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An ambitious book

English translation: additional notes

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15:29 Jan 23, 2004
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary
English term or phrase: An ambitious book
An ambitious, often stirring and hilarious book.

I understand the word ambitious when it use with human but what does it mean by "ambitious book"?
Buttercup
English translation:additional notes
Explanation:
I agree with Maria and Kim, but I feel there is more that can be said.

Meaning : Ambitious books:
To summarise we have a book covering a lot of territory, and or doing new things. You said you understand human ambition, but an ambitious book? Well your instincts are correct books are inanimate objects so they can't be ambitious. Well Maria answered that question already but I wish she would have spelled it out for you. It is really the ambition of the author that we are talking about. With the book it is the intention of the author to cover a lot of territory and or do new things. So yes it is the author that is ambitious not the book.

However if we go around stripping books of attributes like desire, humour.... we are talking about the destruction of literature. So while we can say that quite literally that it is the author that is ambitious, I would suggest you get used to people talking about books as if they were living things.

I might suggest you substitute the word 'story' for book, and say it was an ambitious story. The story is the idea created by the author and imagined by you and the book is just a convenient way to store the information. That way you don't have to arrange for the author to come and tell you the story and also you can come back to the story, even after the author is dead or has changed the her/his ideas about the world.


Usage : 'ambitious book' in literary criticism:

Often the term 'ambitious' is used to talk about whether or not the author was able to do what he/she intended to do in the book. If a critic says 'An ambitious book that fell short' then what they mean is that the author tried to do too much and they didn't succeed. If the critic says 'An ambitious book ..... a smashing success' then the book is good not only because the author accomplished the intended task, but also that the book was great on account of the author accomplishing so much. Yet another way to use 'ambitious book' is as a kind consolation prize. That is to say the critic liked the book, however the author did not accomplish everything that he/she set out to do. This is different than saying the book cam up short. Its a way of saying that the author shows promise, they had a great story, but they tried to accomplish too much.


Selected response from:

nyamuk
United States
Local time: 00:11
Grading comment
Thank you very much Nyamuk and everyone who answer the question. Thank you very much Jerrie, you answer help me a lot too.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +9the author/content covers a lot of territory
Maria Danielson
4 +7My ideas
Kim Metzger
4 +1challenging / requiring a lot of effort
jerrie
4additional notesnyamuk
4dealing with a difficult or controversial topic in a way not done before
Jean-Luc Dumont
4showing much effort
Lars Helbig
3writing this book was a big/difficult task to take on
chica nueva


  

Answers


3 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +7
an ambitious book
My ideas


Explanation:
An ambitious book can be one that attempts to explore territory that hasn't been dealt with thoroughly before. It can be a book that develops a new style. In short, it's a book that goes beyond what has already been done before many times.

Kim Metzger
Mexico
Local time: 01:11
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 2249

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Christopher Crockett: Yes, it "throws a wide net", is "broad in scope", "visionary" perhaps. It's not really the *book* which is ambitious, of course, but rather the author, who has set him/herself a very ambitious task/goal and finished it sucessfully.
22 mins

agree  Refugio: Exactly. The author has set high goals.
55 mins

agree  Catherine Bolton: Just an added note to say that just because a book is "ambitious" in scope it doesn't necessarily mean it's a masterpiece. Many US book reviewers (NYT, Wash. Post, etc.) also use "ambitious" in discussing books they don't like! I.e. "ambitious but...".
1 hr

agree  chopra_2002
1 hr

agree  Eckhard Boehle
1 hr

agree  Swaiyam: Agree with cbolton
4 hrs

agree  nyamuk: Agree however, I just wonder if real people say books are ambitious, or just literary critics?
12 hrs
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3 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
showing much effort


Explanation:
from The American Heritage® Dictionary

am·bi·tious P Pronunciation Key (m-bshs)
adj.

1. Full of, characterized by, or motivated by ambition.

2. Greatly desirous; eager: “I am not ambitious of ridicule” (Edmund Burke).

3.Requiring or showing much effort; challenging: an ambitious schedule.

