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September 26th, 2015, 12:40 am #211

Thomas Hounds wrote:Her forays into the absolute stupidest most tripe-filled cliched 1970s feminist sci-fi work imaginable (go fucking read The Marriage Between Zones 3, 4 and 5, just go read it), really destroyed her standing in the literary community for quite some time
I highly doubt that's true. It may have hurt her chances at the Nobel when she should have gotten it, but Gore Vidal complimented Shikasta, and Ursula Le Guin wrote a generous review for The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five.
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oneofmurphysbiscuits
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September 26th, 2015, 5:10 am #212

she wouldn't have cared about any such standing anyway, would she? Doris was hard, much of what she wrote was grimly deterministic and utterly clumsy - deliberately so ? - She had things to do and got on with doing them irrespective of any injury to esteem or critical reputation
I only think, if that is the name for this vertiginous panic as of hornets smoked out of their nests, once a certain degree of terror has been exceeded
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Thomas Hounds
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September 27th, 2015, 10:15 am #213

Bloß ein Língshān wrote:
Thomas Hounds wrote:Her forays into the absolute stupidest most tripe-filled cliched 1970s feminist sci-fi work imaginable (go fucking read The Marriage Between Zones 3, 4 and 5, just go read it), really destroyed her standing in the literary community for quite some time
I highly doubt that's true. It may have hurt her chances at the Nobel when she should have gotten it, but Gore Vidal complimented Shikasta, and Ursula Le Guin wrote a generous review for The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five.
I'm not surprise Le Guin would praise. As much as I adore Le Guin, she's dead wrong on it, and I think her motives for praising are more ideological and wanting to support the literary value of sci-fi. The problem with that book (maybe not the rest of the series) is that it's simply shitty. Tehanu and the The Left Hand of Darkness by Le Guin are, in my opinion, vastly better than The Marriage Between Zones Three, Four, and Five.

And it's already pretty well-established that they damaged her nobel standing. They were savagely trashed around the litero-sphere. It wasn't until decades later, when Lessing was very old but her earlier works were being reevaluated and her autobiography drew a lot of attention that the committee suddenly started reconsidering here, considering she was one of the most important British authors not to win.

To Sharon: What do you mean clumsy? I'm curious because in her short stories and in The Grass is Singing, I found her prose to be very precise and incisive. Gloomy and melancholic for sure, but with some really amazing insights into the mores of femininity, desire, and a critical take on the messiness of colonialism, not only on native peoples, but on the colonizer (which played through again in her critical Nobel Lecture basically attacking the committee and most things the prize stood for while outlining the bleak hopelessness of the world, as opposed to Le Clezio's rosy-eyed romanticism). I never got the feeling her prose was clumsy.
"Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles
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Thomas Hounds
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September 27th, 2015, 10:18 am #214

Bloß ein Língshān wrote:Yes, China was proud of Buck and considered her win a win for the country (she was Chinese, and her first works were written in Chinese) - until their closed policy and aversion to Westerns, when they renounced her. She certainly won, like redhead said, for introducing a culture to a large part of the world. That being the case, the article is still lazy and unfactual.

The Good Earth on Amazon:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#26 in Books > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory
#332 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Classics
#892 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical

Vs. Vargas Llosa's latest The Discreet Hero: A Novel:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#376 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Political
#1412 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Family Life
#5642 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Literary

To Rushdie's The Satanic Verses: A Novel:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#383 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary
#1082 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Literary

Simply untrue that she's not read.
I'm not surprised it still sells. There are probably some occasional high schools that teach it, and it pops in the odd university class. I think the proper frame isn't to compare it to some obscure brand new novel from Llosa. I mean you are comparing Buck's only real contribution to literature really, a book that single-handedly won a Nobel Prize. Compare it to the chief works of other writers might be more informative, though I have already been clearly disproven on my larger assertion; Buck is still read. By who, fucking hell if I know. I'd imagine her numbers are still smaller than most of her contemporary authors. Maybe Thomas Wolfe has fallen on the wayside enough to sell fewer copies than her, but I doubt it.
"Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles
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roger
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September 27th, 2015, 1:18 pm #215

Thomas Hounds wrote: I mean you are comparing Buck's only real contribution to literature really, a book that single-handedly won a Nobel Prize.
Pearl Buck's Nobel Prize citation reads "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces". She wrote two biographies, The Exile and Fighting Angel both about her remarkable parents.

