The READIN Family Album
First day of spring! (March 2010)

READIN

Jeremy's journal

Listen, this process called poetry is an exercise in imagining memory, and then having that memory snare and cherish imagination.

Breyten Breytenbach


(This is a page from my archives)
Front page
More recent posts
Older posts
More posts about:
Roberto Bolaño
Readings
Translation
Writing Projects
Projects

Archives index
Subscribe to RSS
Follow on Facebook
Follow video posts

This page renders best in Firefox (or Safari, or Chrome)

Writing

A very nice line (assuming I am understanding it correctly) from the newly-published Bolaño story, The Contour of the Eye. Bolaño's character Chen Huo Deng is recounting a conversation with a doctor, telling him about writing diaries as a "crutch for literary creativity":

Dijo que comprendía que los poetas escribiéramos mil palabras para librar una. Le dije que en mi diario actual se libraba algo más y se rió sin comprender.

[First attempt at reading this is incorrect -- see comment from Rick -- He said his understanding was that we poets will write a thousand words to liberate a single one. I told him that in my current diary something else was being liberated and he laughed without understanding.]

He said his understanding was that we poets will write a thousand words to get at a single one. I told him that in my current diary something else was at stake, and he laughed without understanding.

This is working for me on a couple of levels, I can see an image of Chen's words as the fleet launched from Mycenae to liberate Helen...

Thoughts about the translation of "librar" in the first sentence and "librarse" in the second sentence (and thanks to Rick for pointing out that this is a different verb from "liberar")? It would be nice to preserve the pun but I'm not at all sure how that would be done. "in my current diary something else was getting out" maybe? That doesn't sound very natural to me, and I'm skeptical whether it communicates the meaning of the Spanish very well.

posted morning of Sunday, September 27th, 2009
➳ More posts about Roberto Bolaño
➳ More posts about Readings
➳ More posts about Translation
➳ More posts about Writing Projects
➳ More posts about Projects

There might be a confusion here between 'librar' and 'liberar'. There is some word play in Bolano's original. In the first use, librar would mean something like 'save' or 'keep' (writing a thousand words just to save one). On the second use, the translation would be closer to: in the diary "something else was at stake".

posted afternoon of September 27th, 2009 by Rick

Oh, thanks Rick! I was making the mistake you think I was making... will try again.

posted afternoon of September 27th, 2009 by Jeremy

Glad to help. I really liked the story; thanks for the link.

On keeping the pun, maybe something with 'grab' can be tried:

He said he understood that we poets would write a thousand words just to grab a single one. I replied that in my diary something else was up for grabs, and he laughed uncomprehendingly.

(I am not sure if it makes sense).

posted afternoon of September 27th, 2009 by Rick

That's a nice one -- "grab" doesn't sound very good in the first sentence, but I like "up for grabs" in the second sentence. "Uncomprehendingly" also sounds better than "without understanding".

posted afternoon of September 27th, 2009 by Jeremy

Respond:

Name:
E-mail:
(will not be displayed)
Link:
Remember info

Drop me a line! or, sign my Guestbook.
    •
Check out Ellen's writing at Patch.com.

What's of interest:

(Other links of interest at my Google+ page. It's recommended!)

Where to go from here...

Comix
Blogs
Music
Texts
Woodworking
Programming
South Orange
Friends and Family
readinsinglepost