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Re: The sort of fiction you're most likely to find me reading:

by jaldhar (Vicar)
on Sep 03, 2003 at 03:38 UTC ( #288494=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to The sort of fiction you're most likely to find me reading:

You put the Bhagavad Gita under fiction? That's rather offensive.

Though even in the standard Hindu conception, it isn't 100% factual reportage either. It is a conversation between Krishna Bhagavan and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra as reported to the blind king Dhrtarashtra by his bard Sanjay as reported by the sage Vaishampayana to the sages of the Naimish forest as he heard from the sage Veda Vyasa the author of the Mahabharata (of which the Gita is a part.) And in the Gita itself, Krishna Bhagavan says it is the second time it is being told, the first being when he told it to the Sun who told Manu the first king, who told his son Ikshavaku.

Njal's Saga may have poetic embellishments but it is also mostly based on true events in Medieval Iceland.

If fiction is taken to be any writing which doesn't describe events exactly as they happened then we would also have to classify the New York Times as fiction (Not even counting the Jayson Blair stuff.) There needs to be a better word to describe the above works. Epic is more suitable IMO.

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જલધર


Comment on Re: The sort of fiction you're most likely to find me reading:
Re: Re: The sort of fiction you're most likely to find me reading:
by Petruchio (Vicar) on Sep 03, 2003 at 04:26 UTC
    You put the Bhagavad Gita under fiction? That's rather offensive.

    It wasn't meant to be. In fact, its presence in the list is a mistake.

    I began by composing a list of books in general. I tried to cover as many genres as possible, since someone inevitably complains that something is missing... and because it's fun to have interesting choices. Amongst the titles on the original list were Gödel, Escher, and Bach, The Bible, Programming Perl, A Brief History of Time, The Federalist Papers, and Manufacturing Consent, each of which I imagined would be of interest to some significant number of people here.

    Allowing for non-fiction, though, really threw the gates too wide. History, Philosophy, Art, Religion, Psychology, and innumerable other fields all deserved representation, many of which were too difficult to represent succinctly in any case.

    So, not long before I posted the poll, I began to consider how to bring it back under control. After chatting with ailie for a bit (who also was very helpful in bringing balance to the list) I chose the word 'fiction', elided a bunch of choices, and posted it.

    As is now clear, I missed a few. While I don't think anyone's likely to take strong exception to Njal's presence on the list, I would really be inclined to remove the Bhagavad Gita. However people have already voted for it, which makes that awkward, too. I could, I suppose, change the poll topic... but I'm not yet sure to what. 'Epics' certainly doesn't describe the whole list, and a fair number of people have already said, 'Ew!' to fiction.

    In any case, more than a few of these were chosen because, as well as being good representatives of a genre, I like them... including the two you mention. I suppose I may have slipped on The Gita because I tend to think of it as I do The Iliad... as an epic. Of course, it's considerably more than that for many of its readers. My intention was to bring a good piece of literature up for discussion, not to disparage it.

    If I have offended anyone, I apologize. I am open to suggestions as to how best to handle this faux pas. Perhaps this clarification will suffice. Perhaps not. It's yet early in the life of this poll, and all things are possible.

      Thanks for the explanation. I wasn't that offended. (Well there is a difference between "stern letter to the editor" offended and "burn your house down" offended. :-) You're right epic doesn't cover the whole range. Gravity's Rainbow in particular is an an anti-epic. How about just literature?

      Incidentally two really imaginative and thought-provoking short story collections I''ve read recently are collected works of Jorge Luis Borges and Phillip K. Dick. I'd heartily recommend to monks looking for a good read.

      --
      જલધર

        I am reading the Borges collection now (I'm assuming you mean the Collected Fictions translated by Hurley and published by Penguin) and it is great stuff - although I did have to ask a co-worker to explain a little. It's disconcerting at first to see fiction presented in such a non-fictional manner.

        I gave my Dad the Philip K. Dick collection for Christmas this year, and promptly borrowed it to read for myself. Good stuff. The book design is nice too - peek under the dust jacket.

        Mea culpa too on The Bhagavad Gita - Petruchio ran the list by me and we both missed it (although I had earlier made him take the Bible off the fiction list!)

        (For the record, I voted for Gravity's Rainbow.)

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