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Sophie Ng
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Book Club Forum

Postby Sophie Ng » Thu, 02 Aug 2007 9:33 am

Hi

A book club was started at the beginning of this year, consisting of interested book lovers from this forum. We have met up a few times to discuss our favourite books and would like to take the sharing experience up to a new level by launching some online discussion.

The first online topic of the book club is

"Do you think the Harry Potter series could take on the status of a classic? (no dispute on the meaning of the term 'classic' here pls-- it simply refers to a book that will be remembered for many years to come or designated as one of the literature books in school)

Please actively participate in this discussion so that the thread will remain open.

If anyone is interested in joining our book club meetings, please email your particulars to singaporebookclub@yahoo.com.sg

Cheers
Sophie

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muratkorman
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Postby muratkorman » Thu, 02 Aug 2007 10:10 am

Hi Sophie,

Although I have joined the Book Club, but could never participate in the meetings, I would like to contribute to the thread as much as I can.

In my opinion, Harry Potter series have made a huge success both at books and movies. But I believe the success and popularity comes mainly from the movies which reach a worldwide audience. We know that many people are lazy to read the book while they can spend a couple of hours in cinema. And they become a Harry Potter fan too.

Another point is the new era of fantasy worlds in cinema. After big improvements in technology, "Star Wars" first 3 episodes and "The Lord of the rings" could be directed. This opened the doors wide open to an audience interested in this genre. Tolkien was re-discovered a few years ago after the release of the "Fellowship of the ring" movie. Rowling was much more lucky, the technology was there and an audience awakened by LOTR wanted more.

It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time rather than a literal excellence. There are so many authors writing on fantasy genre, but I don't find Rowling an extraordinary author. I accept Harry Potter being a huge success, but I would never put it into classic category in my understanding. However, according to your description, it has already become a classic.

I am looking forward to sharing thoughts and ideas on books in this thread with other members too.
With my kind regards

Murat Korman

Sophie Ng
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Postby Sophie Ng » Thu, 02 Aug 2007 12:00 pm

Hi Hi

Thanks for being the first to respond.

Hear Hear! I agree totally with you. I do not find Rowling an extraordinary writer. I have to admit that I have read four out of seven Harry Potters but it was solely just for leisure and as her plot progressed, I began to yawn with boredom. I read the first four because they remind me of my childhood days of reading books on English boarding schools. In fact, Rowling is taking on a quintessential English genre and re-introducing it admist a background of magic.

I find her plots lacking in depth and her protrayal of emotions childish. Many classics reveal insightful ideas and perspectives on social norms or issues of their era but her books definitely lack this. I can't help but compare her with some twentieth century writers (cos the period is not aeons ago) like Somerset Maugham and can see the wide difference between classics and popular fiction.

I had a discussion the other day with a friend about this. He mentioned that her books would be remembered many years later. I strongly disagree. In thirty years' time, I think Harry Potter will be forgotten as readers then will be overwhelmed with other popular fiction.

As you mentioned, film technology and marketing strategies improve constantly and her books are simply riding on this bandwagon to success. Stripped of such elements, I doubt her books would enjoy such a wide readership.

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Postby Ruslan » Sat, 04 Aug 2007 3:57 pm

Hi, I've attended two gatherings of the Book Club. Liked the venue and the people. Although the club is mostly about fiction and / or history books, I'd also be glad to meet people interested in finance, economics, mathematics and information technologies.
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Postby MC Donalds » Sat, 04 Aug 2007 7:07 pm

Mind if I participate even though I haven't read the Potter books? Neither have I watched the movies. And narrow minded as I may sound, I will not.

Unfortunately, Sophie, despite you trying to steer away from the semantics, the question will very much boil down to what is a classic. Potters and alike for sure are commercial successes so the chances are that they will drag into literature a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't go near a book. The chances are that they will be read in schools for this particular reason. Will they be considered classics - I doubt.

The term 'classic' to me brings in mind all kinds of Russian and French authors who lived at least 150 years back and who just don't connect with the modern lifes. Therefore, people can not relate to them and couldn't be bothered.

But if you look at modern masters (can one use such a term as modern classic?) or the classic classics, dungeons and dragons don't in general rank very high. Now, take a look at the living authors that you believe will be regarded very highly after their death?

Philip Roth for sure. Jose Saramago certainly. Jaan Kross possibly, but half of the world has never heard of him and his novels are a bit too personal. Once the Soviet time is forgotten, half of them will be irrelevant. V.S.Naipaul? Unlikely, too political. Orham Pamuk? Elfriede Jelinek? J.M.Coetzee? Imre Kertecz? Andrei Makine? I don't think so.

Roth, Saramago, Kross (when less personal) are above the others as they can take something seemingly very ordinary (except that Saramago gets really weird at times) and build a thrilling story around that. Look at the Roth's "America after WW II" trilogy (American Pastoral, I Married a Communist, The Human Stain). How effortlessly he dissects the extraordinary events behind seemingly normal lifes and while doing that, more or less cuts open the American society in the last 50 years. Compare that to any potter writers and they don't stand a chance.