Lars Helbig
Germany
Local time: 08:11
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in pair: 55
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4 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +9
the author/content covers a lot of territory


Explanation:
It was a big job to write/compile the book

Maria Danielson
United States
Local time: 02:11
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 20

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Todd Field
5 mins

agree  adamk
5 mins

agree  jccantrell: Yes, the subject is very large like the history of the British empire--tough to cover in one book.
12 mins

agree  Christopher Crockett: That's one of the implications, though there could be others. A mathematics book which seeks to solve a particularly difficult, long-standing --but quite narrowly focused-- problem or theorum might also be termed "ambitious".
24 mins
  -> quite right

agree  jerrie: If you google She's come undone - Wally Lamb - this is the book Buttercup is talking about. It covers most of her life, but also many 'difficult' issues.
1 hr

agree  chopra_2002
1 hr

agree  Tahir
3 hrs

agree  xxxsarahl
5 hrs

agree  nyamuk: I think you answered Buttercups question, 'are books ambitious?'
12 hrs
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
challenging / requiring a lot of effort


Explanation:
In respect of She's come undone, I think it is referring to the fact that:

a) the content / issues raised were challenging. To keep them real and to keep the reader being involved with Dolores
b) the book covers a large period of her life, and it requires a lot of effort to maintain continuity, consistency of character depiction to equal outcome / ending
c) the fact that this book was written by a man.

It is a challenging read, and a challenging project for the author to undertake (and succeed).


    Reference: http://mostlyfiction.com/contemp/lamb.htm
    Reference: http://www.bartleby.com/61/36/A0243600.html
jerrie
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:11
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 773

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Kim Metzger: Good points about this specific book.
29 mins
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
an ambitious book
dealing with a difficult or controversial topic in a way not done before


Explanation:
and succeeding in being funny and informative and considerate as well

can be short and deep, can be very long and loaded with research information and details


Jean-Luc Dumont
France
Local time: 08:11
Native speaker of: French
PRO pts in pair: 24
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
an ambitious book
writing this book was a big/difficult task to take on


Explanation:
The author had high, big aims. A challenging project for the author to undertake (Agree with Jerry here).

(It was a first book right? Many authors would start small and simple. I guess this is big in scope, many threads,difficult content, etc,etc.but we cannot really say).

Here's the dictionary (it's meaning 2):

ambitious = 1 having a great desire to be successful, powerful or wealthy 2 If a plan or idea is ambitious, it needs a great amount of skill or effort to be successful or be achieved. eg She has some ambitious expansion plans for her business.The government has announced an ambitious programme to modernise the railway network.The original completion date was over-ambitious, so we have had to delay the opening by six months.

-> so 'ambitious' is the reviewer's assessment of the plan or idea of the book (= the 'conception'?) and how easy/hard it would be to bring it off successfully.



    Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
chica nueva
Local time: 18:11
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in pair: 83
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12 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
an ambitious book
additional notes


Explanation:
I agree with Maria and Kim, but I feel there is more that can be said.

Meaning : Ambitious books:
To summarise we have a book covering a lot of territory, and or doing new things. You said you understand human ambition, but an ambitious book? Well your instincts are correct books are inanimate objects so they can't be ambitious. Well Maria answered that question already but I wish she would have spelled it out for you. It is really the ambition of the author that we are talking about. With the book it is the intention of the author to cover a lot of territory and or do new things. So yes it is the author that is ambitious not the book.

However if we go around stripping books of attributes like desire, humour.... we are talking about the destruction of literature. So while we can say that quite literally that it is the author that is ambitious, I would suggest you get used to people talking about books as if they were living things.

I might suggest you substitute the word 'story' for book, and say it was an ambitious story. The story is the idea created by the author and imagined by you and the book is just a convenient way to store the information. That way you don't have to arrange for the author to come and tell you the story and also you can come back to the story, even after the author is dead or has changed the her/his ideas about the world.


Usage : 'ambitious book' in literary criticism:

Often the term 'ambitious' is used to talk about whether or not the author was able to do what he/she intended to do in the book. If a critic says 'An ambitious book that fell short' then what they mean is that the author tried to do too much and they didn't succeed. If the critic says 'An ambitious book ..... a smashing success' then the book is good not only because the author accomplished the intended task, but also that the book was great on account of the author accomplishing so much. Yet another way to use 'ambitious book' is as a kind consolation prize. That is to say the critic liked the book, however the author did not accomplish everything that he/she set out to do. This is different than saying the book cam up short. Its a way of saying that the author shows promise, they had a great story, but they tried to accomplish too much.




nyamuk
United States
Local time: 00:11
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 58
Grading comment
Thank you very much Nyamuk and everyone who answer the question. Thank you very much Jerrie, you answer help me a lot too.
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




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