The OF Blog: A few, brief impressions of the Spanish translation of Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A few, brief impressions of the Spanish translation of Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation

Even though I'm an occasional translator, I typically do not buy a translation of a work if I can understand it in its native idiom.  But on occasion, I will make exceptions.  Sometimes, it is because I want to make double-sure that I get every single use of figurative or symbolic language.  Other times, it is as simple as wanting to have a nicely-designed edition on one of my bookshelves, awaiting my whim as to when I should peruse it.

Then there are those cases in which I want to collect editions by particular authors, even for languages that I do not comprehend at all.  There are only a few for which I'll do this, as collection costs can be prohibitive:  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince (currently, I own just over 20 editions, 14 of which are print editions); the Bible (over a dozen translations, ancient and modern each); and now, the works of Jeff VanderMeer.  I've been reading Jeff's works for a little over ten years now and I generally buy any limited editions of his whenever they go on sale.  So when I saw the Planeta/Destino cover for the Spanish translation of the first volume of the Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation, I was fascinated for two reasons.  First, the cover is one of the better ones I've seen on any book in years in terms of capturing my attention and in seeming to correlate with what is inside the book.  Secondly, I was curious to see how the tone would translate across idioms.

This morning, I received my pre-ordered e-book edition of Aniquilación on iBooks.  I have spent the past hour or so carefully reading it, comparing it at times to the original US edition.  What I have noticed is that translator Isabel Margelí does a terrific job in capturing the feel of the opening scenes.  Even when she had to "break" the sentences in order to render it into equivalent Spanish, those changes felt natural and in tune with the flow of the narrative.  I have always enjoyed reading and listening to Spanish because of a perceived sonorous quality to its syntax and in reading Annihilation in translation, this quality meshes very well with the portentous atmosphere of the narrative.  Certainly, the first twenty e-pages (130 total on my iPad at its current setting) bode well for my enjoyment of this translation.


nikki @bookpunks said...

Holy crap, that cover is GORGEOUS. I can understand wanting to have it on the shelf. I tend to buy books I really love a second time in German myself. In part a collector's urge, but I also find examining the translations very fascinating.

Larry Nolen said...

I relented a bit and bought the e-edition, but I suspect in a year or two I'll import copies of all three books. The Polish covers for both Annihilation and Authority are also very good, as are the UK and Hungarian editions. VanderMeer's been blessed with some great covers for this trilogy :D

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