.
Nothing conclusive has yet taken place in the world, the ultimate word of the world and about the world has not yet been spoken, the world is open and free, everything is still in the future and will always be in the future.
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oneofmurphysbiscuits
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September 27th, 2015, 4:52 pm #216

insight and clumsiness aren't mutually exclusive, Jake. It's been a while since I read any Doris, but that's often been my experience of reading her; that the briliance, the prescience is to be found in the midst of unremarkable and sometimes utterly clumsy prose.
I only think, if that is the name for this vertiginous panic as of hornets smoked out of their nests, once a certain degree of terror has been exceeded
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redhead
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September 28th, 2015, 2:42 am #217

Thomas Hounds wrote:I'm not surprised it still sells. There are probably some occasional high schools that teach it, and it pops in the odd university class. I think the proper frame isn't to compare it to some obscure brand new novel from Llosa. I mean you are comparing Buck's only real contribution to literature really, a book that single-handedly won a Nobel Prize. Compare it to the chief works of other writers might be more informative, though I have already been clearly disproven on my larger assertion; Buck is still read. By who, fucking hell if I know. I'd imagine her numbers are still smaller than most of her contemporary authors. Maybe Thomas Wolfe has fallen on the wayside enough to sell fewer copies than her, but I doubt it.
Buck is kind of an anomaly in sales: on the one hand, she wrote a tremendous amount that isn't read by anyone, on the other hand, The Good Earth, the only book of hers anyone still cares about, is still selling well long after the boost Oprah gave it dried up. I'm too lazy to dig up sales data, but I have a feeling The Good Earth still sells much more than many of her contemporaries, with some notable exceptions, like Faulkner, Hemingway, Wharton, definitely some others I can't name off the top of my head, while the rest of her stuff is mostly out of print and no one is interested in those used copies.
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suzannahhh
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September 28th, 2015, 12:13 pm #218

wrote:By the time of her death in 1973, Pearl had published more than seventy books:
novels, collections of stories, biography and autobiography, poetry, drama, children's literature, and translations from the Chinese.
The Good Earth was her second novel

in a bit
after finishing some of my current reading
I'll give her another (after decades) try
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Thomas Hounds
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September 28th, 2015, 12:16 pm #219

oneofmurphysbiscuits wrote:insight and clumsiness aren't mutually exclusive, Jake. It's been a while since I read any Doris, but that's often been my experience of reading her; that the briliance, the prescience is to be found in the midst of unremarkable and sometimes utterly clumsy prose.
That's a good point. Particularly with movies, there are a few movies I think have profound insights despite a bit of clumsiness.
"Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles
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redhead
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September 28th, 2015, 7:18 pm #220

I'm almost half way through Danube by Magris. It's a lot different than what I expected, and I'm not sure why it has been classified as fiction for even a moment, although apparently in some reissue of an english translation it was listed under nonfiction classics. It's very dense, very beautiful, Melvillian in its scope and ambition. In an odd way it reminds me of Xingjian's Soul Mountain, both of them being on opposite sides of the spectrum for travelogues. While in Xingjian the actual path is barely discernible and the folk tales and Xingjian himself take on such a prominent part that exploring them is the real journey, here you're almost always aware of the route and where the author is, although Magris for the most part disappears behind the bits of history and philosophy and literature. It's like the horseshoe theory, they're both so different that they start to have some similarities.

At this point I hope Magris not on the betting list is because of some tactic of the Swedish academy, like Vargas Llosa being so low the year he won, because he is really great and it would sadden me if the academy has just moved past his work and he's no longer a front runner. I have a copy of Microcosms to read when I'm done with Danube, although it's so dense who knows when that'll be.
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