Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Cortázar: Cronopios and Famas



Paul Blackburn and Cortázar were exchanging correspondence about the translation of this book of whimsical stories and fables as early as 1959, three years before the book appeared in Spanish.
Paul, your translation is formidable. I've read it twice, making note in passing of the observations that I have to make to you, and they're minor details. You've managed the spirit of the thing, that way of writing that I used with the cronopios and that comes out beautifully in English (at times it makes me think a little of Damon Runyon, whom I've always admired a great deal). I congratulate you, and I give you a big hug (with one arm only, because the other one is still all messed up).
A subsequent letter refers to a reading Blackburn gave in New York City that included several of the pieces, apparently with great success.
You don't know how happy this makes me. Did you make a tape recording? How I would have liked to hear your voice reading your translations, it would be fabulous. Many thanks for scattering my cronopios in the cafés of 9th Avenue. They must have eaten all the hamburgers, I imagine, and then left without paying. Deplorable conduct of the cronopios in New York.
Blackburn did eventually send Cortázar a tape, whether from that reading or another.

As it turned out, the cronopios, famas, and esperanzas had to wait their turn until 1969, after Pantheon's publication of two novels and one book of short stories. Dave Holzman did the artwork for this jacket. My copy is a paperback reprint. A Journey Round My Skull has the hardcover version.

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