This page renders best in Firefox (or Safari, or Chrome)
READIN started out as a place for me
to keep track of what I am reading, and to learn (slowly, slowly)
how to design a web site.
There has been some mission drift
here and there, but in general that's still what it is. Some of
the main things I write about here are
listening to (and playing) music, and
watching the movies. Also I write about the
work I do with my hands and with my head; and of course about bringing up Sylvia.
The site is a bit of a work in progress. New features will come on-line now and then; and you will occasionally get error messages in place of the blog, for the forseeable future. Cut me some slack, I'm just doing it for fun! And if you see an error message you think I should know about, please drop me a line. READIN source code is PHP and CSS, and available on request, in case you want to see how it works.
Spring is without question here; and we got a ping-pong table! Here are Ellen and Sylvia volleying.
Sylvia and I put it together yesterday afternoon; but we took a break so John and I could do some jamming. A new setup means I'm not sure yet where to set up the camera; and the upshot is that I'm mostly just out of the frame, a disembodied Stroh fiddle. Shades of February! We ran out of tape at what seems to me like a pretty opportune moment.
With all this composition and revision, I am getting unnervingly close* to having a finished draft translation of The art of resurrection on my computer and in my notebooks and in my head. Now is the time for me to admit to myself, it is very unlikely that this will ever see publication, or be read by anyone else than (obsessively) myself and (gratifyingly) friends I send the Word file to. (And if you are one of those friends, thanks greatly for the interest and for the kind words, and if you are not but would like to be, then definitely get in touch, I am glad to send drafts around.) This will very likely end up in the category (if there even is such a category) of "fan-translation," an amateur's first foray into translation of a novel, spurred on by infatuation with the book; something to be proud of certainly but not something that will (so to speak) make my name as a translator.
So what do I get out of it if not publication? Well -- it ia a hugely fun project. So there's that -- I can't really think of a better way I could have spent these past months of evenings and weekend, than by reading and rereading this book and my translation of it. And too, it has truly been increasing the intimacy of my relationship with language: I am feeling fluent in English in ways I had not realized before, that I lacked fluency. I think I am gaining, as well, some skill in or understanding of storytelling, and in the process of revision.
So -- that's my story and I'm sticking with it. (And yes, I am submitting this translation for publication, thinking of a couple of different places. And keeping my fingers crossed.) Tomorrow I am going to start composing my notes and excerpts for the submission. Here are a couple of great things about this novel: Narrative Person. I don;t think I've encountered another author able so easily and so subtly/seamlessly to shift between 3rd-person narrative, 1st-person recollection, 1st-person-plural narration, paraphrase and dialog -- the subtlety of structure can be a bit tricky to untangle at times, but it makes for a very pleasant sensual response to the way you slide around, between different camera angles and lenses. Squalid Erotica. The sex scenes between Magalena Mercado and the Christ of Elqui are uncomfortably, weirdly titillating . Haunting Irreality. The eerie final chapters will keep you up at night. (This is almost the opposite of Magical Realism!) Slapstick Meditation on Faith. Rivera Letelier's reverent (and at the same time bawdy) treatment of the Christ of Elqui's faith and lunacy is inspiring and touching. I have had the sense all along, despite the passages that I couldn't quite get in the original, that this is a great novel; and reading the English is bearing that out. This is just a pearl of a book.
* Progress at the moment, for those keeping score at home: 23 chapters, which is 62,000 words, completed in a very-close-to-finished-draft state. Three chapters at the end which I have not started working on yet, and two in the middle that I skipped over as insufficiently fun. I am going to leave those five for the time being and focus on getting this draft actually finished, and picking out the chapters that I want to include in the submission.
So, so much fun to find a Dylan lyric in a Spanish language text!
Remorseful at the news, there were a few of the men who wanted to call an emergency union meeting, to see what could be done; but the union leaders were in Antofagasta, waiting to meet with the provincial authorities. They would not be back until after Christmas. And then others, the most political, the ones who knew something was happening, but weren't sure just what -- in a low voice they were urging that we take the dynamite which the patizorros had cached (in case the strike lasted too long, and the military was called in -- they had seen that happen in other salitreras), and attack the guards head-on. But in the end common sense reigned, the decision was just to keep watch and make sure they didn't do Maguita any harm.
The radios and newspapers began to print and broadcast news of this prophet come down from the hills above the Elqui; an uncivilized campesino, has not cut his hair for years, or his beard or his nails; doesn't even have a grade-school education and yet he can preach for hours before the rapt multitudes, the inflamed rhetoric of an illuminated mestizo, a creole prophet, a Coquimbo messiah. The crowds were shocked to hear him say that the All-powerful is not only with those who go to church, who confess and do penance; his mercy is far greater than that, my brothers, his love is greater than this world, it does not stop at the horizon, is more vast than the very mansion of heaven; he comes not looking for the good or the saintly, he comes to save the wicked and to pardon the sinner. His sacrifice on the cross was for all of us. Including you, my brother, you in the hat with the turned-up brim, making fun of the sacred word!
In the past few months of not-blogging-much (and not at all, I suppose, about translation), I have been quite busy with reading and re-reading The art of resurrection and extending the excerpt I published in translation. I thought a good thing to write about here would be the manner in which I've been doing the translation.
Essentially I've split the process into four (or 3 1/2) phases, rough draft, revision, close read of the revision, second revision. I have (mostly) finished this process for the first 2/3 of the book and taking a break to look at what I've come up with; I must say, reading my translation feels a whole lot to me like reading the original feels to me -- not sure if that has any bearing at all on how others will perceive the text.
The rough draft process is always done longhand; much of it takes place on the train to and from work. This is where I read the Spanish and write very rough, almost literal translation as fast as I can, with (ideally) very little re-reading. The goal is to come up with something vaguely like a Google Translate translation, where the sentence structure is not quite right and some of the words are untranslated or incorrectly translated, but the overall structure and meaning of the sentence can be divined.
Revision is transferring my rough draft onto the computer, tweaking the language so it reads smoothly and sounds right, and communicates the image in the original. This is a much slower process and involves a lot of looking up words and phrases (at variously, Span¡shD!ct, Google Translate, WordReference.com,... the list goes on...) and consulting with friends and acquaintances, thanks all!
Now it's time for a close read of what you've done so far. Print out a few chapters of what's on the computer, and spend a few days reading it, marking changes in the text or on the computer. When done, go through the document adding in the changes you have marked.
What's great about this process is I never feel like I am or should be dealing with a finished product so I'm free to leave notes and uncertainties in the text. What I have now for chapters 1-16 reads really well, mostly, but there are still notes in it about changes that need to be made. Obvious? Probably, but this feels like the first time I am really believing it.