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Stuff to read

  1. Dec 10, 2004 #1
    I'm making a list of books I want to read, just anything really that is thought provocative or informative. I'm paticularly interested in political theory and history, so far I have;
    Neuromancer by William Gibson
    Brave new world by Aldous Huxley(reading it right now)
    1984 by George Orwell
    Beyond Good and Evil by nietzsche
    The Antichrist, Curse on Christianity by nietzsche
    The Iliad by Homer
    The Odyssey by Homer
    The last days of Socrates (Compilation of works)
    Gorgias by Plato
    A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
    Why we Fight by Bill Bennett
    9-11 by Noam Chomsky

    I appreciate any recomendations from any view point on anything.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2004
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  3. Dec 10, 2004 #2
    Read 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra' by Nietzsche after reading Beyond Good and Evil, but before reading The Antichrist.

    Also Kafka and Camus are highly recommended.

    And Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment'
  4. Dec 10, 2004 #3
    As for the Nietzsche titles you have in there you might find “The antichrist” a bit to extreme, and it does not give a good view of the kinds of things he wrote in other works. I would recommend "On the Genealogy of Morals" and "human al too human" and perhaps "the gay science"

    (and "Twilight of the Idols", "Daybreak", "Thus Spoke Zarathustra")
  5. Dec 10, 2004 #4
    Evidently we have some neitzsche fans here, thanks for your input, I'll take your advice.

    P.S. no such thing as too extreme for me
  6. Dec 10, 2004 #5
    I don't consider The Antichrist too extreme, and i would say it is better than his early works like The Birth of Tragedy.

    Be prepared for extreme attacks on christianity, other philosophers, and women. Not for the easily offended.
  7. Dec 10, 2004 #6


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    If you like Huxley, try The Doors of Perception.
  8. Dec 10, 2004 #7
    Please franz, please, don't get me too excited, I have to finish reading A brave new world first.
  9. Dec 10, 2004 #8

    Why do you think i named myself after the guy?
  10. Dec 10, 2004 #9


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    My Nietzsche recommendations would be The Gay Science and On the Genealogy of Morals. One point which franz did not mention, but which IIRC he agrees with me on: make sure you get the Kaufmann translations!! The other early translations are dreck. There are recent translations of at least a few books, and there is a decent chance of these being good since anyone doing a translation now knows they will be measured against Kaufmann, but I don't know any specific ones (it's been years since I've kept track of this stuff). The Kaufmann ones are standard and you can't go wrong with them. Also, while Nietszche is most certainly brilliant, he can also be uneven—his remarks on women are often just kind of silly.

    For translations of Homer, your best bets are probably either Lattimore or Fagles. If you enjoy Homer, I would suggest giving Milton's Paradise Lost a try (really!)—if you can get the hang of his syntax, it's amazingly cinematic (at least the opening sections). And remember: it's much more satisfying if you read it with Satan as the hero... see William Blake's poem-thing The Marriage of Heaven and Hell for more on this.

    If you decide to try Dostoevsky (or any 19th century Russian), find out whether Pevear and Volokhonsky have done a translation of whatever work you've chosen (I know they've done most of Dostoevesky's important books, but I'm not entirely sure what else). Avoid the old Constance Garnett translations of Russian authors if at all possible (and for editions where the translator's name does not seem to be included, assume it is Garnett).

    A couple of more recent favorites I'll recommend:
    The Wind-up Bird Chronicles - Haruki Murakami
    The Gold Bug Variations - Richard Powers

    You mention William Gibson—if you're into sf I can offer tons of suggestions.
  11. Dec 10, 2004 #10
    Oh yeah, i forgot to mention that. Settle for nothing less than the Kaufmann translations. Older translations are horrible, and ruin everything. However Kaufmann did not translate all of Nietzsche's works, for example Human, All too Human is the most prominent example And i wish he had, the Hollingsdale translation i have is almost painful to read. Nothing rings with the clarity or power of the lines of Zarathustra or Beyond. That might be the way it was written as it was Nietzsche's first major work after leaving his job as a philologist IIRC. But the way it reads makes it seem like its more a translation problem. But the major works:

    Beyond Good and Evil
    Thus Spoke Zarathustra
    On the Genealogy of Morals'
    Ecce Homo (another one i particulary recommend is Ecce Homo)
    The Gay Science

    He also wrote a number of books of his own on existentialism, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky (possibly the most influential author of the 19th century, just based on his influence on Nietzsche, Kafka, Sartre, and others.), Sartre, Hegel, and so on. Kaufmann was quite the scholar.

