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Still-favourite books from our youth Options
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, March 07, 2014 12:17:15 AM

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The recent thread concerning "Watership Down" and the fact that one of our members lives close to the area started me thinking (always a dangerous thing to do) d'oh!

The thread drifted from 'Rabbits on the Downs' to Moles (who travel from the Midlands to London, Wales and the North, rather quickly, considering the length of a mole's legs!) in "The Duncton Chronicles".

I started looking at the subject of this type of fantasy book - which some people consider to be 'childish', 'fairy-stories', etc.

I realised that there are some books which I read when I was young which are still looked at as favourites, and have read again and again.
These are possibly a major contribution to my own personal sense of morals - what is expected by society and Mankind, of me - as they are all concerning a triumph over evil by an ordinary teenager holding onto his/her own concept of truth and self.

Probably the first of the lot was The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner - it is set in the countryside around the area where I lived - Alderley Edge, near "The Wizard Inn" on the Edge itself.
It was particularly "real" because the places are really there - the Inn, the Goldenstone, the Farmer's Market at Mobberly, "Sodgers' 'ump" (The Soldiers' Hill), Headless Cross.
Along with its sequel (The Moon of Gomrath) this probably constituted my graduation to books in which the hero didn't always get home in time for tea!

Quote:
From Macclesfield to Mobberley
If you have wares to sell
Don't leave the path at the wizard's inn
Or drink at the wizard's well.

I've read them four or five times since - each time with a sense of 'newness' and adventure.

These books led me on to another by the same author (Alan Garner) - again set in modern times and (sort of) in the area where I lived.
Elidor is actually a modern re-telling of various tales - Childe Rowland (two of the major characters of the book are brother and sister, Roland and Helen), the legends of the Tuatha Dé Danann of Ireland, and stories from tenth century Wales.

Later, in my teens, I read The Dark Is Rising sequence - another set of books combining a mixture of Celtic, Norse and general Arthurian legends but in their modern iterations. The characters include the current Pendragon (heir of Arthur), Arthur himself (very briefly in one chapter only), Arthur's sister The Lady, Wayland the Smith, Loki, Reynardine, the Welsh demi-god Bran, Taliesin the Bard, and probably others who I did not recognise (it took me twenty years and three readings to recognise Judas Iscariot, still wandering, hoping for forgiveness).
Another story of the final battle between Light and Dark - but this time not to be decided by heroism or power, but by the simple choice of one random Human being, given the choice between what he knows is right, and what he would like.

I'm currently three-quarters of the way through the Hyddenworld quartet.
It is the story of modern times of the Hydden - the "Little People" who live alongside mankind in Hyddenworld, which is just to the left as you pass into any circle of stones or trees. Their main city in Britain is Brum in the midlands. They used to have connections to men, but for hundreds of years have improved their ability to be unseen.

Mankind's lack of responsibility for the environment drives the Hydden to take action. However, the emperor of the continent (with his city under the Ruhr Valley) has very different philosophy and plans than the people of Brum have.
It is an adventure, with Jack, who is a giant (he's 5 foot nine), and his human wife being pursued around both worlds, magic jewels to be found, the fat Mayor of Brum with his French chef (who seems a little more knowledgeable than one would expect).
Very much a "Light vs Dark" fantasy tale, with 'fun' parts, but also some very dark parts, particularly for Jack.
I haven't yet read the last book of the four.

It seems to be for a readership a little older than The Dark is Rising - but still 'young adult' (as I am Whistle ).


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
sarah71
Posted: Friday, March 07, 2014 2:23:46 AM

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I recall having read Stevenson's The black arrow and Scott's Ivanhoe like tenth times each, every time was an awesome journey; I would lay down anywhere for hours deeply lost in the reading with no perception of the world around me.

Death is the ultimate dream
Doce
Posted: Friday, March 07, 2014 12:41:04 PM

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Does Jane Eyre count? And Wuthering Heights? I read them for the first time when I was 9 and I still like them.

The One ;)
Articulate Dreamer
Posted: Saturday, March 08, 2014 6:20:33 AM

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Doce wrote:
Does Jane Eyre count? And Wuthering Heights? I read them for the first time when I was 9 and I still like them.


At 9? That is precocious, methinks, Doce Applause

For me, Wuthering Heights, and Steinbeck's "East of Eden' are the lasting classics from my youth. Another book of limited literary merit was 'The Artist Type' by the sports writer Brian Glenville. And the Indian classic Mahabharata.

