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skylee
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After a couple of harder books, I'm reading 圆月弯刀 by 古龙, per a tip from @markhavemann.  Originally I had it further down the pipeline, but since I just read 金庸 story, I'll read a 古龙 story to get a fresh comparison between the 2 authors.

 

Between that and Gujian 3, I'm on a Flying Swordsman bender for the month.

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I will most likely be reading my first 武侠 novel sometime next year!  英雄无泪 by 古龙 currently contains 2291 unknown words, so it will come into range for me within the next few months.

 

I am also eager to read 1988:我想和这个世界聊天 by 韩寒

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I'm still reading the second 三体 book, it's taken me a long time as I don't find it very captivating. I'm now at 3/4 and determined to finish it this month, so I can go on to read more from 曹文轩 (probably 青铜葵花). In the meantime I have also read Dune after watching the movie and it felt like I encountered more unknown words than in 三体 😄

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@jannesan 沙丘 is on my reading list also! I don't expect to be able to read it before roughly Q4 2022, but I was motivated to put it on my list after seeing the movie. The movie was simply breathtaking. What did you think?

 

And what did you think of the Chinese translation? Did it read smoothly?

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On 12/13/2021 at 6:12 PM, 黄有光 said:

The movie was simply breathtaking. What did you think?

 

And what did you think of the Chinese translation? Did it read smoothly?

 

It was, really liked the atmosphere. It’s missing all the inner monologues of the characters though, which make the book so cool. 

 

I should’ve been more clear, I read it in English. Lots of obscure (to me) words, but didn’t impact understanding that much. 

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On 12/13/2021 at 8:14 PM, PerpetualChange said:

Enjoyable so far! Not very difficult by Wuxia standards though I sometimes struggle to keep track of the plot for the normal Wuxia reasons. 


When I turn to Wuxia, I'll remember that you are our resident Wuxia expert! Right now I have four volumes of Yong Jin's "Legend of the Condor Heroes" sitting on my shelf, and they're just glaring menacingly at me. I'm saving them towards the very end of my reading list--maybe at least 35 or 40 books in. I don't know what to expect! Unless I'm mistaken, I think you got your start by reading Wuxia novels? I can't imagine the difficulty curve.

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I just finished a couple of books simultaneously. First, it was 中文和合本基督教圣经, which was very, very, very easy for me. Just an order of magnitude easier than the native Chinese material I read. But I guess it helped my speed and fluency. Back earlier in the year, I said my goal was to get down to one unknown word every three pages, and I truly got a preview of that here. It is a very comfortable way to read. However, it's translated content that wasn't originally Chinese, so one would expect it to be easier. Admittedly, there were a few odd turns of phrase, a few archaic characters, and long lists of obscure animals, precious stones, etc.

Also, I just finished 人生海海 by 麦家, and that was definitely more difficult. However, it was a very manageable difficulty. It was 345 pages long, and I had to learn around 500 new words (a bit on the higher end these days). There were two places in the book--the beginning pages and a few pages in the middle--that were incredibly rough and tedious vocabulary-wise, and then the rest was quite smooth. The story was incredibly wild, and it almost reads like a bunch of disjointed short stories. Ultimately, it does become one complete, coherent story, but sometimes you think to yourself, "Where is this narrative going?" It was really creative, and I found it to be more interesting than the author's other book that I read ("Decoded"). If Decoded deserves an English translation, this one does, too. :) 

Next, I'll be engaged in some easier, "fun" reading. I have the collector's edition of Yu Hua's short stories. The title of the whole volume is 我没有自己的名字, which also happens to be the name of one of the individual stories inside. I think I'll feel a bit of nostalgia from my early days of graded readers--the SinoLingua readers I used would often have abridged versions of Yu Hua stories in them. So some of these will feel oddly familiar.

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On 12/13/2021 at 11:01 PM, Woodford said:

When I turn to Wuxia, I'll remember that you are our resident Wuxia exp

 Definitely not me haha! This is my fourth.  And next year, my goal is to find books that are more interesting to me. I like Wuxia, but  I would rather read books that touch on important history or cultural events like Ba Jin or Yu Hua.  So I think I will be going that route. Wuxia has mainly been a fallback for me, " Well, I don't know what I want to read next, some might as well pick up another one of these". 

 

On 12/14/2021 at 8:35 AM, 黄有光 said:

What are "the normal wuxia reasons"?

