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Preamble to the instructions on how to wind a watch (Julio Cortázar)
Thread poster: Aurora Humarán
Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 14:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 12, 2004

Preamble to the instructions on how to wind a watch

Think of this: when they present you with a watch, they are gifting you with a tiny flowering hell, a wreath of roses, a dungeon of air. They aren't simply wishing the watch on you, and many more, and we hope it will last you, it's a good grand, Swiss, seventeen rubies; they aren't just giving you this minute stonecutter which will bind you by the wrist and walk along with you. They are giving you - they don't know it, it's terrible that they don't know it - they are gifting you with a new fragile and precarious piece of yourself, something that's yours but not a part of your body, that you have to strap to your body like your belt, like a tiny, furious bit of something hanging onto your wrist. They gift you with the job of having to wind it every day, an obligation to wind it, so that it goes on being a watch, they gift you with the obsession of looking into jewelry-shop windows to check the exact time, check the radio announcer, check the telephone service. They give you the gift of fear, someone will steal it from you, it'll fall on the street and get broken. They give you the gift of your trademark and the assurance that it's a trademark better than others, they gift you with the impulse to compare your watch with other watches. They aren't giving you a watch, you are the gift, they are giving you yourself for the watch's birthday.




For those of you who have never 'met' the author:
Julio Cortázar was an Argentine writer. He was born in Brussels on August 26, 1914 and died in 1984 in France. This jewel is from Cronopios and Famas and was translated by Paul Blackburn. Apart from being a GREAT writer, Julio was an excellent translator.

Have a nice week!
Aurora



[Edited at 2004-12-12 21:41]


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 11:20
German to English
Preamble to the instructions on how to wind a watch (Julio Cortázar) Dec 12, 2004

Thank you for sharing this with us, Aurora. I don't know how accurately the translator has rendered this passage from the Spanish, but I can see that Paul Blackburn has produced a wonderful piece of writing.

Cheers, Kim


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 14:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Kim!!! Dec 12, 2004

Hello my friend! How's life? ¡Cuánto tiempo sin hablar!

Kim, I don't know what other English>Spanish translators think, in my opinion, this is a very VERY good translation, the one that such a piece of art deserves. In particular, I love the way in which our colleague handled the very first sentence which, somehow, summarizes his 'conclusion' about what a watch is.
Au


Here goes the original.


Preámbulo a las instrucciones para dar cuerda al reloj

Piensa en esto: cuando te regalan un reloj te regalan un pequeño infierno florido, una cadena de rosas, un calabozo de aire. No te dan solamente el reloj, que los cumplas muy felices y esperamos que te dure porque es de buena marca, suizo con áncora de rubíes; no te regalan solamente ese menudo picapedrero que te atarás a la muñeca y pasearás contigo. Te regalan —no lo saben, lo terrible es que no lo saben—, te regalan un nuevo pedazo frágil y precario de tí mismo, algo que es tuyo pero no es tu cuerpo, que hay que atar a tu cuerpo con su correa como un bracito desesperado colgándose de tu muñeca. Te regalan la necesidad de darle cuerda todos los días, la obligación de darle cuerda para que siga siendo un reloj; te regalan la obsesión de atender a la hora exacta en las vitrinas de las joyerías, en el anuncio por la radio, en el servicio telefónico. Te regalan el miedo de perderlo, de que te lo roben, de que se te caiga al suelo y se rompa. Te regalan su marca, y la seguridad de que es una marca mejor que las otras, te regalan la tendencia de comparar tu reloj con los demás relojes. No te regalan un reloj, tú eres el regalado, a ti te ofrecen para el cumpleaños del reloj.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 11:20
German to English
A little analysis of the piece Dec 13, 2004

Aurora Humarán wrote:

Kim, I don't know what other English>Spanish translators think, in my opinion, this is a very VERY good translation, the one that such a piece of art deserves. In particular, I love the way in which our colleague handled the very first sentence which, somehow, summarizes his 'conclusion' about what a watch is.



Hello my friend! Long time, no talk!

This piece of writing was a pleasure to read for many reasons. One thing that comes to mind is Paul Blackburn's diction: simple, mostly short words, most of them of Anglo-Saxon origin as opposed to Latin.

