to a south american story Words: to a south american story

By droopy on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 01:49 am:

    this is a story by the uruguayan writer named horacio quiroga. i've spent the past month trying to translate it from the spanish. which has been agonizing. just now i had a scare and thought i'd erased it. so i'm going to post it here. tell me if it's sounds like an accurate rendition of a story you've never read from a language you don't even speak. (the paragraphs are numbered as a way of keeping track as i translated, and i can't be bothered to remove them.)

    “Drifting” by Horacio Quiroga

    1.) The man stepped on something whitish, and immediately felt the bite in his foot. He jumped away and, giving an oath, saw the snake coiled and waiting for another attack.

    2.) The man threw a quick glance at his foot, where two small drops of blood thickened slowly, and removed the machete from his waist. The viper, seeing the threat, sank its head into the center of its coil; but the machete fell on the snake’s back, severing its vertebrae.

    3.) The man bent down to examine the bite, wiped away the drops of blood, and for a moment contemplated what had just happened. From the small, violet punctures an acute pain had been born which began to invade the entire foot. The man hastily tourniqueted his ankle with his handkerchief, then set off toward his farm.

    4.) The pain in the foot increased with a sensation of tense swelling. Then, suddenly, the man felt two or three flashes of sharp pain radiating like lightning to midway up the calf. He moved the leg with difficulty; a metalic dryness in the throat, followed by a burning thirst, caused him to utter another oath.

    5.) He arrived finally at his farm and at once fell upon the trapiche wheel, draping his arms over it. The violet points had now disappeared in the monstrous swelling of the entire foot. The skin seemed to have become thin and on the verge of splitting open under the pressure. He wanted to call to his woman, but his voice came as a hoarse drag from his parched throat. The thirst had devoured it.

    6.) –Doratea! –said the man, reaching deep in his throat to send his call in a death rattle-. Bring me rum!

    7.) His woman ran to him with a full glass which the man sucked down in three gulps. But they had no taste.

    8.) –I asked you for rum, not water! –roared the man, now-. Bring me rum!

    9.) –But it is rum, Paulino! –protested the woman, frightened.

    10.) –No, you gave me water! Bring me rum, I say!

    11.) The woman ran off again, returning with the demijohn. The man drank two glasses one after another, but again felt nothing in his throat.

    12.) –Ah, how ugly it looks –murmured the man as he looked down at his livid foot, which had now taken on a gangrenous luster. At his ankle, the flesh overflowed the handkerchief like a mounstrous blood sausage.

    13.) The flashing pains followed one another like continuous lightning bolts; now they traveled all the way up to the groin. The atrocious dryness of the throat, which his breath seemed to heat even more, increased on par. When he tried to raise himself up, a wave of nausea caused him to lean over and support his head on the trapiche as he vomited for half a minute.

    14.) The man did not want to die. He went down to the shore of the lake and raised his canoe. The man sat in the stern and paddled out to the middle of the Paraná. There the current, which ran to the confluence of the Iquazú river six miles away, would bring him to Tacurú-Pucú within five hours.

    15.) The man, with somber energy, could indeed make it to the middle of the river; but there his strength gave way and he dropped the paddle in the canoe. And after a new wave of vomiting – of blood, this time – he glanced at the sun which was already begun its descent into the western hills.

    16.) The whole leg, until halfway up the thigh, was deformed into a hard block that threatened to to burst through the clothing. The man untied the handkerchief and used his knife to cut open the trousers: the stomach was distended to overflowing and covered in livid spots; it was horribly painful. The man decided he would never be able to get to Tacurú-Pucú alone, and decided to ask his compadre Alves for help, despite the fact that there had been enmity between them for a long time.

    17.) The current hurried him towards the Brazilian coast and there he easily found a place to land the canoe. He crawled out of the boat and onto a dirt trail that led uphill. After crawling for 20 meters he collapsed on his chest in exhaustion.

    18.) –Alves! –he shouted with whatever force he could muster; but it was in vain, no one heard him.

    19.) –Compadre Alves! Don’t deny me this favor! –he cried out again, raising his head from the ground. In the silence of the forest, not a whisper was to be heard. The man found the strength to return to his canoe, where he quickly boarded and again set himself adrift on the current.

    20.) He was now in that part of the Paraná that runs through an immense valley with cliffs rising higher than hundred meters, boxing the river as if in a coffin. From the black basalt blocks at the edge of the shore, the forest, black also, rose upwards, feeling its way up the sides of of the treacherous cliffs untill it finally found safe haven at the top of the enormous slabs of rock. The man floated through the eternal, dismal wall on a quickening current that crowded the river with the incessant bubbling of muddy water. The landscape had a power that reigned him in a deathly silence. At dusk, however, it’s dark beauty and serenity had a singular majesty.

