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Thread: who is the most overrated writer ever?

  1. #91
    Mad Hatter Mark F.'s Avatar
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    Paulo Coelho, I've read "The Alchimist" and it was so poorly written and simplistic, I really felt like I'd just wasted my time. I could have reread "The Old Man and the Sea" instead and would have enjoyed it so much more.
    "And the worms, they will climb
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  2. #92
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Turk;

    The term "overrated" suggests an author whose reputation with the public (ie. Dan Brown) or with the literary establishment (critics, scholars, teachers, and other writers) seems far larger than is warranted by the actual achievements. By this standard I find it difficult to think of Joyce as overrated in spite of the fact that he is not among my favorite writers. I must acknowledge that he (along with T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marcel Proust, and a few others) essentially dismantled and reassembled literature into what we now define as Modernism. His impact is unquestionable upon any number of contemporary and subsequent writers of real talent, including W.B. Yeats, William Faulkner, Samuel Beckett, John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, etc... I personally found sections of Ulysses to be brilliant, while others bogged down. I felt several of the characters to be quite wonderfully explored... but at other times I found myself put off by the overly self-conscious attempts to be formally innovative. Among the Modernists I far prefer Faulkner, Eliot, Kafka, and Yeats. But then I must admit that I cannot be completely certain in my opinion because I have yeat to have read Joyce's "masterpiece", Finnegan's Wake.

    As an artist, I agree totally with your thoughts upon Duchamp's "Fountain". My guess is that a good many of the art "experts" involved in this poll were responding solely to the impact of Duchamp's work upon the current developments in conceptual art. Unfortunately, I find most of this work to be juvenile at best, and doubt that much of it will will last any test of time. As such, neither will Duchamp's influence. As an artist, Duchamp's output was small, largely immature, and prone to intellectual mind-games and sophomoric puns. The "Fountain" (or urinal) itself was merely part of one of his more elaborate jokes (which can be read about in some detail in Roger Shattuck's Candor and Perversion. As opposed to Duchamp, Picasso's and Matisse's achievements are towering and unquestionable. Both produced a large oeuevre of masterful work and both influenced a great number of the greatest artists of the 20th century (and continue to do so)... and Picasso certainly must be credited with far more innovations central to the develoment of Modernism than Duchamp might ever be credited with... including the innovation of the use of the "found object" which was as the heart of Duchamp's "ready-mades" (including the overrated "Fountain")
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  3. #93
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    Stlukesguild, you're perfectly right in saying that some justification is needed for saying that some author is overrated so here's why I think Borges is:
    First of all Spanish is my native toungue so i've had the opportunity to read what little i've read of his in it's original language, and, on a personal level although i find that he is a master of writing from an essayist's perspective i found that, on the most part his prose sacrificed beauty and 'soul' for the sake of 'complexity', yet this supposed 'complexity' refers more to his choice of words than to the real substance of his writings.
    This brings me to my main point: Borges' work is neither as complex nor as difficult as most people claim him to be, take a look at "Examen de la obra de Herbert Quain", for example. This one's what I would say fits in under his "essay about non-existing author", type of work which "Ficciones" abounds with. The whole point of the essay lies in examining one of this imaginary author's most famous novels, "April March" i think it was, which is supposed to be a play on logic and time and that sort of thing but in the end it comes out as not more than a trivial curiosity and the whole thing just feels like an excuse for Borges to let you know how much he knew about history, philosophy and art just by mentioning certain names, which in the end ammount to nothing and dont have anything to do with the whole point of the essay.
    other examples of this are "Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote", "Acercamiento a Almutasim" and others from "Ficciones", which to me, they feel like Borges being snobish and not much more, certainly not complex, ingenious at the most, and actually only a few of these did I really enjoy.

  4. #94
    Boll Weevil cuppajoe_9's Avatar
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    I'm going to get in big trouble from Robin for this, but I honestly think that Michael Crichton sells way more books than he deserves to. Jurassic Park undoubtedly has a creative premise, but my favorite part was the introduction. The rest of the prose seemed to boil down to "ooh, look how smart Michael Crichton is!". I couldn't get past chapter five of Rising Sun, as it struck my as, how to put this?, japonophobic racist propagandic crap. In all fairness, I loved The Great Train Robbery, I just don't think he deserves to have everything with his name on it at the top of the best-seller list.
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  5. #95
    kjt1981
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    MY mate Damon. He says he's the best, but he aint.

