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Sony Walkman Portable Skip-Free CD Player with Clip Style Earbud Headphones, LCD Display, Digital Mega Bass Sound & AVLS - Batteries Included
Sony Walkman Portable Skip-Free CD Player with Clip Style Earbud Headphones, LCD Display, Digital Mega Bass Sound & AVLS - Batteries Included

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pathetic speakers, 13 Feb. 2014
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Player & phones OK. Speakers output 0.2 watt. What?! Listening in total silence is the only answer or cart the player around when e.g. cooking. Not ideal. Youtube may be the only answer when I've got broadband organised on my move to Spain.


The Jungle
The Jungle
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A socialist milestone, 7 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: The Jungle (Kindle Edition)
This was a vital life-changing pillar of my youth. Do we learn from the history of the meat-packing industry in Chicago? Sadly not, if the murderously dangerous conditions of the Indian sub-continent labouring to produce buy-and-chuck clothing for us is anything to go by. There seems to be an endless stream of proto-Sinclairs today with the ability to squirrel out such extortion of labour, yet what do they achieve? Poverty and need always seems to provide an endless conveyor belt of those for whom a pittance and squalid living conditions are better than rural nothing. Lewis would despair. Oh yes, and to the best of my knowledge, Armor Star is still a best-selling brand of canned meat in the US. I can't speak for their working conditions.


Gargantua and Pantagruel [with Biographical Introduction]
Gargantua and Pantagruel [with Biographical Introduction]
Price: £3.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Rabelais & Urquhart--what a team!, 7 Jan. 2014
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I first met Rabelais when I helped my partner with her Royal Holloway French degree. Help? I wrote the analysis of Gargantua from scratch. The lecturer was slightly puzzled by the difference in written style! Anyway, she used Cohen's translation (she wasn't supposed to), and though I haven't compared them, I'm sure it's much more accurate than Urquhart's, but then I guarantee it's not half as much fun. I know of no other translation that stands alone as a classic work of literature independent of its source, unless of course it's my translation of Madame Bovary (now on Kindle under Madame Bovary/Flaubert/Keith Barnes). What Urquhart did was to grasp the unbridled stream-of-consciouness style of Rabelais, fling it at the wall, scrape it off the floor into a mixing bowl, add his own mad mad ingredients and serve it up for your delight. What chutzpah! How dare he? Enjoy.


The War Poets: A Selection of World War I Poetry (2nd Edition)
The War Poets: A Selection of World War I Poetry (2nd Edition)
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars indispensable, 7 Jan. 2014
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Everyone should have it, and at 77p why not? Michael Gove you have rocks in your head. That an overwheening royal family quarrel should have led to this mayhem...


The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison
The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison
Price: £2.48

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the can, 4 Dec. 2013
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This book is a strange mixture of minutely detailed records of famous murders and physical and chemical properties of toxic elements and their antidotes. Inevitably those who are interested in the one will be bored by the other, but how else would you write it? Undeniably it's all there, and the message is clear: with today's meticulous crime-scene examinations and autopsy expertise, don't try it. Apparently there's an easy antidote to arsenic, so today Emma Bovary should have been saved, and what then?


Madame Bovary (Collins Classics)
Madame Bovary (Collins Classics)
Price: £0.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Is this English?, 3 Dec. 2013
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Oh what galumphingly awkward language. Flaubert, like Dickens, felt it was vital that his text sounded right when read aloud, and to prove it, like Dickens, he did. What follows is that any translation should withstand this test too. Try reading this lot aloud.

Collins doesn't even have the grace to credit the translator, so we have to guess. I believe this edition is years old, and is probably good old Marx-Aveling, so Collins continues to shovel it out on to unsuspecting readers, saying trust us, we're Collins. Well, don't. The world has moved on, thank goodness. For instance, try reading the following passage aloud. Apart from Flaubert's beloved commas, the choice of sounds (assonance and alliteration) makes it impossible to read quickly; you're forced to dwell, to savour the dreamy, sensual nature of the writing. Only in the last two short sentences does it deliberately speed up:

"She would talk of 'my slippers', a present from Leon, a fantasy of hers. Such slippers, in pink satin, trimmed with swansdown... When she perched herself on his lap, her leg, too short to reach the floor, hung in the air; and the dainty shoe, which had no heel, dangled from the toes of her naked foot.

"He was savouring, for the first time, the inexpressible delicacy of feminine elegance. Never before had he encountered such refined speech, such discreet dress, such poses of a recumbant dove. He admired the exultation of her soul, the embroidered hem of her skirt. After all, was she not a woman of the world, and a married woman! At last a real mistress!" (Translation by Keith Barnes)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2015 6:50 PM BST


Madame Bovary (Penguin Modern Classics)
Madame Bovary (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price: £3.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great intro, translation ho-hum, 2 Dec. 2013
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I bought the paperback years ago then lost it, so now I have it on Kindle. The intro is remarkably detailed and interesting, but... Do you want some expert telling you what to think before you've read the first page? It's a bit like those audio guides you can hire in an art gallery: we're all entitled to wander round making up our own minds, however daft the conclusions may be.