 

Lots of characters to keep track of, many of whom are not important beyond whatever chapter they are introduced.  Nonsensical plot developments that aren't really important to the greater story.  Overall I would say there is a lot of clutter which can be fun and enjoyable to read on its own but also confusing if you are trying to follow the main thread. 

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On 12/14/2021 at 10:01 PM, Woodford said:

中文和合本基督教圣经, which was very, very, very easy for me. Just an order of magnitude easier than the native Chinese material I read.

I would expect it to be easy and repetitive. It was translated by missionaries with the goal of popularizing the Christian faith. Much as what King James had in mind when he commissioned the vernacular translation of the Latin Bible. (Ironically 'thou, thy, thee' has now become elevated language because of its association with the Bible, when it was really just the plain informal form of addressing a single listener, the use of which was meant to give the Bible a more folksy touch.) And in its turn, the Latin Vulgate is several times easier than, say, Caesar's De Bello Gallico. After all, vulgate means 'common' and is cognate with vulgar.

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On 12/14/2021 at 1:18 PM, Publius said:

And in its turn, the Latin Vulgate is several times easier than, say, Caesar's De Bello Gallico.


Latín was my first project before Chinese! I had the privilege of working though both of those documents, as well as the first 6 books of the Aeneid, the Cataline Wars, etc. Unfortunately, Latin just didn’t stick with me in the same way Chinese did, and I’m not sure why. I do know that Latin grammar and syntax are an absolute nightmare compared to Chinese. And Chinese literature is definitely more abundant, varied in difficulty, and accessible. I’m thankful that I didn’t have to jump right into the Chinese equivalent of Cicero, but rather, there were dozens and dozens of graded readers I could try first.

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@黄有光 Here are two samples to give you a rough idea of the quality of literary translation in China.

 

1) Lolita 《洛丽塔》 translated by 于晓丹 廖世奇:

Here are two of King Akhenaten's and Queen Nefertiti's pre-nubile Nile daughters (that royal couple had a litter of six), wearing nothing but many necklaces of bright beads, relaxed on cushions, intact after three thousand years, with their soft brown puppybodies, cropped hair and long ebony eyes.

这幅是阿肯那顿王和奈费尔提蒂王后两个未到婚龄的尼罗河女儿(这对皇家姐妹养了一窝6岁小狗),赤裸的玉体上除却一串串亮闪闪的念珠项练便别无它物,3000年过去了,仍悠然端倚在褥垫上,那褐色的柔软娇体,剪短的秀发和乌黑的媚眼都依然精美无损。

 

2) The Thorn Birds 《荆棘鸟》 translated by 曾胡:

    Meggie's vomiting turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Sister Agatha still caned her regularly, but always from far enough away to escape the consequences, which lessened the strength of her arm and quite spoiled her aim.

  梅吉的呕吐并不是真正的福音。阿加莎嬷嬷依然经常叫她吃藤条,不过,打她的时候总是躲得远远的,免得自食其果,这减轻了她胳膊的劲儿,也使她难遂其愿

 

The translators simply don't understand the text they're translating so they just make up some shit on the fly and none of the editors is any the wiser.

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Well, I'm now part-way through Yu Hua's collection of short stories, and the experience has been interesting. I rarely ever encounter any words I don't know (today I read 18 pages and only had to look up 4 words in the dictionary), and based on my experience with 活着, I expected that to be the case. What really surprises me, however, is how strange and disorienting Yu Hua's style is. Some of his stories are quite plain and straightforward, and I can't help shake the feeling that there's another whole layer of symbolism or allegory underneath the surface that I'm totally missing. Then there are extremely confusing stories, like one I read today, called 往事与刑罚. The vocabulary, grammar, and syntax were still simple. I could understand each phrase, clause, and sentence. As a whole, however, the story felt completely nonsensical. I had no idea what I was reading, or what it all meant. I searched online for an explanation of the story, and I found a few academic journal articles. Basically, the impression I got was that Yu Hua is being intentionally confusing, and your efforts to make sense of specific details of the story would prove to be in vain. Ha!

I'm guessing that his longer works, like "Brothers," "Chronicles of a Blood Merchant," etc., do not have this same problem. But in his short stories, he goes wild with experimentation. I am mostly enjoying these stories, though, even as I'm learning how to appreciate them for what they are.

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