The influence of iPods, well written letters & first lines

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass started with the influence of iPods – how they’ve changed the way we listen and respond to music.

We moved on to look at Theodore Dalrymple’s look at the art of the well written letter and finished with the Amercian Book review’s 100 best first lines from novels.

5 Responses to The influence of iPods, well written letters & first lines

  1. Andrei says:

    Your link to the Amercian Book review’s 100 best first lines from novels is wrong.

    I found it of course: http://americanbookreview.org/100BestLines.asp (I assume this is it anyway.

    Now if you were to ask me the greatest opening line of an English novel I would immediately come up with “Call me Ishmael” and to my great delight the American Book review people have agreed with this assessment.

    Below are opening lines from a very famous non English Novel as it appeared in the original publication

    A challenge.

    From this can you identify the the Novel is, the author and the idiosyncrasy which exists in the original text but usually ignored in English translation. If you read this at University in scholarly translation you will get it straight off.

    But the excerpt is littered with clues.

    — Eh bien, mon prince. Gênes et Lucques ne sont plus que des apanages, des поместья, de la famille Buonaparte. Non, je vous préviens que si vous ne me dites pas que nous avons la guerre, si vous vous permettez encore de pallier toutes les infamies, toutes les atrocités de cet Antichrist (ma parole, j’y crois) — je ne vous connais plus, vous n’êtes plus mon ami, vous n’êtes plus мой верный раб, comme vous dites

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  2. Deborah says:

    Too easy, Andrei. That’s the opening from War and Peace. It’s a brilliant scene.

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  3. Andrei says:

    That was quick Deborah, though I knew it would be identified since many denizens of the threads on this blog are culturally sophisticated, unlike a blog which will remain nameless which today features a video of a woman crushing beer cans with her over sized breasts.

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  4. homepaddock says:

    Sorry about the wrong link, Andrei, – I wrote the post in the back of a car on the way to a funeral in Gore and copied the link for the letters twice.

    I’ve corrected it now.

    Deborah beat me to the answer, though I’d have only been guessing – I haven’t read War & Peace in any language (blush).

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  5. Richard says:

    Ele, your post “the art of letter writing’ made me reach to the bookshelf for a book that reminded me that letter writing was just one form of communication. The book is “French Pulpit Oratory -1598-1650; “A Study in Themes and Styles with a Descriptive “Catalogue” of Printed Texts”. Written by Professor Peter Bayley, then, in 1980, Professor of French at Cambridge University.
    I inherited the book from my late wife- kept it,(sold the collection of Georgette Heyer) because she told me that much communication in those days came from the pulpit. She was right, –I think.

    Clearly letter writing was in it’s infancy both in France and England- I have read the book, so of course I should know.

    The book begins with a quote from Jane Austin from “Mansfield Park”
    “There is something in the eloquence of the pulpit, when it is really eloquence, which is entitled to the highest praise–”

    Incidentally, the book came out about the same time as a PhD thesis, written by a NZer entitled “The Effect of the Bicycle in Norwich City”- just need to mention this to show I am quite grounded in reading matter.
    Pulpit book to be aired for a couple of days and returned to the shelf; its a little musty.

    Dusting off and copying the cycle thesis to G Brownlee and B Parker. Although in ChCh one is much safer in a Humvee OR, perhaps a plastic Waka- news just off the wire- are we all just going mad or is it just me? National seem to be losing it.

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