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Autobiographies/books in the 1st person?

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Serpent
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 Message 1 of 11
16 July 2012 at 10:24pm | IP Logged 
Does anyone else find that reading a book written in the first person is very helpful? Do you consciously choose books based on that? Yesterday I did that for the first time, when I saw a whole bunch of Portuguese books in my favourite bookstore in Helsinki and chose The Diary of a Magician by Coelho (along with two books written in the third person).
I've clearly benefitted more from reading in Spanish and Italian than in Portuguese, and I wonder if it's because in these two languages I've read only footballers' biographies (and nothing else) while in Portuguese I've read more but nothing that was written in the first person.

(I made a rec in another thread and thought it might be controversial so I wonder about your opinions. Obviously it doesn't matter much in a language like Swedish or Esperanto, but what about most other languages?)

Edited by Serpent on 16 July 2012 at 10:26pm

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sfuqua
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 Message 2 of 11
18 October 2012 at 9:23pm | IP Logged 
This seems to me like a good idea. What are some good Spanish first person books? Most of us speak more in the first person than the third person, so it would tend to emphasize the grammar most often used.

steve
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Arekkusu
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 Message 3 of 11
18 October 2012 at 10:23pm | IP Logged 
Instinctively, I can't imagine it being true. You don't intrinsically learn more from a sentence (if there is anything to learn from it) because it is written with one person's perspective rather than another's.

What is not entirely impossible though, is that you personally are more fascinated by one type of story than another, but then that would simply be a question of motivation.

Edited by Arekkusu on 18 October 2012 at 10:28pm

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emk
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 Message 4 of 11
18 October 2012 at 10:24pm | IP Logged 
This sounds like a great idea, but it's going to be a bit more complicated in French, thanks to the passé simple. Basically, French has a past tense which is used for narrating stories, but which is almost never used in speech.

I've read a couple of French novels written in the first-person of the passé simple, including Le Petit Prince and the SF translation Le vieil homme et la guerre. It's weird—all of a sudden, you have a whole bunch of verbs ending in -âme and -îme. It's a rather heavy style, and it has nothing to do with spoken French.

It's almost impossible to find books where the narration is in the passé composé (the past-tense form used in speech). I actually have a big stack of books for French preschoolers, and the most common choices, by far, are the passé simple and the present tense.

This isn't to criticize the passé simple, which sounds perfectly natural in the third person in a book. The only problem is with first-person French narration, which really only sounds natural in the present tense.
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AndrewS
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 Message 5 of 11
03 November 2012 at 4:31pm | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
Do you consciously choose books based on that?

Yes, my first three books, I was reading in English, were written in the first person. The same was my first audiobook that I was listening without relying on the text. The only reason I had was because it seemed to me that its language was a bit simplier among the books I wanted to read.

Edited by AndrewS on 03 November 2012 at 4:33pm

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Serpent
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 Message 6 of 11
04 November 2012 at 2:06am | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
Instinctively, I can't imagine it being true. You don't intrinsically learn more from a sentence (if there is anything to learn from it) because it is written with one person's perspective rather than another's.
Well, for conversations/production the 1st person is more relevant. Of course every book is going to have some sentences in the 1st person, but if it's only in the dialogue, the range of the 1p sentences will be more limited.
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luke
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 Message 7 of 11
04 November 2012 at 3:21am | IP Logged 
I think the content of the autobiography may be the most important factor. An interesting autobiography such as The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin may draw the reader/listener in.
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AndrewS
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 Message 8 of 11
04 November 2012 at 3:25pm | IP Logged 
I've got "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" in my list and I'm sure I will enjoy it, but there are a lot of novels too. I like novels written by Hemingway, so no wonder that my first book was an excellent love story "A Farewell to Arms". I had read this book and I'd been listening it for ten times, possibly (there has been only fourth month of my studies). Then there were "The Catcher in the Rye" by Salinger and "The Collector" by Fowles.
I have dabbled a little with Spanish. If I ever will go on I am undoubtedly going to focus a particular attention on Spanish literature. The trouble is that I'm not familiar enough with it to be able to choose with ease. So it is very unlikely I'll have that kind of books since the discussed criterion isn't the most relevant one for me, of course. :(

Edited by AndrewS on 04 November 2012 at 3:32pm



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