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Old 08-08-2012, 07:59 PM   #16
crich70
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I think that "Cat's Cradle" is a hard read. I couldn't make heads or tails out of it when I tried to read it.
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:02 PM   #17
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That or Klingon opera.
(gulp.)
Maybe it's vogon poetry?
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:03 PM   #18
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James joyce in general as well as later neil stephenson.
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:09 PM   #19
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I think that "Cat's Cradle" is a hard read. I couldn't make heads or tails out of it when I tried to read it.
Really? I've always considered Cat's Cradle some of Vonnegut's most straight-forward, mainstream, scifi story-telling. Oh well ... just goes to show you...
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:36 PM   #20
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What about the bible? I know its the most popular book, but it can definitely be hard to get through. Some of that free shit on Amazon is pretty difficult IMO.
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:38 PM   #21
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The Silmarillian by J.R.R Tolkien is a hard read.
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:59 PM   #22
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Here are the first few paragraphs of Finnegans Wake, and no, it doesn't get any better---



Ulysses is a cake walk in comparison (although I haven't read it). I have read "The Dead", which is the final story in Joyce's Dubliners. That was enough Joyce for me.
at risk of sounding like a literary heathen, that's nonsense. it's like he was having an episode while at a typewriter.

if that's highbrow literature, i'll gladly remain amongst the low.
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Old 08-09-2012, 05:59 AM   #23
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To me it just looks like a random list. How someone can put books like Nightwood, The Phenomenology of Spirit, Finnegans Wake and Clarissa in the same category of difficulty is totally beyond me. I'm betting they just threw a few books that they each were unable to read, for whatever reason, in a hat and then drew ten titles to make up a list.

I've read seven out of the ten, of which I'd class two as hard, one as mad and the remainder as straightforward.
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Old 08-09-2012, 12:53 PM   #24
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I took a run at Finnegan's Wake a few years ago and didn't get very far, but I'll take Joseph Campbell's enthusiasm for the book as sufficient recommendation that there is in fact something there. It's obviously an experimental work that demands a high level of engagement from the reader, and not everyone has the patience or the skill set for that kind of reading.

I remember when I first started to 'get' Modern and contemporary poetry it was something of a revelation--I had unknowingly assumed 'reading is reading,' but in truth there's more than one kind of literacy.

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I think that "Cat's Cradle" is a hard read. I couldn't make heads or tails out of it when I tried to read it.
0_o
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Old 08-09-2012, 01:48 PM   #25
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Fox in Socks is quite the difficult read.
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Old 08-09-2012, 02:11 PM   #26
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I think that "Cat's Cradle" is a hard read. I couldn't make heads or tails out of it when I tried to read it.
No damned cat. No damned cradle.
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Old 08-10-2012, 02:44 AM   #27
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Personally, I prefer simpler reads, like Hemingway, Steinbeck, and even Stephanie Meyers. I can't wait until Brent Weeks next book comes out. It definitely won't be a difficult read, but I don't think a difficult read is what makes a book good.
Not read any on the list, but know of many of them. I'd like to take a look at 'The Faerie Queene' sometime.

I agree with your choice, Daithi, but please define 'simpler'.

PS I also like your art criticism. Karma for that.

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Old 08-10-2012, 12:31 PM   #28
Daithi
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In regards to simpler, I'd point to Steinbeck -- think Of Mice and Men. It is written in the same language we use in conversation. This applies to the dialog, the internal thoughts of characters, and descriptions of the scenes. A smart 12-year-old wouldn't have a problem reading it. Even Grapes of Wrath is an easy read even though it is a lot longer.

Contrast this with Faulkner's Sound and Fury. The story begins through the eyes of a mentally handicapped man who doesn't process time in the same manner as normal people. The author also likes to use the "stream of consciousness" technique of showing thoughts, feeling, memories, etc., and this is bizarre when you are in the head of someone who is mentally handicapped and already distorts the concept of time. Faulkner also has a tendency to use language that is full of similes and metaphors and isn't always straightforward. It is a far more difficult book than Steinbeck's books.