"...hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour"
ithink140
Posted: Saturday, March 08, 2014 7:26:42 AM

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As a boy I read and loved:

Black Bartlemy's Treasure
Treasure Island
The Three Guinea Watch
Tom Brown's Schooldays
Aesop's Fables
Pilgrim's Progress
Enid Blyton book
A number of Dickens works
Poet's works. Byron, Burns and Wordsworth among other
I also read a book, the title of which I cannot recall, about the events in the life of a sixpenny piece.
I read The wind in The Willows and many more books.

At my village school we had sports time whereby we would all go out to the reck and play cricket or football We also had free reading lessons where we read a book of our choice for half an hour. I was so engrossed in the book I was reading that I did not hear the teacher's call to leave the class for the playing field, nor did I hear the scraping of chairs or the slamming of desk tops. When the teacher discovered my absence a pupil was sent in to fetch me.



'Life is too short to be eaten up by hate.'
Doce
Posted: Saturday, March 08, 2014 9:02:25 AM

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Articulate Dreamer wrote:
Doce wrote:
Does Jane Eyre count? And Wuthering Heights? I read them for the first time when I was 9 and I still like them.


At 9? That is precocious, methinks, Doce Applause Precocious? Not really, A. D. I read them in Romanian, not in English. :)) Most of my students know how to read at the age of 6, even 5. I started at 4, but I was not the only one. It is very easy to read in Romanian, because each letter stands for a sound - with the exception of ce, ci, ge, gi, che, chi, ghe, ghi. Once you've learnt the rules, you can read anything. As for understanding things, of course, you'll get them better and better by rereading the same books as you grow up.

For me, Wuthering Heights, and Steinbeck's "East of Eden' are the lasting classics from my youth. Another book of limited literary merit was 'The Artist Type' by the sports writer Brian Glenville. And the Indian classic Mahabharata.


The One ;)
ithink140
Posted: Saturday, March 08, 2014 12:43:00 PM

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I was reading well at just over 4 years of age... started school at when 4 but could read beforehand. I can recall standing and reading aloud in class at about four and half years old. My earliest recollection is visiting my father in Wormwood Scrubs at a little over three years old.

'Life is too short to be eaten up by hate.'
rogermue
Posted: Sunday, March 09, 2014 9:23:30 AM

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I would like to add Robinson Crusoe. It was a shortened edition.
And Nils Holgersson.
ithink140
Posted: Sunday, March 09, 2014 9:53:10 AM

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Yes I too read Robinson Crusoe when a boy and have also reread it as an adult. I also read Gulliver's Travels.

'Life is too short to be eaten up by hate.'
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Sunday, March 09, 2014 4:42:37 PM

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I've read Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and some other Jungle Book stories gazillion times. First, as a youngster, in Finnish, then in English. They'll go well today in both languages.

BTW, John Lockwood Kipling, Rudyard's father, was the illustrator of the Jungle Book.




In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
rogermue
Posted: Sunday, March 09, 2014 5:37:32 PM

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Rudyard Kipling, Kim, 1901. The adventurous story of a young boy and a portrait of India.
Wikipedia says a spy and picaresque novel.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, March 10, 2014 9:55:06 AM

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So many little gems of ideas and information.

I, like ithink, started school at four, but learned to read at home before that. I think it was fairly normal at that time. There were no computer games or televisions, so the main way of getting the children to sit quietly was to read a story - and that progressed rapidly to teaching them to read their own stories.

However, I think Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, with their euphuistic, grandiloquent and antediluvian vocabulary, would be a little beyond the average nine-year-old.

Stephenson and Scott were "OK" but not favourites. I loved Æsop's Fables - I think they were probably the earliest 'real' stories I read (besides "John is here. John has a ball. The ball is blue.").

I have discovered since I grew up, that many of the books I read as a child were 'expurgated'.
The copy of Gulliver's Travels that I had only included Lilliput and Brobdingnag, and most of the satire was "lost in translation".

Other authors I remember from Junior School (before eleven-years-old) were Alice Norton (or André Norton, as she was sometimes called) and Zenna Henderson. These were Science-Fiction/Fantasy, simple enough for children, but not "childish".

As an aside:

I have just seen (while scanning Amazon) a book I would love to read - it will be early on my list:
From Narnia To Space Odyssey: Stories, Letters, and Commentary By and About C.S. Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke by Arthur C. Clarke and C. S. Lewis.
Two incredibly 'spiritual' writers (despite the fact that Clarke was described as a 'humanist/pantheist' or 'atheistic crypto=-buddhist' and also as 'one of the few people to ever write anything new on the subject of theology' and 'a menace to atheism').
Lewis was, of course, very Christian, though his 'Perelandra' trilogy was allegorically pantheistic in a way...


