sábado, 14 de agosto de 2010

Don Quijote de la Mancha #3


Después que don Quijote hubo bien satisfecho su estómago, tomó un puño de bellotas en la mano, y, mirándolas atentamente, soltó la voz a semejantes razones:
--Dichosa edad y siglos dichosos aquellos a quien los antiguos pusieron nombre de dorados, y no porque en ellos el oro, que en esta nuestra edad de hierro tanto se estima, se alcanzase en aquella venturosa sin fatiga alguna, sino porque entonces los que en ella vivían ignoraban estas dos palabras de tuyo y mío...
(Don Quixote, I, XI, 104)

Aunque los cinco capítulos anteriores de Don Quijote de la Mancha se parecieron a una fiesta postmodernista en lo que refiere a la escritura, los capítulos XI a XV subrayan los discursos de los personajes.  Al mirar la gran cantidad de bellotas sobre la mesa de los cabreros, por ejemplo, don Quijote lanza una oración inesperada que contrasta las virtudes de la Edad de Oro con la avaricia del presente (véase el principio de la oración arriba).  Más tarde, él hace otro discurso largo al responder a la pregunta de "qué era la ocasión que movía a andar armado de aquella manera por tierra tan pacifica" (I, XIII, 117).  Y don Quijote no es el único personaje que perora en esta manera: hay diatribas hechas contra la guapísima pastora Marcela, acusada de ser culpable del suicidio de un pastor enamorado de ella, y una defensa elocuente por parte de la bella sí misma.

Además de estos discursos, se nota una variedad extraordinaria de géneros (las canciones, los relatos, y la poesía) insertada dentro del hilo narrativo como si estos capítulos fueran homenajes a las "artes del habla" en general.  Luego de corregir repetidas veces la pronunciación de un cabrero que le cuenta la triste historia de Grisóstomo y Marcela, por ejemplo, don Quijote lo hace un piropo al hombre por contar un cuento que "es muy bueno" y por narrarlo con un estilo "con muy buena gracia" (I, XII, 113).  Dada esta énfasis sobre el arte de narrar en estos capítulos,  no es sorprendente descubrir que varios juegos de palabras acompañan a las oraciones; de hecho, uno de mis momentos favoritos tiene que ver con la arenga donde don Quijote habla del "discurso de su vida" (I, XIII, 119) en un discurso sobre su vida como caballero andante.  Y en otra parte, hay un ejemplo absolutamente espléndido de la estrategias retóricas de don Quijote (un tal Vivaldo menciona que ha leído algo en Amadís de Gaula que contradice la perspectiva de DQ; DQ subitamente responde, "Señor, una golondrina no hace verano..." [120]*.  Todo esto más una segunda imagen de la literatura y la hoguera al entierro del pastor Grisóstomo con su poesía amorosa.

Al reconocer el hecho de que ya no he dicho nada sobre el humor que se encuentra en todas partes de estos cinco capítulos, les dejo con una descripcón de la "dama" de don Quijote, dada como respuesta a ese "amigo de diversiones" Vivaldo, que quiere saber algo de "el nombre, patria, calidad y hermosura" de la mujer (I, XIII, 121).

Aquí dio un gran suspiro don Quijote, y dijo:
--Yo no podré afirmar si la dulce mi enemiga gusta, o no, de que el mundo sepa que yo la sirvo; sólo sé decir, respondiendo a lo que con tanto comedimiento se me pide, que su nombre es Dulcinea; su patria, el Toboso, un lugar de la Mancha; su calidad, por lo menos, ha de ser princesa, pues es reina y señora mía; su hermosura, sobrehumana, pues en ella se vienen a hacer verdaderos todos los imposibles y quiméricos atributos de belleza que los poetas dan a sus damas; que sus cabellos son oro, su frente campos elíseos, sus cejas arcos del cielo, sus ojos soles, sus mejillas rosas, sus labios corales, perlas sus dientes, alabastro su cuello, mármol su pecho, marfil sus manos, su blancura nieve, y las partes que a la vista humana encubrió la honestidad son tales, según yo pienso y entiendo, que sólo la discreta consideración puede encarecerlas, y no comparlas".

*Coincidencias de la lectura: Luego de mencionar la frase sobre la golondrina pero antes de publicarlo, encontré la misma expresión en mi lectura de El cautivo de Proust esta noche.  ¿Alguien sabe si Cervantes inventó la frase o si es una mera expresión proverbial?  ¡Qué curioso!
*
After Don Quixote had satisfied his stomach, he picked up a handful of acorns, and, regarding them attentively, he began to speak these words:
"Fortunate the age and fortunate the times called golden by the ancients, and not because gold, which in this our age of iron is so highly esteemed, could be found then with no effort, but because those who lived in that time did not know the two words thine and mine."
(Don Quixote, I, XI, 76 [translated by Edith Grossman along with all other translations below except where noted])

Although the five previous chapters in Don Quixote of La Mancha were very much a postmodernist party as far as the writing was concerned, chapters 11 through 15 highlight the characters' speeches instead.  On taking note of the great quantity of acorns amassed atop the goatherds' table, for example, Don Quixote launches into an unexpected harangue that contrasts the virtues of the Golden Age with the greed of the present day (see the start of the speech above).  Later on, he makes another long speech in response to a question about why he was "going about armed in that manner when the land was so peaceful" (I, XIII, 87).  And Don Quixote isn't the only character making all these speeches either--diatribes against the bewitchingly beautiful shepherdess Marcela are put forth, accusing her of being guilty of causing the suicide of a shepherd who had fallen in love with her, to which Marcela herself makes an eloquent defense in turn.

