• Paine
    2.2k

    One quality about the "Joyous science" that differs from the other works is the sense of freedom to do something different. The works before and after picture change as a struggle with other views. This work is a claim for his land, unoccupied by others.
  • Manuel
    4k


    How does it compare to M&D (aside from the differences with po-mo) in terms of entertainment and fun factor?
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth.Jamal

    I was born in Easton, Maryland and grew up on the Eastern Shore and in nearby Delaware. My grandfather's farm was on the Chesapeake Bay about six miles north of the mouth of the Choptank River near Cambridge. Looking south from the shore, I could see land in the location where Cooke's farm was located, although I didn't know it at the time.

    All that being said, I've never been able to get through more than a few chapters of the book. Maybe I should try again.
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    The basic experience is of reading an 18th picaresque novel, not remotely like reading other books labelled as postmodern. If it's self-reflexively clever it's in the same way that, say, Don Quixote or Tristram Shandy are.Jamal

    Interesting and probably true. I don't have a recent enough memory to be certain. But I did think of Barth a lot when I read Cervantes. I found Barth extraordinary but hard going, in as much as it just never lets up: layer upon layer of prodigious syntactical brilliance. I guess for many people the book is so dense and lengthy that unless you really love the playfulness of this absurd tale, you will probably become exhausted. For my taste, it might have been better (easier on my brain) cut by a third. In some ways, TC Boyle's Water Music is that book for me. That said, there's little quesion that Barth is a genius.
  • Jamal
    9.3k
    How does it compare to M&D (aside from the differences with po-mo) in terms of entertainment and fun factor?Manuel

    It’s equally entertaining and fun, I’d say, but it’s a difficult comparison. It’s less wacky/goofy/hippy stoner than M&D, but also more consistent: it feels more like an adventure story than M&D, so I guess it’s more entertaining from that point of view; and it’s much easier to read than M&D and contains far fewer obscure references—which makes it both more fun and less fun, if you see what I mean.

    It also has a lot more sexual and scatological humour than M&D (“But say, thou’rt all beshit”).

    But it’s not all low humour and adventure fiction: it also contains long (but also entertaining) discussions on diverse interesting topics, and a profusion of penetrating insights, and the writing is incredibly good.

    I was born in Easton, Maryland and grew up on the Eastern Shore and in nearby Delaware. My grandfather's farm was on the Chesapeake Bay about six miles north of the mouth of the Choptank River near Cambridge. Looking south from the shore, I could see land in the location where Cooke's farm was located, although I didn't know it at the time.T Clark

    Cool! Reading the novel has prompted me to spend hours exploring the region in Google Maps. I’d never heard of many of the names, like Choptank, and though of course I’d heard of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay, I knew nothing of their geography and history (beyond what I’d gleaned from Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon).

    The characters in the book are — among other things — tracking down fragments of a journal from the late 17th century. One part of this old explorer’s journal reads as follows:

    From Wighcocomoco to this place, all the coast is but low broken Isles of Moras, a myle or two in breadth, & tenne or twelve in length, & foule and stinking by reason of the stagnant waters therein. Add to wch, the aire is beclowded with vile meskitoes, that sucke at a mans bloud, as though they had never eate before. It is forsooth no countrie, for any save the Salvage...

    “That picture doth apply to one place only,” laughed Burlingame, who had read the passage aloud. “Do you know it, Father?”

    And the priest, his historical curiosity aroused despite his circumstances, nodded stiffly: “The Dorset marches.”

    “Aye,” Burlingame confirmed. “The Hooper Islands, Bloodsworth Island, and South Marsh. Here is a morsel for your epic, Ebenezer: the first white man to set foot on Dorset County.”

    When I read things like this I have to go on the internet and have a look at these places.

    Late in the book, Ebenezer, who from the beginning has been attempting to fulfill his role as Poet Laureate of Maryland, has to amend his earlier rosy view of the place following a string of unfortunate events:

    “What price this laureateship! Here’s naught but scoundrels and perverts, hovels and brothels, corruption and poltroonery! What glory, to be singer of such a sewer!”

    So I’m glad to now be able to place you culturally.