    Thanks for the warning on the doestovsky translations. I just checked my copy (haven't yet started it) and saw it was in fact constance garnett. So i'll have to look around for a better translation.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2004
  12. Dec 10, 2004 #11


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    Yeah, Garnett was the first translator of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, and her stuff is public domain now so there are lots of cheap editions. I haven't read them, but I've heard they can be a bit quaint. Pevear and Volkhonsky (who I have read) are terrific.

    Have you looked at the recent translation of Kafka? I've only read the standard Muir translation, but I've heard the new one is an improvement.
  13. Dec 10, 2004 #12
    I read one translation of the metamorphosis in high school(I don't know which, but it wasn't muir.), but all the copies i own are Muir translations. I liked the other one better. Page for page the other translation read better.
  14. Dec 10, 2004 #13
    stuff to read in french

    W by Georges Perec.
    OK nobody reads french books :cry:

    In any case, I wanted to point that no translation done without the author can be trustable. I tried to read Nietzsche in german. It is even more difficult than in native language of course, but it brings much light.
  15. Dec 10, 2004 #14
    I recommended Camus, and he's french!
  16. Dec 10, 2004 #15
    You also recommended Dostoevsky, but i doubt that you read russian (and german, and french) !
    Especially Camus : it makes really no sens not to read it in the original language, since it is mainly poerty anyway !
  17. Dec 10, 2004 #16

    The only two languages i'm even close to fluent in are Spanish and English. Of course its in translation.

    The Stranger is not poetry, and is a rather fantastic work, even in translation.

    I wish i was fluent in german and russian. It would be nice, even just for literature reasons.
  18. Dec 10, 2004 #17
    Far better than Brave New World is Island, Huxley's final book. Its a lot more upbeat than BNW. (What isn't).
  19. Dec 10, 2004 #18
    Here is my huge list of books to read (I need more science/math ones!):

    Ere Literature & Fiction
    1. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
    2. Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay : A Novel, The – Michael Chabon
    3. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
    4. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
    5. Children's Story - James Clavell
    6. Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis
    7. Ciudad De Dios - Paulo Lins
    8. Farseer Series, The – Robin Hobb
    9. Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
    10. Flatland – Edwin. A. Abbott
    11. Forgotten Soldier, The – Guy Sajer
    12. God's Debris: A Thought Experiment – Scott Adams
    13. Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas – Tom Robbins
    14. Illuminatus! Trilogy : The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan, The – Robert Shea
    15. Invisible Monsters – Chuck Palahniuk
    16. Manchurian Candidate, The – Agatha Christie
    17. Mere Christianity – C.S Lewis
    18. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
    19. Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, Part 3) - J.R.R. Tolkien
    20. Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
    21. Song of Fire and Ice Series – George R.R Martin
    22. Starship Troopers – Robert A. Heinlein
    23. Strange - Albert Camus
    24. Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein
    25. Survivor: A Novel – Chuck Palahniuk
    26. Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan - Eiji Yoshikawa
    27. Tale of Genji, The - Murasaki Shikibu
    28. Wheel of Time Series – Robert Jordan

