Nathan "N.R." Gaddis's Reviews > The Devil to Pay in the Backlands

The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by João Guimarães Rosa
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Learn the name Alison Entrekin. She is translating. Translating Grande Sertão: Veredas.

The excerpt ::
http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/pr...

What she says ::
"When in Hell, Embrace the Devil: On Recreating “Grande Sertão: Veredas” in English"
http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/di...

"Alison Entrekin is an Australian literary translator working from the Portuguese. Her translations include City of God by Paulo Lins, The Eternal Son by Cristovão Tezza, Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector, Budapest by Chico Buarque, and Blood-Drenched Beard by Daniel Galera. Her work has been shortlisted for a number of awards and she is a three-time finalist in the New South Wales Premier’s Translation Prize & PEN Medallion."




____________
Okay so and in The Borzoi Anthology of Latin American Literature, Volume 2 is an alternative translation of the They're Killing Our Ponies scene (page 280ff in the US edition). The editors of this volume are incorrect when they say (and Rabassa repeats the mistake in his memoir) it is "one of the episodes eliminated from the U.S. translation." But the mistake is one of those of the felix type because it allows us a glimpse behind the englishing of Taylor & Onis.

Credit where due : the Borzoi translation is made by Jack E. Tomlins.

It should be emphasized that the Borzoi editors say Guimarães is "beyond dispute Latin America's greatest novelist" [1977]. If you don't believe that because you believe everything is subjective, then, well, you probably don't read any of my gr=discourse.... And further, speaking of Guimarães's first book, Sagarana: A Cycle of Stories, "Widely admired among the 'happy few', it was totally rejected by others who found it too 'difficult'. Its publication marked the beginning of what has been called 'the Guimarães Roasa revolution'. After this book, it was impossible in Brazil to write stories as before." That's just other words for 'canonical'. Here's some more words from the Borzoi editors (1977, remember)
From that moment {publication of Sertao and Corpo de Baile} Guimarães was generally recognized as the greatest Brazilian novelist since Machado de Assis. If Machado radically transformed nineteenth-century narrative, Guimarães succeeded in completely revolutionizing the style and diction of twentieth-century narrative. Moving away from the realistic approach of the regionalists, and rejecting as well some of the more frivolous experiments of the Paulista Group, Guimarães rediscovered the baroque possibilities of the oral tale. In Grande Sertai, the entire narrative unfolds in a single endless monologue by the protagonist, Riobaldo, evoking in minutest detail various pivotal episodes of his youth. He is presumed to be talking to a silent, absorbed listener whom he apparently wishes to persuade or convince, and this need to persuade lends his account a persistent note of dramatic urgency. His narrative, however, is decidedly not realistic in either form or manner; for instead of adopting a conventional, colloquial style of speech and presenting events in a more or less orderly sequence (as would be characteristic, say, of a narrator in regionalist fiction), Riobaldo constantly deforms words to suit his mood or purpose, leaves sentences unfinished, and throughout makes continual detours, and twists and turns backward and forward. His ceaseless telling and retelling of essentially the same story, without ever quite giving away the key to the mystery he is unraveling, exerts a hypnotic effect on his listener (and reader). And the tale he tells has the scope and character of an epic.



so what I'm going to do is an A=B comparison of the trans'es. You decide which is which. [answer below in the spoilers]

