The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

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Miscellaneous Archives > How Do We Want to Select Group Reads, Frequency, Etc.?

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message 1: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.), Founder (last edited Sep 02, 2010 01:40PM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Okay, our little 'family' is up and running now, and it seems to me that it is time to open the floor for a dialog and discussion about how we would all like to identify and select the books we will read and discuss as a group. I have heard from several of you regarding your interest in this topic. Additionally, we need to decide upon the frequency of holding group reads. Do we require a formal moderator for group reads, or can we 'self-moderate' or 'joint-moderate'?

I am going to start the discussion by listing some options for identifying and selecting group reads, and then I'd like to hear your ideas and thoughts.

Options for Identifying and Selecting Books for Group Read/Discussion

1. Like many book groups or clubs, we could accept nominations, vote, and majority rules;

2. We rotate 'moderating' responsibility, and the 'moderator' chooses the book, discussion time-frame, and leads the discussion;

3. We choose a topic (e.g., "Realism" or "Pre-Raphaelite Movement" or "Victorian Mystery" or "Edwardian Humor", etc.), develop a list of appropriate titles/authors, vote, and majority rules;

4. We could narrow the choices by selecting a novel published in a particular year (or even decade) during our period of interest. For example, you can see all of the great books published year-by-year here (this is a delightfully fun Wikipedia page to play around in!);

5. We could mix-and-match. For example, we could choose something to match a season of the year (e.g., a Christmas read, etc.); or, we could do a comparison/contrast (e.g., Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and Byron's poetry, etc.); or, we could draw a novel from a list for a read, and the next read would be topical (e.g., "Naturalism," etc.). Well, you get the point.

5. We could each submit three books that we would like to see read and discussed; compile a list (removing duplicates), assign each title a number generated by a 'random number generator, and then take them in order.

I am sure that there are other options and permutations that I've not thought of. Also, I would like each of you to consider the frequency of formal group reads and discussions. Do you want to do something monthly, bi-monthly, and so forth? Finally, what are your thoughts about whether we will require a formal, dedicated moderator for the group reads? Are there other issues I'm forgetting?

Lets use this discussion thread to reach a consensus position over the next couple of weeks. Please feel free to list your ideas, and your preferred alternative if at all possible, and then we can all have a back-and-forth and hopefully reach a logical decision-point by Friday, September 17th.

Ultimately, I hope that what ever process we end up with, is one that allows us to have a lot of fun, and allows us to challenge ourselves in a meaningful fashion too. Thank you, one and all, and I look forward to the discussion! Cheers! Chris


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Ami wrote: "Hey, do you think this list http://napoleonic-literature.com/AgeO... would help us a little with the Napoleonic Era Lit by any chance? I am obsessed with with anything Napoleonic a..."

Excellent kick-off, Ami! I think you raise some good points, and it is sounding like we are all interested in exploring any and all 'connections' and 'contrasts' to our chosen novels too. I have learned over the years that looking at a book in a vacuum is never quite as satisfying as examining it in the full context of its time and place in the culture of the day.

I also must heartily endorse your desire to explore the French, Russian, and American canons, and the great literature of other cultures and societies in our chosen time span (give or take a few years). I really want all of us to 'push the envelope' here, so to speak. Count me as a supporter!

I think we are all firmly in agreement that Madge is clearly our group's Chief of Research and Information Technology; and Jan is the group's Poet Laureate. I have a sense that all of the rest of us will find our respective niches rather quickly. What a great little group we all are! ;-)


message 3: by MadgeUK (last edited Sep 02, 2010 08:53PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I like No 5 the 'number generator' because it means, as Ami, says, that everyone's choice will turn up trumps at some time.

LOL. Your Busy Bee likes the idea of combining both our alloted novel and poetry and would like to see our allotted read linked with poetry of the period or of relevance? That way we could enter into the spirit of the time more. We could also have a thread for the great art and artefacts of the novel's period or maybe the author's preferences, if known. Additionally, I would quite like to keep changing the name of the Coffee, Croissants and Tea Shop, so that we could imagine being in a Cafe (or drawing room) of the period/place that our book is set in. Let's immerse ourselves!


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

1) I prefer self moderated, or informally moderated discussions. I think they tend to go interesting directions and are easier to keep moving. But I also like the idea of letting someone who's knowledgeable or enthusiastic about a particular book volunteer as the moderator for that particular reading.

