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  • Snoozer

    The obsessive Victoriophiles, Holmesian afficionados of the more outre backwaters of crime, and fans of the End of Time series (not to mention those with a rather sluggishly-attended evening surgery tonight) may be interested to note that the metier of the 'Snoozer' is not extinct. The exotically polyglot Juan Carlos Gutzman-Betoncourt, son of a disinguished diplomat, has been arrested for assuming the identity of an aristocrat, checking in to certain superior London Hotels, and then pinching all the Nobs' trinkets from their rooms. Shocking!

  • #3
    Shades of Mann's Felix Krull! Even down to the "exotically
    polyglot" aspect.

    Life does indeed have a habit of imitating art. :lol:

    LSN

    Comment


    • #4
      Hmmm...Juan Carlos Vine is equally unlikely, although perhaps more phonically symmetrical :) .

      Comment


      • #5
        Nice to see ref. to Felix Krull. Still one of my favourite books. I don't know if new editions leave off the 'Volume One' subtitle, but as a lad I spent years searching for Volume Two. Nobody told me that Mann died before he could write it. I stayed well away from it while I was writing the Pyat books, for fear that I was influenced any more than by enthusiastic memory. Strange, now I think of it, how two books greatly influenced my series -- Felix Krull by Mann and Simplicissimus by Grimmelshausen. Both German, as it happens.

        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

        Comment


        • #6
          You probably don't recall, but we had a brief discussion on this subject
          some months ago.

          The German edition still says it's the first part. My old Modern Library
          edition says, "The Early Years." Mann took years and years to finish
          the first volume, then died the next year. I've often wondered whether
          he managed to write another chapter or so on the work before his
          death. It's one of my absolutely favorite books -- not just from among
          Mann's work. Based on the structure and the hints Mann dropped, it
          likely would've been a 3 volume work, at least. I sometimes
          think I'd gladly give up some of Mann's lesser novels (e.g., The Holy
          Sinner
          and The Black Swan) for another volume of Krull.
          Useless to debate the point, of course, since Mann wrote what he felt
          able to write at the time. He's on record as saying the comedy and
          farce in Felix Krull were much more difficult for him to write than
          his other books. (This despite the fact that several of his major works,
          such as Buddenbrooks and The Magic Mountain contain significant
          elements of comedy.)

          The reference to Hans von Grimmelshausen's Simplicius Simplicissimus
          is to the point, I think. Mann very definitely patterned Krull on
          that famous picaresque novel. The parallels between the books are
          striking, as I pointed out nearly 30 years ago in an essay I wrote on this
          subject while at university. Had I done German literature as opposed
          to mathematics, I think there'd have been material in there for a master's
          thesis. :lol:

          Another irony: I believe Mann, in his early years as a writer, got a job
          on the German picaresque literary magazine, Simplicissimus.

          LSN

          Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
          Nice to see ref. to Felix Krull. Still one of my favourite books. I don't know if new editions leave off the 'Volume One' subtitle, but as a lad I spent years searching for Volume Two. Nobody told me that Mann died before he could write it. I stayed well away from it while I was writing the Pyat books, for fear that I was influenced any more than by enthusiastic memory. Strange, now I think of it, how two books greatly influenced my series -- Felix Krull by Mann and Simplicissimus by Grimmelshausen. Both German, as it happens.

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by TheAdlerian
            I just looked up the Mann book and that looks really good to me! What is the setting.
            The Rhine Valley; Paris; Lisbon. All this circa 1895 or thereabouts.
            The next volume would have taken the reader to Buenos Aires at
            first. After that, who knows? :(

            Very elegantly written, too; this has been known to annoy some
            readers. If your German is up to it, get the German text. The
            Denver Lindley translation into English is competent and fairly
            polished.

            If you're not an admirer of Mann, and don't know his work, you
            might take a look at some of his short stories or novellas first.
            In English, the David Luke translations of "Tristan" and "Death
            in Venice" and "Tonio Kroeger" are pretty good work. The
            H. T. Loewe-Porter translations should be avoided at all costs. :lol:

            LSN

            Comment


            • #8
              I read Grimmelshausen in a tacky paperback with the cover missing which some cheap paperback house put out, presumably because the text was free, and had no idea it existed until then. British insularity. The first British edition didn't come out until the early years of the 20th century! I have that edition now, with the 'fantastic' stuff appended. I didn't know Mann had consciously used Grimmelshausen as his model, though it makes sense.
              I, of course, used Grimmelshausen for my Pyat model. I agree, I'd give up Holy Sinner and Joseph for more Krull, but there you go. Strange, in these days, that nobody has tried to do a Volume Three. People have been doing sequels to all kinds of writers, after all. It would be just as stupid, but I'm still surprised. I'd say Krull is a pretty good Mann to start with, but some of the short stories would be a good start, too. For me he is the epitome of a great novelist in the 'European moral tradition'. I naively thought you had to emulate him if you wanted to write serious fiction of that kind. Almost all contemporary British and American fiction seems unambitious in comparison.

