Monday, March 30, 2009

Macro vs. Micro Reading + why I can't read in French

This post can be considered The Mystery Guest part 1.5 because these thoughts were triggered by my frustration with the translation of the story from French.

In which I TRY to explain my reading style:

When I read a piece of fiction, it's being read in two ways at once. Of course, I'm forming an overall impression of the narrative and whether it leaves a good or bad taste in my mouth. But I'm also picking apart the minutiae, finding fault or excellence in the details; macro-reading vs. micro-reading.

What I can't decide is if the two are independent of one another or interdependent - because I can love the plot, characters, and themes of a story and think it clever while taking issue with its mechanics. Conversely, exemplary, deliberate writing can, for me, render nearly ANYTHING enjoyable.

I may criticize elements of a book severely, and finish it with a positive impression - which brings me again to The Mystery Guest and why (micro and macro) reading in French seems a Herculean task. I'll outline my individual charges in my next post on the book, but the English translation is becoming a larger and larger issue by the page.

Because I know just how finite my grasp of my native language (English) is, I can't possibly be satisfied with reading in French. Even if I understand each French word I read (and I'm not there yet - I don't dare read even in English without a dictionary at my side) there are still nuances and intentions that elude me completely. French syntax, pronouns when used as objects/direct objects especially, is another beast I have yet to conquer - and it clouds my comprehension.

So I'm stuck with an unsatisfactory English translation and what I can LITERALLY garner from the original text. In my next post, I'll have specific examples of what I mean - outside of the idioms with which I've already taken issue.

Micro-reading in French is out of the question for me at this point, and will be a long time coming...

But I shall soldier on and finish this book (that I LIKE so far, though it may be hard to tell).