?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Mount Orégano
Sue Burke
My fun and funny award-winning translation 
28th-Sep-2016 10:28 am
Let me see..
I’m delighted to say that I’ve won the 2016 Alicia Gordon Award for Word Artistry in Translation! It’s presented by American Foundation for Translation and Interpretation, which is affiliated with the American Translators Association.

The award is given for a translation from French or Spanish into English, or from English into French or Spanish, in any subject that demonstrates the highest level of creativity in solving a particularly difficult challenge. It was established in memory of Alicia Gordon, known for creating imaginative solutions to knotty translation problems based on rigorous research.

I won for my translation of Confusión de Confusiones by Joseph de la Vega, published in 1688, about the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. It was the first book ever written about stock trading, and the Amsterdam market was the earliest of its kind, established in 1602.

Joseph de la Vega was a writer whose Jewish family had fled Spain to Amsterdam. He wrote in a Baroque style called Conceptismo, which is characterized by witty metaphors and wordplay to convey multiple meanings and conceptual intricacies, all with the utmost concision.

I was asked to translate some if the excerpts from his book actually dealing with the stock market; the book rambles into long digressions and allegories on all manner of subjects. The translation was for the Spanish National Stock Exchange Commission, which published Confusión de Confusiones along with with my translation and some scholarly essays to give as an institutional gift. The book came out in December 2015.

My challenge and delight was to translate all the wit and laugh-out-loud fun of the original text into English.

Here are some excerpts, first my English, then de la Vega’s original Spanish.



I came to devise these dialogues, which I hope worthy of curiosity, with three considerations in mind. First, to fill my spare time with a little delightful entertainment that would not be immodest. Second, to describe (for those not involved in it) a business that is the most authentic and useful known today in Europe. And third, to show truthfully the wiles used by the speculators who sully it, which for some will serve as a delight, others as a warning, and many as a lesson.

The business of stocks is so widespread here that it would feel impertinent to speak of anything else, and there are those who only dream that they know what they speak of and even while dreaming do not cease to ponder it.

It is an enigmatic business, both the most splendid and most treacherous in Europe, the most noble and most loathsome known to the world, and the most subtle and most vulgar practiced on the globe. It is the convocation of knowledge and compendium of turmoil, touchstone for the wise and tombstone for the rash, source of profit and origin of disaster.

Yet I will not deny that I would have felt an urge to try my luck if three important obstacles did not stop me. First, I would have to embark on a ship so exposed to the rigors of fate that each wind is a storm and each wave a shipwreck.

Second, I would have to make a profit from the start, since my capital is limited. I would have to be prepared to pay if I were to lose, or at least to keep my capital only if I were so treacherous as to decide to forsake honor. But I would expose myself to the possibility that my first loss would make me infamous without the consolation of being rich, and to me this seems vain to consider and delirious to attempt.

Third, to me this business seems unworthy of a philosopher, and besides, as everyone would know how humble my purse is when they saw that I cannot purchase on my own account, no one would place trust in my mere appearance, and I cannot that imagine anyone would lend me money.

People of diverse customs, different nations, and a variety of trades embark for this new world. Philosophers arrive to discover the little in this circus that differentiates the moto animal from the moto violento. Geomancers dare involvement because as they measure its circumference they find some lines they call irrational. Astrologers become enthusiastic, boasting that they have spotted their own star amid all the others. The curious draw near to learn something from those who are so wise. Poets refine their fantasies, lawyers their subtleties, sophists their complications. The devout seek approval, penitents remorse, and ship pilots latitudes of glory, high winds, and sharp compass needles. The barber works happily because he can shave something off everyone. The doctor comes to treat wounds and apply bandages during battles and soon learns not to treat injuries right away. The shoemaker believes he can fit the same shoe to everyone. The tailor succeeds in clipping attire. The sculptor accustoms himself to carving men from stone so that some of them will not sense outrage and seek furious revenge. The speculator arrives to scrutinize his luck, the lover to improve his appearance, the soldier to perfect his wiles. The blacksmith brings iron, the musician plays dissonant fugues, the mathematician figures accounts, the painter takes perspectives and sketches shadows, and the fencer feints and lunges. Finally, no courtesan studies this business to acquire patience; no rustic to become inured to disdain, nor the French to fury, the English to pride, the Turk to noise, the Italian to disguise, the Flemish to phlegm, the German to arrogance, the Polish to flight, or the Spanish to profanity.

And despite the delusion, distraction, delirium, doubt, and dilemma that accompany profits, there are ways to easily discover where most opinions lean, both in policies and in fundamentals. Whoever dedicates himself to follow these opinions seriously, without blinding passions or changeable whims, will not fail to succeed often, if not always. And when all things are considered, he will realize there is nothing more astute than to pursue speculation nor anything wiser than to drift with the current.

