History of the Bisayan People in the Philippine Islands, 1668, by Francisco Ignacio Alcina, S.J.

Reading the translation from the Spanish by Cantius J. Kobak, O.F.M. and Lucio Gutiérrez, O. P. (Manila: University of Santo Tomas Press, 2005)

Book III, Part One:

After God, Our Lord, the All-Prudent, Wise as well as Omnipotent and First Grand Artisan, had established the paradise of delights with such plenitude that there was no lack of even one single, imaginable licit one, in such great abundance and quantity that there was an excess of everything, He found it without a master . . .

 

Rosario Ferré: Her Island

Self is reading the last piece in Ferré’s book, On Destiny, Language, and Translation. As self has explained elsewhere, she decided to start this re-read with the last piece and work her way front. Nothing can match the genius of the title story, The Youngest Doll, which begins the collection, and self would rather work her way up to the good stuff.

She must have forgotten (honestly, it’s been at least two decades since she’s read Rosario Ferré) or mebbe it didn’t strike her as significant at the time, but Ferré is from Puerto Rico, and her primary subject is the class divisions between landowners and share workers, on an island where the main crop is sugar.

Self knows quite a bit about sugar, because that is her family’s crop, too. Maybe that is why she found Ferré. Yes, she found her.

It’s not as if Ferré is the easiest Latin American writer to read. Before getting to Ferré, self read Clarice Lispector, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Rosario Castellanos, Octavio Paz, Jorge Amado. But when she found Ferré, there was instant engagement.

To read is to engage, but when self found Ferré, she didn’t just engage, she engaged fiercely.

On to Ferré’s essay. She unpacks the process of translating her own novel, Maldito Amor, from Spanish to English.

The title of the novel “is also the title of a very famous danza written by Juan Morelli Campos, Puerto Rico’s most gifted composer in the nineteenth century, which describes in its verses the paradisiacal existence of the island’s bourgeoisie of the time . . . I decided to change the title altogether in my translation of the novel, substituting the much more specific Sweet Diamond Dust. The new title refers to the sugar produced by the De Lavalle family, but it also touches on the dangers of a sugar which, like diamond dust, poisons those who sweeten their lives with it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Poetry Thursday: Luis Palés Matos

Antille, steaming pasture
of freshly crushed cane syrup.
Constant activity of the sugar mill
Molasses Turkish bath.
White-linened aristocracy
skimming over life’s waves
on milk-curdled phrases
and mellifluous metaphors.
Stylized coast drafted
by languid palm trees.

— translated by Rosario Ferré

Luis Palés Matos was born on March 20, 1898, in Guayama, Puerto Rico, a small village with a predominantly black population.

Stay tuned.

Reading on the Fourth of July, 2019

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HOME: 4 July 2019

Today self finished Stephen Westaby’s Open Heart and began a re-read of the Rosario Ferré collection The Youngest Doll (University of Nebraska Press, 1991). Some pieces are memoir, some are nonfiction, some are magical realist.

  • Being a writer . . . one has to learn to live by letting go, by renouncing the reaching of this or that shore, to let oneself become the meeting place of both . . . In a way, all writing is a translation, a struggle to interpret the meaning of life, and in this sense the translator can be said to be a shaman, a person said to be deciphering conflicting human texts, searching for the final unity of meaning in speech.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Friday: Kristin Dimitrova

Self spent all morning in the Blue Room, reading poetry.

Photo on 5-9-19 at 7.11 PM

Lina’s Eyes

from Dimitrova’s collection A Visit to the Clockmaker (Southword Editions, 2005), translated from the Bulgarian by Gregory O’Donoghue

Lina, my blind colleague
always came to classes
with her mother.
They’d take the front seats
& while her mother jotted notes
Lina listened with a solemn face.
(I heard it was a medical mistake —
the nurse pushed the wrong button,
the technicians did not repair the laser?)
Once I dared meet her gaze,
peeped out of my eyes
& waved a signal lamp as
they do directing aeroplanes.
I saw just two blank windows.
Behind the masonry a prisoner
walked to & fro hoping to get
used to the darkness.

