Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Le Ton Beau De Marot: In Praise Of The Music Of Language Paperback – May 23, 1998
Books with Buzz
Discover the latest buzz-worthy books, from mysteries and romance to humor and nonfiction. Explore more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Marot's poem, in Hofstadter's initial translation (he is to compose many more), begins: "My sweet, / I bid you / A good day; / The stay / Is prison. / Health / Recover, / Then open / Your door ... "--a slim frame on which to hang 600 or so pages of text. But the book is far more than a compendium of translators' triumphs (with the occasional misstep). Most of the renderings are original and lively, some lovely, though Hofstadter often feels compelled to improve them. He lightly laments that Bill Cavnar's rendering, "though superb along so many dimensions at once, still seems to lack a bit of that intangible verbal sparkle that I associate with the deepest Maroticity."
Hofstadter's talents lie in linking his intoxication, erudition, and vision with humor, autobiography, and free association. His book takes on "rigidists," asks questions like, "Is plagiarism potentially creative?" and strives to define linguistic soul. Along the way, it accords the same level of respect to the seemingly trivial: sex jokes, Texas jokes, The Seven Year Itch, and the puzzle of how someone you love can hate a food that you adore. Throughout there is pun, ingenuity, and above all, love for language--which can compress distance and, through constraint, lead to freedom. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the AuthorsDiscover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.
Top Customer Reviews
GEB was more complex. The ideas were harder. Le Ton Beau de Marot is, at its core, a book about translation. The book was inspired by the author's attempts to translate a short (28 trisyllabic lines) poem by an obscure French Renaissance poet named Clement Marot. (You'll probably have the poem memorized by the end of the book, at least if you know French - and if you don't, it's conveniently included on a detachable bookmark on the inside back cover.) Hofstadter, after tackling this challenge himself, sent out a letter (reprinted in the book) to many friends challenging them to translate it as well, including a list of some formal constraints on the poem that he wanted to point out and two fairly literal glosses of the poem for the non-francophones in his circle. The book's structure (like all of DRH's other books) is one of alternation - small groups of translations of the poem, which originally were meant to constitute the whole book but now make up a sort of sideshow and can be skipped without detracting from the understanding of the book, alternate with chapters on various issues of translation. The poems don't play the role that you might expect, a role roughly analogous to that of the dialogues in GEB. In GEB, the dialogues were meant to introduce some point that would be developed in the chapter. Here, they're not.
Most of the book consists of discussions of some of the dilemmas of literary translation, with examples drawn from various literary works.Read more ›
At times I felt like I was reading "The Making of Godel, Escher, Bach" as the author describes for us how he saved the various translation efforts of his magnum opus from the clutches of incompetent translators. His impatience with those of lesser genius contrasts with the nice-guy persona he's trying hard to project.
The book is mostly about translation, using a simple poem, which was translated in several different ways by the author and his friends and colleagues to illustrate many important and interesting points. After awhile, though, I started to get tired of reading about what is wrong with everyone else's translations, and how no one gets it in quite the same way that Dr. Hofstadter does. In addition, the author's own poems are among the least interesting of the collection, and he repeatedly "corrects" translations of other contributors (even his mom!), producing results that are usually awful.
If you've read his previous work, you're not going to find a lot new here, and you might be disappointed at how flat this seems.
Doug starts out by praising himself for being in total control of this book -- typesetting, page design, content, direction... Well, he shouldn't be so smug. The typography is a jumbled mess, the chapter introductions are amateurish, the page breaks are artificial and distracting, the content wanders off the subject into numerous, endless (and pointless) digressions, and most of the 30,000 versions of the poem he translates are laughably bad.
There's a worthwhile message in here somewhere, buried under six tons of authorial effluvia -- something about the art of translation being a balance between form and content. But of the 632 pages here, only about 120 serve this purpose. Hofstadter has apparently become such a powerhouse author that he is allowed to wield total control, but it's a two edged sword and he proves himself no Galahad.
Doug man, you need an editor.
I received this book for my graduation from high school (begged for it, in fact), devoured it in two days, and have re-read it constantly since. When I lent it to a lover of mine who was from Toronto, and with whom I later broke up, the first thing on my mind when we arranged to meet some months later was, "Can I have my book back?" I re-read it immediately.
Poetry translation is now one of my most enjoyable hobbies, and I would have to say that this book gave me the impetus in that direction. I would frankly have to class Le Ton beau de Marot as the book of Hofstadter's which I have most thoroughly enjoyed - more than GEB, more even than Metamagical Themas. Please read it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am stll busy reading it, but it is a very interesting book, full of wonderful ideas...I do recommend it to whoever is interested in the subject.Published on September 13, 2013 by Noemia
Hofstadter addresses the significance of language as a mechanism to convey more substance than the individual words might. Read morePublished on April 23, 2002 by Former Rater
This book describes the human mind and artificial intelligence through attempts at translating an old French poem into English. Read morePublished on April 5, 2002 by Arnie Layne
The whole book is a discussion of translation and it is a delight to read Hofstadter's meaderings on various topic, a lively mind at work. Read morePublished on July 18, 2000 by Laura LaVelle
Let's not compare this to GEB, but look at it for its own merits. This book puts in wonderful terms such deep ideas about language and translation, much like the way wonderful... Read morePublished on April 12, 2000 by Platinum
Hofstadter's Le Ton Beau, although interesting, as with the early 80s fun book GEB, has produced something of a Sears catalogue of accepted literary and scientific ideas, in this... Read morePublished on January 11, 2000 by jack schaaf
This book was amazing. Outstanding illustrations of lipograms. Much thought must go into skipping a digit. Wow.Published on December 2, 1999
This is very readable and people who found themselves overwhelmed by GEB (a 5 star book in its own right, but the two are apples and oranges) should give this a try as it... Read morePublished on October 30, 1999
In Le ton beau de Marot Hofstadter opens his heart as well as his wide-ranging, brilliant, playful,and fallible mind and it's hard to be ready for this. Read morePublished on July 14, 1999