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Doce
Posted: Monday, March 10, 2014 10:53:53 AM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
So many little gems of ideas and information.

I, like ithink, started school at four, but learned to read at home before that. I think it was fairly normal at that time. There were no computer games or televisions, so the main way of getting the children to sit quietly was to read a story - and that progressed rapidly to teaching them to read their own stories.

However, I think Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, with their euphuistic, grandiloquent and antediluvian vocabulary, would be a little beyond the average nine-year-old. In Romanian they don't sound 'grandiloquent and antediluvian'. I had read lots of novels by the time I was 9 - I didn't mention David Copperfield, for instance, because the first time I read it I understood only half of it. I read my first novel before the age of 5. It was Nobody's Boy (Sans famille) [Rom: Singur pe lume] by Hector Malot. Then I read Robinson Crusoe (and I didn't like it :p, Gulliver's Travels (Lilliput and Brobdingnag), Karl May's Winnetou (absolutely loved it back then!), about 80% of Alexandre Dumas-pere's works, everything I could find by Michel Zevaco, Paul Feval and Eugene Sue, some Romanian novels such as Fram, The Polar Bear, by Cezar Petrescu and Pull All The Sails Up!, by Radu Tudoran, East Wind West Wind by Pearl S. Buck, H. Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, plus Dickens's David Copperfield and Oliver Twist - and, of course, lots of children's tales and stories. All these between 5 and 10. Afterwards I started re-reading some of them - to understand them better or simply because I liked them a lot. After 10 I read Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris and Les miserables, Lesage's Gil Blas, Maurice Druon's Les rois maudits etc

Stephenson and Scott were "OK" but not favourites. I loved Æsop's Fables - I think they were probably the earliest 'real' stories I read (besides "John is here. John has a ball. The ball is blue.").

I have discovered since I grew up, that many of the books I read as a child were 'expurgated'.
The copy of Gulliver's Travels that I had only included Lilliput and Brobdingnag, and most of the satire was "lost in translation".

Other authors I remember from Junior School (before eleven-years-old) were Alice Norton (or André Norton, as she was sometimes called) and Zenna Henderson. These were Science-Fiction/Fantasy, simple enough for children, but not "childish".

As an aside:

I have just seen (while scanning Amazon) a book I would love to read - it will be early on my list:
From Narnia To Space Odyssey: Stories, Letters, and Commentary By and About C.S. Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke by Arthur C. Clarke and C. S. Lewis.
Two incredibly 'spiritual' writers (despite the fact that Clarke was described as a 'humanist/pantheist' or 'atheistic crypto=-buddhist' and also as 'one of the few people to ever write anything new on the subject of theology' and 'a menace to atheism').
Lewis was, of course, very Christian, though his 'Perelandra' trilogy was allegorically pantheistic in a way...


The One ;)
Kirk Stephens
Posted: Monday, March 10, 2014 12:44:42 PM

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Great subject for a thread!

I remember so many good books from my youth. Jack London & Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were favorites of mine.
rogermue
Posted: Monday, March 10, 2014 1:29:39 PM

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Astrid Lindgren, Ronia the Robber's daughter
and
Johanna Spiri, Switzerland - Heidi
and
Conan Doyle - Lost World
Rider Haggard - King Solomon's Mines
Rider Haggard - She: A history of adventure
Jules Verne - Journey to the Centre of the Earth
rogermue
Posted: Sunday, March 23, 2014 1:40:36 AM

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Book list: 100 Must-Reads for kids 9-14
published by npr

Link

This list focuses on American books. There are a lot of books I don't know, I only know about 20 or 30.
But I miss eg Michael Ende, The never-ending story or Dickens, Oliver Twist or the charming stories by Hugh Lofting
about Dr Doolittle and his animals. I love those stories still today.

Now I discover there are several groups in this list:
American stories - Animals - Biography, Memoirs and History - Magic - Family life -
Fantasy - Friendship - Humour - Graphic novels - Mysteries and Thrillers - Myths and
Fairy Tales - Poetry - Science Fiction - Survival and Adventure.

NPR is National Public Radio, I think the American equivalent of BBC.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, March 23, 2014 8:07:36 PM

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I wonder if these are in sequence of popularity, age or what.
I see it was a survey of 2000 people (not very representative really!) - then the result were edited by a 'panel of experts'.

Oddly the ones I have heard of (and many that I like) are down at the end of the list, and I have never heard of most of the ones at the top.
"To Kill a Mockingbird" is, of course, a classic - not actually my favourite, but very good.

