Hey /lit/, I have a question or two about how you guys are reading older books.
I'm not a native English speaker (I'm Eastern European) so obviously I am at a disadvantage reading English literature compared to someone from like the UK or the US. Anyway, recently I've acquired a collection of e-books - from Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs among others, and frankly I can't fucking read them. I mean, okay I can, if I put an effort into it, but who the hell wants to spend half a minute deciphering each sentence? It's obnoxious, and it sucks all the joy out of reading. Same with any other book that's older than ~75-100 years.
While reading these abominations I constantly wish I could just punch the writer in the face, take their pen away, and go "no no no, not like that, let ME do it" then I'd rewrite the whole thing in modern English, which I understand perfectly well.
I can't for the life of me understand why would anyone subject themselves to these books. But then again I'm assuming others too have trouble reading them, which may not be the case. Is it though? Can you guys read older literature easily? Are there any advantages to reading them at all, or it's fine if somebody just sticks to modern novels?
I can read them easily as English is in my mother tongue. I enjoy reading 19th and early-20th century literature. It is important to read those texts in order to expand your vocabulary and explore the uses of different syntax.
i'm slavic just as you and i read the man who laughs by victor hugo. it was a pain to read, and i didn't understand about 35% of it, but i still got captivated by it and i improved my english skillz (the translation was a ye-olde english)
if you're really interested, just suck it up and have a dictionary nearby
Yes, I can read Edgar Rice Burroughs about as easily as 4chan, though there are strange words and sentences occasionally. If something doesn't make sense I usually reread it a few times and experiment with different ways of pronouncing it or pacing the sentence. It probably takes more effort for you to do the same.
Could you post examples of the kind of sentences you're having trouble with?
How could you understand "modern" English perfectly well but struggle with Tarzan? I can read it with ease because I'm not goddamn illiterate.
Verne didn't even write in English. Why not just get the translation of it in whatever backwards Slavic language you speak?
Hungary, so I'm not speaking a slavic language, but finno ugric.
ugh, well, there was that time a pair of professors were arguing. The sentences are very long, and though they make sense, I must focus very hard to understand everything. I have adhd, concentration is the bane of my life. It's part of the reason I love reading books. If they are written well, words just flow into my mind, without effort, it's relaxing. But anyway here's some examples:
"Tut, tut, Mr. Philander," he chided. "How often must I urge you to seek that absolute concentration of your mental faculties which alone may permit you to bring to bear the highest powers of intellectuality upon the momentous problems which naturally fall to the lot of great minds? And now I find you guilty of a most flagrant breach of courtesy in interrupting my learned discourse to call attention to a mere quadruped of the genus FELIS. As I was saying, Mr.—"
""Bless me, Professor," again interrupted Mr. Philander; "permit me to suggest that doubtless the Moors who were conquered in the fifteenth century will continue in that most regrettable condition for the time being at least, even though we postpone discussion of that world calamity until we may attain the enchanting view of yon FELIS CARNIVORA which distance proverbially is credited with lending."
>How could you understand "modern" English perfectly well but struggle with Tarzan?
Tarzan isn't very modern, linguistically speaking, from what I can tell. I mean, I read a lot of contemporary novels, compared to those the words, phrases, and sentences in Tarzan are ancient. You may not notice it, because you are a native speaker, but as an outsider, the differences are glaring.
>Why not just get the translation of it in whatever backwards Slavic language you speak?
I actually read almost all of Burrough's Tarzan books in Hungarian when I was a teen. Still have the books with me and everything. I just wanted to read these books in original, I was sure I'd enjoy them. I never imagined they'd be difficult to read.
>Jules Verne is modern English, silly.
Not...to me. I've looked up a couple of Hungarian Verne translations and they are written in "modern" Hungarian (well, anything written in the past ~200 years reads almost like they were written in 2015 so that isn't a feat in itself), but your English translations went with the turn of the century phrases and keeping it as close to French as possible, even if they are atrocious to read.