Hound Dog

Stephen R. Donaldson

83 posts in this topic

I have no idea why your perception is different, but I certainly found the First Chronicles by Donaldson much more difficult to read than Bakker.

Though as I remember it the problem with Donaldson was largely that he was in love with a thesaurus and kept using words which may be in unabridged English dictionaries but which are actually rare in everyday American speech. The one I will never forget is "inanition." I don't think I have ever run across that word anywhere except in Donaldson's writing, but he used it over and over again in the First Chronicles.

Funny thing is that I had to look up the word "thesaurus" when reading those Amazon reviews...

Yes, Donaldson uses some obscure words and I had to look up a lot of words during the first half of Lord Foul's Bane (but back then my English was pretty rudimentary anyway). But he tends to use the same obscure words, so after a while I had no problems.

The problem I have with Bakker's prose is that the sentences are often long, convoluted and often ambigious and I have to read them again to see what he really means, while with Donaldson it's only the obscure words that are a problem, not the syntax.

I have this theory that if you're a native English speaker then the difficult words stand more out, while a "foreigner" will just accept not having the same vocabulary, read the sentence and get a general idea of the meaning of the word from the context.

Edited by PetrusOctavianus

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Read TC when I was twelve, but when I came across a word I didn't know, I opened a dictionary. They are available to the unchurched.

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Regarding the use of language in Donaldson's works, I would say that the vocabulary he uses is going to be more familiar to people who have a churched background than to those readers who are unchurched.

If you regularly sit on a Sunday and listen to sermons or homilies, you will not be unfamiliar with "inanition". Donaldson also treats figures with salvific intent or possibility in a manner that is an echo of Biblical characters and their storylines.

This shouldn't be surprising, given that his parents were missionary doctors in India working in a leprosarium.

I can assure you, you will.

The Convenant books are writing in a rather dense unreadable style imo.

Honestly, kind of reminds me a bit of the Dune books in that sense. Except Donaldson likes his thesaurus whereas Herbert likes his arabic-english dictionary.

Edited by Shryke

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They are available to the unchurched.

Is that a fancy word for unbelievers?

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Is that a fancy word for unbelievers?

No, just for people who did not grow up going to church or reading religious or spiritual texts.

Thus if you didn't grow up around racing, a scattershield is not something that you are likely to recognize, nor is variable valve timing something you care about.

And if you didn't grow up around church, the technical definitions and practical implications of salvation, compassion, sin, certainty, redemption, and so on are not terms that you use everyday.

Therefore what I am saying is that Donaldson's language is very familiar and comfortable to someone who has that church background.

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Regarding the use of language in Donaldson's works, I would say that the vocabulary he uses is going to be more familiar to people who have a churched background than to those readers who are unchurched.

If you regularly sit on a Sunday and listen to sermons or homilies, you will not be unfamiliar with "inanition". Donaldson also treats figures with salvific intent or possibility in a manner that is an echo of Biblical characters and their storylines.

This shouldn't be surprising, given that his parents were missionary doctors in India working in a leprosarium.

What? I am an extremely active Christian and attend a Presbyterian church where I here sermons every week -- and many of them include some learned theological language, as Presbyterian clergy have higher educational requirements than clergy in many other denominations. So I would strongly disagree with your statement that one who listens to sermons regularly would be familiar with that particular word (inanition). It really doesn't seem to be one that would occur very often in sermons to me, by the way.

I actually can see where that word might occur in medical discussions of the treatment of lepers, and that might make sense in terms of why Donaldson was so familiar with it. But it just isn't a word likely to occur in a sermon.

P.S. And of course I looked the word up in a dictionary and now know what it means. But having to look up words in a dictionary more than a few times in the course of a novel starts to negatively affect the enjoyment a bit in my experience. Though I am NOT a Donaldson hater and it didn't affect my enjoyment enough that I would discourage others from reading him solely on that account.

Edited by Ormond

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No, just for people who did not grow up going to church or reading religious or spiritual texts.

Thus if you didn't grow up around racing, a scattershield is not something that you are likely to recognize, nor is variable valve timing something you care about.

And if you didn't grow up around church, the technical definitions and practical implications of salvation, compassion, sin, certainty, redemption, and so on are not terms that you use everyday.

