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5.0 von 5 Sternen The French for GEB is Le Ton Beau de Marot.
Some people say it's not as good as GEB - but it really is. It's just different. Both of these two books - Hofstadter's best, along with Metamagical Themas - are controlled by some single vision, some idea that somehow managed to spark seven hundred or so pages of ideas.
GEB was more complex. The ideas were harder. Le Ton Beau de Marot is, at its core, a book...
Veröffentlicht am 17. Mai 2000 von houndzoflove

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2.0 von 5 Sternen Hofstadter Lite
Autobiographical in scope and introspective in method, the usual pack of Hofstadterisms (Bognard problems; "slippability"; typefaces; creativity arising from constraint; the term "you guys") re-assembled in a low-density format. What should be relatively quick discussions are endlessly expanded into paragraph-after-paragraph dissertations that left...
Veröffentlicht am 27. Januar 2000 von Mark Bowes


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2.0 von 5 Sternen Hofstadter Lite, 27. Januar 2000
Autobiographical in scope and introspective in method, the usual pack of Hofstadterisms (Bognard problems; "slippability"; typefaces; creativity arising from constraint; the term "you guys") re-assembled in a low-density format. What should be relatively quick discussions are endlessly expanded into paragraph-after-paragraph dissertations that left me thinking "OK, I get it already." I found myself skimming paragraphs, and then pages, looking for the action.
At times I felt like I was reading "The Making of Godel, Escher, Bach" as the author describes for us how he saved the various translation efforts of his magnum opus from the clutches of incompetent translators. His impatience with those of lesser genius contrasts with the nice-guy persona he's trying hard to project.
The book is mostly about translation, using a simple poem, which was translated in several different ways by the author and his friends and colleagues to illustrate many important and interesting points. After awhile, though, I started to get tired of reading about what is wrong with everyone else's translations, and how no one gets it in quite the same way that Dr. Hofstadter does. In addition, the author's own poems are among the least interesting of the collection, and he repeatedly "corrects" translations of other contributors (even his mom!), producing results that are usually awful.
If you've read his previous work, you're not going to find a lot new here, and you might be disappointed at how flat this seems.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The French for GEB is Le Ton Beau de Marot., 17. Mai 2000
Some people say it's not as good as GEB - but it really is. It's just different. Both of these two books - Hofstadter's best, along with Metamagical Themas - are controlled by some single vision, some idea that somehow managed to spark seven hundred or so pages of ideas.
GEB was more complex. The ideas were harder. Le Ton Beau de Marot is, at its core, a book about translation. The book was inspired by the author's attempts to translate a short (28 trisyllabic lines) poem by an obscure French Renaissance poet named Clement Marot. (You'll probably have the poem memorized by the end of the book, at least if you know French - and if you don't, it's conveniently included on a detachable bookmark on the inside back cover.) Hofstadter, after tackling this challenge himself, sent out a letter (reprinted in the book) to many friends challenging them to translate it as well, including a list of some formal constraints on the poem that he wanted to point out and two fairly literal glosses of the poem for the non-francophones in his circle. The book's structure (like all of DRH's other books) is one of alternation - small groups of translations of the poem, which originally were meant to constitute the whole book but now make up a sort of sideshow and can be skipped without detracting from the understanding of the book, alternate with chapters on various issues of translation. The poems don't play the role that you might expect, a role roughly analogous to that of the dialogues in GEB. In GEB, the dialogues were meant to introduce some point that would be developed in the chapter. Here, they're not.
Most of the book consists of discussions of some of the dilemmas of literary translation, with examples drawn from various literary works. Among Hofstadter's favorite examples is Alexander Pushkin's quintessential Russian novel in verse, Eugene Onegin. EO is written in several hundred "Onegin stanzas", essentially modified sonnets, but some translators don't do a great job of keeping this form. Hofstadter didn't know Russian at the time, but he exhibits various translations and shows their merits and flaws, and does a quite good job, at least to my inexperienced eye. (He has since learned Russian, and did his own translation of Eugene Onegin, which is currently for sale.)
Poetic translation, of course, is the soul of this book, and Hofstadter subscribes to the school of translation believing that the medium and the message are equally important. He thus spends a chapter talking about Dante's Divine Comedy. One of the important things about the Divine Comedy is that it is written in a form known as terza rima - three line stanzas, rhyming ABA, BCB, CDC, DED, and so on - which contributes greatly to the interest of the poem. Many translators ignore this, for reasons of "scholarly purity" or something equally pompous - but Hofstadter convinces us that that can't be done.
Again, dealing with the issue of form, I note the large number of constraints that Hofstadter placed on himself in the writing of this book. He claims to have spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about the typesetting and such things; thus, none of the poems within chapters, for example, are broken across page boundaries. (There are literally hundreds of poetic examples - so don't say that this is just a coincidence.) Hofstadter also seems to like lipogrammatic writing (that is, writing without a certain letter, usually the letter "e"), and even translated Searle's Chinese Room anecdote into "Anglo-Saxon" (that is, "e"-less English). This raises an interesting question - why is it that translating from, say, English to French is totally acceptable, while translating from British English to American English (or vice versa) is sacrilege?
In conclusion, an excellent look at the issues involved in translation. Of course, this being Hofstadter, there is some talk about AI and machine translation - but that isn't the core of the book. Much more literary than you might expect - but Hofstadter is polymathic enough that that's not a problem. Don't let the size put you off - it will go quickly. Maybe too quickly - but don't all the best?
