Courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily, here's a Washington Times book review of a new biography of Edith Wharton that argues for a higher place for her, as well as Willa Cather and Dawn Powell, in the literary canon. SC is regrettably less familiar with the works of Ms. Wharton than he ought to be ([you've read the complete Dune pastiche of Messrs. Herbert and Anderson, but not The Age of Innocence? 'Nuff said -- ed.]), and the article forcefully makes the point that no small part of her comparative neglect is her failure to live a debauched life of crudeness and self-promotion. Put more bluntly, "Misters Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner were all alcoholics", and the article follows that up with examples of the hard living that guaranteed them a steady stream of headlines until death.
But the part that caught the eye of this computational linguist was the smackdown of the grossly-overrated Faulkner that went like so:
Miss Powell's New York books re-create a milieu every bit as richly imagined and unforgettable as Mr. Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County — and a lot more, um, intelligible. "I can't read Faulkner," confesses Mr. Page. "He does absolutely nothing for me."
He's not the only one.
Some enterprising soul has posted on the Internet "Machine translation or Faulkner?" — a quiz asking you to deduce whether quotations are computer-translated text from the German or samples of Mr. Faulkner's prose.
Needless to say, SC immediately Googled "machine translation or Faulkner?" and was rewarded with this site. The machine-translated German texts are revealed to be largely appropriate literary comparisons, albeit not of Faulkner's writing (think Goethe), although some might hold that an ideal test would be a machine translation of a human translation of Faulkner's writing back into English. SC scored a meager 42% on the quiz, and was frankly shocked to see that some of the questions he got wrong revolved around quotes from Faulkner works that he's actually read. Evidently your host didn't read them attentively enough.