Carta de Emile Capouya a Francisco Ayala (25/05/1962)
May 25, 1962
West 16th Street
York, New York
enclose a copy of a letter just received from the British publisher of Muertes de perro, which quotes a letter
from Mrs. Barea.
note that she still has not committed herself to a date, and I shall try to get
her to do so again. Messrs. Michael Joseph appear [sic] to be satisfied with her explanation, but I must confess that
I am not.
[Escrito a mano:] Dear Mr. Ayala:
letter should have gone out to you on the 25th , and I assumed that
it had. I have just found it, however. This may account for a small area of
mutual incomprehension in our conversation yesterday.
[Copia de carta dirigida a A.L. Hart por Michael Joseph Lt.]
A. L. Hart, Jr.,
asked Ilse Barea to explain how she came to give precedence to the Hortelano
book. She has given me a detailed account of her health troubles over the last
year (which I can confirm as I often see her and speak to her). I think I had
better quote from her letter to me today.
“I read the Hortelano book for Weidenfeld in
MS before it won the Fomentor, and was anything but impressed. I classified it
as readable, but only just a good second-rate novel. However, I knew it was one
of the easiest jobs for translation imaginable, the only one in my personal
experience I could dictate straight on the tape. This was very important to me.
As you know, I have had a double difficulty with my health for years: on the
one side I cannot do much typing without greatly worsening the local arthritis
in my two main typing fingers, up to a point when I simply cannot go on typing
because of acute pain and swelling –on the other hand I have that wretched
diabetes which will not respond quite as it ought to treatment, and produces
baddish slumps each time I am under particular strain or worry, or overwork too
as a rule I do at least three
versions of a translation. In the case of the Fomentor novel I only corrected
the transcription from the tape: this is possible with dialogue of that sort,
and the result appears not too bad, though I didn’t like it and felt bad about
“A Dog’s Death is an entirely different
matter. I must have done about five versions by now at least of the two thirds
for which the stylistic problems are extraordinarily great… I have had a
beautifully typed version, and rejected. The more I have been working on the
book, and this is by now a dreadfully long time, the more I have become convinced
that it is an exceptionally good and exceptionally difficult novel entirely
dependent on the rightness of style. It is by far the most difficult
translation I ever did, and I have done many as you know, if I want to achieve
the standard it needs and deserves. I started dictating on to tape, but it was
a dismal failure. It just isn’t a book one can do –or I can translate, rather– without constant checking by sight, in
typing. I tried dictating to various “secretaries”, and sometimes it worked,
but more often I only retyped certain sections afterwards. Also, I had not one
but two true-blue British friends going through version (3) and (4) with a fine
comb. The amount of labour –and, incidentally, expense– I have invested may
seem out of proportion, but anything less would be not quite good enough.
I have another “fair copy” at home, and am going through it again. It must
clearly be the last time, otherwise there will never be an end to it. And I
know I’ll never be satisfied anyway. But I do insist that the other translation
did not steal time I would have used on Ayala; it filled time I physically or
technically couldn’t have used to any good effect on A Dog’s Death.
said, I shall force myself now to put a stop to my endless revisions, and perhaps
this will leave me with a less strained and unhappy conscience that I have
hope this will comfort the author and you as it does us.
hope to see you when I come over to New York in October.