Cast of Characters:

Enkidu (AKA Slim)
Beowolf (AKA Wolfie)
Blaze (AKA Blaze)

Monday, April 13, 2009

10 things that my addiction to the Twilight series of books has brought to my attention (Now with all new bonus reflections!)

1) Wow…look, that’s that plot curve thing that they talked about in high school…is the really long flat part an extended exposition or really slowly rising action?
2) The opportunity to live vicariously through the romantic lives of imaginary people while my own life is limited to surviving grad school.
3) The realization that my disagreements with the casting in the film adaptation are evidence of everyone reading a different story, even though they’re reading the same book. I greatly suspect that I’m not reading the story that the author wrote, but I really like my version of it!
4) Relatively cheap thrills. I’ve been reading and rereading the same books for the last few months.
5) Improved Spanish skills through my reading of the series in Spanish.
6) Basic literature courses might be more effective at encouraging reflection on literature if they start with pop literature that people would actually enjoy reading multiple times. How much do you really see of a book the first time through, particularly if you don’t care to read it?
7) A reaffirmation of the effectiveness of formula fiction and the tastes of the masses. The first time I realized that everyone might like something because it was actually gratifying was when I read Anne Rice. Before that, I’d been rather elitist, assuming that if the masses loved it, I shouldn’t bother.
8) I really am annoyed by inconsistency in imaginary worlds. It’s OK if pigs fly, but they had better always be able to fly or have a good reason for not being able to do so!
9) Not all translators are created equal. It’s possible to be a professional translator without mastery of the source language.
10) German books are more expensive than English or Spanish books.

And a bonus reflection: Reading the stories in languages other than my own (which is the original) has caused me to read more slowly. I find myself stopping to consider what a foreign word might have been in the original English. Reading it in other languages creates the necessary distance to contemplate more than just the plot, but rather the phrasing as well. Also, I've noticed more foreshadowing (though this might just be an artifact of having read the same story multiple times.) It will be interesting to see if my experience reading it in English feels different after having read it in Spanish and German.

And another: I've had many discussions with colleagues about the dangers and merits of using American media translated into German for the purpose of teaching German. Arguments against such a thing are that translations do not use the same sorts of phrasing and structure as German works and they do not have the same cultural relevance. My thought is that, at least at the lower levels of language learning, that it doesn't really help to read only stuff originally in German with the ideal of developing native-like sensibilities and phrasing. Frankly, if you continue with the language, then you will have plenty of opportunity to work on that. However, for introductory study, I think that it makes a lot of sense to read things written by people from the learner's culture because such works are likely to express things that the learner would like to be able to express. Maybe a native German would never think to say X, Y or Z, but I would, and it would be nice to know how to make myself understood. This isn't to say that you shouldn't read German works by German authors when learning German. Of course it is important to have authentic materials to learn cultural understanding. On the other hand, if you are reading a best-seller in translation, I think that the argument could be made that it has become part of the German culture as well, or at least part of a subculture. I mean, to take an example from music, I think that the Beatles are as much a part of German culture as they are of American, though the exact place that they have varies by such things as whether the person understands English or just hears the music and probably also the age of the listener.

1 comment: said...

The series of Twilight books is one of my favorite book series. I just love the couple of Twilight. I have watched the movie also and followed each ne everything related to Twilight.