Translation Thursday

Javier Marías is one of those authors that I discovered completely by chance, while wandering around my Brooklyn neighborhood library. The book was A Heart So White, and I became and immediate evangelist for his work. I gushed about it to everyone I knew, and convinced my book club to read it. Since then, I’ve read one other book by him, Voyage Along the Horizon.

You should read this post about  him by Vendela Vida. I know it’s over ten years old. It’s still good. Here’s an excerpt:

“When I’d finished reading, I looked up the latitude (16° 65’N) and longitude (62° 21’W) of the island-kingdom of Redonda. I discovered that he inherited the title “Xavier I, King of Redonda,” and that he was the fourth in a line of writers to be king of this small island since 1880. I counted how many women in his books were named Luisa (four) and how many were named Berta (two) and tried to figure out if all the Luisas and Bertas were related, if they were intended to be the same woman (they’re not). I called New Directions and asked a friendly woman when his next novel would be coming out. She told me The Man of Feeling, which was published in Spain in 1986, would be published here in the summer of 2003. I read it in one sitting. Reading The Man of Feeling, which is a slender and accessible book, prompted me to reread Marías’s previous works with a new appreciation—and a newfound ability to dissect, or at least make a list of some of, his primary themes and preoccupations. That list:

  1. Women’s legs
  2. The untimely deaths of young women
  3. Prostitutes
  4. Dishonesty
  5. Translation and the inadequacy of language
  6. Memory
  7. Anticipation”

While I’m less personally interested in women’s legs, and the various crossings and uncrossings of which they are capable, I am keenly interested in themes 4-7. And he does describe legs very memorably.

I’m hoping that in the ten years since the article was published, more people have gotten to know Marías. If not, what are you waiting for? Pick up one of his books today, and you can have a review ready by next #translationthurs.

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