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Topic: Sister Pelagia mysteries - Boris Akunin

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Subject: Sister Pelagia mysteries - Boris Akunin
Date Posted: 5/19/2008 5:41 PM ET
Member Since: 11/10/2006
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Just saw these today in the store and wondering if anyone has read them and opinions about the books. I am often hesitant ot read books translated into English as I find the translations can be done poorly sometimes and the books not that enjoyable.

Date Posted: 5/23/2008 8:56 PM ET
Member Since: 1/31/2006
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I have an ARC of the first one, I've started it twice and put it down...I'll probably give it one more try before I give up on it.  The thing is, I enjoy reading books translated into English (stories written from a different cultural mindset and all...) I can't quite put my finger on what I don't like about the story...Anyway, I wouldn't invest in all 3 at once and I wouldn't pay retail...

Date Posted: 5/24/2008 10:28 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
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I actually picked up the first book of this series at the bookstore today. I tried the first page. The first sentence contained about 98 words and I had to read it twice to make sense of it. The second sentence was nearly as long. I decided that I don't have the time to invest right now. Perhaps it's the translation, perhaps it's the style **shrugs**. I'll watch this thread to see what others think.
Date Posted: 5/25/2008 5:44 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
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Charlie, my local library has at least one of the books, so I'm going to check it out this week and we'll see what it's like. Amazon has good reviews, but my wife says that Amazon and B&N have started pulling unfavorable reviews for some books, so ...

Now if I just had one of those fancy Kindles <grin>, we could maybe download the first chapter and see.

Date Posted: 5/25/2008 5:46 PM ET
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My local library had a first chapter excerpt of Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog on their website, so here it is. I don't know how long our posts can be here, guess I'm going to find out.                    Edited: Well, that did not work well at all.  OK, here are a couple of paragraphs, which surely should not violate copyright law:

Boris Akunin 

All right reserved. 

ISBN: 0812975138 

 

CHAPTER 1 The Death of Zagulyai 

. . . but i should tell you that, come the apple festival of Transfiguration Day, when the sky begins to change from summer to autumn, it is the usual thing for our town to be overrun by an absolute plague of cicadas, so that by night, much as you might wish to sleep, you never can, what with all that interminable trilling on all sides, and the stars hanging down low over your head, and especially with the moon dangling just above the tops of the bell towers, for all the world like one of our renowned “smetana” apples, the kind that the local merchants supply to the royal court and even take to shows in Europe. If someone should ever happen to glance down at Zavolzhsk from those heavenly spheres out of which the lamps of the night pour forth their bright rays, then the picture presented to that fortunate person’s eyes would surely be one of some enchanted kingdom: the River sparkling lazily, the roofs glittering, the gas lamps flickering in the streets, and, hovering over all the shimmer and glimmer of this multifarious radiance, the tremulous silvery chiming of the cicada choir. 

 

But let us return to the reverend Mitrofanii. Our passing reference to nature was made purely and simply to explain why on such a night even the most ordinary of men, far less burdened with cares than the bishop of the province, would find sleep hard to come by. It is hardly surprising that ill-wishers, of whom every man has some, even this worthy pastor being no exception, should claim that it is not our governor, Anton Antonovich von Haggenau, but His Grace who is the true ruler of this extensive region. 

 

Extensive indeed the region may be, but densely populated it is not. The only genuine town it can really be said to possess is Zavolzhsk, and the others, including the district centers, are more like overgrown villages with a few stone administrative buildings clustered around a single square, a small cathedral, and a hundred or two little log houses with tin roofs of the kind that since time immemorial have for some reason always been painted green in these parts. 

 



Last Edited on: 5/25/08 5:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 5/25/2008 10:02 PM ET
Member Since: 11/10/2006
Posts: 2,955
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Wow...thank you, Les. That was really great of you.

 

Hmmm....those sentences do seem to run on, don't they? Next time Iremember I will sneak another peek inside the books and flip through to see if all of the writing is so...uhm...prolonged.

 

 

Date Posted: 5/26/2008 7:54 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
Posts: 2,246
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It may be one of those books that is better read aloud. We'll see if the mystery gets lost in the poetry.

It got more, um, baroque? rococo? as it went on. I am not sure how much of the first chapter I can put here without violating copyright laws and things, didn't want to get anyone in trouble, but to me the writing became increasingly tangental and ornate. I think a person would have to be in the mood for it, the way I have to be in the mood for Dickens or Wilkie Collins.

Date Posted: 5/26/2008 9:47 AM ET
Member Since: 11/10/2006
Posts: 2,955
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I think I will "borrow" the first book today when I am at work and read  few pages to see if I want to buy it. Usually, I base books on either the back cover blurb or recommendations.  As I said, I often find that books translated into English don't grab me because of the way some translators mangle the works.

 

Thanks again, Les.

Date Posted: 5/26/2008 12:42 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
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Let us know what you think, Charlie.

As a slight digression, my wife has told me about a book that was translated from English into French and then back from the French into English. It's supposed to be both hilarious and educational as to the problems with translation.

Date Posted: 5/27/2008 2:48 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
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I haven't read that series but I love his Erast Fandorin books. 



Last Edited on: 5/27/08 2:49 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/27/2008 9:32 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2006
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Charlie,     I read Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog. It was the first Akunin book for me. I decided, after struggling through it, that I wouldn't try another. I found it difficult to keep all the names separated correctly - there seemed to be several for each character - and I found the use of many words to say something that could have been said in fewer, distracting. Many times I had to reread a paragraph! I also read one of the Fandorin books. It was somewhat better, but still had a convoluted plot, difficult to follow at times. Since the library has these books, I removed them from my WL, and I will try them again when I pare down my TBR stack of quick reads and cozies.

Date Posted: 5/27/2008 4:31 PM ET
Member Since: 11/10/2006
Posts: 2,955
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Well, I flipped through the book after reading the first two pages in full and while it didn't appear that the entire book was done in run on sentences it didn't strike me as something I could sit and easily enjoy. Not that everything I read should be a non-thinking breeze but, I don't want to read for "escapism"  and feel like I need to study the book by goinf back over paragraphs again and again. Guess it is a series I will be passing on. Oh, well,,,not like I don't have a TON of books to read already...lol.

 

Thanks everyone for the input. It did help.

Date Posted: 5/27/2008 4:33 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
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Great question! I have the first two in the series here on my TBR and will give them a go....I did read the first of his Erast Fandorin series and liked it, but the second one bored me to tears and I gave up after about 50 pages. I read quite a few foreign series translated to English from other languages and you're right in that a translation can make or break a book. Will have to try to get to this one soon and see what I think.

Cheryl

Date Posted: 5/31/2008 3:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/5/2006
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This sounds like an English lesson instead of a book.  I didnot like that part of English.  I like the literature part of English.   I'll have to see if I can read the book.