Laura's Reviews > The Land at the End of the World

The Land at the End of the World by António Lobo Antunes
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's review
Jul 22, 11

did not like it

First things first: Antonio Lobo Antunes is AMAZING. My first exposure to him was late in my high school years, and I was HOOKED! **THAT SAID** This version of this is horrible! Margaret Costa, the translator, ruined his brilliantly vivid, often emotionally intense language, the kind that makes you get chills and sensations of tingling through your body and can likewise pacify you in your worst hour in delicately composed passages describing serene landscapes or blissful encounters.

Antunes' surgeon-level precision should never be confused with sterility, and sadly, having read another translation of this that perhaps had less word variation but most critically which retained its deep and moving word flow... this one made me cringe and yawn and forget that I was reading the same masterpiece, only BUTCHERED into a generic piece of courtroom-formal CRAP that dishonors Antunes the way you'd expect from a student translating for a final. She may have a few of his words more accurately placed, but in trying so desperately to convert his word mastery to proper, formal English, she forgets why we read non-academic works... while he does have a certain kind of scientific precision about him, the very reason bits of An Explanation of the Birds were reread by me so many times after finding it in a strange obscure bookstore on one of my travels (same place I found a signed first edition of Smoke and Mirrors, which I couldn't help but wonder "WHO GAVE THIS UP!!???" upon snatching)... In many ways, if I ever wrote a piece of fiction, his is the style I feel most at ease with, and he is certainly a master, able to elegantly describe the entire human experience with both rich, dense details and sweet, graceful broad brushstrokes, from abstract to microscopic untanglings of his characters...

The translation I originally read of this is no exception... so please, do yourself a huge service and find THAT version... I realize Margaret is considered an expert linguist, but being able to say the best match for this or that word is not enough. She KILLED his beautiful stylization. When I was fluent in Catalan and Spanish and could follow Portuguese with a dictionary by my side, I read his original script. A pity that we can't all simply engage fully in all languages of all great writers, as so many amazing works are dishonored when brought to our language, but I can vouch for his masterful structure and detail-rich imagery and want to cry seeing this edition, which may be many people's first exposure to him. I groaned as far as I could stand to endure it... which was about half way of a very short work. She makes it read like a high school work (in that, it was painful to follow, disjointed from phrase to phrase, never functioning as a single body of work), not that there aren't some seriously amazing works by youth, but she writes with such sterility compared to him that Google Translate would do him no worse a service.

Find the older translations. Maybe for some this will still have enough of him to truly enjoy, but as a reader of his works, it caused me nothing but pain.

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message 1: by DROPPING OUT (new)

DROPPING OUT Thanks for the heads-up. This is my first exposure to Lobo Antunes and need to compare her translation to the original. I need to find that earlier translation!

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