The OF Blog: I love this beginning!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I love this beginning!

This is my rough translation of the first three paragraphs to Carlos Fuentes' 2008 novel, La voluntad y la fortuna:

De noche, el mar y el cielo son uno solo y hasta la tierra se confunde con la oscura inmensidad que lo envuelve todo. No hay resquicios. No hay cortes. No hay separaciones. La noche es la mejor representación de la infinitud del universo. Nos hace creer que nada tiene principio y nada, fin. Sobre todo si (como sucede esta noche) no hay estrellas.

Aparecen las primeras luces y la separación se inicia. El océano se retira a su propria geografía, un velo de agua que oculta las montañas, los valles, los cañones marinos. El fondo del mar es una cámara de ecos que jamás llegan hasta nosotros, y menos hasta mí, esta madrugada.

Sé que el día va a derrotar esta illusión. Y si ya nunca más amaneciese, ¿entonces, qué? Entonces creeré que el mar se ha robado mi figura.

My translation:

At night, the sea and the sky are one and on land they are confused with the dark immenseness that envelops all. There are no gaps. There are no breaks (cuts). There are no separations. Night is the best representation of the universe's infinity. It makes us believe that nothing has a beginning and nothing, an end. Especially if (as happens this night) there are no stars.

The first lights appear and the separation begins. The ocean retires to its own geography, a veil of water that hides the mountains, the valleys, the marine canyons. The ocean floor is a chamber of echos that never reach us, and even less to me, this morning.

I know that day defeats this illusion. And if it dawns nevermore, then what? Then I will believe that the sea itself has stolen my figure.
This intro hooked me tonight. A little over 100 pages into this 550 page novel. So far, the story has more than lived up to the promise of the introduction listed above. Fuentes is a damn good writer. I may have to make more time for him this weekend than I had thought. Anyone else here familiar with his work? I've read four books by him (two novels, a story collection, and a social commentary) before and all of them were outstanding. Just curious to know if there are other Fuentes fans here.


S.M.D. said...

I've never read his work, but that translation got me very curious. I hope I can find some of his work in translation. Might be an interesting read!

Larry said...

Fuentes is readily available in English translation; he's part of the holy trinity of Boom Generation Writers (along with Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa). The Death of Artemio Cruz is a very good starting point. Also, The Old Gringo is another strong novel of his.

So I guess despite the couple of rough patches I had with it, that my translation captured enough of the original's feel to be enticing?

S.M.D. said...

It grabbed me, so yes!

Larry said...

Sweet! :D And if I had to guess, this will be available in English in late 2009/2010.

ediFanoB said...

I understand why you love this beginning.

There is something within you can't escape from.

Never read his work.

Would you be so kind as to give a blurb about the content.

Daniel Ausema said...

I read the play Ceremonias del alba, (according to Wiki there's a novel version of the same story...or at least by the same name). It's a powerful play about Mexico City at the time of the conquistadores (and at another level about the student riots that were happening at the time he wrote it). I also remember the short story "Chac Mol," which I read for the same class--it's a great horror story that I'd definitely recommend even to those who prefer to stay within the speculative genre(s). I suspect I read others as well, or at least excerpts for that class. I can remember at least discussing Cristobal Nonato.

So while I haven't read a lot of his work, I would say he's an author I've enjoyed at times. I've had his Iñez, which isn't even listed in the Wiki entry, on my to-read list for a while but haven't gotten around to it.

Larry said...

So far, 340 pages into this 552 page book, it is excellent and very surprising in places (Fuentes is about 80 and he's quoting Justin Timberlake?!?!?!?). The flow is excellent and the story is a multi-layered approach towards not just Mexico's history, but also Latin American literature (he even references his own work in the third person) and other cultural developments of the past decade or so. I'll have more to say when I do my essay on 2008 Spanish-language releases.

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