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Thread: My problem with some of Philip K. Dick's writing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Halifax, Nova Scotia

    My problem with some of Philip K. Dick's writing

    Philip K. Dick is my favorite sf writer. My problem with some of his writing is his usage of Latin, German and Greek; without providing translation (for the most part). Now I know that he loved these languages and that is fine. I'm sure he wanted his readers to do some research and learn something. It is just frustrating. The best example of this is his novel "Deus Irae", or "God of Wrath". The book is peppered with German passages. I love the book, but can't get around the language. My life is so hard. ;-)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Today, solving that may be easier: Google Translate.

    It's also a bit less competent than an average student who just finished German 101 (or Latin 101 or whatever: it seems to translate words, and fails to understand context.

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    It used to be that anyone considered well-educated would have learned at least a moderate amount of Latin and Greek. And there certainly was also a point when German was the dominant language in science, although that had ended well before Dick's time.
    Conserve energy. Commute with the Hamiltonian.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    While he did not provide a translation, he did describe/paraphrase Rillke's poem Der Abend well enough to make me fall in love with it, somehow. (That and the musicality of the poem itself. Although I don't understand much of German, I know how to read it.)

    But I would agree that sometimes Dick overdid it.

    P.S. The poem in medieval German in Deus Irae, showed up before as the motto to Ubik, with a translation.
    Last edited by Disinfo Agent; 2015-Jun-25 at 11:16 AM. Reason: typo corrected

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    PKD never over did anything.

    He was the greatest visionist writer that ever existed. Instead of going in the exact details of how anything worked, he just described what it did and left it to your imagination.

    For me, this made PKD one of the greatest writers ever! L. Ron Hubbard was also a visionist. He never went into details about how something worked. He also forced you to think. Both made you scratch your chin and go "Hmmm..."

    I can remember reading PKDs books and novellas when I was a child way back in the 60s and 70s. Then I got into Tolkien when he was first published in the colonies (USA). Then, while I was in high school, I read SRD's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. They were first published in PB in 1974 or so. About the same time as Tolkien was published in 1971 and 1972.

    How dare you curse PKD?

    Learn something. That is whole idea of reading books. If you do not like books that also provide the translation for you, then you are nothing more than an idiot. Get off the Retard chair and do some learning.

    THAT is what READING is about. To learn.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Darwin did this with French in TOoS: usually just a few words at a time, but whole sentences on at least a few occasions, and a paragraph in one case. Sometimes I could get the idea based on individual words I knew or recognized as likely cognates; sometimes I couldn't.

    "Deus Irae" = god of wrath
    "Dies Irae" = day of wrath, which is one of the sections of the Catholic requiem (the mass held in honor of a person who recently died)

    The similarity of the words might not be a coincidence. They seem to come from a Proto-Indo-European word for gods, godly superpowers, and/or the sky, which split into two, one of which survived as the word for "sky" or "daylight" or such in some languages, while the other survived mostly in the form of the names of gods: Greek Zeus, Germanic Tuis (as in "Tuesday"), the "dio" in Dionysus, Sanskrit Dyaus or Dyaus Pitar, and the "ju" in "jupiter". But, by the time of written Latin, they were clearly working as separate words, regardless of possible common origin.

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