In addition to the speeches, one notes an extraordinary variety of genres (songs, stories, poetry) embedded in the narrative thread as if the chapters in question were a homage to the "speech arts" in general.  After repeatedly correcting the pronunciation of a goatherd busy relating the sad story of Grisóstomo and Marcela to him, for example, Don Quixote compliments the man for telling a story that "is very good" and for "tell[ing] it with a good deal of grace" (I, XII, 84).  Given the emphasis on the art of narration in these chapters, it shouldn't be a surprise to learn that all kinds of wordplay accompany the speeches; in fact, one of my favorite moments has to do with the harangue Don Quixote makes about "the (dis)course of his life" [my translation] in a discourse about his life as a knight errant [note: see I, XIII, 89 in the Grossman translation and look for the line that talks about knights errants and the misfortunes they encounter "in the course of their lives"; there's actually a pun in Spanish that Grossman either overlooked or avoided in that discurso can mean speech, discourse, or a passage of time].  Elsewhere, there's an absolutely splendid example of one of Don Quixote's rhetorical strategies (a guy named Vivaldo mentions that he read something in Amadís of Gaul that contradicts DQ's opinion; DQ instantly responds, "Señor, one swallow does not a summer make" [90]).*  All this plus a second pairing of literature and the funeral pyre in the scene where the shepherd Grisóstomo's laid to rest alongside the burning embers of his love poetry!

In recognition of the fact that I still haven't said anything about the ubiquitous humor to be found in these chapters, I'll leave you all with this description of Don Quixote's "lady," provided in response to the fun-loving Vivaldo's request to learn something about her "name," "kingdom," "condition," and "beauty" (I, XIII, 90-91).

Whereupon Don Quixote heaved a great sigh and said:
"I cannot declare whether my sweet enemy would be pleased or not if the world were to know that I serve her; I can only state, responding to what you so courteously ask, that her name is Dulcinea, her kingdom, Toboso, which is in La Mancha, her condition must be that of princess, at the very least, for she is my queen and lady, and her beauty is supernatural, for in it one finds the reality of all the impossible and chimerical aspects of beauty which poets attribute to their ladies: her tresses are gold, her forehead Elysian fields, her eyebrows the arches of heaven, her eyes suns, her cheeks roses, her lips coral, her teeth pearls, her neck alabaster, her bosom marble, her hands ivory, her skin white as snow, and the parts that modesty hides from human eyes are such, or so I believe and understand, that the most discerning consideration can only praise them but not compare them."

*Random reading coincidences:  After transcribing that line about the swallow but before publishing this post, I came up across the exact same expression in my reading of Proust's The Captive tonight.  Does anyone out there know if Cervantes invented the phrase or if it's just a proverbal expression or what?  Weird!

5 comentarios:

  1. Richard, that’s wonderful observation on speech plays & explanation of the discurso pun. I looked it up in my version and it was rendered in the same words [“in the course of their lives”].

    I guess the book is teeming with these that surely translation can’t always duplicate. Still, what was successfully captured are fun Don Q swordplays - I mean, wordplays.

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  2. The quotation is by Aristotle (384 BC–322 BC); in full, it reads: “One swallow does not a summer make, neither does one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”

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  3. *Rise: While "in the course of their lives" is entirely accurate, it misses a pun that I think is at least illuminating if not exactly crucial (esp. given the fact that DQ and the narrator will later play around with the sense of "the book of life" topos in relation to DQ's own life). Anyhow, glad you enjoyed the digression and please keep your own DQ puns coming, my friend!

    *Jill: Thanks so much for that little informational nugget--with a few well-placed keystrokes, you've instantly done so much to rehabilitate Aristotle's reputation that has required years in the teeth-gnashing making with me!

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  4. I find it really interesting to read your comments about the missed pun from the Spanish to the English translation. Translation has been a lot on my mind lately, and the difficulties thereof. It's easy to assume that novels, or prose, are easier to translate than poetry, but this one line alone shows that that's not necessarily so! Fascinating.

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  5. *Amanda: Thanks for the kind words. Oddly enough given that I've only been consulting Grossman for translation advice for quotes I've picked out so far, I've already discovered another missed pun/potential translation gaffe by her. Not sure that this says anything about her work as a whole, but I'm beginning to get suspicious, I'm afraid! P.S. Good points you make about translation difficulties in all genres...

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