Thursday, 9 October 2014

Obscure genres

This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

What’s your favorite genre that other people might not read? I mean, mysteries, romances, real-crime … these are all fairly widespread categories. But real readers don’t usually limit themselves to just the “big” genres … so what’s your favorite little-known type of book? Books on dogs? Knitting books? Stories about the space race? Mathematical theory?

I don't want to sound like a fancy pretentious person, but I think I'd have to say nineteenth-century French literature. And I mean in French.

That's not because I'm particularly good at French, in fact it's the opposite - I learned French in college, and I want to keep it up and improve it, but I don't actually know any French people, and don't want to feel like it's hard work. So, I decided to do things I enjoy, but sometimes in French, which results in classic literature and detective TV shows.

When I haven't read one in a while, I do find myself relying on Google Translate in every other sentence, to begin with, but then there's that wonderful feeling when, about halfway through, you've got so used to it you've forgotten you're reading a different language. It does give me some bizarre vocabulary - I started out gently with a Harry Potter translation, and ended up knowing far too many words for things like 'pumpkin', 'flying broomstick', and 'giant spider' (although what with that spider-plague, who knows if that last one might come in handy?)

I'd really like to get round to reading Victor Hugo in the original French, as I really enjoyed Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame in English, but I have yet to find them over here, plus the sheer length of them makes it rather a daunting prospect. Most recently I read Stendhal's Le Rouge et Le Noir, which interested me because I'd heard it subverted narrative convention, most notably in that the 'hero' is a conniving, selfish maniplator who never really gets his 'rightful' comeuppance. Still to read on my shelves I've got Les Fleurs du Mal and Mauprat, and I'm particularly looking forward to the poetry as I do find that poetry in particular loses much of its beauty in translation.

What about you? What's your niche interest?

1 comment:

La Coccinelle said...

Earlier this year (I think... or was it last year?) I started to read The Little Prince in the original French. I got only a few chapters in before I lost interest. Maybe that says more about the book than about my French skills, though (I've never been able to get through it in English, either). I used to be able to read novels in French back in high school and university; we read The Stranger and The Man Who Planted Trees in their original language, and I could've talked about them in French, too. But I haven't used my French in years, and I've lost much of it. My comprehension isn't what it used to be!