    Acually though i wasnt too knocked out by The Great Gatsby...
    Like Trousers,
    Like Brain.

  6. #96
    life is but a dream
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    i dont think austn is overrated. her writing is fun and easy to read. and i didnt like the great gatsby much either. other than that, [i think im going to get a very negative response for this] ive read a lot of hemingway and it is extremely redundant. i wouldnt say he is overrated and i wouldnt say his works are crap, but i think his works are overpraised though they are all the same, essentially.
    I only wanted to live in accord with the promptings that came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?

  7. #97
    Registered User CourtnyG's Avatar
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    I consider a writer over rated if I hear wonderful things about them from everyone and everywhere I look, then I read them and don't enjoy the story or the style (which usually means I'm disgusted due to my disappointment and upset that I wasted my money) . For me the two most over rated writers are Faulkner and Joyce. That is probably because I can't stand stream of consciousness writing (it drives me crazy). I really think that's why all the books I try to read by these two bore me to tears. I've never finished a book by Faulkner or Joyce. I like structure. The thoughts a person has in their mind lack structure. They ramble on, flitting from one thought or topic to the next. The thoughts or topics lack definition and appropriate punctuation. Writing in stream of consciousness seems too easy (that's how you take notes, it's not how you write a novel). To me being a good writer means adding structure and definition to those thoughts in order to relate the story or topic to the reader in the best way possible. Faulker and Joyce seem to stop at the thoughts without going to the extra trouble of actually writing and arranging the thoughts to their best advantage. Anyone can write down thoughts, and create a little story around them. This is just what I feel when I try reading Joyce and Faulker in comparison to novels that I enjoy. I'm sure there are many who love that style, and don't enjoy my favorite novels.

    Courtny

  8. #98
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    Stlukesguild; i didn't say Joyce is a bad writer. But since i know he's considered to be the most important author of 20. century by many critics and intellectuals, i think he's overrated. I think there's much better English writers than him. That's why i say he's overrated. I was thinking his masterpiece is "Ulysses", i also didn't read "Finnigan's Wake" (i don't think it's translated to Turkish) but i don't think an author's style can be very different in his every book. So even if i didn't read "Finnigan's Wake" i don't think he wrote it much different than "Ulyyses". And about stream of conscious; i think Faulkner uses that style much better than Joyce did.

    Whatever... Here's a personal question; what do you produce as an artist?

  9. #99
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    Turk, something you said brought another question to mind: up to what point can you trust a translation of an original work when it comes to criticism?
    "... I TAKE ON RESPONSIBILITY. I HIDE MYSELF FROM NO ONE. I AM ON MY PATH... I WON'T LET MY FOCUS CHANGE, TAKING OUT THE DEMONS IN MY RANGE ("The Warrior's Reminder". E.B.)"

  10. #100
    Banned Turk's Avatar
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    Every country has good and famous translators. If translator is good and if he proved himself in his job, we can trust the translation i think.

  11. #101
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Guzman;

    As a sworn Borghesian I must jump to the defence of this Argentine master. I will admit that when I first read Borges (like Kafka) I found him to be rather dry, to say the least. I believe I was expecting something of a more romantic notion of Surrealism/fantasy, but both author have nothing of the atmosphere or mood or mystery which I had come to expect from Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Poe, Hawthorne, and other prior writers. I found that both Kafka and Borges only revealed themselves slowly to me. Perhaps, for this reason, I imagine them as taken best in small doses over a period of time.

    Speaking of Borges specifically I began with what may be the best starting point (for the English reader at least), the collection of short "fictions" and essays entitled, Labyrinths. Borges writing style (much like Kafka's) is most certainly not "beautiful" in a more romantic sense. Initially, it is rather dead-pan... which may suite a writer whose subjects are not so much characters, but rather ideas... or perhaps literature itself. I understand that one might interpret Borges work as being overly "literary"... or perhaps "pendactic" with his habit of referring continually to the literature of other writers. I personally don't see this as "pretentious"; it is merely that Borges has chosen to explore the subject he knows best: books. Borges admits as much himself when he declares in his book, Dreamtigers (El Hacedor, in Spanish): "Few things have happened to me, and I have read a great many. Or rather, few things have happened to me more worth remembering than Schopenhauer's thought or the music of England's words."