2) I like the holistic approach too. By all means let's combine poetry, novels, background author info, art, etc.

3) I don't want to do more than one book a month, at least to start, especially if we are adding supplemental readings of poetry, essays, biographical info. Let's settle in and see what happens.

3) As for selection method, I'd like to propose a tweak on number 5. Have everyone submit up to 3 choices. Use a random number generator to select 5-6 out of that pool and then vote to select the winner. This does two things; it allows everyone some input and avoids everyone being stuck with a really unpopular selection. It would also be easy to add a theme to this every month as well.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
MadgeUK wrote: "I like No 5 the 'number generator' because it means, as Ami, says, that everyone's choice will turn up trumps at some time.

LOL. Your Busy Bee likes the idea of combining both our alloted novel ..."


Madge, what a terrific idea! I love the idea of "immersing ourselves" in the period, or country, that we are visiting. You, my dear, are a genius! It is so easy to change the name of folders too!

This brings up another issue that I have been meaning to raise--

I truly would like to have one or two of you join me as co-moderators. As I have said, I want this to be a collaborative effort. Also, I want this group to have a near constant commitment to moderation; and there will be times when I am 'out of pocket' for several days at a time. It would be near-perfect if we had a representative from the Americas, a representative from Europe, and a representative from Asia/Australia/New Zealand. This way we effectively cover the time-zones. There's no rush, but I would invite all of you to consider this.

Hey, somebody has to keep Madge company at night! ;-)


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Madge said, "everyone's choice will turn up trumps at some time."

As a total side-bar, wouldn't it be fun to sit down some lovely evening in a nice hotel in Lyme-Regis, with cocktails, windows open and nice sea-breeze, and all play bridge together at several tables? Good Lord, I sound like my father! (And that's quite nice!)


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Ami wrote: "Kate wrote: "1) I prefer self moderated, or informally moderated discussions. I think they tend to go interesting directions and are easier to keep moving. But I also like the idea of letting so..."

I think you are absolutely right, Ami. Even one-a-month is a serious challenge. With the right novels it could work, but I'll bet we average 6-7 group reads per year, and that would include the 'full immersion' that we are looking for with poetry, visual and cultural arts, politics, etc. I'm stoked!


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Christopher wrote: "I think you are absolutely right, Ami. Even one-a-month is a serious challenge. With the right novels it could work, but I'll bet we average 6-7 group reads per year, and that would include the 'full immersion' that we are looking for with poetry, visual and cultural arts, politics, etc. I'm stoked!
"


Don't forget to leave us time for bridge and cocktails on the terrace!


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Ami wrote: "Christopher, I know that there may be many out there who would be completely against re-reading "Wuthering Heights," but do you think that maybe we could add it into the mix? Reading it alongside ..."

LOL. Maybe we need to have multiple poets we can choose from. So I'd trade you Byron for Keats, say. Because I think Wuthering Heights and Byron would be an overdose of some kind!


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Ami wrote: "Christopher, I know that there may be many out there who would be completely against re-reading "Wuthering Heights," but do you think that maybe we could add it into the mix? Reading it alongside ..."

Of course we should read Wuthering Heights and Selected Poems. It is a perfect mix, and it appears that Byron, Blake, and some of the earlier Gothic authors were primary influences on the Brontes.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Kate wrote: "Ami wrote: "Christopher, I know that there may be many out there who would be completely against re-reading "Wuthering Heights," but do you think that maybe we could add it into the mix? Reading i..."

Kate, no worries! We will be visiting John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, and so forth. Trust me! Keats is truly one of my most favorite poets of all time. One has to believe that the Brontes, Gaskell, and possibly even Austen must have read Keats.

Again I claim a side-bar (The Fearless and Feckless Leader's Prerogative): My education is comprised of a major in Geology, and minors in Forestry and Mathematics. I took an English class in just about every semester in college. One of my favorites was a course that I took in "The Romantic Poets." It was taught by a man that was one of the most engaging teachers I've ever had.


message 12: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Ami wrote: "Christopher, I know that there may be many out there who would be completely against re-reading "Wuthering Heights," but do you think that maybe we could add it into the mix? Reading it alongside ..."

I will reread Wuthering Heights any time Ami - the brooding Heathcliff was one of my girlhood heros:). Combine him with Byron - another of my faves - what more could any girl want:D. (I lived near Byron's home, Newstead Abbey, for several years and often cycled up there to imbibe the gothic atmosphere and to swim in the lake he swam in:O.)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia...


