I’ll be opening most of my presents tomorrow, but I already have a couple of LH interest: Viktor Shklovsky’s Theory of Prose and Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia, edited by Jeff Parker. For the discovery of the latter I am indebted to Lisa Hayden Espenschade, whose enthusiastic post led me to add it to my wish list. And as I wrote to jamessal and AJP, who jointly sent me the former:

Not only do I love Shklovsky’s writing for its own sake, but his approach to criticism is far more appealing to me than most; I always come away from him feeling like I’ve learned more about how literature works.

I opened it at random to page 3 and saw the sentence “Hey, you with the hat, you dropped a package!” This book was clearly meant for me.

To all of my readers who are celebrating the holidays: happy holidays!


  1. Kári Tulinius says

    Ooooh! Shklovsky is wonderful. I’ll have to add Theory of Prose onto my mental to-read list. I’m looking forward to the eventual review.
    The most languagehatty gift I received this Christmas (in Iceland Christmas Eve is when gifts are received) is a bilingual, Icelandic-Chinese, version of Dao De Jing. A brand new translation and the first directly from Chinese (previous translations, of which there are at least three) were translated from other languages. The translator Ragnar Baldursson, a professional diplomat who studied Chinese philosophy at the Beijing University in the late 70s and early 80s, has worked on the translation for a quarter-century (sometimes supplying alternate translations in footonotes, even).

  2. Definitely languagehatty, and I hope you’ll report on it!

  3. For those to whom Santa and the subordinate Clauses brought book vouchers, let me recomend “Parting Shots” by Matthew Parris and Andrew Bryson. I’ve only had it for a few hours, naturally, but I can say that it’s like a somewhat enlightening and enormously funny version of Wikileaks. Though without the entertainment of the attendant sex scandal, obviously.
    Oi, Crown, those Swedes, eh!

  4. The original BBC Radio 4 program page has links to facsimiles of some of those valedictory despatchs. I don’t think the audio links work outside the UK, but NPR copied them. The one from Oslo includes interesting remarks on the linguistic skills of the then newer generation of diplomats versus the Empire’s.

  5. bilingual, Icelandic-Chinese, version of Dao De Jing
    Want! Where can get?

  6. Kári Tulinius says

    You can get it here, bulbul.
    I’ve read about a quarter of it so far and it’s very interesting and clearly done with a deep knowledge of the subject matter. One thing that the bilingual edition makes clear is which bits are in verse and which aren’t. Another interesting thing is that the career diplomat Ragnar Baldursson uses words that have a bureacratic air about them, for instance he translates ‘dao’ as ‘ferli’ which means ‘process’ but can also mean ‘to be mobile’ or ‘out and about’ and comes from the verb ‘fara’ which means ‘go.’ The full title is ‘Ferlið og dygðin’ which would translate into English as ‘The Process and the Virtue’ (previously the Dao De Jing has been known in Icelandic as ‘Bókin um veginn’ or ‘The Book of the Way’). But yes, it’s very pleasurable to read.

  7. Thanks Kári! 12 €, very nice, hopefully shipping to the Continent won’t cost an arm and a leg.
    I love good bilingual editions and this certainly sounds like one. This Christmas (same customs over here as in Iceland) I got, among others, an edition of 11 letters by Maimonides, unfortunately in translation only. Now those would have made a wonderful bilingual edition…

  8. Is it true that “Birting frumtextans er nýlunda í Lærdómsritum”? I’d think something like this would naturally be bilingual.
    It isn’t on the master list yet, but its 1921 predecessor is.

  9. The AAJR Epistle to Yemen was in remainders here a little while ago (even though it claims a copyright half a century ago); might still be some left at a decent price online.

  10. Ooh, the pressure is on! I hope you enjoy Rasskazy, languagehat, and look forward to reading your thoughts about the Shklovsky. I’ve also found him very readable… and need to stop postponing the Shklovsky mini-marathon I’d planned for the fall!

  11. Kári Tulinius says

    None of the other Lærdómsrit have been bilingual editions. The idea being to keep cost down so that they’re affordable to the public. Most books in the line are prose works, with the occasional long poem (e.g. The Tale of Igor and Chrétien de Troyes’ Percaval), so bilingual editions would drive costs up considerably.

  12. Got it, so not that they wouldn’t have before by convention or on principle, but now they kind of had to, consistent with expectations in other modern languages.

  13. You can get it here, bulbul.

    That link is long dead, but I found this page that offers it for sale; for future reference, the actual title is Ferlið og dygðin (by Laozi).

  14. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Note the mailing list nag dialog that gender neutrally says Ertu búin/n að skrá þig á póstlistann okkar? — unlike German, it’s the part after the solidus that makes the word masculine.

  15. David Marjanović says

    That happens with German indefinite adjectives all the time, with -e f. vs. -er m.

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