Tuesday, 8 May 2007

One thing that the Bookfair

brings home is that publishing is a small old world - however big the Transworld stand is. BNO1 did not quite was unaware quite how small until his hobby (Reading and translating contemporary Argentine literature - BNO1 needs some friends) suddenly came into contact with his work life. Having read the Spanish translation of The Enormity of the Tragedy he noticed that the translator was the author of one of the books he was currently reading ( Los Acuaticos, very much to be recommended by what's been read so far) so he sent out a speculative email and got this as a reply - a fascinating insight into a translator's job and also the standing of Quim Monzo on the continent:

'For many reasons, not least that Quim Monzo is a
dear friend of mine, it was a wonderful surprise to receive your message. But
first of all, please excuse my dreadful English. It wouldn't seem kind to me
to write you in Spanish, but I'm only a translator, that is to say that I
can read and translate reasonably well even William Burroughs --indeed I
have done it-- but my fluency is... well, you see.
I did the work maybe more than fifteen years ago, then I returned in Argentina --after
living 20 years in Barcelona-- and I have but a blurred memory of my
intentions and about how I thought then my work had to be done. I guess I can only
help you telling these things:
- As I say, Monzó and I were very close friends; in fact he
gave me lessons of Catalan.
- In very brief terms, he was the first postmodernist, as it
were, not only in Catalan but in Spanish narrative.
- Critics and inteligent readers use to say that, appart from his
subject and contemporary/semi surreal plots, one of the charms of
his books was that they were written in a wonderfully economic, very simple,
almost inmaculate but sparkling and ironic prose.
- I tried to keep those characteristics, but spare Spanish
needs to be a bit less spare than spara catalan if it doesn't want to look
awkward or inexpresive; so maybe I took some slight liberties.
- Quim himself told many times, even in public, that he felt
very well represented by my translations. But, you see, we were friends, so
- True, I felt very comfortable translating his books. I
cannot assure you that I couldn't have felt too comfortable every now and then.
But, also true, as a rule I do my best to preserve the literal sense and the
general mood of the author's writing.
And if you have a momento when you finish, tell me how did you
like "Acuáticos".
[Sincronicity: just in this moment I am translating Hawthorne for
Acantilado, the independent publishing house that has Quaderns
Crema and publishes Monzó in catalan.]
Best wishes,
Marcelo Cohen.'


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