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Melissa_W
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SHIP OF FOOLS: Part I, Embarkation

Please use this thread to discussion Part I of Ship of Fools.

Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
Melissa_W
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Epigraph: Quand partons-nous vers le bonheur?

The epigraph to Embarkation is "Quand partons-nous vers le bonheur?" is attributed to Baudelaire.  Translated, it means "When shall we set sail toward happiness?"

 

This is a bit of a side-slip.  The actual quote from Baudelaires Fusées XI is "Quand partons-nous pour le bonheur?" meaning "When shall we set sail for happiness?"

 

After some extensive Googling I found that the only two sources to use the quote in the "vers" variant are Porter's epigraph and TS Eliot in the "Baudelaire" essay of Appreciations of Individual Authors 1930-1965.  Eliot also mis-cites the sourse of the quote as Fusées VIII or IX.

 

Changing "pour" to "vers" changes the feel of the sentence.  "For/pour" hints at an aimless direction; one is looking for happiness, but doesn't have a destination.  "Toward/vers" instead hints that one is setting out for happiness with a destination in mind and one is moving ever forward.  Subtle, but the difference is there.  Like the debate over using a period vs. a semicolon in the play W;t

 

I dug around in MLA IB for a while and wasn't able to come up with any criticism regarding the use of "vers" instead of "pour" in the epigraph (perhaps Eliot and Baudelaire scholars are not Porter scholars).  Porter was not formally educated much beyond grammar school.  She did travel extensively and worked as a writer reviewing drama and such.  So who knows.  Perhaps she read the Eliot essay on Baudelaire and used that as the source of the quote, not realizing that Eliot made an error.  Maybe she also read Baudelaire and decided to use the Eliot variant on purpose.

Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
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Ryan_G
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Re: Epigraph: Quand partons-nous vers le bonheur?

Not knowing anything about it, or even not having started the book, I wonder if it could have been an misquote that was done on purpose, to go with a certain aspect of the book.  I'm going to have to keep this in mind once I start on the book.  I have a third of another to go before I can get to this one, because I want my whole concentration on it.


Melissa_W wrote:

The epigraph to Embarkation is "Quand partons-nous vers le bonheur?" is attributed to Baudelaire.  Translated, it means "When shall we set sail toward happiness?"

 

This is a bit of a side-slip.  The actual quote from Baudelaires Fusées XI is "Quand partons-nous pour le bonheur?" meaning "When shall we set sail for happiness?"

 

After some extensive Googling I found that the only two sources to use the quote in the "vers" variant are Porter's epigraph and TS Eliot in the "Baudelaire" essay of Appreciations of Individual Authors 1930-1965.  Eliot also mis-cites the sourse of the quote as Fusées VIII or IX.

 

Changing "pour" to "vers" changes the feel of the sentence.  "For/pour" hints at an aimless direction; one is looking for happiness, but doesn't have a destination.  "Toward/vers" instead hints that one is setting out for happiness with a destination in mind and one is moving ever forward.  Subtle, but the difference is there.  Like the debate over using a period vs. a semicolon in the play W;t

 

I dug around in MLA IB for a while and wasn't able to come up with any criticism regarding the use of "vers" instead of "pour" in the epigraph (perhaps Eliot and Baudelaire scholars are not Porter scholars).  Porter was not formally educated much beyond grammar school.  She did travel extensively and worked as a writer reviewing drama and such.  So who knows.  Perhaps she read the Eliot essay on Baudelaire and used that as the source of the quote, not realizing that Eliot made an error.  Maybe she also read Baudelaire and decided to use the Eliot variant on purpose.


 

"I am half sick of shadows" The Lady of Shalott

http://wordsmithonia.blogspot.com
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streamsong
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Re: Epigraph: Quand partons-nous vers le bonheur?

I really enjoyed your comments on the epigraph.

 

I don't speak French so without your explanation, I would have missed that entirely.

 

I've just started reading the book, but was struck by your comment on setting sail toward happiness and the first line of the book, where we start out in purgatory.

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Ryan_G
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Re: SHIP OF FOOLS: Part I, Embarkation

I was finally able to start the book today, and while I knew the books was about class/national/ethnic roles and relationships, I was suprised to see how quickly those issues came up.  Nothing says, hey this is what the book is about, but those boundaries are in almost every word and description through the first `7 pages, which I all I have read so far.  

"I am half sick of shadows" The Lady of Shalott

http://wordsmithonia.blogspot.com
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streamsong
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Re: SHIP OF FOOLS: Part I, Embarkation

HI Ryan--I'm glad to see you here. I have read about a quarter of the way through, but then held off, wondering if others would show up later. I'll go on with my reading now. 

 

I agree with your thought. Every time I think Porter has given her characters every possible '-ism', a new one shows up within a few pages.

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Ryan_G
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Re: SHIP OF FOOLS: Part I, Embarkation

I'm just trying to figure out if I think it's heavy handed or not.  I know that the book is about those subjects, so I expect it to come up, I'm just not sure how much I'm liking how saturated it is into the book.

 

On the other hand, I don't think it's overdone.  It seems as if she is able to write it in such a way that doesn't feel forced or unnatural to the rest of the story.