Other than that, out of the first twenty-five, I have heard of three - "Watership Down", The Pooh Tales, and "Charlotte's Web".

"Bunnicula" looks fun!

From that list, I personally would recommend:
"The Graveyard Book" - Neil Gaiman
"Alice" set - Lewis Carroll
"The City of Ember" - Oddly, I saw the film before I read the book by Jeanne Duprau. Both book and film are worth the time to find. I think it was Saoirse Ronan's debut, and she was excellent.
The "Earthsea" books by Ursula LeGuin
The Tiffany Aching and "Wee Free Men" set from Terry Pratchett
The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper. Marvellous books, possibly a bit 'older' than the others (maybe 12 -15). (15 stretches a long way to 75).


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Maryam Dad
Posted: Monday, March 24, 2014 9:24:20 AM

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I can't remember any book title that I liked to read, I can only remember the authors' name, Astrid Lingren and Enyd Blyton, and some books from Norwegia, I am sure they were from Norwegia as I remember the character's names were something like Ole or Tore and their money was Krone.

I live in a tropical area but many books I read when I was young were telling about winter and snow.

Remember my youth feels like there was a storm in my heart, like a turtle was scratching my heart. I really miss my youth.

Kindness is a mark of faith. and whoever is not kind has no faith.
R E H
Posted: Tuesday, April 01, 2014 8:26:51 PM

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I have read Huckleberry Finn at least once a decade since I was 12 years old.

The first time it was a fun adventure story.

By the time I was twenty, it was a powerful condemnation of slavery.

Later in life I saw the need to reject everything you have been taught to be moral, when your own experience shows it to be wrong.

Every re-reading teaches me something new.
J-P
Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 1:31:36 PM

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Yes, R E H, you are right. "Huckleberry Finn" is a fascinationg book, and probably Mark Twain's best. Considering the time when it was published, it might be considered as a subversive novel.
towan52
Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 3:38:53 PM

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I remember Swallows & Amazons and the Green Sailors followed by Tom Sawyer. I never really liked Enid Blyton books or books like that. I was one of the very few avid readers in my class throughout school. Voluntary reading was considered somewhat sissy. I think Foundit and I are the only people who can and do read in Texas. Before I get thrown out of the USA, I want to go the George W Bush Library. I believe it consists of seven Peanuts cartoon strips and one copy of Baseball Digest. There was a map of the world, but GWB didn't recognize it, so it was discarded. Whistle Whistle Whistle Whistle Just feeling a bit mischievous and silly today. d'oh!

"Today I was a hero. I rescued some beer that was trapped in a bottle"
Schlook Inside
Posted: Friday, May 16, 2014 9:34:45 PM

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English is my second language,I learned it I was 8 years old.Jack and Jill Went Up The Hill was the starter,my dad would make me read that out loud every night until I got it rightBoo hoo! Which took a couple months before I could pronounce everything right.

"Be kind everyone is fighting a hard battle"
rossalicia
Posted: Saturday, May 17, 2014 2:59:14 PM

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As a girl, I read almost three times "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint Exupéry.
hassanishome2
Posted: Monday, May 19, 2014 11:44:59 AM

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Only two books, Robinson Crusoe and Wizard of the Oz: and didn't read them in English either.
Ebenezer Son
Posted: Tuesday, June 03, 2014 4:10:18 PM
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Nice experience of books reading - I remember it was my mum who taught me to read and pronounce letters properly - because I had liked playing and fooling around, and she one day sat me down with a rod and a solemn face lashing and teaching me - I recall that she always lashed me c'os I found it hard identifying small letter 'd' and 'b', in fact that was the time I percieved my mother differently c'os she lashed me as though I was an alien to her - my first book I read was hamlet by shakesppear followed by Black boy by Richard Wrights and a couple of peoms - I had a rough life and I think that precluded me from visiting a library to read a book of my choice
And I always think and dream of writing a novel, which I believe I will do someday.

I know only one thing - that is that I know nothing.
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Tuesday, June 03, 2014 4:17:13 PM

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rossalicia wrote:
As a girl, I read almost three times "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint Exupéry.


I still read it now and then.


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
Tovarish
Posted: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 1:17:13 AM

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Enid Bliton's 'Famous Five' as a child and then banned copies of 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' and 'Lolita' as a teenager.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 5:55:46 AM

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Odd, isn't it?

Lolita is now in the "Top 100 Books" lists on several sites, yet was a banned book at the time.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Nish
Posted: Thursday, June 05, 2014 2:58:38 PM

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Matilda.

