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Customer Review

on 2 November 2010
This book is a collection of short stories in German with the fairly literal English translation on the other page. The main points of this are that you can get a 'dictionary definition' (it is not a complete description, it is often best in the long run to look up words that may not be exactly the same as the English) that does not require putting down the book and much more importantly you can analyze and compare the differences in the way the two languages prefer to communicate the information from the level of the particle (if you are good at grammar) to the sentence, the paragraph and the story as a whole. I feel this is the main strength of a parallel text which the 'quick look-up' only serves to augment.

Normally Penguin Parallel texts feature quite dull texts (I should know, I have all of the new series in each available language and the 1st of the old Penguin Parallel series which believe it or not even had a now unavailable 'Soviet Stories') that are as a rule boring. However I found some of the stories in this text genuinely interesting; Lascia for instance features a humorous car journey with a rather crazy Romanian taxi driver around Sicily and the collection is capped off with two simple but involving stories about Communist East Germany. Not much occurs, but the description I found interesting. Personally I found the 48 page long story, which is only second after a truly bizarre first story "The Listener, or a Description of a Route with a Hidden Motive," 'Waiting for Guests' unbearably boring about an anxious woman interminably ruminating over her feelings about her divorce.

Still, short of being immersed in oral conversation with Germans, reading is the next best thing and with a parallel translation to look over I find I absorb much more of the important structure of thinking (& grammar). This volume, as with written German in general, is difficult to run through having long sentences only being completed at the end, but it is worth it; especially after time spent investigating the roots of the German language, which then enables one to 'build' the German language yourself.
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