Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters

by Mark Dunn | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0385722435 Global Overview for this book
Registered by CaptainCarrot of Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on 2/1/2007
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15 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by CaptainCarrot from Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Thursday, February 01, 2007
I read it in German before and was interested how the language changes in English. The funny thing is: the level of the English vocabulary etc is so high from the beginning on that I hardly noticed the vanishing of the first letters! In the German version I was constantly reminded of the word that would be used "normally".
A second observation: reading the book again in English made me aware of how artfully constructed the story is - for example, the solution in the end was made possible by a change in profession by one of the minor characters (I want to avoid a spoiler) that serves just this one purpose.
I 'd like to hear the translator about his task - I'll search in the web for that.

(Translator Henning Ahrens: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henning_Ahrens)

Bookring:
1. Aldawen
2. rumble-bee
3. Sheepseeker
4. coco7
5. DiemitdemNitro
6. Charly83
7. Sternschnuppe28
8. pixi1974
9. Anke68
10. Lilo37fee
11. sintra
12. Qantaqa
13. erinacea
14. enitsirhc72
15. ...

Journal Entry 2 by Torgin from Mülheim an der Ruhr, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Friday, February 09, 2007
Arrived safely today, thank you! I read it in German as well and I'm very curious how it was possible to "translate" a book like that.

Journal Entry 3 by Torgin from Mülheim an der Ruhr, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Friday, February 23, 2007
It was interesting to compare it with the German translation as far as I could remember the details from it *gg*. I was astonished to see that the letters left the pangramm in the same order (at least it must have been roughly the same). I would have expected differences here because of different frequencies of use of the various letters in the two languages. I haven't understood everything because the language level was far above the one I usually read in English and I was impressed by the rich vocabulary and word ordering.

Apart from that I can only repeat what I said in my journal on the German edition: Besides its absurdity it is an object lesson on dictatorship which often goes hand in hand with language bans. Great book I hardly would have discovered without BC.

Now the book waits for the "OK" from rumble-bee to travel on ...

Journal Entry 4 by rumble-bee from Velbert, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Thursday, March 01, 2007
No more waiting for you, Aldawen; the book has arrived without problems today! Thanks a lot!
You cannot imagine how curious I am to read this!
The title alone makes me giggle, for it has at least two meanings...
I suppose this book will somehow sneak its way onto the top of my MTBR-pile...

Journal Entry 5 by rumble-bee from Velbert, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Sunday, March 11, 2007
This book will surely enter my personal BC-history for one of the best books in 2007! I'm absolutely stunned, this is a work of genius and true inventiveness!
I didn't think the language level was too high - the persons involved HAD TO use a higher speech level to avoid certain traps and dangerous, but more obvious choices.
I was reminded of certain other books, for one, "Alice in Wonderland" (for the inventive use of language), and the Jasper Fforde-books with Thursday Next, for its similar construction of an absurd and futuristic world.
Well, and somehow there is also "1984", of course!

This book has got everything I expected, and more.
Fun, certainly, but also deep wit, and political irony. It is not so much a story as such than a fable, an allegorical tale, I think.

I will also look for the German version. I suppose one cannot translate a book like this; it will have to be written anew in another language...

Hihly recommended for every language lover!

Will travel on as soon as possible.

Journal Entry 6 by rumble-bee from Velbert, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Sunday, March 11, 2007
Sheepseeker is on holiday until March 24. What shall I do now? Wait or contact coco7?? I will ask Captain Carrot for his/her opinion.

Journal Entry 7 by rumble-bee from Velbert, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Sunday, March 18, 2007
coco7 prefers to read the book with more time on his/her hands; so the reading order is still intact. I shall wait for Sheepseeker to return.

Journal Entry 8 by Sheepseeker from Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Thursday, April 05, 2007
The book is with me now :)

Thanks a lot for sending it, rumble-bee, and even more for the lovely Ex Libris-bookmark!!

