Sunday, August 25, 2013

(ENG) Chapter 1: Preoccupations of the author

From Viaje maravilloso del señor Nic-Nac al planeta Marte by Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg
Translated from Spanish by Ana Lucía Alonso and sam smiley
This was published in Argentina, in serial form in the Buenos Aires Newpaper El Nacional beginning in November of 1875. We will release it chapter by chapter on this blog, and eventually on PDF. Rachel Haywood Ferrera provides some excellent background on this story in English, in her book The Emergence of Latin American Science Fiction. We are translating right now from an edition offered in Spanish by the Biblioteca National in Buenos Aires.

Chapter 1: Preoccupations of the author

Nothing is more admirable than the perfect mechanism of the skies.

Nothing is more pitious than human ignorance. Endowed with weak senses, if  compared to other animals, we claim to have solved the most important questions that can stimulate the spirit in the path of investigation. We can compare ourselves to a traveler who when following a fixed course, suddenly meets a labyrinth of trails: only luck can remove him from a difficult trance; a mariner who in the ocean loses his instruments, leaving his ship to float like a leaf that the wind blows.

So the philosophers, completely lacking in the final elements of the research, concentrate their spirit and appear to explain the phenomena of the universe by any whim of their imagination, as if they were to solve an abstract question, the only case in which such concentration is permitted. The person is not any different who closes and tightens both eyes, seeking to examine a weak organism in a microscope, an instrument which perhaps he didn’t even know by name.

But it is necessary to break with such an old system, to liberate the spirit of material weight, and substantially raise it to those regions that can perhaps serve to resolve the most difficult points of the universe.

A black cat is presented to my eyes and I watch it.

This cat is real under the viewpoint of primary research, but this cat is not substantial, because it lacks many of the essential conditions.

This cat appears virtually; it is neither a reflection nor a shadow, but it is a cat.  I see it, and although I can't feel it, it is possible to assure that its nature is comprehensible.

Who can deny that by virtue of unknown forces, it could be possible to undertake extraordinary travels, as would be in the case of this cat, whose body and spirit being found is perhaps two hundred leagues of distance, comes to impress me with its real image, yes, real, though it is not matter?

This is not, surely, a simple phenomena of the spirit. Simply imitate this cat , and all doubts are vanquished.

The image is not material, all the same, it is perceptible. A mirror reflects a figure, returns it with all its elements... and this image is not a spirit either. Could it perhaps be given the name of spirtual matters?

When the spirit jumps  daringly to interpret certain mysteries, it recedes at the immensity of the attempt with the paucity of the elements that are at its disposal; tied to the dominion of the senses, the senses do not go on beyond its power.

But if the spirit accompanies the image: if the latter conserves the sensory force, free, in turn, of matter, is it not possible to penetrate the world of the unknown and interpret the universe?

Millions and millions of luminaries sparkle in the space. Science baptizes them, calculates their distances, observes their beams, breaks down the elements of their light, numbers them, and archives them in its libraries. And life? Are these perhaps splendid deserts launched in space for man to contemplate?

No, life palpitates in each of those grains of sand in the shining beach of the sky,  and those marvels that the spirit can not understand alone, are going to be resolved by the spirit and the image.

Translater's note: In this chapter, we took the word "materia"  and used the English "matter". We also noticed Holmberg's interest and fascination with the images of Edgar Allen Poe, as signified by the black cat.

(ENG) Nic-Nac.. beginning a new translation.

Ana and I are about to take on a very large translate into English Eduardo Holmberg's novela, Viaje maravilloso del señor Nic-Nac al Planeta Marte. This was published in Argentina, in serial form in the Buenos Aires Newpaper El Nacional beginning in November of 1875. We will release it chapter by chapter on this blog, and eventually on PDF. Rachel Haywood Ferrera provides some excellent background on this story in English, in her book The Emergence of Latin American Science Fiction. We are translating right now from an edition offered in Spanish by the Biblioteca National in Buenos Aires.

