War and Peace: 2019


Here we here we here we fucking go

This is my dad’s copy, I told him I was going to get it on kindle and he said it would be difficult because of how much you need to refer to the notes


DiS shall be my notes.


Feel torn about this. On the one hand it seems like a fab idea, on the other I read Anna K last year, first two thirds were great but it really dragged by the end…


The whole concept of translation is fascinating, but it’s doubly interesting thinking about modernising a text too. No one would think to present a new edition of Jane Eyre with “ejaculated” changed to “exclaimed”, but we feel the need to do it with a book written in a foreign language, just because you have the chance to. Shows how far removed we are from the original text. Freaks my nut out to this day.


Probably aren’t any in my edition.

This is actually something else that put me off a number of classics: You can get really cheap versions even brand new in paperback from Penguin but they tend to just be the book with no notes. The £10+ versions are ones with extensive notes and commentary.

My copy of Pickwick Papers was that sort of edition and it helped me massively to understand things. There were words used in there that I wouldn’t have even guessed I was misinterpreting if it hadn’t been for a footnote.

But that seemed a lot of money to spend on a book I was partly reading out of a sense of obligation to reading classics.


Think even if I successfully did this I’d get to the end and be like “ok.” Think I’ve lost the ability to get anything out of reading books.


Actually yeah, I was going to bring this up too. I guess all translations are automatically not the original so it’s sort of okay. Probably you could make an argument for going through older English language classics and substituting synonyms with less innuendo etc. I mean it’s not the word the author picked but equally they would themselves (presumably) have been careful not to write innuendos at the time that would pull readers out of the story?


Alright, i’m in. Just read chapter 1. Understood about 60% of it.


I might do this exact thing but with The Brothers Karamazov.


That’s only because 40% of it was a list of unpronounceable names you’d never heard before.


The idea that the text is sacred is pretty widespread though. Academics build careers on whether or not a line of Shakespeare should have a comma or a semicolon. Changing words for modern sensibilities sets a precedent - should you remove elements of racism if you don’t believe the author intended to be racist?

Translation is a different ballgame though because you do have to interpret the intention of the author, since there’s rarely an exactly equivalent way to translate a phrase.


I don’t think the sort of replacement I’m talking about is necessarily the same as replacing sexist/ableist/racist language etc. because we are talking about innuendo changing the text from serious to comedy due to a word’s meaning changing.

In terms of racism there actually could be an argument made for considering whether use of negro vs coloured vs black should be looked at too if when the book was written this was basically the most ‘politically correct’ term available to an author. This obviously isn’t a field I can claim any big knowledge in.

If something is racist, though, it’s probably fine to leave it in. If it robs comedy of its comedy then I’d question why we’re still holding this book up as a classic; if it’s in a serious part of the book anyway then added disgust is really just part of the situation.

And to be clear, I feel what we’re discussing here is really about opening a book up to a wide audience, possibly primarily children in schools. I don’t [EDIT] advocate replacing the original text just having two versions available but if we stand by this book as a total classic but we understand that history has robbed it of some of its power through no fault of the author I think it’s fair to consider it.

Obviously I would hope any such version would open with an explanation of exactly what has been done and why.


As a teacher I would always much rather teach from a text that uses problematic language and have a discussion about why people in that period /context would have used words (and had underlying assumptions) that were hopefully different to ours than try to sanitise the text itself.

Lord of the Flies drops the n bomb once or twice and it’s lead to really useful chats with classes (only works if you pre warn them though)


I’m in


I vividly recall us finishing chapter 1 of Lord of the Flies in English and asking why it was called ‘The Sound of the Shell’ because it starts off talking about war so my brain fixated on this being a reference to an explosive shell going off. As such I never really clicked about the conch. I never read chapter titles to this day :smiley:


Interestingly, not in any way actually interesting, Golding has a chapter in his first draft that explained about the war, how it started and exactly why the GBOL were being evacuated in the first place. It was really tedious and his editor convinced him to drop it and start the action on the island.


Nice. If only Thor the Dark World and The Fellowship of the Ring had had similar folks saying, “drop the dreary intro, guys, just get on with it”.

Our English teacher mentioned the fact that the story describes Piggy as myopic and this means short-sighted and, hence, his glasses wouldn’t have been able to start a fire.

A few years later I found a copy of the book complete and unabridged and read by Golding. At the end of each chapter he commented on writing it and stuff and when this chapter came up (maybe it’s the first?) he made some excellent “well, actually” about how he was just using ‘myopia’ as a general term for bad sight so it wasn’t truly a mistake!


FOTR’s opening is the best bit of the film!


I think this is where I’m at, I’ve no issue with content warnings or anything like that (I’m not advocating a Daily Mail “these snowflake students wants trigger warnings for Coriolanus!!1!” stance), but the texts are the texts. If you want to drop them entirely from study because of their issues, that’s another thing and there are also valid arguments for it.


It’s pointless to the film and its plot. If you know Lord of the Rings it’s cool to see but it’s a drag. Far better to follow the book so you start with these loveable Hobbits as and gradually the real world comes in and darkens everything