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Christopher wrote: "My education is comprised of a major in Geology, and minors in Forestry and Mathematics. I took an English class in just about every semester in college."

What a nifty mix of backgrounds we have around here!! I took very few English classes in college. I did a double major in Chemistry and Biology and stuffed in as many Philosophy and History electives as I could manage. That's my excuse for the gaping holes that exist in my literature background, and I'm sticking to it!

But of the early romantic poets, I have to admit that I prefer Keats by a long shot.


message 14: by Grace Tjan (new)

Grace Tjan Ami wrote: "Hey, do you think this list http://napoleonic-literature.com/AgeO... would help us a little with the Napoleonic Era Lit by any chance? I am obsessed with with anything Napoleonic a..."

Ami, I love your idea! In 2008-2009, I read War & Peace, Les Miserables and Vanity Fair, all of which deal with the Napoleonic Wars. It's fascinating to learn about the different Russian, French and English perspectives on the wars. I'm also a big fan of the Aubrey/Maturin series. I'd love to explore other books set in the same era.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Kate wrote: "Christopher wrote: "My education is comprised of a major in Geology, and minors in Forestry and Mathematics. I took an English class in just about every semester in college."

What a nifty mix of b..."


[Sort of secret reply to Kate-- I agree about Keats!] He is the top of the pyramid for me too. Have you seen Jane Campion's film adaptation and interpretation of Keats' last few years, "Bright Star"? It is really quite superb.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

@ Chris: No I haven't seen it, but I'll try to remember to look for it.

@ Madge: I'll trade you Jane Austen for the Brontës straight across. No whips needed and we'll both be happy :)


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

The random number generator idea seems to be a good one to choose the novel, and then once we know what novel is chosen, we can choose the supporting stuff.


message 18: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Kate wrote: "@ Chris: No I haven't seen it, but I'll try to remember to look for it.

@ Madge: I'll trade you Jane Austen for the Brontës straight across. No whips needed and we'll both be happy :)"


Done! I notice from your profile that you kayak - I used to do a lot of river canoeing in my youf and had a pre-war Folbot which unfortunately was swept away in the floods of 1957. As a teenager I lived beside the River Trent which is a tidal river flowing through the Midlands to the Wash and the North Sea.

http://www.hcka.org.uk/site/page4.html


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

MadgeUK wrote: "Kate wrote: "@ Chris: No I haven't seen it, but I'll try to remember to look for it.

@ Madge: I'll trade you Jane Austen for the Brontës straight across. No whips needed and we'll both be happy..."


I've heard of folding boats like that. They'd sure be a darn sight easier to haul around than my 18' monster and lots of fun to take into out of the way places. We have touring kayaks and mostly paddle Puget Sound. It's a pretty big place. I haven't exhausted its possibilities yet :)


message 20: by MadgeUK (last edited Sep 03, 2010 09:12AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Yes, although the canvas, rubber and oak frame was quite heavy when packed. Nowadays they would be made from lighter materials. My father and I also had a wooden Canadian canoe which we used for transporting our camping gear. I have another cyber-friend who lives in Seattle near the Puget Sound.


message 21: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) Nominations/Selections
Not surprising, my ideal system would be the most complicated. :)
Obviously, with each form of nominations/selections there are pros and cons, so it would be great if we could rotate the different systems. For one selection we can nominate and then vote, the next we each submit 3 choices and a random number generator picks the winner, etc. I also think that choosing a specific topic, decade, year, etc. would be fun, but perhaps only using those parameters every other section or so. We could come up with a rough schedule, so that we know what type of selection process is coming up, or we could just play it by ear and decide as we go.

Moderation
I think we are certainly able to self-moderate, but it is always nice to have someone responsible for the discussion in general. I like the idea of rotating the moderating responsibility. That way, Chris doesn't bear the brunt of the work (or other official group moderators), as well as each discussion can benefit from the various skills and styles of all of our members. So, one person's style may be to let the discussion go where it will and another's may be to post specific questions to spur on conversations; everyone is able to contribute and participate as they see fit.

Frequency of Group Reads
I think monthly to bi-monthly determined by what we are reading, would be appropriate. That way we can do 4, 6, or 8 weeks as needed and not feel rushed or bored.