Even Edgar Allan Poe is more difficult than the likes of Steinbeck and Hemingway. Poe has the ability to use language to set a mood that is down right terrifying, but getting through the language can make the stories harder to read if you don't have a solid vocabulary (I really like them though).

Actually, pretty much any author over 150 years old is more difficult to read. Anything by Shakespeare, The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson, A Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift. Even Dickens, Hugo, and Dumas are difficult to read because the language is different from modern usage, and the sentence structure tends to be long and elaborate.

I find it easier to lose myself in a story if I don't have to struggle with the language or have to struggle trying to figure the plot. I like to just get lost in a story, to become the protagonist. These must be simpler stories in terms of language and style, but they can still be profound works of art.

Last edited by Daithi; 08-10-2012 at 12:38 PM. Reason: My grammar is know goods.
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Old 08-10-2012, 05:20 PM   #29
QuantumIguana
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For non fiction, Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is really heavy reading. It is one of these books that is more read about than actually read. Here's a link to the Random Kant Generator, http://interconnected.org/home/more/2000/08/kant/ which generates text that has a resemblance to how work. At first glance, it looks like it might not be gibberish.

Here's a sample from the generator. (It gives you new text each time you load it)

By virtue of human reason, the manifold (and to avoid all misapprehension, it is necessary to explain that this is true) has nothing to do with the thing in itself; in the case of philosophy, the Transcendental Deduction is the mere result of the power of the Ideal, a blind but indispensable function of the soul. I assert, therefore, that the transcendental aesthetic has nothing to do with the thing in itself. As any dedicated reader can clearly see, to avoid all misapprehension, it is necessary to explain that, in reference to ends, necessity is a body of demonstrated doctrine, and none of it must be known a priori. Our ideas are just as necessary as, then, the manifold. It must not be supposed that, then, natural causes, with the sole exception of the never-ending regress in the series of empirical conditions, have lying before them the Antinomies. Because of our necessary ignorance of the conditions, the never-ending regress in the series of empirical conditions is a representation of our understanding; for these reasons, the objects in space and time (and there can be no doubt that this is the case) are just as necessary as the phenomena. But to this matter no answer is possible.

Here's a passage from the actual text of A Critique of Pure Reason:

Transcendental philosophy is the idea of a science, for which the
Critique of Pure Reason must sketch the whole plan architectonically,
that is, from principles, with a full guarantee for the validity and
stability of all the parts which enter into the building. It is the
system of all the principles of pure reason. If this Critique itself
does not assume the title of transcendental philosophy, it is only
because, to be a complete system, it ought to contain a full analysis of
all human knowledge a priori. Our critique must, indeed, lay before us a
complete enumeration of all the radical conceptions which constitute the
said pure knowledge. But from the complete analysis of these conceptions
themselves, as also from a complete investigation of those derived from
them, it abstains with reason; partly because it would be deviating from
the end in view to occupy itself with this analysis, since this process
is not attended with the difficulty and insecurity to be found in the
synthesis, to which our critique is entirely devoted, and partly because
it would be inconsistent with the unity of our plan to burden this
essay with the vindication of the completeness of such an analysis and
deduction, with which, after all, we have at present nothing to do.
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Old 08-10-2012, 06:45 PM   #30
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The excerpt from Finnegans Wake seems more like Bablefish translations to me. O.o

It really does depend on the author and your mindset. I spent the better part of three years translating Caesar's Gallic Wars, so periodic sentences and inverted word order don't faze me. For someone writing over two thousand years ago, he's quite readable. H.G. Wells is another one. When I read War of the Worlds I forgot that it was written over a hundred years ago, until the main character steals a horse and cart.

I agree about Cat's Cradle. I read it, and I still have no real idea what was going on. Same with L'Estranger. (At least when I read that, I thought it was my sketchy French...then I read a translation, no, it makes no sense.)
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