 

I guess I'm of two minds of it, but I really do like her style or writing

 

"I am half sick of shadows" The Lady of Shalott

http://wordsmithonia.blogspot.com
Melissa_W
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Re: SHIP OF FOOLS: Part I, Embarkation

Agreed.  It's like she's trying to be very clear and have very distinct characters - not annoyingly so, but very noticeable.  As if she's afraid we'll get someone confused.

 


Ryan_G wrote:

I'm just trying to figure out if I think it's heavy handed or not.  I know that the book is about those subjects, so I expect it to come up, I'm just not sure how much I'm liking how saturated it is into the book.

 

On the other hand, I don't think it's overdone.  It seems as if she is able to write it in such a way that doesn't feel forced or unnatural to the rest of the story.

 

I guess I'm of two minds of it, but I really do like her style or writing

 


 

Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
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Ryan_G
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Re: SHIP OF FOOLS: Part I, Embarkation

[ Edited ]

Actually, especially once they first step onto the ship, the way the point of views break so often, I was getting confused a bit.  I found myself having to check the list of characters at the front of the book.  Once I was able to get into a better rhythm, that got better, and now I think I have a good handle on who everyone is.  But I think that had more to do with the fact I was having to break off from the book too much, and would have to wait in between reading it.  Now that I'm able to devote more time to the book, I do agree with you, she tries very hard to separate the characters from eachother.

 

I am trying to figure out if Greta Baumgartner might be a bit bipolar, at least that's how it comes across in the way she acts towards her son.  Which that thought got me thinking about how such conditions would have been viewed back then, and how much grief families would have had to go through because there wasn't that great of an understanding of those illnesses.  But that's off subject :-)

 


Melissa_W wrote:

Agreed.  It's like she's trying to be very clear and have very distinct characters - not annoyingly so, but very noticeable.  As if she's afraid we'll get someone confused.

 


Ryan_G wrote:

I'm just trying to figure out if I think it's heavy handed or not.  I know that the book is about those subjects, so I expect it to come up, I'm just not sure how much I'm liking how saturated it is into the book.

 

On the other hand, I don't think it's overdone.  It seems as if she is able to write it in such a way that doesn't feel forced or unnatural to the rest of the story.

 

I guess I'm of two minds of it, but I really do like her style or writing

 


 




 

"I am half sick of shadows" The Lady of Shalott

http://wordsmithonia.blogspot.com
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chadadanielleKR
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Re: SHIP OF FOOLS: Part I, Embarkation

Hi,

I've  just had a look at the different messages you all wrote. I haven't the book yet and wonder if I might like it. Since I've just finished reading a long Dickens' novel, I am ready to look for a new book.

 

So far I've enjoyed reading the brillant remarks Mellissa wrote about the epigram . I am pretty sure the author made a mistake and might not have read the exact sentence in French. Usually quotation are meant to be right and the meaning of the "new" sentence is quite different, nevertheless interesting.

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Ryan_G
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Re: SHIP OF FOOLS: Part I, Embarkation

I'm almost done with the section, and now that things are slowing down at home, I'm confident I will finish this book before the month is out.

 

I wonder if I'm the only one not liking the touring, artist kids.  I find them to be so annoying, that I want to strangle them.

 

I'm also wondering, and why I never put the timeline with my preconcieved ideas of what the book is about, if the prospect of war is going to be further developed in the rest of the book, or if the "joke" about gasing people is a one time thing.

"I am half sick of shadows" The Lady of Shalott

http://wordsmithonia.blogspot.com
Melissa_W
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Re: SHIP OF FOOLS: Part I, Embarkation

I find the "arty" kids are like the rich kids who go "backpacking" to "find themselves" - more money than sense.  (Even if they protest that their trust fund doesn't affect who they are)

 

The gassing thing - it's not really a one-off but I also feel like its a comment on how blase the entire world is regarding the eminent rise of National Socialism/Nazi party in Germany and what they're capable of.


Ryan_G wrote:

I'm almost done with the section, and now that things are slowing down at home, I'm confident I will finish this book before the month is out.

 

I wonder if I'm the only one not liking the touring, artist kids.  I find them to be so annoying, that I want to strangle them.

 

I'm also wondering, and why I never put the timeline with my preconcieved ideas of what the book is about, if the prospect of war is going to be further developed in the rest of the book, or if the "joke" about gasing people is a one time thing.


 

Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
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Ryan_G
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Re: SHIP OF FOOLS: Part I, Embarkation

I'm really ashamed of myself for not being able to get this book finished.  I'm enjoying it, but keep getting distracted by other things.  I am going to finish it though, promise.

"I am half sick of shadows" The Lady of Shalott

http://wordsmithonia.blogspot.com
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chadadanielleKR
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Re: SHIP OF FOOLS: Part I, Embarkation

I have just got the book at last.  So far I think the author is really good with the description of the Veracruz's microcosm: the travellers, the locals, the Rich, the Poor, social turmoil. I am looking forward reading it. I'd better hurry. (I have just finished reading "the Sea" by John Banville, Booker Prize 2005, quite good but not so exciting!)