A Classic from a foreign language

(66 Posts)

I really fancy something a bit different, read lots of recent/contemporary type fiction as well as some wonderful wonderful American literature recently and I think I am getting a bit jaded and need some shock tactics!!

I fancy something quite meaty, preferably not 1000 pages but perhaps French/Russian/Spanish (but translated into English!) - Hugo? Zola? Tolstoy? Garcia marquez?

I have read and adored Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Several Marquez books, I have Ladies Paradise which I have meant to read for years and I have a kindle so can access free/cheap books that way!

TIA for any suggestions, whether foreign or british on the classic side of things.

drjohnsonscat Mon 21-Jan-13 17:48:02

Agree with Germinal. It's a devastating read. I found it hard to get over.

As a huge Dickens fan I would say it doesn't have the wit and inventiveness of Dickens but it is quite compelling.

IndridCold Mon 21-Jan-13 17:44:39

Yes yes to the Makioka Sisters.
Also 'And Quiet Flows the Don' by Mikhail Sholokov, which is about a village of Cossacks getting drawn into the First World War. And my absolute favorite 'the Master and Margherita by Mikhail Bulgakov, brilliant story and very funny. Make sure you get the Michael Glenny translation though...

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Sun 20-Jan-13 17:47:18

Zola and Balzac, definately. Has anyone else tried Knut Hamsun's Growth of the Soil (or any of his other books). Have read Growth several times, the first page is so evocative. Set in Norway, some people might condemn Hamsun for his political views, but he's a good storyteller, and writing as it was in his time.

nightcat Fri 18-Jan-13 18:45:45

sassolino, this will make you laugh, my current winter attire is red (coat) and black (hat/scarf/gloves/boots), someone has commmented with THAT literary connection :D

Jux Wed 16-Jan-13 12:54:53

Balzac - any really, but I love The Black Sheep as it's the first one I read.

sassolino Wed 16-Jan-13 09:47:28

Le Rouge et le Noir ( The Red and the Black), 1830, by Stendhal is a masterpiece.
Ivan Turgenev: On the Eve, Fathers and Sons, King Lear of the Steppes, Torrents of Spring
Dostoevsky, of course

bohemimum Tue 15-Jan-13 10:46:04

Murakami, Zola, Chimamanda Adiche Ngozi, Nemirovsky, all wonderful!

Madumbi Tue 15-Jan-13 10:12:51

Have you tried Le Grand Meaulnes by Henri Alain-Fournier? Unless I am imagining it, I think it's having its centenary this year, sure I heard something about this on the radio recently but it was first thing in the morning! I have heard it's brilliant and been meaning to try it myself. It's a coming-of-age story. There are some Kindle versions though not as cheap as some classics.

nightcat Tue 15-Jan-13 10:11:55

Really liked Kristin Lavransdaughter by Sigrid Undset, Nobel Literature prize winner.

ummlilia Tue 15-Jan-13 10:06:33

if you fancy some novels translated from french, this is a great source www.gallicbooks.com/

NanaNumber1 Tue 15-Jan-13 07:56:23

There are some real treats out there. I agree, Miss Smilla's Sense of Snow (Peter Hoeg) is fantastic, get the British English translation as it is better than the American one. The film is also good. Lots of wonderful German writer: Heinrich Boll wrote The Clown and The Lost Honour of Katerina Blum. Then there is Gunter Grass and a whole string of novels written in and around the city of Danzig (Gdansk). These include: The Tin Drum and Cat and Mouse. The latter is totally absorbing if you can cope with an unreliable narrator. Another German writer, Stevan Heym wrote a remarkable novel called The King David Report based on the life of Solomon. If that sounds dull and boring you couldn't be more wrong. The Buddenbrocks by Thomas Mann is a bit like a German Forsyte Saga. Moving swiftly to India, Arundahti Roy's book The God of Small things, based in Kerala, is an evocative, wistful book and was was one of the stimuli that made me travel to India where I saw for myself the Kathkali dancers. Back to Europe of course there are all the wonderful mainly Scandinavian crime writers............... I think I had better let someone else have a say!

OneHolyCow Sat 12-Jan-13 10:05:14

Marguerite Yourcenar is a brilliant French writer. She wrote, among many other works, a very lively and entertaining but intelligent and smart, biography of Hadrian. It's an amazing book. I like her other books as well, great writer.

Bunbaker Wed 09-Jan-13 16:48:51

Carlos Ruiz Zafon - The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game.

Wowee, you lovely lot. Been out of circulation for a couple of days and have back to loads of great suggestions. Thanks very much, going to delve through and decide on which monster book to tackle.

In the meantime, whilst I decide (could take some time!), I'm just starting The Picture of Dorian Gray.... so quite punchy, but not so long! Warm me up for my main mission....

DieWilde13 Tue 08-Jan-13 18:01:31

The Tin Drum - Günther Grass
Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka
The Perfume - Patrick Süskind (it's a modern classic)

I also really enjoyed reading Jane Eyre and then Wide Sargasso Sea.

swanthingafteranother Tue 08-Jan-13 17:52:06

Crime and Punishment is very funny as well as serious, and Cancer Ward by S is also amazing. But didn't like Candide.

EldritchCleavage Tue 08-Jan-13 12:08:04

Eduardo Mendoza: City of Marvels (about C19 Barcelona) and The Truth about the Savolta Case. Both excellent.

Federico de Roberto: The Viceroys (about Sicilian aristoctrats, a bit like The Leopard, but I liked it a lot more)

Anything by Sciascia or Antonio Tabucci.

BigSpork Tue 08-Jan-13 11:52:05

Monkey is the stage adaptation of the book (or so Wiki tells me).

iseenodust Tue 08-Jan-13 11:44:17

Manon Lescaut
Cancer Ward - yes really

My favourite Nabakov is The real life of Sebastian Knight.

Can I also add Antonio Tabucchi "Pereira Maintains"? Tabucchi, who died recently, is an Italian novelist and an expert of Portoguese literature. This novel is set in Portugal, during its fascist era.

I also obviously recommend Primo Levi.

Another vote for Primo Levi- Se Questo È Un Uomo/ If This Is A Man. Very powerful.

Summersbee Mon 07-Jan-13 22:46:48

How about a Portuguese Classic set in the 1870s: 'Os Maias' by Eça de Queiroz. I haven't read anything else in Portuguese, but I've been trying to think of something different, I enjoyed this years ago, and there is a 2007 translation into English which looks good.

ThinkAboutItOnBoxingDay Mon 07-Jan-13 22:41:58

Don. quixote is very funny.

Kafka is a must
War and Peace is well worth the effort.
No one has suggested Goethe i don't think? You could start with the sorrows of young werther

Beyond Europe try Chinua Achebe 'Things fall apart'

GwennieF Mon 07-Jan-13 22:23:42

Ooh, the Count of Monte Christo is a good one, or The Man in the Iron Mask....

Or if you fancy something marginally more modern - Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources by Marcel Pagnol...

lalalonglegs Mon 07-Jan-13 22:18:35

Don Quixote is hilarious, I really recommend it. Another Spanish work I read quite recently is A Heart So White by Javier Marias - it's narrated by a translator and deliberately overly-precise in its language but a wonderful story. It's not a classic yet but is very good.

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