Much of the challenge of reading articles on the internet is separating the wheat from the chaff. For every insightful, thought-provoking online article, there are thousands of articles about what the narcissistic Kardashians are doing or what celebrity is wearing what at some forgettable self-aggrandizing televised event. But the same could be said of literature — there are some spectacular writers out there as well as some spectacularly bad writers (some of them appropriately honored by the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest).
Separating the wheat from the chaff was the inspiration for the quizzes on Mikhail Simkin’s very amusing website, Reverent Entertainment. Simkin asked: could readers tell the difference between William Faulkner, one of America’s most brilliant writers, and machine translations? For the machine translations, Simkin submitted short passages written by famous German authors. The results are fascinating. Below are some excerpts from the quiz (passages identified at the end of the post — no peeking).
(1) Faulkner or machine translation? “… if people could only change one another forever that way merge like a flame swirling up for an instant then blown cleanly out along the cool eternal dark …”
(2) Faulkner or machine translation? “It was a shadow, that lay, in every beautiful weather once under a tree and fluctuated like the branches in the wind.”
(3) Faulkner or machine translation? “However, the honeysuckle had already withered, the dandelion glittered and now gilded the meadows, and now certainly there was over there on the brook already forget-me-not.”
(4) Faulkner or machine translation? “It lay on the table a candle burning at each corner upon the envelope tied in a soiled pink garter two artificial flowers. Not hit a man in glasses.”
(5) Faulkner or machine translation? “… that did not learn anything, something to learn never wanted, which can do also purely technically and physically nothing from vague and intractable pride that men can do…”
Read related posts: The Worst Sentence Ever Written
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For further reading: http://reverent.org/quizomatic/answers.php?test=sounds_like_faulkner
(Answers: Faulkner: 1, 4 Machine translation: 2, 3, 5)