In "The Elements of Style," William Strunk/E.B. White write: "Avoid fancy words. Avoid the elaborate, the pretentious, the coy, and the cute. Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready and able. Anglo-Saxon is a livelier tongue than Latin, so use Anglo-Saxon words. In this, as in so many matters pertaining to style, one's ear must be one's guide: 'gut' is a lustier noun than 'intestine', but the two words are not interchangeable, because 'gut' is often inappropriate, being too coarse for the context.

Anglo-Saxon words: think, this, when, they, watch, gift, tiny, hell, wreath, wish, more, wrist, walk, along, stonecutter, something, hanging, strap, body, fear, broken

Latin: present, flower, rose, dungeon, air, fragile, precarious, furious, service, assurance

Of course, when Strunk and White say "Anglo-Saxon is a livelier tongue than Latin" they are referring strictly to writing in English and not to the Romance languages. And their rule isn't something that applies to all good writing in English, but is a good general rule of thumb.



[Edited at 2004-12-13 00:31]

[Edited at 2004-12-13 02:47]


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A Hayes
Australia
Local time: 03:20
Cortázar in English Dec 13, 2004

Nice! Thank you for this thread, guys... or should i say, cronopio addicts

For those interested in reading an analysis of two English translations of ‘Pesadillas’, a short story by Julio Cortázar, you can visit, http://www.translationsabh.com/html/resources.html Here you will find (under the heading, ‘On Translation’) a sample of a paper I’ve written on the subject. I’ll be happy to email the full paper to anyone interested.

Cheers


[Edited at 2004-12-13 04:07]


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 11:20
German to English
Julio Cortázar Dec 13, 2004

ABH wrote:

For those interested in reading an analysis of two English translations of ‘Pesadillas’, a short story by Julio Cortázar, you can visit, http://www.translationsabh.com/html/resources.html Here you will find (under the heading, ‘On Translation’) a sample of a paper I’ve written on the subject. I’ll be happy to email the full paper to anyone interested.


Munchkin? Or am I mistaken? In any case, you did a fine job on the subject, I must say. I really liked this part of Aurora's piece:

"They aren't simply wishing the watch on you, and many more, and we hope it will last you, it's a good grand, Swiss, seventeen rubies; they aren't just giving you this minute stonecutter which will bind you by the wrist and walk along with you."

Especially, the sudden shift from 'they' to 'we' in "and we hope it will last you ..." Is this typical of Julio Cortázar as well? It's somewhat of a stream of conscious approach.

Cheers, ABH!


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 14:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Informal bla bla bla Dec 13, 2004

Kim Metzger wrote:

"They aren't simply wishing the watch on you, and many more, and we hope it will last you, it's a good grand, Swiss, seventeen rubies; they aren't just giving you this minute stonecutter which will bind you by the wrist and walk along with you."

Especially, the sudden shift from 'they' to 'we' in "and we hope it will last you ..." Is this typical of Julio Cortázar as well? It's somewhat of a stream of conscious approach.



I think the translator did a great job also here, in the shift you mention, Kim, which introduces a sentences of the "and this and that and bla bla bla..." type. Sure, this is Cortázar holding our hand to lead us wherever he wants.

Au


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 14:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Please! Dec 13, 2004

ABH wrote:

I’ll be happy to email the full paper to anyone interested.

Cheers



A copy to Buenos Aires, will you? aurora@alephtranslations.com.

And, I also have the same question Kim has...is that YOU Munchkin?


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A Hayes
Australia
Local time: 03:20
spot on! Dec 13, 2004

yes, it's me... The Munchkin! Maybe i should change my name back...

i'm in deadline hell, so i shall return after job finished

will email you my paper then too.