    In some ways, TC Boyle's Water Music is that book for me. That said, there's little quesion that Barth is a genius.Tom Storm

    Looks interesting.
  • Jamal
    9.3k
    One quality about the "Joyous science" that differs from the other works is the sense of freedom to do something different. The works before and after picture change as a struggle with other views. This work is a claim for his land, unoccupied by others.Paine

    Nice way of putting it :up:
  • Jamal
    9.3k
    But I did think of Barth a lot when I read Cervantes.Tom Storm

    In particular, the relationship between Ebenezer and his manservant Bertrand owes a lot to the Don Quixote-Sancho Panza double act.
  • Maw
    2.7k
    Started The Book of Chuang Tzu last week
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    Reading the novel has prompted me to spend hours exploring the region in Google Maps.Jamal

    One of the reasons I like Kindle so much is that I can link directly to Wikipedia and GoogleEarth. It's become almost automatic. I often find myself going off on tangents. I love it.

    ChoptankJamal

    The Choptank and the Susquehanna are my two favorite rivers. We crossed the Choptank on the way from my childhood home in southern Delaware to my grandfather's farm. The house I grew up in is a couple of hundred feet from the Nanticoke River, which is still tidewater there, 30 miles from the bay. It was not unusual for me to lose my shoes or boots in the mudflats and there was always danger when we used our sleds because our favorite hill, the only thing even close to a hill in flat southern Delaware, there was always danger of missing the turn and ending up in the water.
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    Started The Book of Chuang Tzu last weekMaw

    It has had a big impact on my understanding of the Tao Te Ching. Whose translation are you using?
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    Just finished Konrad Lorenz's "Kant's Doctrine of the A Priori in the Light of Contemporary Biology." It knocked my socks off. I've been looking for something like this for a long time - a discussion of how our human nervous system and mind have evolved as a "negotiation" between Kant's things-as-they-are, the noumena, and our animal need to survive. I feel as if I've been given a Rosetta Stone. Here's a link.

    https://archive.org/details/KantsDoctrineOfTheAPrioriInTheLightOfContemporaryBiologyKonradLorenz

    I need to read it a couple more times. Then, maybe I'll start a thread.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    Just finished Konrad Lorenz's "Kant's Doctrine of the A Priori in the Light of Contemporary Biology." It knocked my socks off. I've been looking for something like this for a long time - a discussion of how our human nervous system and mind have evolved as a "negotiation" between Kant's things-as-they-are, the noumena, and our animal need to surviveT Clark

    Cool. On Aggression was excellent; this looks fascinating.
  • Pantagruel
    3.4k
    Outlines of Scepticism
    by Sextus Empiricus
  • Jamal
    9.3k
    One of the reasons I like Kindle so much is that I can link directly to Wikipedia and GoogleEarth. It's become almost automatic. I often find myself going off on tangents. I love it.T Clark

    Yes. I've been using an iPad to read books and it's been great for that. However, a few weeks ago I propped it against the window to play music while I was cooking a chicken Madras, but then forgot I'd put it there and opened the window, and it fell out and got smashed up.

    Since then I've been reading the old-fashioned way, and it's been really good. No distracting rabbit holes.

    The Choptank and the Susquehanna are my two favorite rivers. We crossed the Choptank on the way from my childhood home in southern Delaware to my grandfather's farm. The house I grew up in is a couple of hundred feet from the Nanticoke River, which is still tidewater there, 30 miles from the bay. It was not unusual for me to lose my shoes or boots in the mudflats and there was always danger when we used our sleds because our favorite hill, the only thing even close to a hill in flat southern Delaware, there was always danger of missing the turn and ending up in the water.T Clark

    I'm getting nostalgic and I wasn't even there.
  • Maw
    2.7k
    Martin Palmer and Elizabeth Breuilly translation. Penguin Classics version
  • Maw
    2.7k
    Going on vacation tomorrow. Bringing The Book of Chuang Tzu along with Gilgamesh and Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation (rereading)
  • javi2541997
    5.3k
    Angelos Sikelianos. Selected Poems. Translated and introduced by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.

    Kazantzakis once said that if he were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, he would only accept it if he could share it with Sikelianos.
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    Martin Palmer and Elizabeth Breuilly translation. Penguin Classics versionMaw

    I hadn't heard of them. I took a quick look. Let me know how you liked it. I see it includes all 33 chapters, which is good. I actually liked the so-called outer and miscellaneous chapters better than the first seven. Maybe I'll start a thread about it if anyone is interested.
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