Critical Linking

Critical Linking: May 17, 2012

Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.

I’d take off Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. I read it perhaps 25 years ago and have never understood why others hail it as a classic. I find its entire premise repulsive.

It’s one thing not to like Lolita. It’s another thing to be unable to understand why others might admire it. And, FYI: everyone finds the premise difficult.

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The publisher contracts with Apple were virtually identical, particularly as it relates to the maximum price floor, definitions for bestselling titles, commission rate, and the most favored nations clause.

I don’t know much about the law, collusion, or anti-trust regulations, but boy, it sure seems hard to believe that this was just a coincidence.

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Even in a language as seemingly different as Mandarin Chinese, we find māma; in the languages of Southern India we get amma, and in Norwegian, Italian, Swedish, and Icelandic, as well as many other languages, the word used is “mamma.” The French maman is so similar that the English-language reader will effortlessly understand it.

If the first line of The Stranger really were translated as “Today, Maman died,” most English readers would have no idea what the heck was going on. That has to be taken into account, right?

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All good books transcend the place and time in which they were written: the whole point is to write something specific that becomes universal, after all. So perhaps the best way to transcend the barriers of international literature is to no longer market it as such.

That seems a high bar for a book to be good. Seems to me like books that “transcend the time and place in which they were written” are more like masterpieces.