Journal Entry 9 by Sheepseeker from Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I still have 20 pages to read but read enough for my comment.
As I don't know the German translation and never heard of the book before, I expected something totally different. Something funny and silly. I got a - IMHO - very depressing story about the loss of communication and totalitarianisms. The story is very well written with a witty plot and I'll definitely recommend it.
I'm very curious now how the story works out in its German translation...

Thanks a lot for this bookring, CaptainCarrot! I already PMed coco7 for her adress...


Journal Entry 10 by wingcoco7wing from Sprendlingen, Rheinland-Pfalz Germany on Thursday, April 19, 2007
The book is here now, and I'm curious ...

Journal Entry 11 by wingcoco7wing from Sprendlingen, Rheinland-Pfalz Germany on Monday, May 07, 2007
I was impressed by the wonderful language, the characters' courage and the council's absurd stubborness.
I'm afraid my English is not sufficient to say what I felt, but the book is sad and funny, depressing and encouraging, full of joy and warning at the same time.

Journal Entry 12 by diemitdemNitro from -- Irgendwo --, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Sunday, May 20, 2007
angekommen

wieder unterwegs

Journal Entry 13 by Charly83 from Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany on Monday, June 04, 2007
The book has arrived today. Thanks to diemitdemNitro for sending it to me.

Journal Entry 14 by Charly83 from Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany on Friday, July 11, 2008
What a book. At first I was a bit confused by the story but side by side I was more and more impressed by the use of language. I really like to know how long Mark Dunn needed for just one letter. He must be very creative! I felt sorry for each letter falling down. An awesome novel which I would recommand it to all liguists.

After I got Sternschnuppe28's addy the book is on the road again. Enjoy it!

Journal Entry 15 by Sternschnuppe28 from Flörsheim am Main, Hessen Germany on Monday, July 21, 2008
just received today - thanks!

Journal Entry 16 by Sternschnuppe28 from Flörsheim am Main, Hessen Germany on Saturday, August 02, 2008
A more detailed JE is to follow soon.

The book continued travelling to pixi1974 yesterday.

Journal Entry 17 by pixi1974 from Oldenburg, Niedersachsen Germany on Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Thanks a lot - received the book yesterday...
... it will travelling to Hamburg (Anke86) as soon as possible;-)

Journal Entry 18 by wingAnke68wing from Hamburg - Fuhlsbüttel, Hamburg Germany on Thursday, August 14, 2008
The book arrived here safely, and as soon as I´ve finished the book I´m reading at the moment, I will start with this one. Thanks for sending it!

Journal Entry 19 by wingAnke68wing from Hamburg - Fuhlsbüttel, Hamburg Germany on Wednesday, August 27, 2008
A fascinating book! When I read it in German before, I thought that it must have been a really hard task to translate a book like this. It´s really interesting to see the same letters falling in each version, and what this means to the language. How inventive people get - I´ve learned many new words from this book! :-) I can only recommend it to everyone who likes language(s). Thanks for letting me join that book ring.

When I get Lilo37fee´s address the book will travel on.

Journal Entry 20 by wingLilo37feewing from -- Irgendwo in Bayern, Bayern Germany on Sunday, September 07, 2008
Thank you for sending me the book! I am quite excited, how this idea will work!

Journal Entry 21 by wingLilo37feewing from -- Irgendwo in Bayern, Bayern Germany on Tuesday, September 09, 2008
I really enjoyed reading this book. And not only for the brilliant use of language, but also for the wonderful story behind it: I really fell in love with the characters, I really liked the little letters and what they said and didn´t. With this little letters each one of the characters was perfectly outlined.
On of my favorite parts was e.g. the letter Amos left for his wife while she was in the bath tub and her answer.
The letter that Georgeanne Towgate sent to answer Tassie´s letter in the beginning made me sick! It is so full of self-righteousness and so typical for people like this!
The whole thing is a brilliant novel about totalitarism and what the abuse of language does to people.

I deeply admire Dunn´s talent to write!

I was thinking about the name Ella Minnow Pea- is it an anagram of some sort, because it has all the letters of Nollop inside? Now I know the solution (thanks to wiki): Her name is a play on words - it sounds like the pronunciation of the letters "LMNOP", fitting with the content of the novel.