First
"I'll bet they're killing our ponies!"
And the hell of it was, they were. The corral was full up with our mounts and the poor horses were trapped, hardy and blameless as they were; and they, the damned dogs, with no fear either of God or the law in their hearts, outdid themselves to torment and plunder--as if they were tearing our hearts from our bodies--firing into our ponies, to right and left! It made you sick to see such a sight. Bobbing up and down--somehow understanding, without knowing for sure, that the devil had been turned loose in their midst--the horses whirled crazily around and around, galloping in fits and starts. Some of them reared up on their hind legs and pawed the air with their front hoofs, and fell on top of one another, and tumbled in a whirling jumble. And some with their heads held high in the air beat the necks of others, shaking their stiff and prickly manes: they seemed no more than twisted, curved lines! Their whinnying came as it clutched at their hearts: a shrill, brief cry, if neighed out of rage; short also, but deep and hoarse, if neighed out of fear, like the shriek of a wildcat, blasted from flared nostrils. They spun madly about the enclosure, colliding with the stakes as they ran wild, kicking in frenzied welter. What we were seeing was like an infinity of wildly fluttering wings. They raised dust from the very stones! Then they began to fall flat on the ground, their legs widespread, holding up only their jaws or forelocks: their bodies rippled. They began to fall, nearly all of them, and finally all. those that were slow to die whinnied in pain. From some it was a piercing, snorted groan, almost as if they were speaking. From still others a constrained whine in the teeth, uttered with great difficulty. That whinny was not breathed out as the animal gave up its strength; it was squeezed out as the animal gasped for its final breath.
"Those damned bastards!"
[this will be getting rather long, so, ...continues in MyWritings ::
https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ]


Second
"Look, they are killing the horse!"
Damned if they weren't. The corral filled with our good horses, the poor things imprisoned there, all so healthy, they were not to blame, and those dogs, with neither fear of God nor justice in their hearts, were firing right and left into that living mass, to torture and sear our souls! What an appalling sight. Realizing without understanding that the devil was at work, the frantic horses galloped around, rearing and pawing and coming down with their front hoofs on the backs of others, stumbling, colliding, their heads and necks stretched, their manes stiffly flying: they were just a lot of writhing curves! They were whinnying, too--high, brief whinnies of anger, and whinnies of fear, short, hoarse, as when a wildcat snarls through wide-open nostrils. Round and around they went, bumping into the fence, kicking, scattering, panic stricken. They began falling, sprawled on the ground, spreading their legs, only their jaws or foreheads held upright, trembling. They were falling, nearly all, then all of them. Those slow to die were crying pain--a high snorting groan, some as if they were talking, others whickering through their teeth, struggling with their last breath, gasping, dying.
"Those devils from hell! The damned wretches!"
[this will be getting rather long, so, ...continues in MyWritings ::
https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/... ]


(view spoiler)
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Reading Progress

August 14, 2013 – Shelved
August 14, 2013 – Shelved as: the-value-of-a-dollar
August 14, 2013 – Shelved as: the-xyz-ulysses
September 29, 2013 – Shelved as: dollars-for-unearthing
June 1, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
June 6, 2016 – Started Reading
June 6, 2016 –
page 3
0.61% "Damn the translation issues ; this will be good."
June 6, 2016 –
page 34
6.88% "Yeah. Pretty damn good."
June 7, 2016 –
page 124
25.1% "Does this have a reputation yet as a Gay Classic? ala Moby-Dick?"
June 7, 2016 –
page 132
26.72% "Also, this is the way I like my First Person novels. No clue about why."
June 7, 2016 –
page 146
29.55% "And our narrator is a rapist."
June 11, 2016 –
page 400
80.97%
June 14, 2016 – Shelved as: 2016-gelesen
June 14, 2016 – Shelved as: portospanish-latinamerican
June 14, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-29 of 29 (29 new)

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Mark I've been on the prowl for years. Please let me know if you find a cache of these out there. Would love to read.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Mark B wrote: "I've been on the prowl for years. Please let me know if you find a cache of these out there. Would love to read."

thanks for highlighting this one, Mark ;; that constitutes strike three (yourself, BURIED BC, and J. Cohen's list of xyz-ulysses), meaning time to slot it up higher on the various schopping=lists. And apply for that loan .....

meanwhile, worldcat in FL :: http://www.worldcat.org/title/devil-t...


Mark Thanks, Nathan. Sure wish those (Public) Universities were a little more generous in their lending policies.

Thought it as good a time as any to tell you how much I admire and appreciate your work. You are a pure joy.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Mark B wrote: "Thought it as good a time as any to tell you how much I admire and appreciate your work. You are a pure joy. "

Much appreciated.

....any chance I might get a sentence or two response from you re: His Wife Leaves Him? I understand the two-stars you gave it, but as you may have seen, I'm just at the beginning of scratching my head about Dixon's books. Any input is helpful.


