Archive for the 'literature' Category

Speaker for the Dead

I never meant to be a biologist or an advocate of Darwinism, but i just realized that it kinda bothers me that practically i learned all that i know about evolution from a Mormon science fiction writer.

A good writer, though: Speaker for the Dead is the first novel that i re-read in many years.

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Every now and then

Every now and then i listen to bad music. Every now and then i watch a bad movie. Every now and then i eat in a bad restaurant. Every now and then i read a bad book. And i love it. It reminds my that i do have a taste and that i don’t just think that everything that i hear, watch, eat and read is good.

Who is Albert Sánchez Piñol?

Who is Albert Sánchez Piñol? Let’s look at Wikipedias in different languages, translated into English, ordered by the English name of the language:

Basque: Albert Sánchez Piñol is a Catalan writer and anthropologist.

Catalan: Albert Sánchez Piñol is a Catalan anthropologist and writer who wrote the known works “The Cold Skin” (2002) and “Pandora in Congo” (2005).

Dutch: Albert Sánchez Piñol is a Spanish anthropologist and employee of the Center for African Studies of the University of Barcelona. (The rest of the article describes his work in the field of anthropology. The last sentence says that he writes in Catalan.)

English: Albert Sánchez Piñol (Catalan pronunciation: [əɫˈβɛrt ˈsantʃeθ piˈɲɔɫ]) is a Catalan Spanish author and anthropologist writing in the Catalan language.

German: Albert Sánchez Piñol is a Spanish anthropologist and writer. (Catalan is not mentioned in the article, but the article is included in the category “Literature (Catalan)”).

Italian: Albert Sánchez Piñol is a Spanish writer and anthropologist. (The fact that “The Cold Skin” was written in Catalan is mentioned towards the end.)

Norwegian: Albert Sánchez Piñol is a Spanish author and social anthropologist, writing in Catalan.

Polish: Albert Sánchez Piñol, a Spanish writer, a prosaist writing in the Catalan language. By education he is an anthropologist.

Russian: Albert Sánchez Piñol – a Catalan anthropologist and writer.

Spanish: Albert Sánchez Piñol is a Spanish writer and anthropologist. His literary work is written in Catalan.

(All articles say that he was born in Barcelona in 1965. Only English has an IPA transcription of the name, although it’s probably wrong.)

Lenin 55!

I am sitting in the library of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The complete works of Lenin are on a shelf in front of me. Four shelves, to be precise: Fifty-five volumes plus a two-volume index and the selected works in English – in mere forty-five volumes. I wonder: Did the university actually buy it or did the children of a dead communist donate it to clear some space at home?

Self

I am reading a very bad book.

I am not going to tell which one, because it won’t change much and i will just hurt someone without any purpose.

I think that i am going to finish it, because it’s good to read a bad book every once in a while. To have something with which i can compare all the good books that i’m reading.

Ajuntament de Barcelona

George Orwell, the author of “1984” and “Homage to Catalonia” is turning in his grave:

The Municipality of Barcelona - Zone under surveillance

The Municipality of Barcelona - Zone under surveillance

Shabtai, Linur and Keret

I opened the article Hebrew literature in the English Wikipedia. It says:

In 1966, Shmuel Yosef Agnon won the Nobel Prize for Literature for novels and short stories that employ a unique blend of biblical, Talmudic and modern Hebrew.

Among other Israeli authors who were translated into other languages and attained international recognition are Ephraim Kishon, Yaakov Shabtai, A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, Irit Linur, Etgar Keret and Yehoshua Sobol.

“Hmm,” i thought, “OK, they put the classics Kishon and Shabtai together with the ultra-modern Keret.”

This is a very dangerous mistake. There’s no “they” in Wikipedia. There’s only “I”. The right approach to Wikipedia is not to believe a word of it and to check every explicit and implicit fact.

And in this case it is particularly ridiculous: Something mysterious bugged me about this sentence, so i checked the article’s history and saw that this paragraph was added by me in 2007. It was left untouched since then.

I don’t think that i would write the same names today, but Wikipedia’s consensus decided that it is OK.

The previous sentence has a very big problem in it. If you don’t see it, you really shouldn’t read Wikipedia.


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