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Joy wrote: "Nominations/Selections
Not surprising, my ideal system would be the most complicated. :)
Obviously, with each form of nominations/selections there are pros and cons, so it would be great if we cou..."


Excellent comments and suggestions, Joy! I really like your notion of (1) mixing up the book selection process; and (2) I think developing a 'tentative' group read schedule for the year (i.e., laying out themes or topics and proposed book selection process) is a terrific idea! Well done, my friend; now, go have another margarita! Cheers! Chris


message 23: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.), Founder (last edited Sep 03, 2010 04:24PM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Ami wrote: "Christopher, if we schedule out the whole year then the number generator idea is out of the question unless we compile 3 books from every member and then proceed-this sounds much too tedious. I say..."

Ami, what I was trying to say, in my own poor fashion, was that we could develop a schedule of proposed selection processes for 6-8 reads, and also maybe lay out some themes/topics. Then at some point before the next read starts (i.e., a month or two prior), we'd solicit nominations and actually use one process or another to actually select the book. Does this make sense?


message 24: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 483 comments Could we include at least one American and one European author each year?


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Jan wrote: "Could we include at least one American and one European author each year?"

I am quite sure we can work that out too, Jan.


message 26: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 483 comments Excellent! I've never read any Wharton, I've never read any Balzac, I've never read any of the Russians...I'm so ignorant! But I'd love to make a start...so many books...


message 27: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.), Founder (last edited Sep 03, 2010 08:30PM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Jan wrote: "Excellent! I've never read any Wharton, I've never read any Balzac, I've never read any of the Russians...I'm so ignorant! But I'd love to make a start...so many books..."

I think I can safely guarantee that you'll love Edith Wharton! She is probably my favorite American author. She also has the distinction of being the first female to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1921 for her novel, The Age of Innocence. She also was a prolific author of short stories. So, stay tuned, Jan!


message 28: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments You have some treats in store Jan! I love Wharton's novels and she lived a great life too.

http://www.edithwharton.org/

(I see that Laurel has joined us and she has a wealth of knowledge about Russian authors.)


message 29: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Christopher wrote: "Madge said, "everyone's choice will turn up trumps at some time."

As a total side-bar, wouldn't it be fun to sit down some lovely evening in a nice hotel in Lyme-Regis, with cocktails, windows o..."


Well, you are all welcome to join me for cocktails and bridge at this hotel (facing the Cobb) next year, during the first week of August (play slideshow):-

http://www.lymebayhotel.co.uk/#0


message 30: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) I would love to! The picture with the crashing waves is incredible! After recently reading The French Lieutenant's Woman, I really want to visit Lyme Regis.


message 31: by MadgeUK (last edited Sep 04, 2010 07:56AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Joy wrote: "I would love to! The picture with the crashing waves is incredible! After recently reading The French Lieutenant's Woman, I really want to visit Lyme Regis."

I look forward to meeting you there! The Cobb is also mentioned in Persuasion, where Louisa Musgrove fell off the Granny's Teeth - I've posted that image somewhere else here but here it is again. I was amused by the comment under the pic because I climbed down them in August (with my daughter below!) just to say that I'd followed in Austen's footsteps:-

http://www.flickr.com/photos/32882411...


message 32: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) Oh, yes. I am all too familiar with the image of reckless Louisa Musgrove jumping from the steps, but I thought I would be safer with a non-Jane Austen reference. ;)

I've never seen those steps from that angle before; they are simply suicidal!


message 33: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 483 comments Now you see I looked at those steps and I thought,"Wow,that looks like fun!" I guess that's why I'm the Grandma with the broken arm!


message 34: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments LOL Jan, yes!


message 35: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3739 comments I prefer an English mansion as our setting, with us sitting in the library, our kitty cats on our laps, drinking tea.


message 36: by MjerrieT (new)

MjerrieT | 5 comments I like option 5 with monthly reads and discussions; It would not bother me if all the weekly threads were posted at the being of the month. It would not spoil the reading experience for me, it would help me to understand the story much better.


message 37: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3739 comments I'm accustomed, from another book site, to having all the threads posted at the beginning. it helps me budget my reading, because I have so little time.


message 38: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Rochelle wrote: "I prefer an English mansion as our setting, with us sitting in the library, our kitty cats on our laps, drinking tea."

