García Márquez, Don Quixote retranslated, more

The Washington Post runs a very brief excerpt from Gabriel García Márquez’s memoir, Living to Tell the Tale.

In The New York Times Magazine, Francisco Goldman (The Long Night of the White Chickens) writes about the debt he owes to García Márquez, the author’s own life and influences, “magic realism” and the revolt against it, and the experience of meeting García Márquez recently after years of being either too “fearful or shy.” An excerpt:

For a while there were plans to make a film of his novel “The Autumn of the Patriarch,” in which Marlon Brando was to play the dictator. When people involved in the movie’s planning came to Mexico to meet with the author in his home, they were accompanied by a tall, pale, taciturn man who sat through the meeting without speaking a word or even introducing himself. Later García Márquez asked about the mysterious visitor and was told that he was J.M. Coetzee, the South African novelist. García Márquez was astounded because he had long regarded Coetzee as one of his favorite contemporary novelists. (That enthusiasm is no secret: another friend told me that after Coetzee won this year’s Nobel Prize, García Márquez joked that he had received so many congratulatory messages that he felt as if he had won the prize for a second time.) When the famously publicity-spurning Coetzee was in Mexico City for a literary congress in 1998, I had heard him read. I don’t know what inspired that incognito visit to the house, but I could imagine myself doing the same. It seemed a perfect way to satisfy your curiosity about a writer’s flesh-and-blood incarnation without interrupting the conversation you have long been having with his books or exposing your own baffling timidity.

Until this summer, whenever faced with even the possibility of meeting García Márquez in Mexico City, I had always invoked an essay of his in which he recounted how he had preferred to wave and salute Ernest Hemingway, one of his masters, from across a Parisian street rather than try to speak to him. If I was more than satisfied with the García Márquez I could imagine from his writings, why meet the other one?

Carlos Fuentes (Christopher Unborn) applauds Edith Grossman’s new translation of Don Quixote:

…. Grossman delivers her “Quixote” in plain but plentiful contemporary English. The quality of her translation is evident in the opening line: “Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.” This “Don Quixote” can be read with the same ease as the latest Philip Roth and with much greater facility than any Hawthorne. Yet there is not a single moment in which, in forthright English, we are not reading a 17th-century novel. This is truly masterly: the contemporaneous and the original co-exist. Not, mind you, the “old” and the “new.” Grossman sees to it that these facile categories do not creep into her work. To make the classic contemporary: this is the achievement….

Frederick Barthelme’s Elroy Nights receives a fairly respectful review from Bruce Barcott.


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