already complaining that it is too philosophical and they feel stupid reading it, thus if it bugs booktubers I will root for it :)


message 4: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val | 1016 comments It is a humorous homage to Eco, I think, rather than a copy of his ideas.


message 5: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert | 1995 comments True. Eco's are humorous homages to genre fiction so it makes sense that binet has his homage


message 6: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert | 1995 comments Eco's book can't edit on the mobile


Meike (meikereads) Robert wrote: "Easy I read Eco's Name of the Rose before this :)."

Oh, I haven't read Eco, but I read Derrida and some Barthes, I hope that might also help a little.

Robert wrote: "However some Booktubers are already complaining that it is too philosophical and they feel stupid reading it, thus if it bugs booktubers I will root for it :)"

Wrestling multi-layered, intricate texts is us! The last thing I want is to feel way smarter than text I read, because what would be the point in reading it then?


message 8: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert | 1995 comments Meike wrote: "Robert wrote: "Easy I read Eco's Name of the Rose before this :)."

Oh, I haven't read Eco, but I read Derrida and some Barthes, I hope that might also help a little.

Robert wrote: "However some ..."


Actually knowledge of Derrida's deconstructionist theories will help but Binet does explain everything clearly (or his translator did a good job) really, other than Barthes just a brief reading of de Saussure and J.L. Austin will give a solid background knowledge.

and this track is fun and slightly relevant:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAkYG...


Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8757 comments "just a brief reading of de Saussure and J.L. Austin will give a solid background knowledge."

Must admit I wasn't planning to do any preparatory reading for this -
or indeed any other - novel!


Meike (meikereads) Robert wrote: "Actually knowledge of Derrida's deconstructionist theories will help but Binet does explain everything clearly (or his translator did a good job) really, other than Barthes just a brief reading of de Saussure and J.L. Austin will give a solid background knowledge."

I read de Saussure, need to check Austin though...I will wtach the clip later, thanks so much!!

Paul wrote: ""Must admit I wasn't planning to do any preparatory reading for this - or indeed any other - novel!"

This thread will turn into a linguistics study group dressed up as an online book club! :-)


Meike (meikereads) Robert wrote: "and this track is fun and slightly relevant:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAkYG... ..."


Haha, cool! Thanks, Robert!!


message 12: by WndyJW (new) - added it

WndyJW | 4871 comments Skakespeare and Company has a podcast and their Sept 14, 2017 guest is Laurent Binet.
I ordered the book, hoping enough of my philosophy of language classes 20+ yrs ago comes back to make it enjoyable.


message 13: by Paul (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8757 comments 100 pages in and while it was fun initially I am feeling this book is already outstaying its welcome. Let's see how it progresses


message 14: by Tony (new)

Tony | 592 comments Not. Looking. Forward. To. This.


Nicole | 115 comments I read this last summer vacation. It's hilarious.

I don't see how it's up for a 2018 prize, though; wasn't it published several years ago? I feel like I'm MBI-ing wrong.


message 16: by Neil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Neil | 1885 comments For MBI, it is not about publication but translation into English.


Nicole | 115 comments Neil wrote: "For MBI, it is not about publication but translation into English."

That would explain it.

I can't comment on the translation quality, but the book is excellent.


message 18: by Paul (last edited Mar 27, 2018 07:56AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8757 comments Now this is bizarre...

Binet made up a fake connection in the book with the semiologist Julia Kristeva working with the Bulgarian secret service

And remember the umbrellas with poisoned tips? There are records of Bulgarian spies targeting dissidents this way around that time, I didn’t make that up. The Bulgarian secret service was very active. As Julia Kristeva is of Bulgarian origin, I fabricated the connection.

and then today it is claimed in the Bulgarian press that for 5 years after arriving in France that she did!

https://www.capital.bg/politika_i_iko...


message 19: by Neil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Neil | 1885 comments Just finished this. The link Paul has posted really is bizarre!

I wasn't sure for the first 50-100 pages. But, in the end, I really liked it. Wikipedia tells me not to confuse semiology and semiotics, but I am pretty confused by it all (I think the focus here is semiology of which semiotics is a superset, but I could well be very wrong). Anyway, I don't think a lack of knowledge of semiology/semiotics spoils the book, but knowing about it might mean you understand more of the references and jokes.


message 20: by Paul (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8757 comments Incidentally story now in English press for those not familiar with Bulgarian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/201...