It would be OK if the translation measured up to the quality of the intro, but it doesn't. Yes, it's accurate, but yet again it shows you can't assume an academic is best qualified just because he writes well about it. Contrary to what you might think, the two tasks need different talents. You can't set off on your translating journey trusting Flaubert to carry you through like some reliable old nag, or you'll come a cropper. So Prof Wall is accurate, and the story gets told, but where's the lyricism, the style to match Flaubert when it's needed? Where's the Shakespearean attention to the sounds of the words, the assonance and alliteration, none of which is needed in an intro? This isn't a diesel generator brochure, it's probably the greatest novel ever written, and the reason for that is the way it is written. Wall may well feel this, but why can't he convey it to the vulnerable reader?

Perhaps the answer is to buy this for the intro, though whose translation you get I don't know. They all have their faults, most of all the wretched Marx-Aveling. She's everywhere.

Forgive me. I'm becoming a Flaubert anorak. But then, he's that good. He deserves the best. Maybe this is:

"She longed for a son; he would be strong and dark; she would call him Georges; and this idea of having a male child was a sort of hoped-for revenge for all her past impotence.

"A man at least is free, but a woman is forever precluded. Constrained yet malleable, she is opposed by both the softness of her flesh and the demands of the law. Her will, like the veil on her hat tied with a cord, flaps in the slightest breeze. There is always some desire to entice, some convention to restrain." (Translation by Keith Barnes)


MADAME BOVARY (illustrated, complete, and unabridged)
MADAME BOVARY (illustrated, complete, and unabridged)
Price: £0.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Laughable translation, 15 Oct. 2013
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Most of us can't read foreign books in the original, so we're totally dependent on translations. The trouble is that unless we read every one available, there's no way to judge how good each one is, though if one jars particularly it will end up being thrown into a corner. This one by Eleanor Marx-Aveling (daughter of Karl) is as bad as it gets, surprisingly as it was the first and has not been out of print since. It is the most widely available, having been adopted by various publishers including Everyman, which doesn't say much for the publishers' literary taste.
Marx was actually commissioned to do it, or she would never have done it, not having translated anything before. She was probably asked because she was a prominent feminist. Not surprisingly she was in awe of Flaubert and petrified by the task, and enlisted her brother to help her. The result is an often hilarious literal translation technically known as a calque, the sort of thing a mediocre A-level student might produce.
So a translation musn't read like one. So whose do you choose? Gerald Hopkins' is well-established (BBC audio) and flows in facile English. But it's Hopkins, not Flaubert: it's the free opposite of a calque. He took unforgivable liberties with Flaubert's meticulous syntax and punctuation; Gustave deliberately littered his text with commas and semi-colons because he didn't want you to skip through it, disgusted by Dumas' outpourings. He wanted you to linger. Hopkins threw out most of the commas and deftly rearranged phrases and clauses.
So choose an academic: they must know how to do it, musn't they? Well, yes and no. Geoffrey Wall and Lydia Davis are largely accurate as you'd expect, but unlike the fluent prose of their biogs of Flaubert, they both seem to freeze up when it comes to the translation itself. Both of them are worthy but plodding: lyricism deserts them when it's most needed. Academics have their day jobs after all: how much time can they afford to spend on the task? Wall has admitted that he got bored with his Penguin commission. Well, bless him. It shows, Geoffrey, it shows.
I haven't read Adam Thorpe's and having read a piece he wrote in The Guardian justifying his style I don't think I want to. He decided to adopt what he hopes is a mid 19c style in keeping with the period, but the great novelists of that time all had their own, so just who was he aping? Dickens? Trollope? Eliot? Gaskell? The Brontes? Thackeray? Disraeli? He probably ended up with some amorphous anachronism which was neither one thing or the other.
Madame Bovary has often been called the first modern novel for various reasons. It wasn't: at least Don Quijote and Tristram Shandy have prior claims. Flaubert is supposed to have invented style indirecte libre, the voicing of inner thoughts, but he didn't really. No, for me, the most significant reason is the ability to translate Emma into lively modern English without jarring. And that is exactly what I am in the process of finishing, for exclusive publication on Kindle, so stay tuned. And don't worry, it's not full of modern colloquialisms, except in some of the speech, where I feel it's justified. Grammatically and spiritually, it's Flaubert. And most of his damned commas are there.
Finally, do read Madame Bovary, whoever's translation you choose. It is undoubtedly the greatest novel ever. You don't have to like Emma, but you can sympathise with her, and that's all Flaubert asks. And unlike the wretched Balzac, there's a strong narrative so you need never get bored. Wait a month or two for my translation and enjoy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 17, 2013 12:10 PM BST


Les Misérables (English language)
Les Misérables (English language)
Price: £0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond criticism?, 14 Oct. 2013
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Too long, too sentimental, too many coincidences, but the man was unique. No-one before or since has or could write like Hugo. A shining example of an Everest of literature standing majestically above today's avalanche of tweets. I pity anyone who doesn't have the attention span to see this book through to the end. At least now you have a film and a musical to help you, plus an excellent precis on Wikipedia. Like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, an excellent translation (19c?).


EDITION PETERS SCHUMANN ROBERT - FANTASIE IN C OP.17 - PIANO Classical sheets Piano
EDITION PETERS SCHUMANN ROBERT - FANTASIE IN C OP.17 - PIANO Classical sheets Piano

5.0 out of 5 stars A sonata in all but name, 14 Oct. 2013
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To be honest, the first 2 movements are and always will be beyond me, but any reasonably competent pianist could and should learn the last movement. It is unbearably beautiful and moving. Don't be afraid to use the left pedal for contrast and pay attention to the expression marks. The coda should speed up but MUST die away at the end. Talking of which, I want it played at my funeral, if not by me, then Pollini. The Peters edition is urtext.


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