Stops: books that also exercise

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Someone once joked that “the universal aptitude for incompetence makes any human achievement an incredible miracle” and dedicated book readers know it all too well. Any member of the (sadly declining) tribe would experience reactions of wonder if they managed to read even a modestly long work in a day or two. I wonder what these astonished people would do with a book called a “door stopper”?

“Door stoppers” are books so thick and heavy that they can be used to keep doors open – or even a literary weapon, literally. The irrepressible TVTropes.org, which also suggests they can replace dumbbells or an opportunity for orthopedics, says “Proper Doorstoppers” (also known as “Tree Killers”) should be over 500 pages at least , with a normal font. at least 10 points.

A distinction must be made with the “Omnibus” editions, which generally bring together a trilogy or complete works by an author into one. Although technically a “door stopper” they are not, as that term refers to a particular work, which according to TVTropes “can and will cause massive muscle fatigue when reading while holding the book in your hands. “.

While religious scriptures – or their exegesis – dictionaries, encyclopedias, most textbooks, especially computer programming, accounting, biology, etc., are obstacles in the door, let’s see some notable examples from the literature. classic and popular.

Although English has some of the best known examples – Charles Dickens, Margaret “Gone with the Wind” Mitchell, JRR Tolkien (except “The Hobbit” and “The Silmarillion”), JK Rowling (“The Order of the Phoenix “to leave), the phenomenon is present in literary traditions across the world – Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, among many others and much older.

“In Search of Lost Time” by Marcel Proust (“Souvenir des things du past” or “In search of lost time” now, 1913-27 in French) on his experiences of childhood and adulthood at the end 19th century / early 20th century France, contains Guinness records title of longest novel with one and a half million words. The author was still adding and revising the last three volumes at the time of his death, suggesting that it could have been published longer.

However, “Marienbad My Love” (2013) by Mark Leach, about an author tortured (mentally) on a desert island reaching out to a married ex-lover to help him produce a sci-fi film , claims to be the longest novel in the world, at over 17 million words, over 10,000 pages in 17 volumes. The title of the novel itself has 6,700 words, it contains a name of 4.4 million letters and a sentence of three million words.

The Persian poet Ferdowsi (or Firdausi / Fardusi) “The Shahnameh”, on the Iranian history of the creation of the world in the Islamic age, in an abbreviated English prose translation is nearly 1000 pages long and, according to the introduction , a complete translation in verse in English. made nine volumes.

The Japanese epic “The Tale of Genji” varies by language and translator, but one copy is 1,090 pages long. And many classical Chinese novels are around 2,000 pages long – Luo Guanzhong’s fourteenth-century epic “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, about war, unrest and bloodshed in the eponymous period (188-280 AD) has over 2,300 pages.

The same is true of the 16th century “Journey to the West” on the pilgrimage of the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang to India to study Buddhism and obtain exact copies of religious texts and the exploits of his three traveling companions and supernatural protectors. , in particular “The Monkey King”, while Cao Xueqin’s “Dream of the Red Room” from the 18th century, on the decline of a noble family, is shorter – at only 1,800 odd pages.

The Russians were famous enough for this with 1,200 pages, “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy, on Russian nobility before and during Napoleon’s invasion, is a prime example, while “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. has well over 500 pages and “The Karamazov Brothers” something between 720 to 1,013 pages, depending on the translation. However, it should be noted that the authors were paid per page.

Another notable feature is “Oblomov” by Ivan Gontcharov (1859), which merely clocks in a doorstop with translations ranging from around 500 to 550 pages, but the entire first part, over 50 pages, only describes the main character trying to get out of bed – and onto a chair.

French writers also remain masters – “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo, affectionately nicknamed “La Brique” by his admirers, and has a detailed description of a crack in the wall, through which a character looks, extending on a page and a half – – in the condensed version.

Indians too feature, with Vikram Seth’s “A Appropriate Boy” running at over 1,500 pages and Vikram Chandra’s “Sacred Games” at around 1,100 pages.

However, technology has now made it possible for even a huge doorstop to easily fit on a lightweight and convenient smartphone or e-reader, the bookworms determined from the dawn of publishing until the 20th century – and even now – have never shied away from carrying heavy tomes on travel, at work and elsewhere, giving the phrase “active readers” a whole new meaning. Anyone who says reading books is lazy, should try reading one.

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