I caught up with the four weeks reading and lectures.
I am very impressed with the lecturer Michael S. Roth.
The above is the presentation lecture for the course. His enthusiasm doesn’t wane. In the video lectures he sometimes speaks directly to the camera for this course mixed with videos from his classes in university. It works very well. He really brings the subject alive and is obviously delighted with the subject and to be teaching.
I have to admit to skimming very quickly through the texts apart from Kant which I had already studied and Madame Bovary which I had read at school. I didn’t like it when I was at school but I thoroughly enjoyed it now. Maybe I was too young to appreciate the subtleties when I was young. Also at that time I knew nothing of the background. The French Revolution was not in my history syllabus.
In order to write my post I read around these two subjects and really enjoyed what I found on the internet. For example this article in the Financial Times entitled “Madame Bovary, c’est moi.” Which discusses the parallels in the life of Madame Bovary and Eleanor Marx. Eleanor, the daughter of Karl Marx translated the book into English. I don’t know if it was her original translation that I read all those years ago.
The course notes recommended the translation by Lydia Davis. Read a few reviews of her work on this book. Some thought that Flaubert would be delighted and some that he would turn in his grave. This review from Nick Fraser of The Guardian had some interesting quotes ;-
“A good sentence in prose,” declares Flaubert, “should be like a good line in poetry, unchangeable, as rhythmic and sonorous.” But Flaubert writes in a variety of styles, some low, some high. He taught us to read novels for their style, and yet his own masterpiece deprives one of such comfort.
This is the 20th English translation of Madame Bovary. Lydia Davis is an accomplished American short-story writer and translator of Proust. She she recently that she didn’t much like the character of Emma, and spent three years on the book. (Flaubert took four and a half years to write the original.) Sometimes Davis’s staid American idioms remind me of the genteel locutions of the literary folk in Tom Rachman’s recent comic novel The Imperfectionists, set in a failed American newspaper in Europe. Something of provincial France – the sheer crudeness of much of the dialogue, its obsessive rehashing of vulgar cliche – has gone badly missing. Davis isn’t alert enough to the sheer range of Flaubert’s progressive bêtes noires.
Not wishing to lose meaning of the original book I read the original French version. I am not able to comment on Lydia Davis’s version.
I also read some of Flaubert’s letters which gave a great insight into this writers thoughts and disdain for his fellow humans.
Maybe I should have spent more time reading about Marx and Rousseau but I thoroughly enjoyed by in-depth investigation of Kant and Flaubert.
I managed to scrape together an essay for the writing assignment. The result is due tomorrow Friday 8th March 2013 at 3:00 pm CET. I have already copied it into a post but will wait for my comments before publishing so that I can do the two together.
The essays I read were of a very high quality. I reviewed four and I was impressed by the quality of the work produced.
Watch this space for my essay and comments.