Literature – Julio Torri

El novelista, en mangas de camisa, metió en la máquina de escribir una hoja de papel, la numeró, y se dispuso a relatar un abordaje de piratas. No conocía el mar y sin embargo iba a pintar los mares del sur, turbulentos y misteriosos; no había tratado en su vida más que a empleados sin prestigio romántico y a vecinos pacíficos y oscuros, pero tenía que decir ahora cómo son los piratas; oía gorjear a los jilgueros de su mujer, y poblaba en esos instantes de albatros y grandes aves marinas los cielos sombríos y empavorecedores.

La lucha que sostenía con editores rapaces y con un público indiferente se le antojó el abordaje; la miseria que amenazaba su hogar, el mar bravío. Y al describir las olas en que se mecían cadáveres y mástiles rotos, el mísero escritor pensó en su vida sin triunfo, gobernada por fuerzas sordas y fatales, y a pesar de todo fascinante, mágica, sobrenatural.


The novelist, his sleeves pulled up, put a piece of paper in his typewriter, numbered it, and prepared to describe pirates boarding a ship. He wasn’t familiar with the sea, nevertheless, he was going to paint the southern seas, turbulent and mysterious; he’d never in his life dealt with anyone apart from middling employees and dark peaceful neighbors, but now he had to say what pirates were like: he heard his wife’s goldfinches chirp, and in that moment he filled the somber and unnerving skies with albatrosses and giant marine birds.

The battle that he fought with predatory editors and an indifferent public seemed to him his boarding; the misery that threatened his home, the brutish sea. And when describing the waves upon which bobbed corpses and broken masts, the miserable writer thought about his life without triumph, governed by deaf and inevitable fate, and in spite of everything fascinating, magical, supernatural.

*en mangas de camisa – literally: in shirt sleves – is an old fashioned way of saying you aren’t wearing a jacket and so you’re dressed informally and ready for work.

This story uses the words “deaf” and “dark” very unusually, these words are more or less the same in English and Spanish so I´d love to hear some interpretations as to why he chose these particular words.

The translation is not in the public domain. All rights reserved.

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