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2018 Book Discussions > Laurus - Background and General (No Spoilers) (Jun 2018)

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message 1: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments This is the general thread for the discussion of Laurus, Eugene Vodolazkin's second novel, as well as the translation and translator, Lisa Hayden, and preliminary thoughts on any of the above.

We will have three folders for this book. Spoilers are permitted in each of the other two threads, but let’s avoid them in this thread.

Reviews

https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-...
https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/t...#!

Background on Vodolazkin

http://readrussia.org/writers/writer/...

A 2016 Interview with Lisa Hayden (translator)

https://firebirdfeathers.com/2016/09/...

And, finally, an article I found on the concept, in Russian culture, of yurodstvo, or the Holy Fool:

https://www.rbth.com/literature/2013/...

Who is ready for 15th century Russia?


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2448 comments I loved this book. Do not think I can fit a second reading in at this time, but will follow the discussions and pipe up if I can.


message 3: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments LindaJ^ wrote: "I loved this book. Do not think I can fit a second reading in at this time, but will follow the discussions and pipe up if I can."

Sounds good, Linda.


Hugh (bodachliath) | 2835 comments Mod
I read this book back in 2016 and enjoyed it a lot. Sadly I managed to lose my copy by leaving it on a train on the day I finished it, so I am unlikely to re-read it now. I will follow the discussions and chip in where I can, but I may have problems remembering what happened in which section. My review.


message 5: by Vicky (new) - added it

Vicky | 16 comments Just finishing up You Don't Know Me, and I'll be on it. Excited and trepidatious, I'm not sure this is the kind of thing I would normally read. Sounds like a bit of an odd one!


message 6: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments Vicky wrote: "Just finishing up You Don't Know Me, and I'll be on it. Excited and trepidatious, I'm not sure this is the kind of thing I would normally read. Sounds like a bit of an odd one!"

I'm glad you're joining, Vicky. I am attracted to all things Russian, but -- really - here, the strong drive is the excitement that seems to be uniform across my friends who have read it. That kind of consistency is rare and so exploring the book that gave rise to it seems like a guarantee for happiness, IMO.


Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) | 248 comments very happy to be re-reading--


Caroline (cedickie) | 384 comments Mod
I'm somewhere in the middle of the first part of the book and am really enjoying the prose. I am feeling somewhat mixed on some of the characters I've met so far so I'm curious to see where the story takes me, as well as what everyone thinks!


Bretnie | 702 comments Carol, thank you for all of the links, especially the interview with the translator.

I started out really frustrated with the book but the more I got into it the more I liked it. I can't wait to talk about the ending!


Beverly | 142 comments I am at the beginning of the book and I am intrigued.
Thanks for the links of information.
I am glad to be reading this book with a group.


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 477 comments Last year I read the first few pages and didn't engage, but I thought the problem was me and not the book. I was right - this time around I am fully engaged. Just started section 2 and I am intrigued with the direction it's taking.


Kathleen | 293 comments Just picked up my copy today, and hope to start reading soon. Looking forward to exploring the links, Carol--thanks!!


message 13: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments You’re all welcome! I’m looking forward to making substantial headway tomorrow.


message 14: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments Request to our mods: Please update our group bookshelf so that Laurus is showing as our current read, when you have time - thanks in advance!


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 477 comments If anyone out there is reading the ebook version - I've found missing text in The Book of Renunciation - it appears sporadically approx between pages 130 and 140 (although page numbers vary depending on font size). Grrr. I've reported it to Amazon.


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

Sue Just got my copy and starting to read today.


message 17: by Lark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) | 248 comments This is a re-read for me of a book I thought I had read carefully but having foreknowledge of what is to come makes it such a rich experience. For instance even in the brief introductory prologue Vodalazkin has already introduced the idea that all moments in time must exist simultaneously since God already knows all things. The anachronisms the first time through had distracted me somewhat and now they feel organic and inevitable.


Kristina | 66 comments I'm picking up my copy today. Apparently, there is no English version in Germany available, so I have to use the German translation. I am really excited to start reading after the very positive reviews I've read so far.


message 19: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments Kristina wrote: "I'm picking up my copy today. Apparently, there is no English version in Germany available, so I have to use the German translation. I am really excited to start reading after the very positive rev..."

