clumsily written classics

English translation: You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe

19:42 Jan 13, 2004
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary
English term or phrase: clumsily written classics
I have read in a recent issue of Literary Review that there are some classics that were clumsily written. As I myself unfortunately lack that discerning sensitivity in language, I cannot quite tell beautiful prose apart from clumsy one. Could you please suggest some examples of clumsily written classics so that I can avoid imitating their style. I am giving classics a wide meaning here, so any examples of 20th century works are welcome too, and since it is simply an informed discussion, it is hoped that any living authors won't be offended should their works come up.

I am asking this question twice so that more contributors can benefit from Kudoz points.
Ying
English translation:You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe
Explanation:
My favorite "clumsy classic is "You Can't Go Home Again" by Thomas Wolfe. It is beautifully clumsy. He was a wonderful story teller but wasn't well organized. His novels tend to ramble all over the place. He worked closely with an editor, Maxwell Perkins, who shaped the novels into something more workable than Wolfe's initial versions.

Here's a book review that points to some of the "flaws":
"The plot of the book was very interesting and I think that it holds a special appeal for aspiring authors. However, parts of the book are extremely drawn out, and Wolfe feels the need to tell the reader every small detail about the character's life, without seeming to care whether it is of any significance to the reader. So although the plot is good and the character's well-developed, it is not fast-moving and I think that many people will become bored and restless through certain parts. However, if they keep reading it soon picks up again, and I feel that the book is worth reading even though it has this negative aspect about it."

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Note added at 1 hr 18 mins (2004-01-13 21:01:33 GMT)
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I\'d also add Dostoevski to my list of writers of clumsy classics. He is brilliant but wrote terribly sentimental and awkward passages and chapters. Crime and Punishment and the Brothers Karamozov are examples.
Selected response from:

Kim Metzger
Mexico
Local time: 06:17
Grading comment
Graded automatically based on peer agreement.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +4You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe
Kim Metzger
5 +1anything by Thomas Hardy
Gordon Darroch (X)
5Dostoevsky
Montefiore


Discussion entries: 1





  

Answers


18 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +4
You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe


Explanation:
My favorite "clumsy classic is "You Can't Go Home Again" by Thomas Wolfe. It is beautifully clumsy. He was a wonderful story teller but wasn't well organized. His novels tend to ramble all over the place. He worked closely with an editor, Maxwell Perkins, who shaped the novels into something more workable than Wolfe's initial versions.

Here's a book review that points to some of the "flaws":
"The plot of the book was very interesting and I think that it holds a special appeal for aspiring authors. However, parts of the book are extremely drawn out, and Wolfe feels the need to tell the reader every small detail about the character's life, without seeming to care whether it is of any significance to the reader. So although the plot is good and the character's well-developed, it is not fast-moving and I think that many people will become bored and restless through certain parts. However, if they keep reading it soon picks up again, and I feel that the book is worth reading even though it has this negative aspect about it."

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr 18 mins (2004-01-13 21:01:33 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I\'d also add Dostoevski to my list of writers of clumsy classics. He is brilliant but wrote terribly sentimental and awkward passages and chapters. Crime and Punishment and the Brothers Karamozov are examples.


    Reference: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art10968.asp
    Reference: http://library.uncwil.edu/wolfe/wolfe.html
Kim Metzger
Mexico
Local time: 06:17
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 2249
Grading comment
Graded automatically based on peer agreement.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Iolanta Vlaykova Paneva
20 mins

agree  Will Matter: this IS clumsily written but NGKs suggestion that this be posted in a forum is a good one. KudoZ is for translation.
25 mins

agree  Alexandra Tussing
9 hrs

agree  Sally van der Graaff
1 day 1 min
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
Dostoevsky


Explanation:
The reference to an article is provided below. The article elucidates various notions of "clumsy" writing, and ventires into the definitions of an artist. What represents a "true" artist, and why Dostoevsky didn't have to be a "smooth" writer. It also lists other books and articles written on the much debated subject:)
It is hard to give an example of the so called "clumsy" prose, without providing the text of the entire book and thus not depriving the answer of its context.

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Note added at 4 hrs 57 mins (2004-01-14 00:40:50 GMT)
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\"ventures,\" instead of \"ventires\" -sorry about the error:)

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Note added at 5 hrs 4 mins (2004-01-14 00:47:40 GMT)
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Below is a quote from an article where the attempts are made to provide a definition of the \"good\" prose. Read it with a grain of salt, please. It is not necessary to agree with what is stated there:)

\"Prose is not the negation of all laws of speech; it rejects merely those laws which depend upon metre. What the laws are upon which it does depend are not easy to enumerate or define. But this much is plain; as prose depends on the linking of successive sentences, the first requirement of it is that these sentences should be so arranged as to ensure lucidity and directness. In prose, that the meaning should be given is the primal necessity. But as it is found that a dull and clumsy, and especially a monotonous arrangement, of sentences is fatal to the attention of the listener or reader, it is needful that to plainness should be added various attractions and ornaments.\"

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Note added at 5 hrs 6 mins (2004-01-14 00:48:57 GMT)
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http://4.1911encyclopedia.org/P/PR/PROSE.htm (see the quote above)


    Reference: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/nabokov/doli1.htm
Montefiore
United States
Local time: 04:17
Native speaker of: Russian
PRO pts in pair: 66
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14 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
anything by Thomas Hardy


Explanation:
...for starters.

I agree with Norbert - this is really a forum topic

Gordon Darroch (X)
Local time: 12:17
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 16

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Sally van der Graaff
10 hrs
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