Thank you very much for sending around this book- I will surely recommend it to my friends.

Journal Entry 22 by sintra from Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I picked up the book today and I'm already looking forward to reading it. Thanks a lot!

Journal Entry 23 by sintra from Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I really enjoyed reading this witty and well-constructed novel! I recently bought a German second-hand edition which I'm planning to release but now I guess I'll have a look at it first because I'm curious about the translation.

Thanks a lot for this bookring! The book will soon travel on to Qantaqa.

Edit, 10.10.: After a new hard disc disaster last week this book is finally on its way to Qantaqa now!

Journal Entry 24 by Qantaqa from Dachau, Bayern Germany on Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Arrived safely. It'll take a little while but I hope it doesn't matter too much seeing as I'm the last person on the list.

Journal Entry 25 by Qantaqa from Dachau, Bayern Germany on Wednesday, December 03, 2008
I finally found the time to read this book - in the end, it was quite a quick read! I'm not sure what to think - on the one hand, it was definitely a work of art (substituting more and more letters) and very funny (two of my favorite expressions: "terminal-cot" (p. 78) for death-bed and "learny-house" (p. 139) for school-house) - this had me laughing out loud several times, on the other hand, I didn't particularly like the background story. Definitely a worthy read, though!
Thanks a lot for the ring. The book is ready to come back home!

Journal Entry 26 by erinacea from Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany on Friday, December 12, 2008
Arrived today. I'm currently trying to get through a small stack of books to use for my Advent Calendar, but the way I know myself I'll start reading this one soon enough... Thanks for sending it along!

Journal Entry 27 by erinacea from Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany on Thursday, December 25, 2008
An amazing, truly impressive book! From page one I fell in love with the writing, and on page two I decided I needed to buy the book myself... I finished the book back on Monday or Tuesday, but I needed some time to wrap my head around what to write as a review.

The story itself was, surprisingly, not as far-fetched as it might appear. In a society where literacy is cultivated a person who contributes to said society like Nollop did might indeed be worshipped like some sort of deity, and I guess we all know what can be done in the name of faith. I liked how in the beginning the dropped letters were unimportant (I really had to struggle to remember them when reading the letters because they could be read fluently and felt like nothing was amiss) since that is how most, if not all, totalitarian movements seem to start out: with small "inconsequential" laws that ultimately lead to a true dictatorship. In this case it was telling that this first law caused all information about how to rescind the "Pentapriests" to disappear.

I am full of admiration of Dunn's extraordinary writing skill. It already must have taken a lot of time and effort to use the amount of rare letters as he did in the earlier letters, presumably to offset their later abandonment, and obviously things only got more difficult as the story progressed. I loved some of the inventions used in replacement of forbidden words, and I also greatly enjoyed the ultimate accidental solution (which I didn't notice while reading).
Still, I deduct one star due to my disappointment at the homonym solution towards the end of the conflict and for the (in my mind) unnecessary snide look upon fictive Nollop, the pangram's creator.

Happily, this book ring made it really easy to decide what to get my mother for her birthday, and I think I'll also buy the German copy for myself, so we can then compare. Now that I think of it, my brother might also enjoy reading this... :)

Will be sent on as soon as I get around to buying some new stamps.

Thanks a lot for sharing this magnificent jewel with me! :D

Journal Entry 28 by erinacea at -- Per Post geschickt/ Persönlich weitergegeben --, Berlin Germany on Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Released 9 yrs ago (12/31/2008 UTC) at -- Per Post geschickt/ Persönlich weitergegeben --, Berlin Germany

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Quickly sent off before New Year's eve. Thanks again for sharing!

Journal Entry 29 by enitsirhc72 from Bickenbach, Hessen Germany on Monday, January 05, 2009
The book arrived safely. Thank you. I read the german translation two years ago and now I am curious in the difference of the original version.

Journal Entry 30 by CaptainCarrot from Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Monday, June 08, 2009
The book came home today - thanks to all readers! I'll read it again soon.

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