Isn't that odd? I'm glad the German translation works for you and you can join, Kristina. You're right - not a naysayer in sight.


message 20: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments Lark wrote: "This is a re-read for me of a book I thought I had read carefully but having foreknowledge of what is to come makes it such a rich experience. For instance even in the brief introductory prologue V..."

It's good to hear that it holds up on a re-read, Lark. You've given me a great rationale for taking a break around page 250 or so and re-reading the prologue.


message 21: by Nadine in California (last edited Jun 05, 2018 09:56PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 477 comments Lark wrote: "e even in the brief introductory prologue Vodalazkin has already introduced the idea that all moments in time must exist simultaneously since God already knows all things. The anachronisms the first time through had distracted me somewhat and now they feel organic and inevitable. ..."

The ideas about time in the prologue didn't really stick with me (I'll have to re-read it when I finish) but with the appearance of (the wonderful) Ambrogio, time becomes a central theme. But even from the start the language anachronisms weren't jarring for me - I think it's because the flashes of whimsical humor charm me so much that I happily go with the flow of the language wherever it takes me. Here's one example:

Russians are not as gloomy as you seemed to think, after all, Arseny told Ambrogio. Sometimes they are in a good mood. After a horde leaves, for example."


Kathleen | 293 comments That is a great line, Nadine! I agree about the humor. The writing has such a light touch that even the really heavy parts go down easy.

I have to say I was worried when I saw the comparisons to The Name of the Rose. I tried that book a while back and found it fascinating but a challenge I wasn't up to at the time. This one reads faster and is so much easier to absorb.


Franky | 119 comments Hello all, I just started this one yesterday (so it seems I'm a little behind), but I'm enjoying it so far. Just trying to figure things out.

I had a question: Are there more than one translations of this book? I'm just wondering if I have the same one as everyone else. Mine is translated by Lisa C. Hayden.


message 24: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments Franky wrote: "Hello all, I just started this one yesterday (so it seems I'm a little behind), but I'm enjoying it so far. Just trying to figure things out.

I had a question: Are there more than one translation..."


I believe the Hayden translation is the only one. She and the author have worked together for several years.

You're not behind! Time is a flexible concept when it comes to Laurus.


carissa Carol wrote: "Time is a flexible concept when it comes to Laurus."

haha....I am totally digging this read. It reminds me of The Willow King, but weirder...which is always a good thing for me.


message 26: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments carissa wrote: "Carol wrote: "Time is a flexible concept when it comes to Laurus."

haha....I am totally digging this read. It reminds me of The Willow King, but weirder...which is always a good th..."


Just when I’m feeling pretty proud of myself for reading more books I own, you add to my TBR with something wonderful I’d have to purchase from Pushkin. *sigh* It’s a good problem.

I’m glad you’re enjoying Laurus, carissa. I’m also a reader for which, stylistically, it reminds me of The Name of the Rose and I can’t pin down why. That’s a high compliment from me, btw.


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 477 comments Carol wrote: "I’m glad you’re enjoying Laurus, carissa. I’m also a reader for which, stylistically, it reminds me of The Name of the Rose and I can’t pin down why. That’s a high compliment from me, btw..."

And it's given me a sudden craving to read The Idiot (Dostoyevky version, not Batuman) again. I read it so far back in the mist of time that I remember very little of it, but the main character reminds me of Arseny in some way.


message 28: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 452 comments Nadine wrote: "Carol wrote: "I’m glad you’re enjoying Laurus, carissa. I’m also a reader for which, stylistically, it reminds me of The Name of the Rose and I can’t pin down why. That’s a high compliment from me,..."

I’ve not read The Idiot and I love Dostoevsky, so thanks for the nudge to tackle it, also, Nadine.


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Just finished the ebook of this last night; hope I didn't miss much with the text gap!


Joy D | 28 comments I am reading this now. It is certainly unique!


message 31: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2835 comments Mod
Nadine wrote: "And it's given me a sudden craving to read The Idiot (Dostoyevky version, not Batuman) again. I read it so far back in the mist of time that I remember very little of it, but the main character reminds me of Arseny in some way."

I can see what you mean - they share the same essential innocence - I think this is quite a common character type in Russian literature (possibly Pierre in War and Peace too but he is not as saintly). The Idiot is one of Dostoyevsky's most memorable books.


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