It is as if the French police revealed this week they had found the Holy Grail under the Louvre pyramid.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 565 comments Thanks Paul for the links about Julia Kristeva as a Bulgarian secret police operative - fascinating! Perhaps Binet had some inside info!

I admit to knowing few of the people mentioned in this book. I appreciated the explanations. I appreciated the book as a mystery and figured it was quite farcical but did not exactly appreciate at what exactly Binet was poking fun. I did like HHhH more, in part because I was familiar with the historical situation about which he was writing so it was a more fulsome experience.


message 22: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert | 1995 comments LindaJ^ wrote: "Thanks Paul for the links about Julia Kristeva as a Bulgarian secret police operative - fascinating! Perhaps Binet had some inside info!

I admit to knowing few of the people mentioned in this book..."


I agree with you - I was also in Prague while reading HHhH so it made the book a more immersive experience.

As I said before I totally got what Binet was doing in 7th Function ... but at times I saw way too many echoes of Eco (HA!) and I gave it up during the last 50 pages.


message 23: by Paul (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8757 comments LindaJ^ wrote: "Thanks Paul for the links about Julia Kristeva as a Bulgarian secret police operative - fascinating! Perhaps Binet had some inside info!

I admit to knowing few of the people mentioned in this book..."


Yes I appreciated the politics more than the semiologists as I knew all the figures on that side of the book.


message 24: by Tony (new)

Tony | 592 comments Whereas I was far more interested in the linguists!


message 25: by Paul (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8757 comments Paul wrote: "Incidentally story now in English press for those not familiar with Bulgarian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/201...

It is as if the ..."


Given I posted the story, I should also post this from the LRB that rather puts the allegations in context

https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2018/04/03...


Meike (meikereads) The lead article (!) in the arts section of today's "Zeit": Was Julia Kristeva a Bulgarian spy?
This IMBP selection is spot on!


Meike (meikereads) I finally finished it, and loved Binet's playful approach and overflowing ideas! If Binet goes on like this, he'll make it to my list of favorite writers (as I said, HHhH was also amazing).

Here's my review.


message 28: by Sam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sam | 1652 comments Meike wrote: "I finally finished it, and loved Binet's playful approach and overflowing ideas! If Binet goes on like this, he'll make it to my list of favorite writers (as I said, HHhH was also am..."

I loved your review and that was exactly the book I thought I was going to read. unfortunately, the book didn't meet my expectations. I thought the book would have appealed to a younger audience. It almost seemed intentionally sophomoric, not pejoratively speaking, but literally as aimed at a university sophomore, filled with flippancy and irreverence. I could not relate to that.


Meike (meikereads) Sam wrote: "I loved your review and that was exactly the book I thought I was going to read. unfortunately, the book didn't meet my expectations. I thought the book would have appealed to a younger audience. ..."

Interesting - my review didn't say anything about a possible target audience, and I do not feel like Binet had one in mind (I guess that very young people won't get the jokes though). I did talk about the "flippancy and irreverence" right at the beginning of my review though, when I said that it has low-brow and comedic qualities, compared it to Austin Powers (!) and wrote that Binet has a "deal with it"-attitude - and "Famous scholars going nuts in a backstreet sauna!" is also kind of a hint!

At the same time, you need a lot of background info to really appreciate all the little bits and pieces, e.g. why BHL can hide in a black shirt or why it's funny when Spivak gives a speech about the subaltern finally shutting up - this is the high-brow part, a large amount of people will miss that or get confused, not to speak about the knowledge about the characters you need to really follow the dynamics of the story.

I think it's the whole point of the book that Binet does everything at once, to illustrate the levels and functions of language and text froms. My review mirros the text and makes that exact same argument. Still it is of course possible not to like Binet's book, and I see why this text is divisive (and I think Binet wanted it to be just that - when was the last time someone wrote a controversial mass market book about linguistics that reminds people of Austin Powers?).


message 30: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert | 1995 comments Meike wrote: "Sam wrote: "I loved your review and that was exactly the book I thought I was going to read. unfortunately, the book didn't meet my expectations. I thought the book would have appealed to a younger..."

Umberto Eco did (minus the Austin Powers bit)


Meike (meikereads) Exactly - minus Austin Powers, which is my point! :-)


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