Like this one perhaps - is that Chris sitting in the corner waiting for us?

http://www.writinginlecreuse.co.uk/DS...


message 39: by Jan (new)

Jan (auntyjan) | 483 comments Or is it Everyman?


message 40: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments I think it is Chris our Moderator, waiting for us to tell him our thoughts about Adam Bede:). (And he hasn't got a beard:).)


message 41: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Rochelle wrote: "I prefer an English mansion as our setting, with us sitting in the library, our kitty cats on our laps, drinking tea."

Like this one perhaps - is that Chris sitting in the corner ..."


What's Chris doing in my library?


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "MadgeUK wrote: "Rochelle wrote: "I prefer an English mansion as our setting, with us sitting in the library, our kitty cats on our laps, drinking tea."

Like this one perhaps - is that Chris sittin..."


Oh, I found the key under the flower-pot and simply let myself in. I have a nice fire going, the water is on, and the cups and saucers are out and waiting. "Where is everyone?"


message 43: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments Christopher wrote: "Oh, I found the key under the flower-pot and simply let myself in. I have a nice fire going, the water is on, and the cups and saucers are out and waiting. "Where is everyone?"
"


For this rowdy crowd, I hope you got out the Woolworth's cups and saucers and not the irreplaceable heirloom Minton china.


message 44: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.), Founder (last edited Sep 10, 2010 11:17AM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Oh, I found the key under the flower-pot and simply let myself in. I have a nice fire going, the water is on, and the cups and saucers are out and waiting. "Where is everyone?"
..."


In fact, disposable paper faux tea sets. Amazing what can be manufactured these days from recycled newspapers! Just don't let that tea sit too long in the cup! ;-)


message 45: by MadgeUK (last edited Sep 10, 2010 11:28AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Everyman wrote: "What's Chris doing in my library....."

It is actually a photo of a Welsh library so it might be David! :O

Perhaps he has got Chris to make the tea using the willow pattern china from the Welsh dresser:

http://www.adams-antiques.net/antique...


message 46: by Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.), Founder (last edited Sep 10, 2010 11:27AM) (new)

Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) | 1483 comments Mod
MadgeUK wrote: "Everyman wrote: "What's Chris doing in my library....."

It is actually a Welsh library so it might be David! :O

I expect he will be using the willow pattern china from the Welsh dresser:



What an awesome set of china!


message 47: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 3582 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Perhaps he has got Chris to make the tea using the willow pattern china from the Welsh dresser:"

For this crowd, where discussions are apt to terminate in the propelling of objects by one person toward another? Not blinkin' likely I'll put out the good china!


message 48: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments You posted whilst I was editing Chris:D:D.


message 49: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments At Rochelle's suggestion, I have moved this post from the discussion which occurred on the Edwardian Era thread, for what it's worth:(:-


Kate Mc wrote: 'Elitist. GR is a populist kind of place....It's not important. Just a pet peeve.

And this is my pet peeve:):- By definition, clubs are elitist. GR may be populist overall but those of us who join particular clubs are being elitist about our reading selection. We read the 'aims', as with RR and we sign on. Like Everyman, I feel a sense of responsibility about the books I nominate and vote for and I do not think 'clubs' can work unless people generally support the group choice. Otherwise we just become a talking shop for a variety of subjects, which is what is now happening - every new thread which is opened 'dilutes' the general discussion of the book chosen because there are not enough people to go round.

Seven people voted for the Count of Monte Cristo but they have not joined the discussion. Ditto the earlier reads. Why nominate and vote for a book when you are not going to read it? And surely if we are in a 'club', we should expect to occasionally read books which we may not like or find difficult, unless there are real problems (like Everyman's eyesight), especially as one of the supposed ideas behind these clubs is to introduce us to and to help us enjoy works we have not read before. Even so, if only those who voted for a book joined the discussion, there would not be a problem.

After all, when a book is chosen people are likely to buy it so that they can participate in the discussion and if a discussion does not ensue those who voted for the book have contributed to that unnecessary expense. Those of us on pensions or on low incomes are therefore affected by the tardiness of others and are both disappointed and out of pocket.

I would therefore ask everyone to think carefully before voting for a book because your vote affects other people and your willingness to subsequently participate is important to them, and to the success of the club. Perhaps the Moderators could point this out at each nomination/voting session.


message 50: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Because of the lack of discussants for the previous reads, I have decided that I will not read future books here unless they are on the internet or I can purchase them for less than £1 for my Kindle.

Fortunately, Ethan Frome is online so I will be able to join that discussion if it comes up next.


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