L.M.S. Rosa You all need to read the spiritual prequel to this novel: Euclide da Cunha's non-fiction epic reportage on the War of Canudos, "Rebellion in the Backlands."


message 6: by Cody (new)

Cody Glad to see you're enjoying it!


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Cody wrote: "Glad to see you're enjoying it!"

Yep. But it does feel just a bit strange, so similar as it is to our Own Wild West mythology. All this Men and Violence stuff. This Big Sky and Big Country stuff. Takes me back. [frankly, I'm not sure if this is some kind of Well=Honed Genre thing or if it's really the High Lit stuff (the latter obviously)]


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis L.M.S. wrote: "You all need to read the spiritual prequel to this novel: Euclide da Cunha's non-fiction epic reportage on the War of Canudos, "Rebellion in the Backlands.""

My belated thanks!


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis And I see that Sertao has been trans'd into half a dozen other languages. Anyone been looking into these? Are they in=print? Affordable? The price of the English is totally ridic.

As soon as the worldcat site is working, I intend to link to their list of libraries that carry a copy of this thing.


message 10: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick I've been following every single copy that has come up for sale these past few years. I finally snagged one earlier this year for $130 - literally the first I've seen under $200. If you ever see one under $200, buy it immediately. And depending on your price, you could probably sell it after you read it and even make a buck.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Nick wrote: "I've been following every single copy that has come up for sale these past few years. I finally snagged one earlier this year for $130 - literally the first I've seen under $200. If you ever see on..."

What do you make of the possibility of the price dropping when/if a new trans makes its way to publication?


message 12: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick It's possible the price will drop if a new translation hits, but you could be waiting another 50 years for one. Just think - even if you thought in 1980 that surely another translation would appear, and you were 35 then, you'd be over 70 now and not much closer to getting your hands on one. The point is, I can either spend $150 now for a copy and be happy with ANY translation, then potentially wait entirely too long for a superior version to come out. In either case, even if the price of my 1st translation is cut in half, the small price I'm out was probably well worth the admission. You can say the same thing for W&M - how many people have held off paying $80+ for a book that has yet to come out for $15. I understand not everyone is made of money, but clearly we know where certain priorities need to be!


message 13: by Mala (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mala @ NR: Since you don't use ebooks, I was wondering how much time it would've taken you to type all that out!
So you took the pics of the passages & then converted them to words? Cool.
I haven't compared the two examples yet, only skimmed them but this scene & the first attempted crossing of the desert still give me goosebumps!


message 14: by Nathan "N.R." (last edited Jun 27, 2016 08:43AM) (new) - added it

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Mala wrote: "@ NR: Since you don't use ebooks, I was wondering how much time it would've taken you to type all that out!
So you took the pics of the passages & then converted them to words? Cool.."


Either I need to learn to use the OCR properly or it was a waste of time. Typing is probably quicker than proofing the OCR. But neither did I want to just post pictures of the pages ; not too comfortable to read.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Nick wrote: "It's possible the price will drop if a new translation hits, but you could be waiting another 50 years for one. Just think - even if you thought in 1980 that surely another translation would appear..."

oh no but I do have a copy. Just asking the Investor's Question. And word is fairly optimistic that someone is actually commissioned and working on a new translation. But true, it may be a while. Just like with W&M -- being held up by the author taking his sweet time with the proofing.


message 16: by Cody (new)

Cody Nathan "N.R." wrote: "Nick wrote: "It's possible the price will drop if a new translation hits, but you could be waiting another 50 years for one. Just think - even if you thought in 1980 that surely another translation..."

The collector will always want the first edition for that merit alone, it being the first. I know I buy them and read better translations. Usually the visual art alone is compelling enough with any modern analogue to warrant their purchase. 'They just don't make 'em like that anymore.'


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Cody wrote: "The collector will always want the first edition for that merit alone, it being the first."

Yes true of course. But what happens to demand when the casual reader who wants to purchase/read any edition available is taken out of the equation? In cases like these, surely that bubble will pop! [which is perhaps giving bookdealers too much credit ; paying attention to something like real demand... but I'm curious to see how it plays out with W&M. eventually.]


message 18: by Cody (new)

Cody Nathan "N.R." wrote: "Cody wrote: "The collector will always want the first edition for that merit alone, it being the first."