    1. Aeneid, The – Virgil
    2. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
    3. Art of War - Sun Tzu
    4. Brothers Karamazov, The – Fyodor Dostoevskey
    5. Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer
    6. Complete Sherlock Holmes –
    7. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    8. Communist Manifesto - Karl Marx
    9. Count of Monte Cristo, The – Alexander Dumas
    10. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
    11. Divine Comedy, The – Dante Alighieri
    12. Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
    13. Dracula – Bram Stoker
    14. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
    15. From the Earth to the Moon – Jules Verne
    16. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
    17. Hobbit, The – J.R.R Tolkien
    18. Iliad – Homer
    19. Inferno (Part 1) – Dante Alighieri
    20. Journey to the Center of the Earth – Jules Verne
    21. Lost World, The – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    22. Man In the Iron Mask, The – Alexander Dumas
    23. Nicomachean Ethics - Aristotle
    24. Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli
    25. Republic – Plato
    26. Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
    27. Stranger, The – Albert Camus
    28. Swiss Family Robinson, The – Johann Wyss
    29. Three Musketeers, The – Alexander Dumas
    30. Time Machine, The – H.G. Wells
    31. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
    32. Utopia - Sir Thomas More
    33. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
    34. War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
    35. Wealth of Nations - Adam Smith
    36. Zorba The Greek – Nikos Kazantzakis

    Science & Mathematics
    1. Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design – Richard Dawkins
    2. Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography - Simon Singh
    3. Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity (Great Discoveries) - David Foster Wallace
    4. Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality - Brian Greene
    5. Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid - Douglas R. Hofstadter
    6. Golden Ratio: The Story of PHI, the World's Most Astonishing Number - Mario Livio
    7. Journey Of Man – Spencer Wells
    8. Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe – Terence Dickinson
    9. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind – Julian Jaynes
    10. Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution – Neil deGrasse Tyson
    11. Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics - John Derbyshire
    12. Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins

    1. A Walk In The Woods – Bill Bryson
    2. America (The Book): Jon Stewart
    3. Bill Bryson’s African Diary – Bill Bryson
    4. Beyond Good and Evil – Friedrich Nietzsche
    5. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
    6. Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
    7. Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission - Hampton Sides
    8. Gulag: A History – Anne Applebaum
    9. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies - Jared Diamond
    10. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Edward Gibbon
    11. How Would You Move Mount Fuji? Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle - How the World's Smartest Company Selects the Most Creative Thinkers - William Poundstone
    12. I’m A Stranger Here Myself – Bill Bryson
    13. In A Sunburned Country – Bill Bryson
    14. Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw - Mark Bowden
    15. Life of Reason, The – George Santayana
    16. Made In America – Bill Bryson
    17. Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary - Simon Winchester
    18. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game – Michael Lewis
    19. Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, The – Hernando De Soto
    20. Naked – David Sedaris
    21. Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, The – Robert Lifton
    22. Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe – Laurence Bergreen
    23. Pegasus Bridge - Stephen E. Ambrose
    24. Philosophy of History, The – George Hegel
    25. Salt: A World History - Mark Kurlansky
    26. Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea - Gary Kinder
    27. United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy – T. R. Reid
    28. Why Things Are They Way They Are – B. S. Chandrasekhar
  20. Dec 10, 2004 #19
    Thats 'The Stranger'

    I think you''ll find Sherlock holmes a little pedestrian compared to some of the real classics up there, same with 'The Lost World'. 'Treasure Island' is better, but still not great. Same goes for a few others up there. They're entertaining, but they're not exactly high literature.

    As long as you are of this earth you will hate 'War and Peace'. I couldn't force myself to read it, although as has been pointed out that may have been a bad translation. Go for newer translations, avoid Garnet.

    Frankenstein is a great novel, one of my favorite pieces of romantic literature.

    Don Quixote de la Mancha, is one i'm not sure about. I've only read it in spanish, but it was like giving a fourth grader Shakespeare to read (that's about the level of my spanish). Its in an old spanish that is difficult to read. Made it hard to follow. However i've never read it in translation.

    I myself would like to read Machiavelli, but have not yet done so. Again with everything that would be in translation go for the newest translations if you can (they will be more expensive, but the book will read better, and be more clear.)
  21. Dec 10, 2004 #20


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    This is by Richard Condon, not Agatha Christie...
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