Currently Anexia Editions in Argentina is doing a graphic novel of this tale in Spanish. They have completed part 1 and are working on part 2.
Here is a youtube preview:

Here is some information in English on Argentinian science fiction:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

(ENG) Translation of El Vampiro

El Vampiro (The Vampire) by Horacio Quiroga
Translated by Ana Lucía Alonso and sam smiley

"Yes" said the lawyer Rhode. “I had that case. It is a situation, quite rare for here, of vampirism.  Rogelio Castelar, a man until then normal outside of some fantasies, was discovered one night in the cemetery as he dragged the recently buried body of a woman.  The individual's hands were destroyed because he had recently removed one cubic meter of the earth with his fingernails. In the side of the grave lay the remains of the coffin, newly burnt. And as a macabre complement, a cat, no doubt an outsider, lay thereby with broken kidneys. As you can see, nothing lacked in the scene.
“In the first interview with the man, I saw that I had to contend with a mournful and crazy person. At first, he was obstinant and did not respond to me although he did not stop nodding his head at my reasonings. Finally he appeared to find in me a man deserving of hearing him.  His mouth trembled with the anxiety of communicating.”
"Ah! You understand me!" he exclaimed, fixing on me his fevered eyes.  With a vertigo that you would barely believe, he continued, this which I remember:

"To you I will say everything! Yes! You mean what was that like, about the...the cat? I! Only I!
Listen to me:  When I arrived..there, my wife..."

"Where THERE?" I interrupted him.

"THERE..the cat or no? So? ...When I arrived, my wife ran like crazy and embraced me. And immediately she fainted.  Everyone then ran rapidly to me,  looking down at me with crazy eyes. My house! It had burned, crumbled, and sank with everything inside! That, that was my house! But not she, my wife of mine!”
Then a spiteful man, devoured by madness shook me on the shoulder, yelling at me:
“What are you doing? Answer me!”

And I answered him:
“It is my wife! my wife of mine who has survived”

Then a cry rose:
“It is not her! That is not!”
I felt that my eyes, lowering their glance at  what I had between my arms, wanted to jump out of their sockets. Was this not María, the Maria of mine, and fainted? A shock of blood lit my eyes. From my arms fell a woman who was not María. Then I jumped on a barrel and overpowered all the workers. And shouted with a hoarse voice: “Why, Why!”
Not even one of them was combed because the wind threw all of their hair to the side. And the eyes from outside looking at me.
Then I started to hear from everywhere:
“She died”
“She was crushed to death”
“She died”
“She screamed”
“She screamed only once.”
“I felt her scream”
“Me too”
“She died”
“His wife was crushed to death.”
“By all the saints!” I then shouted, wringing my hands. “Let us save her, comrades! It is our duty to save her!”
And all of us ran. Everyone ran with a silent fury to the rubble. The bricks flew, the framework swayed, the removal advanced, leaping.
At 4:00, only I worked. I did not have a healthy nail, nor in my fingers was there anything else to dig.  But in my chest! Anguish and fury and horrid misfortune trembling in my chest in looking for my María!
Nothing remained but the piano to remove. There was an epidemic silence, a fallen petticoat, and dead rats. Under the lying piano, on the granite floor of blood and charcoal, was the crushed servant.
I took her out to the patio, where nothing remained but four silent walls, viscous with tar and water. The slippery floor reflected the dark sky. Then I took the servant and began to drag her around of the patio.
They were mine, these steps. And what steps! A step, another step, another step!

In the hollow of a door..charcoal and water, nothing more- was huddled the cat of the house, who had escaped the disaster, although battered. The fourth time that the servant and I passed in front of her, the cat howled in anger.
“Ah! It was not I, then?” I shouted desperately. “Was it not I who looked in the rubble, the debris and the shroud of the framework, for one piece of my María?”

The sixth time that we passed in front of the cat, the animal bristled. The seventh time, it rose, dragging its feet behind it. And it followed us then so, striving to wet its tongue on the oiled hair of the servant - of her, of María, no damned corpse stealer.
“Corpse stealer!” I repeated and looked at him. “But then that was in the cemetery!”
The vampire flattened his own hair while he looked at me with his immense crazy eyes.

“So you knew, then!” he articulated. “So everyone knows this and lets me speak for an hour! Ah!” he roared a sob, throwing his head back and gliding against the wall until he fell, seated. “But who tells me, the wretch that I am, here, why in my house I pulled out my nails but did not save from the tar even the hanging hair of my María!”
“Nothing more was needed, as you understand” concluded the lawyer “to orient myself completely regarding the individual. He was admitted immediately. It has been two years from this, and last night he has come out, perfectly cured.”

“Last night?” exclaimed a young man in deep mourning. “And at night they discharge the insane?”

“But why not? The individual is cured, as sane as you or I. Furthermore, if he lapses, which is the law of these vampires, by this time he will be back in action.  But these are not my issues. Good night, gentlemen.”