Fairy tales like Cinderella :)

The Little Prince.

Yes, God is to be feared, but God is love.
Absurdicuss
Posted: Monday, July 07, 2014 1:12:16 AM

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From Eagle Comics - The Stainless Steel Rat, a suave yet grimy anti hero, egocentric misfit criminal space cop.








"Now" is the eternal present.
Romany
Posted: Monday, July 07, 2014 6:32:43 AM
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Had I been asked as a child what my favourite book was, I would have said "The Water Babies" by Charles Kingsley. I had thought that, reading it later I would find it just one of those sermonising Victorian moral tales....but no. The magic of the writing and descriptions were what delighted me.

"The Wind in the Willows" is a book I never travel anywhere without - once again because of the evocative writing. (It was in the first batch of 2nd hand books I bought after the fire.)

But Dragos list mentioning Alan Garners book struck a chord. I didn't discover them until I was in my mid-thirties and I devoured each with absolute delight...at about the same time I found The Princess and Curdie. I simply fell in love with the atmosphere and the mysticism of them all.

As a kid, I spent most of my pocket money going round fetes buying up books. The older they were, the cheaper they were, so I read all the Victorian classics often in their original form. (Didn't realise at the time how valuable first editions were!!) They had stiff covers,( sometimes even of leather), embossed with exquisite Burne-Jones-type design, the pages were often shiny and the colour-illustrations were always detailed, involved and very, very Art Nouveau or Classical. They all had a special, book-smell. Many of them had spidery writing inside in faded, brownish ink, dedicating them to long-ago children who had probably perished not too long afterwards in the Great War or the Spanish Flu and I used often to think about those lost children.

The first paper-back I ever bought (though also at a fete) was Allison Uttley's "A Traveller in Time" and it became my favourite book ever: once again for the evocative quality, but also the way it slipped from modern times (well, it was actually written in 1930!)to the time of the Babbington Plot.I quickly followed that up with "The Eagle of The Ninth" which I have also managed to replace since the fire. (Alas, The Traveller has still not turned up).

I think that if, as Drago says, some people disparage books written for children, they cannot be very literary-minded. I still read all the modern winners of Young Adult awards - and recommend them to my students. A well-written book, which fires the imagination, increases one's knowledge and one's empathy, give insights into history and language, and provides absorbing opportunities to lose one's own ego by subsuming it with the protagonist's, whether it is written for a child, an adult or a geriatric, cannot be dismissed.

tunaafi
Posted: Monday, July 07, 2014 7:43:47 AM

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In recent years I have tried re-reading some of the books I loved as a child. While I can see why I enjoyed them some sixty years ago, they do nothing for me now. The only one that has stuck with me is Dumas's The Three Musketeers. I originally read it in a children's version, and then progressed to the unabridged version, and to the following novels in the series. I still enjoy them now, though the four heroes must be four of the most unpleasant people ever to swash their buckles.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, July 07, 2014 11:38:20 AM

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That's a good thought 'unpleasant heroes' - it's not quite what I would have said - I think 'heroes who have real human failings' is what attracts me.

A real hero is not 'fearless and perfect', but overcomes his fear and imperfections to do the correct thing.
Sometimes they are not even human (I read a lot of Science-fiction and Fantasy)

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
221BBaker
Posted: Friday, July 11, 2014 10:59:56 AM

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I had a fantastic edition of Hans Christian Andersen's Fantasy Tales, as I believe they call fairy tales in Danish. It had the most beautiful illustrations by Arthur Rackham. Both the stories and the drawings were, together with the Catalan tale of a child the size of a thumb called ‘Patufet’, the books I remember reading when I was a kid.

I believe you only enjoy literature completely when you read it in its original language. I never learnt Danish, so I haven't really enjoyed Andersen's writing fully. But when I was 13 I read Treasure Island in English, after having read a translation into Spanish four or five years before. An absolutely different experience altogether.

I would recommend anyone whose favourite novel wasn't written in their mother tongue, to make every effort to try and read the original version. That might not be possible for many people, of course. But those who are lucky enough to have become fluent enough in English, would certainly enjoy the experience.

Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, July 11, 2014 8:14:35 PM

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Joined: 9/12/2011
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Neurons: 146,892
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi!
Welcome to the forum.

There are a few of the pictures from that book, shown in this thread, along with many other marvellous illustrations!

I don't understand any foreign language well enough to read a book (I may be able to 'understand' French, with a dictionary), however, I have read many good translations (even though they may not be quite so good as the original!)



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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