Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wherein Russian Names Almost Defeat Us

Nellie Olsen Again Unimpressed With Weighty Books

Ken and I finally finished Doctor Zhivago last night.  It definitely is not a book to read aloud.  Let me repeat that:  DO NOT attempt to read this book aloud.  It should come with a warning label to that effect.   I am thoroughly confused about what happened and to whom it happened, when, where, and how.  So many different characters with so many different, unrecognizable names and different permutations of those names.  Lest you are tempted to adopt haughty airs, as did I, and think, "Oh, I can handle that one;  I know all about the movie," let me just say that the movie only tells about half the story, with fewer characters who all consistently use the same names.  And in the movie, someone else is pronouncing things for you and, I repeat, consistently using THE SAME DAMN NAMES.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to pick a name and stick with it, especially if it is a long-ass Russian name made up of multiple consonants in a row.  I took Russian in college, and those names still defeated me.  Of course, I only remember how to say Hello, Good Day, How are You, and Where's the Vodka...so there's that.

We've been struggling to finish this one for months.   Listening to us trying to pronounce these names for each other became almost farcical and was a better exercise in patience and understanding than any couples counseling session could ever be.   It was my choice for an oral co-read.  Ken's staying with me through it I think says something about his commitment to me.  Either that or he's too confused to leave now.  He's chosen To Kill A Mockingbird for our next co-read.  I'm pretty sure we'll be able to pronounce those names. 
And now, perversely, after I've said all that, let me admit that I am seriously considering starting the novel over on my own, because I feel like I missed too much that I should have caught and considered.  Don't analyze me; it won't get you anywhere.  Talk about down a rabbit hole, sheesh.


Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

To Kill a Mockingbird sounds like a much better choice to read together. I just skim over names in grand Russian novels.

Amy said...

Yes it's already much easier. I do the same when I'm reading to myself, either skim over or invent pronunciations. Much harder aloud.

thecuecard said...

Dr. Z sounds like a challenging read. Are you really going to start it again?! Oh my. I guess the movie is much simpler. Other than the names how did you find the book? Was it confusing all around? I need to think about it someday.

Amy said...

I think it was confusing to me partly because we read it aloud over several months, but I'm not sure it's not a little disjointed anyway. Maybe due to the translation? I don't know if I'll really read it again or not, but I'd love to have time to, just to see if it's clearer if I read it to myself.

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