Sunday, May 29, 2005

Going Home With The Stranger

I visited the bookstore again today.

I had to. It was my duty.

You see, Kiwi (of whom I wrote in an earlier blog entry) had no idea about how to find the bookstore in Daegu. Well, I couldn't just let him wallow in ignorance, now could I? Someone had to lead him to the spot, and in my bookwormy opinion, some quickly mumbled directions and a hastily scrawled map were half-assed ways to help out. A pilgrimmage had to be made, and right soon. I stepped up to the plate.

I wanted to look for some stuff anyway.

First of all, I wanted to buy some more children's books for my elementary classes.

In addition, I was thinking of buying another copy of LONELY PLANET/KOREA. Make that RE-buying. I bought the exact same book before I left the United States. Guess what? It's still there! I meant to read it on the plane but I ran right out and left it behind, bigger than Dallas!

Also, I'm circling-like-a-shark on several novels: THE END OF THE AFFAIR, by Graham Greene, THE CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY by Edith Wharton, THE WINGS OF THE DOVE, by Wharton's old buddy Henry James, ROBINSON CRUSOE by Daniel Defoe, THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE by [crap, I can never think of her name!] and SIDEWAYS by Rex Pickett.

I did buy seven easy children's books. I also bought a book for professional purposes called TEACHING ENGLISH TO KOREANS. It's full of those dull scholarly articles, the like of which I had to read for two years in graduate school, but these pertain just to teaching in Korea, which should be useful. (If I stay awake during the reading!)

Surprising myself, I eyeballed a copy of THE STRANGER by Albert Camus. Okay, it really wasn't that much of a surprise. Well, it was up until a couple of days ago when I read a blurb on the back of the James M. Cain book and it said that when Camus sat down to write THE STRANGER, he used Cain's THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE as his model! I'd always thought of Camus as this French-y intellectual, just not my type at all. Still skeptical, I began reading the first few sentences of THE STRANGER and delightedly read and heard in my mind's ear distinct echoes of the terse "hard-boiled" prose that makes me such a big Cain fan. I scooped it up.

Luck is with me on the translation of THE STRANGER. For years, apparently there was only one translation, and guess what? it was done by an English guy named Stuart Gilbert. This is ironic because when Camus set out to model Cain, he was seeking an American sensibility! The new translator, an American, has allegedly restored this sensibility.

I'm pretty sure that Gilbert didn't do that ultra-British translation stuff like, when slang is called for, the characters say something creaky like: "I say, dear old boy, how utterly ripping and all that rot," but I am damn glad that an American got a hold of the novel and spared me any teeth-on-edge episodes! In addition to being irritating, if a translated novel continues to get veddy veddy British, I practically need a translator for that!

As for Kiwi, he helped himself to another Dostoyevsky novel, THE BROTHERS KARAMOZOV. He had 2 translations to choose from, and he opened the books side-by-side and did a word-by-word comparison. What is it about Dostoyevsky that seems to be ringing Kiwi's bell? I wish I knew. I have a niggling feeling of discomfort because I've only read one thing of Dostoyevsky's, and that was THE UNDERGROUND MAN. In my undergraduate program. World Lit II. Because I had to.

The other book Kiwi selected has gone straight out of my mind. I'm embarrassed to admit that it's only been four friggin' hours since he showed it to me! Are my bookworm powers slipping?


Daldianus said...

Reading is one of the best things you can do, in my opinion! I couldn't exist without books :)

If you like non-fiction books as well, you can check out my site with book recommendations (click on my Blogger profile).

Have a nice day!

atomicvelvetsigh said...

ohh hehe you remind me of myself... although last post i made on my blog about my book hunting was here look under "deep one perfect morning".

and i even consider myself more attracted to men Who Read Books... (most men my age doesn't)