Julio Cortazar, A Novelist Essay

1551 words - 6 pages

Julio Cortázar is a famous novelist from Argentina. He was born August 26, 1914 in Brussels, Belgium and died February 12, 1984 at the age of 70 years young. Otherness is the foundation of translation in almost every sense of the word. The translator must become the author's other, his Doppelganger, what Julio Cortázar called his paredros, using a Greek term for an old Egyptian concept of otherness. At the same time the translator must turn the author into another possibility of his own existence. The writer stays himself but is now writing in another language and therefore at least partially in another culture. Also, there will be more than one translation of a classic, meaning that even in its otherness the classic has other possibilities. Mandelbaum, Singleton, Sayers, and Ciardi are all partially Dante in that they are his others, yet they are not clones, not even identical twins, and usually not even close enough to be fraternal ones. Theirs is anotherness within the same language, different variations on the same theme as it were.

As I reflect on my origins and subsequent life I see that although I like to say that my entry into the craft of translation was purely serendipitous, in truth I had been tutored for it by that same serendipity, which now looks remarkably like fate, even one that John Calvin could accept. I can go back to the conscious other and my yearning for it during my boyhood in New Hampshire, north of Hanover, where Pinneo Hill rises up off Lyme Road (or the Lyme Road, as old-timers called it, making it more definite and descriptive and less of a name). When I would go up into the pasture, where there was a clearing with a fine birch grove in the middle and an outcropping left by the big glacier, from where one had a commanding view of quite a distance, I would sit and contemplate the Vermont side of the Connecticut River. Vermont and New Hampshire are called the Twin States, and on the map they do look like a sort of yin and yang. Long before I became aware of the reciprocal differences of the latter pair, I was quite sure of the differences between Vermont and New Hampshire. Across the way was that proverbial other mountain that the bear sees when he goes over the one at hand; like him, I was intrigued as to what lay beyond. At that age of six or seven or even younger, however, what marked Vermont as different and attractive was the Central Vermont right-of-way that followed along by the river. I wanted to live in Vermont so I could stand by the tracks and watch the trains go by from close up or put a pin down to have it turned into a miniature sword. From my side the best I could do was count the cars on long freights and with the aid of my father's fine binoculars actually see, from a certain angle, the open fire door as the fireman shoveled in more coal. Living on the dividing river gave me a strong sense of frontiers.

More evident an influence of otherness, however, was the fact that we were a displaced...

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