OK, I admit. Iin 150 years they will have the same problem classics have now: the world has changed and people can't relate to the McCarthy era any more. But hey, I don't think anybody remembers the Potter stuff once the next big thing comes. So the modern classics still have a much longer road ahead.

Verdict: not classic material.

PS. Why not publish the info about the bookworm club here, couldn't be bothered registering to yet another yahoo forum.

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Postby Sophie Ng » Mon, 06 Aug 2007 10:49 am

I guess there is not much debate here; everyone seems to agree that it is not a classic. Not many fanatical Harry Potter fans here

I dread the day Harry Potter is made a compulsory lit book; it is equivalent to students analysing the plots of Nancy Drew........yucks....
Actually, I thought Roald Dahl's books are worth analysing but guess schools will find his stories too dark and sinister.

I prefer to read books revealing slices of the past rather than contemporary reflections of society. I guess I am more of a reader of the classics. Strange that you say people do not relate to classics as I do not see how people can react well to dungeons and magic (even right now) when they cannot be bothered with using just a little bit of imagination to put themselves in the shoes of a character from another century. Of course I dislike a tad too much imagination to the extent of surrealistic plots.

Anyone likes reading crime fiction?

Will post details of the next book club meeting here but it will be good if you could give us your email address too.....:)

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Postby MC Donalds » Mon, 06 Aug 2007 8:53 pm

I'm not sure whether the reason that it's hard to relate to the 'classics' is because of the themes or the languages. In a sense, themes are not so different from a lot of contemporary literature but at least I get frustrated with the language. Would be really interesting to read a proper translation of, say, Dr. Faustus by Thomas Mann in a modern language. That must be one of my all time favorites and it's a genuinely powerful experience, but that style of narrative just tends to put me asleep.

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Postby Sophie Ng » Tue, 07 Aug 2007 9:40 am

Haha.....interesting comment........:)

Personally I love the language in classics. I love especially the 18th century novels, with long, fluid and ever so proper use of the language.

Mc Donalds....can you give me your email address?

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Postby MC Donalds » Tue, 07 Aug 2007 6:26 pm

Urgh! What do you mean "proper use of the language"? Why is old fashioned more proper than modern?

Why don't you PM me and I'll get in touch.

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Postby Sophie Ng » Thu, 09 Aug 2007 12:20 pm

"Proper" is just a term I use to describe the difference between modern and old-fashioned English. Not that it means anything superior...........:)

I seldom log on to this forum before the book club form is established and so have not made enough posts to PM you.

Will post details of next meeting (very soon!) here and you are free to join us.

:)

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Postby MC Donalds » Mon, 13 Aug 2007 10:13 am

Sophie Ng wrote:"Proper" is just a term I use to describe the difference between modern and old-fashioned English. Not that it means anything superior...........:)

I seldom log on to this forum before the book club form is established and so have not made enough posts to PM you.

Will post details of next meeting (very soon!) here and you are free to join us.

:)


Apologies. In the dream world where I live, the term was only used in reference to the superiority of something. dictionary.com returns a number of uses/synonyms for proper, some of which I wasn't too aware of:

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source
prop·er /ˈprɒpər/
–adjective
6. strict; accurate.

—Synonyms 1. suited. 2, 3. meet, befitting, becoming, decent, polite. 5. special, individual, peculiar. 6. precise, exact, just, formal.

Oh well, let's stick to the books instead of the language to talk about books :)

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muratkorman
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Postby muratkorman » Mon, 13 Aug 2007 2:23 pm

Sophie, I guess we have all digested last week's topic. What will be our new topic for this week?
With my kind regards



Murat Korman

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Postby MC Donalds » Mon, 13 Aug 2007 6:54 pm

Can I suggest?

The question is: Is the american crackpot realism (e.g. Corrections by Jonathan Franzen) a direct descendant (with the political element removed) from the whatever-it-should-be-called by the Russian absurdists (e.g. Living With an Idiot by Victor Erofeyev)?

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Postby muratkorman » Tue, 14 Aug 2007 8:54 am

I think this topic is a bit heavy for my limited knowledge. I haven't heard of or read any of these authors you mentioned. Perhaps it is my ignorance, but let's see if anyone out there could give some comment over it.
With my kind regards



Murat Korman

Sophie Ng
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Postby Sophie Ng » Sun, 19 Aug 2007 11:38 am

Hi

Please find below details about the next book club meeting.

Date / Day : 1 Sept (Saturday)
Time : 7.30pm
Venue : Hyatt Hotel (Orchard Scotts Road) at Scotts Lounge
Attire : SMart Casual
Topic : Books written in a foreign language but translated into English.
Please bring along a book of this genre if you have one.

Question for discussion : Can the real essence of a book be brought out by meticulous translation? Or somehow, the translated version lacks its intended meaning? Or it does not matter since we will never be able to read the book in its original language?

Reservation made under my name Sophie Ng. If you are interested to join this meeting, please reply at this forum or email me at singaporebookclub@yahoo.com.sg. Thanks.


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