………

Tres motivos tuvo mi ingenio para tejer estos Diálogos que espero merezcan el título de curiosos. El primero, entretener el ocio con algún deleite que no menoscabe lo modesto. El segundo, describir (para los que no lo practican) un negocio que es el más real y útil que se conoce hoy en Europa. Y el tercero, mostrar con veracidad las astucias de que se valen los tahúres que lo ensucian, para que a unos sirva de delicia, a otros de aviso, y a muchos de escarmiento.

El negocio de las acciones está tan difundido en esta plaza que sienta plaza de impertinente el que habla de otro tema, y hay quienes sin saber ni por sueños de lo que hablan, hasta en sueños piensan en él.

Un negocio enigmático, que es a la vez el más real y el más falso de Europa, el más noble y el más infame que conoce el mundo, el más fino y el más grosero que se practica en el orbe. Conjunto de ciencias y compendio de enredos, piedra de toque de los sagaces y piedra de túmulo de los atrevidos, tesoro de ganancias y causa de desastres.

No negaré, sin embargo, que me siento impulsado a probar suerte, si no hubiera tres importantes obstáculos que me lo impiden. El primero, tener que embarcar en una nave tan expuesta a los rigores de la fatalidad, pues cada viento es una tormenta y cada ola un naufragio.

El segundo, que necesitaría empezar ganando, pues al ser mi capital limitado, debería estar preparado para pagar cuando perdiera, o quedar al menos con capital si fuera tan alevoso que me resuelva a quedar sin honra. Pero exponerme a que la primera vez que pierda me haga infame, sin que me consuele quedar rico, me parece que es vanidad pensarlo y es delirio realizarlo.

El tercero, que este trato me parece indigno de un filósofo, además de que, al conocer todos lo humilde de mi bolsa, cuando vean que no empiezo a recibir partidas en mi cuenta, no habrá quien se fíe de mis barbas, ni me imagino quién pueda darme dinero por ellas.

Se embarcan para este nuevo mundo gentes de diversas costumbres, de diferentes naciones y de varios empleos. Entran los filósofos para encontrar en estos circos lo poco que difiere el moto animal del moto violento. Se aventuran los geómetras, porque encuentran en estas circunferencias algunas líneas de las que ellos llaman irracionales. Se entusiasman los astrólogos, presumiendo divisar, entre tantas estrellas, la suya. Los curiosos se arriman para aprender algo de los que saben tanta letra. Refina el poeta sus fábulas, el jurisconsulto sus sutilezas, los reflexivos sus enredos. Los devotos buscan miradas, los penitentes arrepentimientos, y los pilotos las alturas que engrandecen, los vientos que soplan y las agujas que pican. Entra el barbero contento porque ha de afeitar a todos. Entra el cirujano para sanar las llagas, para valerse de los parches en estas batallas y para acostumbrarse a no sanar las heridas a la primera. Entra el zapatero, presumiendo que meterá a todos en un zapato. Entra el sastre para cortar los vestidos. Entra el escultor para acostumbrarse a tallar hombres de piedra, porque algunos no sienten los ultrajes ni se enfurecen buscando venganza. Entra el tahúr a relojear su suerte, el amante a mejorar su aspecto, el soldado a perfeccionar sus mañas. El herrero a traer hierros, el músico disonancias y fugas, el aritmético a hacer cuentas, el pintor perspectivas, lejos y sombras, el espadachín atajos para sus reveses. Por último, no se eximen de este negocio ni el cortesano para habituarse a la paciencia, ni el rústico para acostumbrarse al desprecio, ni el francés a la furia, ni el inglés a la soberbia, ni el turco al ruido, ni el italiano al disfraz, ni el flamenco a la flema, ni el alemán a la arrogancia, ni el polaco a huir, ni el español a maldecir.

Y a pesar de todos estos devaneos, desconciertos, desvaríos, dudas e incertidumbres de las ganancias, no faltan medios para saber sencillamente hacia dónde inclina la mayoría sus suposiciones, tanto en lo político como en lo fundamental. Y quien se dedique a seguirlas seriamente, sin pasión que lo ciegue ni capricho que lo altere, no dejará de acertar muchas veces, si no todas. Y, cuando haga la cuenta, reconocerá que no hay más astucia que ir tras el juego, ni más sabiduría que seguir la corriente.

— Sue Burke
Comments 
29th-Sep-2016 04:58 am (UTC)
Eeeeeee! Congratulations!!!
30th-Sep-2016 12:13 pm (UTC)
Congratulations!
This page was loaded Nov 17th 2018, 6:28 pm GMT.