Yes true of course. But what happens to demand when the casual reader who wants to purchase..."


In that case, you are right and it becomes solely the province of the collector. This book is rare in that it's basically this or nothing. In English, of course.


message 19: by Nick (last edited Jun 28, 2016 01:38PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Nathan "N.R." wrote: "but I'm curious to see how it plays out with W&M. eventually."

I don't expect W&M prices to drop all that much. For one, as Cody said, many people want the first edition, no matter what. And it's still the only way to get a hardcover copy. For many of us, paperback is a non-starter... as in, we would rather spend extreme price multiples to avoid that flimsy mess and bookshelf abomination.

Also, there simply aren't that many available. For MONTHS now, the cheapest copy has been $125. A few days ago, an "acceptable" copy hit ebay for $60 and literally sold in 15 minutes. How do I know? I made an offer (you can never have too many copies) and was sniped by someone who just paid ask, within minutes. I don't see this type of demand changing materially. If anything, I feel many will want both the hardcover and the new issue, using it as a "reading copy" for marginalia, etc. At least that's my plan.

Though, in full disclosure, Cody anticipates a cratering in W&M price. I simply don't buy that at all. I think $80+ is a reasonable assumption.


message 20: by Cody (new)

Cody I see a cratering to around the $100 mark, rather than the ridiculous $250 sellers are asking--and not getting--right now. I think stabilizing would be a better word.


message 21: by Nick (last edited Jun 28, 2016 01:44PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Cody wrote: This book is rare in that it's basically this or nothing. In English, of course.

Which makes it a bit difficult, in that if there's a vastly superior translation (for example: Mann and Woods), no one will even want the earlier edition, regardless of how "rare" it is. Don't believe me? Go and look at the Mann 1st editions. No one wants them, period. They don't sell at all - though I will say print numbers are several factors higher than Rosa.


message 22: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Cody wrote: "I see a cratering to around the $100 mark, rather than the ridiculous $250 sellers are asking--and not getting--right now. I think stabilizing would be a better word."

Maybe you'll finally get that Ultramarine copy that the rest of us have resting on the shelf.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Did I mention I got the 2nd printing of the hd of W&M for thirteen bucks plus bus=fare? ; )


message 24: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Nathan "N.R." wrote: "Did I mention I got the 2nd printing of the hd of W&M for thirteen bucks plus bus=fare? ; )"

Great deal! Cody got a second copy himself for something under $10 as well. I'm afraid those types of deals on W&M are few and far between though. Far better than the $60 I paid!


message 25: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick About your update... I have heard for a couple years that she's been rumored to be working on a new translation, though as she even says, funding seems to be an issue and it will take a long time to actually produce. I'm holding out hope for something in the next 5 years, but fully plan on reading the original translation first. It will be exciting to see the new life she gives it.


message 26: by Cody (new)

Cody Nick wrote: "Nathan "N.R." wrote: "Did I mention I got the 2nd printing of the hd of W&M for thirteen bucks plus bus=fare? ; )"

Great deal! Cody got a second copy himself for something under $10 as well. I'm a..."


It was $1. First edition HC. Almost died.


message 27: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala My attention was caught by the two translations, Nathan - thanks for posting them. There's something fascinating about seeing two versions of something and knowing neither is or can be the original. I start to speculate on what the original might be like to read, its powerful shape like a shadow behind the translations - and more distinguishable to me behind the first rather than the second. I'm very curious now about how Entrekine will translate this book, and if the shadow of the original will be even clearer...


Caroline Words Without Borders has announced that Instituto Itaú Cultural will fund the translation of Grande Sertão. World Literature Today alerted me to the WWB story, which you can read here:

http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/di...


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Caroline wrote: "Words Without Borders has announced that Instituto Itaú Cultural will fund the translation of Grande Sertão. World Literature Today alerted me to the WWB story, which you can read here:"

Yep! Darn good news!


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