    21.) The sun had already set when the man, slumped at the back of his canoe, had a violent chill. Suddenly he raised his heavy head in astonishment: he felt better. His leg hardly hurt at all, the thirst had diminished, and his chest felt clear and opened in slow inspiration.

    22.) The poison had begun to go away, there was no doubt. He was almost well; and although he did not yet have the strength to move his hand, he was sure that by the fall of the morning dew he would recover absolutely. He calculated the he would be in Tacurú-Pucú in three hours.

    23.) Now he felt nothing at all in either his leg or his belly, and as the well-being advanced, with it came a store of dreamy memories. Would his compadre Gaona still be living in Tacurú-Pucú? Perhaps he would also see his old boss Mister Dougald and the storefront of his workshop.

    24.) Will I be there soon? The sky to the west was now spread out in a golden canvas that reflected off the water. From the Paraguayan coast, already dark, the high forest dropped its twilight freshness on the river in a penetrating effluvia of orange blossom and wild honey. High in the sky a pair of macaws silently crossed the river towards Paraguay.

    25.) On the golden river the canoe twisted and danced on the tumultuous water as it floated along, and the man inside felt better with every moment. He thought now of exactly how long it had been since he had seen his old boss Mister Dougald. Three years? Perhaps not so long as that. Two years and 9 months? Possibly. 8 and a half months? That’s it, surely.

    26.) Suddenly, he felt as if he had frozen from the chest down.

    27.) What is happening? And the breathing…

    28.) The wooden storefront of Mister Dougald…Lorenzo Cubilla, a man he had met one Good Friday in Puerto Esperanza… Friday? Yes, or maybe Thursday…

    29.) The man slowly outstretched the fingers of both hands

    30.) –One Thursday…

    31.) And stopped breathing.

By Spider on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 10:21 am:

    Droopy, I think you've done it.

By droopy on Friday, June 30, 2006 - 04:43 pm:

    maybe partially. i notice there are several untweaked mistakes. damn frog dna.

By Spider on Tuesday, July 4, 2006 - 10:21 am:

    If I may -- in paragraph #20: "The landscape had a power that reigned him in a deathly silence." The word "reigned" sounds funny.

    I'd ask my dad, but he just left for Peru. But not before sending my brother and me an email telling us that if he should die on this trip we're to split his money 40/40 and give the remaining 10% to our two cousins. ... . Gosh.

By droopy on Tuesday, July 4, 2006 - 01:00 pm:

    of course you may, i wish everyone would put their two cents in. the version i posted here is one that i had started tweaking, then erased, then recovered, then posted here in a panic. unfortunately, the recovered version had none of the changes i had made.

    paragraph #20 has been the most problematic for me. that's the word quiroga uses - "reina" - and the form it's in (reigned him in) is left over from the garbled google translation. i've considered "reigned over him in...". i still don't have a satisfactory version without the word "reign". do you?

    is your dad's last request mathematically correct? wouldn't two 40% portions leave a difference of 20%? seems to me it should be two 45% portions with a remainder of 10%.

By Spider on Tuesday, July 4, 2006 - 04:20 pm:

    Oh, you're right! I can envision that remaining 10% being fought over for generations, a la Jarndyce and Jarndyce. I'll email him to let him know.

    Paragraph #20 -- it's dull, but what about "ruled over him" or something to that effect?

The Stalking Post: General goddam chit-chat Every 3 seconds: Sex . Can men and women just be friends? . Dreamland . Insomnia . Are you stoned? . What are you eating? I need advice: Can you help? . Reasons to be cheerful . Days and nights . Words . Are there any news? Wishful thinking: Have you ever... . I wish you were... . Why I oughta... Is it art?: This question seems to come up quite often around here. Weeds: Things that, if erased from our cultural memory forever, would be no great loss Surfwatch: Where did you go on the 'net today? What are you listening to?: Worst music you've ever heard . What song or tune is going through your head right now? . Obscure composers . Obscure Jazz, 1890-1950 . Whatever, whenever General Questions: Do you have any regrets? . Who are you? . Where are you? . What are you doing here? . What have you done? . Why did you do it? . What have you failed to do? . What are you wearing? . What do you want? . How do you do? . What do you want to do today? . Are you stupid? Specific Questions: What is the cruelest thing you ever did? . Have you ever been lonely? . Have you ever gone hungry? . Are you pissed off? . When is the last time you had sex? . What does it look like where you are? . What are you afraid of? . Do you love me? . What is your definition of Heaven? . What is your definition of Hell? Movies: Last movie you saw . Worst movie you ever saw . Best movie you ever saw Reading: Best book you've ever read . Worst book you've ever read . Last book you read Drunken ramblings: uiphgy8 hxbjf.bklf ghw789- bncgjkvhnqwb=8[ . Payphones: Payphone Project BBS . torturechamber . . receipts . contact