 

Favorite Characters (So Far) 2019

In self’s reading, it’s all about the characters. Here are her favorites from her most recent reads (doesn’t look like she’s going to make her Goodreads Reading Challenge this year, she’s been so poky — hanging on to her translations, her intricate classic novels, her favorite book companions).

From Current Read, The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry:

CORA SEABORNE. Joanna Ransome. Luke Garrett. Naomi Banks.

Swann’s Way and Anna Karenina are books she’s read before, but her focus shifted surprisingly on second reading.

From Swann’s Way (the Lydia Davis translation), by Marcel Proust:

The narrator. Swann, always and forever.

From Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy:

DOLLY. Karenin. Kitty. Kitty’s father, Prince Alexander Dmitrievich. Seryozha. Vronsky.

It’s strange, self feels no sympathy whatsoever for Anna Karenina. Not on this re-read. Anna seems less like a real woman and more like a construct used by Tolstoy to make a point. Self hated her from the moment she advised Dolly to stick with her faithless, profligate husband. Was crowing for her fall. Wished Dolly were given a more redemptive story arc.

The character who exhibits the most growth in Anna Karenina is, in self’s humble opinion, Karenin. Because he falls in love with his wife’s child with another man. That’s quite an arc! When he shows up regularly at the baby’s nursery, and the governesses don’t know what to make of it? WAAAAH!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Definitely the Sentence of the Day

“I do find it absurd that a man of his intelligence should suffer over a person of that sort, who isn’t even interesting — because they say she’s an idiot,” she added with the wisdom of people not in love who believe a man of sense should be unhappy only over a person who is worth it, which is rather like being surprised that anyone should condescend to suffer from cholera because of so small a creature as the comma bacillus.

Swann’s Way

That was hilarious.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenge: BLUE AND YELLOW

This week, Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenge is BLUE AND YELLOW.

As it’s a grey and chilly morning where self is, the Blue and Yellow will come from her archives.

Here’s a picture she took in Heathrow, December 2018. Somewhat blue and yellow:

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The Oceania Exhibit at the Royal Academy of Art in London. The yellow is in the gilt frames on the wall.

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Finally, sign on a sidewalk in front of Blackwell’s bookstore in Cambridge, England. Blue and Yellow, upper right-hand corner:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Swann in Love: The Wearing of Monocles

  • The general’s monocle, stuck between his eyelids like a shell splinter in his vulgar, scarred, overbearing face, in the middle of a forehead which it blinded like the Cyclops’ single eye, appeared to Swann like a monstrous wound that might have been glorious to receive, but was indecent to show off; whereas the one that M. de Bréauté added, as a badge of festivity, to the pearl-gray gloves, the opera hat, and the white tie, and substituted for the familiar lorgnette (as Swann himself did) for going out in society, bore, glued to its other side, like a natural history specimen under a microscope, an infinitesimal gaze teeming with friendliness that smiled constantly at the loftiness of the ceilings, the beauty of the preparations, the interest of the programs, and the excellence of the refreshments.

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*****

  • The Marquis de Forestelle’s monocle was miniscule, had no border, and, requiring a constant painful clenching of the eye, where it was encrusted like a superfluous cartilage whose presence was inexplicable and whose material was exquisite, gave the Marquis’s face a melancholy delicacy, and made women think he was capable of great sorrows in love. But that of M. de Saint-Candé, surrounded by a gigantic ring, like Saturn, was the center of gravity of a face which regulated itself at each moment in relation to it, a face whose quivering red nose and thick-lipped sarcastic mouth attempted by their grimaces to equal the unceasing salvos of wit sparkling from the disk of glass, and saw itself preferred to the handsomest eyes in the world by snobbish and depraved young women in whom it inspired dreams of artificial charms and a refinement of voluptuousness . . .

How does one keep that glass firmly attached to one’s face, self wonders?

Stay tuned.

SWANN IN LOVE: Knowing . . .

Knowing a thing does not always allow us to prevent it, but at least the things we know, we hold, if not in our hands, at any rate in our minds, where we can arrange them as we like, which gives us the illusion of a sort of power over them.

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The heartbreak of Odette! Who in the two years that Swann was in love with her, tried as hard as she could to protect her heart.

The nobility of her doomed effort.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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