              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

              Comment


              • #9
                I read Grimmelshausen in a tacky paperback with the cover missing which some cheap paperback house put out, presumably because the text was free, and had no idea it existed until then. British insularity. The first British edition didn't come out until the early years of the 20th century! I have that edition now, with the 'fantastic' stuff appended. I didn't know Mann had consciously used Grimmelshausen as his model, though it makes sense.
                I, of course, used Grimmelshausen for my Pyat model. I agree, I'd give up Holy Sinner and Joseph for more Krull, but there you go. Strange, in these days, that nobody has tried to do a Volume Three. People have been doing sequels to all kinds of writers, after all. It would be just as stupid, but I'm still surprised. I'd say Krull is a pretty good Mann to start with, but some of the short stories would be a good start, too. For me he is the epitome of a great novelist in the 'European moral tradition'. I naively thought you had to emulate him if you wanted to write serious fiction of that kind. Almost all contemporary British and American fiction seems unambitious in comparison.

                Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                Comment


                • #10
                  I agree that Krull is the most immediately accessible of Mann's
                  novels. Two reasons why I generally suggest to people that they
                  start with his short stories:

                  - Krull is, in a way, a comic parody of Mann's "bourgeois artist"
                  theme. It functions in a way as a comic transposition of the scene
                  in Tonio Kroeger where the protagonist, now a well-known writer,
                  visits his home town (obviously Luebeck) and is almost arrested for
                  suspicion of being a notorious confidence man. It's clear from some
                  things Mann wrote over the years that he felt the similarities between
                  the profession of the artist and the confidence man conferred a certain
                  amount of unrespectability to the artistic calling. So an acquaintance
                  with Mann's themes reveals a comic understructure to Krull
                  of poking fun at himself, among other things.

                  - Mann's novels are a bit "long". Even Krull is over 350 pages.
                  Several readers of my acquaintance have been uncertain whether
                  they want to invest the time to read so many pages of a writer they're
                  not sure they'll like. One friend started Buddenbrooks and said,
                  "I couldn't go on. What's his point?" I suggested he read the stories,
                  then Krull. It worked: a year later, he'd read all of Mann's work
                  in English.

                  If people want to dive into Mann without preparation, go for it. The first
                  book of his that I read was Buddenbrooks, and I wasn't scared off.

                  LSN

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                    . . .
                    I, of course, used Grimmelshausen for my Pyat model. I agree, I'd give up Holy Sinner and Joseph for more Krull, but there you go. Strange, in these days, that nobody has tried to do a Volume Three. People have been doing sequels to all kinds of writers, after all. It would be just as stupid, but I'm still surprised.
                    You know, I've wondered about this over the years, too. Then, I asked
                    the question, "Who would have the chutzpah to try such a stunt?"
                    I'm sure that the answer is, "Lots of bad writers if there's money in it."
                    I hope it never happens. We've got what Mann was able to give us.
                    As I wrote in an Amazon review of the work some time back, I feel
                    as if he left me a legacy with this book. (I was born 1 month after Mann's
                    death. Synchronicity is mostly in the mind of the perceiver. :-])


                    Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                    I'd say Krulll is a pretty good Mann to start with, but some of the short stories would be a good start, too. For me he is the epitome of a great novelist in the 'European moral tradition'. I naively thought you had to emulate him if you wanted to write serious fiction of that kind. Almost all contemporary British and American fiction seems unambitious in comparison.
                    I think Disch was (to some extent) emulating his example when he
                    wrote Camp Concentration. Similarly, I think the late Roger Zelazny
                    had Mann's "Death in Venice" (and to a certain extent, The Magic
                    Mountain
                    ) in mind when he wrote his novella "He Who Shapes."
                    These are isolated examples; perhaps there are others.

                    Mann was a dialectical thinker somewhat in the Hegelian fashion, and
                    many of his novels work through a Hegelian thesis-antithesis-synthesis
                    approach. Most English and American novelists don't seem to work from
                    such an abstract basis. I suspect it's a hard thing to do.

                    More power to those willing to try.

                    LSN

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by TheAdlerian
                      Is Mann readable or is he some kind of obtuse nightmare?
                      Well, your mileage will vary, depending on your own preferences in
                      such matters. He's not obtuse in either common meaning of the word,
                      and he's not a nightmare. At least one of his translators might not
                      agree. :lol:

                      Mann is very lucid in German, despite a penchant for rather long
                      sentences.

                      In English translation, I've examined the John Woods and Luke
                      translations, and they're very readable. The H. T. Loewe-Porter
                      translations are generally to be avoided because, except for a
                      few felicitous renderings here and there, she (1) didn't understand
                      German perfectly, and (2) wrote rather turgidly in English. A bad
                      combination. :roll: The Lindley translation of The Confessions of
                      Felix Krull, Confidence Man
                      is decent -- although it could be
                      improved upon.

                      The question of whether you, as a reader, will find the prose to your
                      liking is something I'm not prepared to answer. Do you, for example,
                      find the prose of Henry James from around 1880 (cf. Portrait of a
                      Lady
                      ) or say the Constance Garnett translation of War and Peace
                      rough going? If you're accustomed to many contemporary American
                      writers, you might be in for a surprise. Hemingway's example has had
                      a profound effect on the style of American fiction. Mann was under no
                      such influence. The work has a certain weight and elegance which I
                      regard as a reflection of the qualities of Mann's mind and verbal
                      apparatus. It's not difficult reading, but you've got to pay attention.