Therefore what I am saying is that Donaldson's language is very familiar and comfortable to someone who has that church background.

It's really, really not.

Like Ormond, I've been around churchy stuff my whole life. We even cover different denominations between us.

These words, they do not come up.

Edited by Shryke

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No, just for people who did not grow up going to church or reading religious or spiritual texts.

So you're saying The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unchurched would make an excellent title?

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Well, there we see that my theory on Donaldson's use of vocabulary was totally incorrect.



:blush:


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Well, there we see that my theory on Donaldson's use of vocabulary was totally incorrect.

:blush:

considering most of his highly 'obscure' words are fucking sanskrit and semitic I don't know how a churchy background is going to help.

Nice try though, not sure where you came up with it, but good try.

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Is it silly of me to hope that someone will explain what 'inanition' means? My background is Catholic, but not churchy enough to know, and I'm dying to find out what it means.

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Is it silly of me to hope that someone will explain what 'inanition' means? My background is Catholic, but not churchy enough to know, and I'm dying to find out what it means.

http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/inanition

Donaldson usues it in a first meaning, obviously.

I must say my Latin was good enough to easily get the words like inanition or formication (the latter is quite funny, though), but roynish was really difficult to locate, especially in pre-Internet age.

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I did once make a list of all the unfamiliar words in the Covenant Chronicles (even where the meaning was just about discernable through context, if I wasn't certain then it went on the list). At least half a dozen of them weren't even in my dictionary. Now, this was 20 years ago or so, and a lot of these words I've encountered since, so they're not totally obscure... but there's still a few that I'm pretty certain I've never seen used outside of a Donaldson book. Thetic? Cymar? Caducity? And the few he uses over and over (mien, chiaroscuro) still look as gratuitous as "niello" even after you know the meaning.

Anyway, I <3 the Second Chronicles best (of the three trilogies), never got past The Runes of the Earth in the final one, but unsurprisingly my vote goes to the Gap series. :leaving:

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Is it telling that this topic has gone on for two pages and no one has mentioned/is discussing the fact that the last volume of the entire series was just released?



On SRD:


I loved the series back when I was 13-14 (in the late 80's, when quality fantasy was slim pickins indeed) but subsequent re-reads have deepened my appreciation for some aspects, while highlighting the very visible and teeth-grinding flaws in the storytelling approach, exacerbated a 100 fold in the third series (otherwise known as 'woe is me n' me first world problems). I skimmed the middle volumes and will probably do the same for The Last Dark, as the angst is so repetitious and paper-thin by this point.



Anyone have spoilers for book 4 of the Last Chronicles, btw?


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It was mentioned in the very first reply.

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It was mentioned in the very first reply.

Aranatiello's post? I'm not seeing it at all, and I just checked

I think the point stands, though -- there's not much goodwill or excitement to this series around these parts.

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Aranatiello's post? I'm not seeing it at all, and I just checked

I think the point stands, though -- there's not much goodwill or excitement to this series around these parts.

Be warned, the other two series you mentioned are VERY different from Mordant's Need.

The Gap is sci fi set in outer space.

TCTC (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant) is fantasy and shares a basic premise with Mordant' need - namely person(s) from our world translated into a fantasy world. The central character in TCTC is not likeable (he is not intended to be).

From MN, I would try TCTC. Donaldson has just (this very week) had the last volume in the final (third) series published. The First Chronicles (Lord Foul's Bane, The Illearth War, The Power that Preserves) and the Second Chronicles (The Wounded Land, The One Tree, White Gold Wielder) are really enjoyable reads when you finally get into them.

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http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/inanition

 

Donaldson usues it in a first meaning, obviously.

 

I must say my Latin was good enough to easily get the words like inanition or formication (the latter is quite funny, though), but roynish was really difficult to locate, especially in pre-Internet age.

Thanks!

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oh, my bad. eyes must be slipping or something.

Just reserved TLD from the local library. Despite my reservations, I do feel compelled to see how it all turns out.

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The newest book is on my reading list. Both Gap and Chronicles are good reads and deserve attention. I still maintain that Lord Foul is easily one of the most easily understood "Dark Lords" in fantasy. Donaldson really does a good job of portraying why Lord Foul wants to destroy everything.


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