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2.0 von 5 Sternen Generally I love Hofstadter, but..., 28. Juni 1999
Von 
Robert Carlberg (Seattle) - Alle meine Rezensionen ansehen
(REAL NAME)   
...I found this book infuriatingly in need of an editor!!! I bought a remaindered copy for $4 at Half-Price Books, but after reading it I realized I didn't get much of a bargain.
Doug starts out by praising himself for being in total control of this book -- typesetting, page design, content, direction... Well, he shouldn't be so smug. The typography is a jumbled mess, the chapter introductions are amateurish, the page breaks are artificial and distracting, the content wanders off the subject into numerous, endless (and pointless) digressions, and most of the 30,000 versions of the poem he translates are laughably bad.
There's a worthwhile message in here somewhere, buried under six tons of authorial effluvia -- something about the art of translation being a balance between form and content. But of the 632 pages here, only about 120 serve this purpose. Hofstadter has apparently become such a powerhouse author that he is allowed to wield total control, but it's a two edged sword and he proves himself no Galahad.
Doug man, you need an editor.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Smart, maybe a little short-minded, 13. April 2000
Let's not compare this to GEB, but look at it for its own merits. This book puts in wonderful terms such deep ideas about language and translation, much like the way wonderful children's books bring out such deep ideas of literature and theory in simple, entertaining ways without oversimplifying these thoughts (i.e., The Stinky Cheese Man, or C D B! talked about in this very book). I think Hofstadter shows such a dear love of language in this that I gloss over objections others have.
I only quibble with Hofstadter's ending notes about the necessity of pre-ordained forms in music and poetry. An unfortunate move on his part, for even though it is expressed as his own predeliction and given with an air of self-effacement, it shortens his scope. Maybe with time will come wisdom, for his brilliance is apparent in this.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Free Association and Info Slumming, 12. Januar 2000
Hofstadter's Le Ton Beau, although interesting, as with the early 80s fun book GEB, has produced something of a Sears catalogue of accepted literary and scientific ideas, in this instance music and tranliteration. The problem with this text is that no one boasting such original intelligence ("original" not being the operative word here) would expend the type of attention to merely referencing and reproducing as opposed to creating. He gives himself away in this respect as he offers a fair amount of time telling us what a swell guy he is and then free asociates little more than derivative knowledge (He is perhaps the best example of one who understands less than he knows; ergo- he may actually know very little), always a motif for individuals lacking the creative capacity. Reading in the WSJ the author is producing a definitive edition to Evgeny Onegin in direct reference to the now very old Nabokov-Wilson debate of justifiable iambics or retaining an original ryhme scheme non connected to the confines of tranliteration, I was struck again by this pattern to let us know how much he knows. Do we really need another "$So there!" book? Is it essential to find another angry individual to kick around Bach like the disgruntal dogwalker who can only see life in terms as "things"? Save us the embarassment: Some of us really are very creative, intelligent and well read. Stop insulting us. Buyback remainder
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Simply amazing, 3. Dezember 1999
Von Ein Kunde
This book was amazing. Outstanding illustrations of lipograms. Much thought must go into skipping a digit. Wow.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Fun, but not as deep as GEB., 31. Oktober 1999
Von Ein Kunde
This is very readable and people who found themselves overwhelmed by GEB (a 5 star book in its own right, but the two are apples and oranges) should give this a try as it introduces this wonderful author in a much gentler, more relaxed atmosphere. Cover-to-cover is probably not the way to go about reading it; I found it best to browse here and there and make connections as I went. Peruse the vast index and you will certainly find some topic that interests you--then follow the web of connections throughout the rest of the book.
Hofstadter does frustrate me sometimes with this book and there are times when I want to grab him and say "Doug, how could you possibly think that?! It's really like this..." But that's what's wonderful about this book. It confronts you with tough ideas and makes you think through your own opinions.
I will agree with the Kirkus reviewer that Hofstadter doesn't really offer any sharp, new, or deep insights into the difficult problems. But he does give us two things: He clearly draws out what the difficult problems are, and he lets us have an intimate glimpse at the detailed workings of a brilliant mind grappling with them. The book is worthwhile for that reason alone.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Un tome beau de Hofstadter!, 17. Juli 1999
I strongly suspect that those who didn't read this work (I will not presume to call it a mere "book") missed the point entirely. The stories about his wife, Searle, Nabokov, et.al., were not meandering digressions; they were *examples* of how the many themes of translation, poetry, analogy, self-reference, etcetera, were woven into their lives.
I received this book for my graduation from high school (begged for it, in fact), devoured it in two days, and have re-read it constantly since. When I lent it to a lover of mine who was from Toronto, and with whom I later broke up, the first thing on my mind when we arranged to meet some months later was, "Can I have my book back?" I re-read it immediately.
Poetry translation is now one of my most enjoyable hobbies, and I would have to say that this book gave me the impetus in that direction. I would frankly have to class Le Ton beau de Marot as the book of Hofstadter's which I have most thoroughly enjoyed - more than GEB, more even than Metamagical Themas. Please read it.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Enjoyed both the book and the debate., 15. Juli 1999
Von Ein Kunde
In Le ton beau de Marot Hofstadter opens his heart as well as his wide-ranging, brilliant, playful,and fallible mind and it's hard to be ready for this. I loved reading Marot and was intrigued by the range of reviews. I understood the pans but agreed with the raves.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Enjoyed both the book and the debate., 15. Juli 1999
Von Ein Kunde
In Le ton beau de Marot Hofstadter opens his heart as well as his wide-ranging, brilliant, playful,and fallible mind and it's hard to be ready for this. I loved reading Marot and was intrigued by the range of reviews. I understood the pans but agreed with the raves.
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