                      Krull exhibits these qualities in a curious, spritely way. It seems a
                      contradiction in terms. It's serious, but it's never solemn. :lol:

                      Not every reader likes it, of course. (Hello, L'Etranger. )

                      LSN

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        With due respect, pard, I think it's easier than that. I read Krull at about the age of 16 and loved it. I'd say if you enjoy my prose, you'll find no problems with Mann. I make no other comparisons! I probably read all the 'bad' translations growing up, and it still didn't put me off him. The greatness of the mind and sensibility comes through, just as it does through some of those awful Zola 19th century translations.

                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                          With due respect, pard, I think it's easier than that. I read Krull at about the age of 16 and loved it.
                          Perhaps I didn't express myself clearly; it's late, and I was in a hurry. I don't believe that the
                          work is difficult, either. But from hard experience when recommending his work to other
                          readers, I've found that many of them find it difficult to get started on some of Mann's
                          books. This is especially true of some of the more "serious" books. It's more a reflection on
                          the general state of reading than on Mann himself.

                          I don't think there's any contradiction. Elegantly written prose requires serious attention
                          if you want to get the most out of it. I read Krull at a similar age and didn't find it hard,
                          either, but I was reading a lot of 19th century literature at that time. Comparing it with
                          Hemingway is a somewhat humorous exercise. :-]

                          It's been my observation that many readers attitudes towards well-written prose are
                          somewhat reminiscent of those of E. M. Forster's hypothetical reader in his rather
                          crotchety book, Aspects of the Novel: they just want to know what happens next.
                          Elegant thoughtful prose, full of careful considerations, is to some extent wasted on
                          such a reader. Krull is a nice entrأ© to Mann's work for that reason: one doesn't need
                          to appreciate the elegance of the language to appreciate the story.

                          It's 10 times more lucid than most Faulkner, in any case. :-] (Hey, I like certain things
                          by Faulkner, too, waywardness and all.) But lucid or not, it requires a certain commitment
                          from the reader. Most good books that have something to offer both the intellect as
                          well as the aesthetic sense are like that. The question I ask when recommending the books
                          is whether a potential reader is willing to meet Mann half way.

                          Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                          I'd say if you enjoy my prose, you'll find no problems with Mann. I make no other comparisons!
                          That begs the question of whether people even NOTICE the language.

                          To pick a couple of your books from long ago, The Ice Schooner and An Alien Heat,
                          I remember pausing over sentences frequently because I liked the phrasing or the imagery.
                          I do the same with Mann. Or Isak Dinesen. Or dozens of other writers. Speak of these
                          things to some of my friends who liked the books, and they'll say, "What? Who cares?
                          It's just a good story."

                          Well, it's that, too. :-]

                          I'd say the same of Mann. Of course, I've known people who've gotten bogged down
                          by the long discussion of Beethoven's quartets in Doktor Faustus, or the long
                          life-versus-Thanatos debate in The Magic Mountain. The form is wedded to the
                          material, and sometimes the material requires of the reader a lot of extracurricular
                          thought. Does that make it difficult? :-]

                          Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                          I probably read all the 'bad' translations growing up, and it still didn't put me off him. The greatness of the mind and sensibility comes through, just as it does through some of those awful Zola 19th century translations.
                          Emile Zola -- there's a novelist I don't hear invoked very often. Germinal and
                          Le Debacle are too little read these days, I suspect. I even like the curious
                          Abbأ© Mouret. :lol: Zola's not often harmed by his bad translations. The
                          bowdlerization of some of his work was at one time an issue, I suspect, but I doubt
                          that's still a problem. Truth is that Zola achieves interesting effects through his
                          prose, but it's a bit... purple. The temptation to do a silk purse job on Zola's prose
                          in translation must be a strong one. :lol:

                          The bad translations of Mann's work do him a small disservice: they make him seem like a
                          stilted writer. He's not. The mind and sensibility do indeed come through. The medium is, as
                          they say in digital communications, somewhat "lossy," but one gets enough to see the
                          work is of value. The Krull translation is a lot better than the old translations of
                          Buddenbrooks, The Magic Mountain, or Doctor Faustus. But even with
                          all that's lost in translation, it's still golden.

                          However, people who like their prose simple along the Hemingway model can be
                          put off by the translations. Also, many readers aren't really prepared for the sort
                          of prose Mann wrote, even in a good translation. I feel that a lot of modern American
                          prose has been dumbed-down in this fashion. :-[

                          LSN

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            As an aside, I'd observe that the examples I gave for comparison, Henry James of
                            Portrait of a Lady or Washington Square, or Constance Garnett's prose
                            in her translation of War and Peace aren't difficult, either. What 12 or 13 year
                            old doesn't love the twists and turns of elegant diction in such works? :-]

                            (The answer, of course, is you'd be surprised.)

                            LSN

                            Comment

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