    As a librarian continually surrounded by books, and tragically losing his eye-sight from a young age, Borges' themes center upon his experiences with books. Just as Van Gogh or Cezanne may transform the most mundane subjects into a exploration of thoughts and feelings far more profound, so too Borges is able to transform his explorations of books into examinations of themes of mortality and immortality, infinity, imagination and creativity. The critic Harold Bloom has suggested that many of the great works of literature are born out of an artist's anxiety and eventually transcendence of the work of his or her strong predecessors. He imagines masterpieces from Dante and Shakespeare through Joyce and Borges as being the result of a strong "misreading" of one's artistic heros. As an artist myself, albeit in the visual arts, I do acknowledge the fact that most art is at least partially a dialog with other art. Borges, to me, makes this dialog quite clear. His "fictions", essays, poems, and aphorisms often read like essays by which begin as traditional critical examinations of a work of art... but soon bloom into works of brilliant artistic expression in and of themselves. It should come as no surprise that among Borges' favorite writers one finds Robert Burton, Sir Thomas Browne, Thomas De Quincy, Walter Pater, etc... Besides reading like meditations upon books... and reading itself, Borges' works often blur the very distinctions between literary forms: essays, poems, fragments, short stories, criticism, etc...

    I don't know that I imagine Borges as being overly "complex". I see an irony and a humor in the manner in which he plays with concepts of time, space, mortality, infinity, and the labyrinth and takes them to a logical/illogical conclusion. Undoubtedly, he is a "reader's writer"... writing for an audience like himself (don't most artists create for themselves?) which is more than a little well-read. In this manner he strikes me a similar to Joyce and T.S. Eliot.

    Personally, I love Borges' work. I appreciate the manner in which he has blurred the distictions between literary forms. I like the simple, crystaline (berhaps even scientific?) prose style and the equally compact forms in which he explores his themes taking ideas to the absurd conclusion. I am endlessly fascinated with his interpretations of literary history and his favorite concepts of time, space, mortality, infinity, etc... I must admit to having rethought (and reread) several authors after coming across his fictive or essayed examinations of their works. For that alone, I would find him worth reading. Of course... my admiration of Borges should come as no surprise considering my equal love of such literary "relatives" as Lawrence Sterne, Kafka, Italo Calvino, Tomasso Landolfi, and Donald Barthleme.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
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  12. #102
    sorry but dont like her one bit!

  13. #103
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Turk;

    The translation question is a valid one. Joyce must certainly be one of the most difficult writers to translate considering his penchant for wordplay. I will note that what I have perused (if such is possible) of Finnegan's Wake is far more difficult... far more rooted in word-play and an absolutely exhuberant mauling of the English language... to such an extent that it far-outstrips Ulysses, and I cannot imagine it ever being well-translated into any language. Nevertheless, we are not so far apart in our opinions of Joyce. I admire his achievements... I like given sections of what I have read... but he is not one of my personal favorites. I too find Faulkner's use of "stream-of-consciousness" to be more successful... as well as T.S. Eliot's Wasteland. If I were asked to select the greatest writer of the 20th century I would be far more likely to go with any number of others: Kafka, Proust, Italo Calvino, Rilke, Eugenio Montale, J.L. Borges, Yeats... before going with Joyce.

    As for my own work, after a good many years working as a realist painter of sorts, my current work is abstract and rooted in my passions for books, music, architecture, among other things. The works are all collage... constructed of materials taken from old books (EeeeK!) and other printed materials. I'll post a couple here, but many more can be found at my Webshots page at:
    http://community.webshots.com/user/stlukesguild







    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
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  14. #104
    Watcher by Night mtpspur's Avatar
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    StLukesguild--I liked the first and third collages best mostly because I like the staright line approach and overlaps. I hope that makes sense to you. I will be the first to say I know nothing about the critiquing of art--just know if I like it or not.

  15. #105
    Honestly, the only book/story by a famous or respected author I can ever remember thoroughly disliking is 'The Turn of the Screw' by Henry James. I can't say if he's altogether repulsive, since I threw my book in the garbage can from sheer disgust after finishing 'Turn'. It was just babble to me--psychotic, thoruougly uncreative babble. I despise ghost stories anyway, beliveing them to be the lowest form of writing, period. And that was even before I encountered any of the analyses of the story, which only appalled me farther.

    This is probably a bad way of making an entrance, since everything everywhere is somebody's favorite something... if it helps, that's my favorite thing about humankind.
    The world is dark, and light is precious.
    Come closer, dear reader.
    You must trust me.
    I am telling you a story.
    - The Tale of Despereaux

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