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Monica Nehr
Local time: 14:20
Portuguese to Spanish
+ ...
con este cuento corté relaciones con los relojes Dec 13, 2004

Preámbulo a las instrucciones para dar cuerda al reloj

Piensa en esto: cuando te regalan un reloj te regalan un pequeño infierno florido, una cadena de rosas, un calabozo de aire. No te dan solamente el reloj, que los cumplas muy felices y esperamos que te dure porque es de buena marca, suizo con áncora de rubíes; no te regalan solamente ese menudo picapedrero que te atarás a la muñeca y pasearás contigo. Te regalan —no lo saben, lo terrible es que no lo saben—, te regalan un nuevo pedazo frágil y precario de tí mismo, algo que es tuyo pero no es tu cuerpo, que hay que atar a tu cuerpo con su correa como un bracito desesperado colgándose de tu muñeca. Te regalan la necesidad de darle cuerda todos los días, la obligación de darle cuerda para que siga siendo un reloj; te regalan la obsesión de atender a la hora exacta en las vitrinas de las joyerías, en el anuncio por la radio, en el servicio telefónico. Te regalan el miedo de perderlo, de que te lo roben, de que se te caiga al suelo y se rompa. Te regalan su marca, y la seguridad de que es una marca mejor que las otras, te regalan la tendencia de comparar tu reloj con los demás relojes. No te regalan un reloj, tú eres el regalado, a ti te ofrecen para el cumpleaños del reloj.
[/quote]

fue después de esta lectura que con lo poco que me gustaban los relojes me di cuenta que sí eran una manitos atadas a mi cuerpo y nunca más usé uno
y ya van años de esto
gracias por el cuento y por el recuerdo


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A Hayes
Australia
Local time: 03:20
Thanks, Kim Dec 15, 2004

[quote]Kim Metzger wrote:

ABH wrote:

Munchkin? Or am I mistaken? In any case, you did a fine job on the subject, I must say.

the sudden shift from 'they' to 'we' in "and we hope it will last you ..." Is this typical of Julio Cortázar as well? It's somewhat of a stream of conscious approach.

Cheers, ABH!





yes, this is typical of JC! i think i mention this somewhere in my paper, too.

Cheers!

P.S. Aurora, I emailed you my paper just then. Let me know if you don't get it adn i'll try again.


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 14:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Your document is in Buenos Aires Dec 15, 2004

Yes, Ale, thank you so much. I got it.

This morning I had my last exam (Normativa...) so I will have more time to 'enjoy' your thoughts on Cortázar.

Au

[Edited at 2004-12-15 17:32]


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Terry Gilman  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:20
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Another fan Dec 15, 2004

Thank you, Aurora, for posting this!

Blackburn's translation was my first encounter with Cortázar. It must have been in the 70s because I still have the mimeographed copy I made for a summer school remedial English class - mainly 12-year-old boys - in my important papers file. They were appropriately fascinated by the watch morphing into a monster. Later, I wanted to do a Kafka/Cortázar comparison around the simplicity and intensity of the language and ex pat experience, but other things distracted me.

AHB, I second Kim. Great writing, translations, footnotes!
The first footnote especially brought back a rush of nice memories, associated with Serrat's version of Mario Benedetti's poem "Contar conmigo," (though I don't pretend to have a nuanced understanding of Spanish).
I will send you an e-mail, because I would very much enjoy reading the whole paper.

All the best,
Terry


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 14:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
After the Preamble... Dec 15, 2004

Instructions on how to wind a watch

Death stands there in the background, but don't be afraid. Hold the watch down with one hand, take the stem in two fingers, and rotate it smoothly. Now another installment of time opens, trees spread their leaves, boats run races, like a fan time continues filling with itself, and from that burgeon the air, the breezes of earth, the shadow of a woman, the sweet smell of bread.

What did you expect, what more do you want? Quickly strap it to your wrist, let it tick away in freedom, imitate it greedily. Fear will rust all the rubies, everything that could happen to it and was forgotten is about to corrode the watch's veins, cankering the cold blood and its tiny rubies. And death is there in the background, we must run to arrive beforehand and understand it's already unimportant.

Julio Cortázar


I have highlighted some parts, the (most) unsettling ones...

Au

ps: unfortunately I don't know who the translator is.

[Edited at 2004-12-15 19:07]


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:20
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Stops Dec 18, 2004

Does anyone know of a blurb, I think by Cortazar, that is entitled something like "Como subir una escalera"?

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