Feeling the Leeches


“The air was so damp that fish could have come in through the doors and swum out the window, floating through the atmosphere in the rooms. One morning Úrsula woke up feeling that she was reaching her end in a placid swoon and she had already asked them to take her to Father Antonio Isabel, even if it had to be on a stretcher, when Santa Sofía de la Piedad discovered that her back was paved with leeches.” pg. 340
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez 

En español: “La atmósfera era tan húmeda que los peces hubieran podido entrar por las puertas y salir por las ventanas, navegando en el aire de los oposentos. Una mañana despertó Úrsula sintiendo que se acababa en un soponcio de placidez, y ya había pedido que le llevaran al padre Antonio Isabel, aunque fuera en andas, cuando Santa Sofía de la Piedad descubrió que tenía la espalda adoquinada de sanguijuelas.”

I added the original Spanish text in order to point out some good bits lost in translation:
Author’s Word------------------------------Translator’s Choice
“húmeda” (humid)------------------------- “damp”
“navegando” (navigating)----------------“floating”

Changing “humid” to “damp” is not such a huge deal, but when “navigating” becomes “floating” the personification (and a lot of the magic) is lost. The English reader loses the lovely image of a bunch of fishes manning a mental boat through the air-seas of someone’s bedroom.

García Márquez, my favorite author in the entire universe, turns visual into a magical realist science that has the power to put me there… air-sailing with fishes… feeling leeches stuck to my back… experiencing each tale as he tells it. His writing is deliciously revealing, and it comes garnished with intelligent mind-licking humor. 

I’ve been enjoying PetoskeyStone’s 2 quotes, 1 visual so much that I invited myself to play ;-)
What about you, my Luvs, care to share a quote or 3 from your latest reading venture?
 Not the edition I’m rereading, but I’m enchanted by this cover. It whispers of Frida Kahlo’s work...

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16 comments:

  1. The word choices given got to show how important it is for an author to know how well another translates the atmosphere of the book. Such a vast difference between 'humid' & 'damp' as well!
    Urgh...paved with leeches..*shudder*.

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    1. I agree. And I said that turning "humid" into "damp" is not as bad because at least it relates some of the meaning, even if it leaves the soul behind. But "navigating" or even sailing is by no means "floating."

      In the past, I was surprised when some English readers would say, "I don't know what you find so special about that book." Then I read the translation, and understood what they meant. The English version is not horrible, it is actually pretty awesome, but it does not compared to the original. Before I die, I want to get proficient enough in Italian, French and Portuguese to see how those translations differ ;-)

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    2. Oh who knows, maybe I will do it after I'm dead lol

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    1. I've been loving One Hundred Years of Solitude since I was eleven-years-old. And the more I read it, the more I'm enchanted by the secrets it reveals ;-)

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  3. I've never read One Hundred Years of Solitude, but it's been on my "to read" list for years. Guess I should get around to it sometime, eh?

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    1. I have a few of those myself. Some Austen and some Dickens; I LOVE me some Dickens totally love, but Austen's long-winded narrative does strange things to my eyes. But I will be strong and read the rest of her books... sometime ;-)

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  4. I guess I've already commented about this book that I do love it!And my Mum as well, it was she who introduced me to it :) I was reading it when I came back home last summer, you know,this novel seems to be very homely to me, and I definitely connect it to my own home and parents.
    Well, perhaps I can't quote any line, however almost every word leaves a certain impression, the language wraps you up - it's like you are in the text. I don't know whether translation to Russian is good enough to convey the meanings of Spanish.You are right, Marquez has that unique talent of exaggeration, which penetrates humor of his book as well.
    Haha, it's just 10 am here and you've already made me to reflect on such deep topics...:))thanks!
    Blessings your side! Hope all is fine, as it's been long since you told about your house deals :)

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    1. You've described my feelings. One Hundred Years of Solitude takes me back to my woods, to the people who seem like archetypes but somehow managed to be individuals, too. And to the village where every grownup raised everyone else's children. And where magic is not weird. Oh, how I love this book, and how it is alive ;-)

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    2. :) Hope you are getting better. (I saw your FB update just now). I guess love does miracles, so believe in its power.

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    3. I'm believing quite a bit right now. My LOVE is snoring (I mean sleeping peaceful lol) next to me right now. I feel way better, thanks a bunch ;-)

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    4. sorry, for not an appropriate place for this comment, but have you heard of Sopor Aeternus and the ansamble of shadows?why I'm asking is because the band's leader is an example of some really dark life story..i was reading her interview yesterday and felt creepy... and by the way, she is a devotee of the cult of Jupiter...well, I thought it might be interesting for you.
      :)have a nice weekend!

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    5. I think you found the perfect spot to put this comment (I thought of the Circus in One Hundred Years of Solitude after seeing pictures of Sopor Aeternus and the Ensemble of Shadows). Scary and intriguing...

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  5. Whew...it took me a while to find this comment i left in your blog.glad you found it interesting :)
    you know your blog is perhaps the only I leave for dessert to read :) really enjoy all the discussions you raise.

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