In early April in Buenos Aires, Romanian writer Mircea Cartarescu became the winner of the prestigious Premio Formentor de las Letras 2018
In early April in Buenos Aires, Romanian writer Mircea Cartarescu became the winner of the prestigious Premio Formentor de las Letras 2018, one of the most important literary awards in the world, for lifetime achievement. According to the jury, his works are destined to push forward the radical transformation of human achievement. The panel, one of whose members was writer Alberto Manguel, himself a winner in 2017, also said that the narrative force of the writer managed to expand the limits of fiction, according to the El Pais daily. Right now in its second edition, Solenoid had excellent reviews from the Spanish literary press and criticism, as well as in South America. It was declared best book of 2017 by La Vanguardia, El Periodico, The New York Times en espanol, and had rave reviews in many other periodicals. Andres Ibanez calls it a masterpiece in ABC Cultural. Robert Saladrigas calls it his most important book, writing in La Vanguardia. Babelia, the cultural supplement of El Pais, calls it essential reading, while El Correo calls it a grand, exceptional, unforgettable book.
Recently, the Humanitas Library at Cismigiu Gardens hosted an event on the publication of the Spanish edition of Cartarescu's Solenoid, published by the Madrid based publishing house Impedimenta shortly after its Romanian publication, translated by Marian Ochoa de Eribe, with an afterword by literary critic Marius Chivu. The event was attended by the writer, the translator, and Enrique Redel, head of the Impedimenta publishing house. Also attending were Lidia Bodea, head of Humanitas publishing house, critic Marius Chivu, and the founder of Humanitas, Gabriel Liiceanu.
Opening the event, Mircea Cartarescu made a few remarks about translation, saying that translators do not simply translate words from one language to another:
"They carry across a border psychological content, behavioral content, ancient culture, myths, identities which they translate into their own identity. This becomes infinitely harder as the two cultural identities are further apart."
"It is relatively simple to translate content that is similar, which stems from similar cultures and worlds. It is simple for me to understand the mentality of contemporary French or German people. However, it is harder and harder to understand a mentality that sinks deeper and deeper, such as the medieval mentality. It is harder to translate into another language The Divine Comedy than to translate The Magic Mountain, or another contemporary work. The distance in time, space, and mentalities are great impediments for translation. Lacking translation, extermination almost assuredly occurs. Translation is a laurel wreath, an olive branch. Translation is perhaps the most important thing happening to human beings. Because it occurs beyond what separates these beings, and what separates them are not only borders, or just different languages. It means entire mentalities; individual mentalities, mentalities of entire peoples, mentalities of large groups. Mediation, translation are fundamental acts. This is why I have immense admiration for translators. For Romanian literature, we only have three or four translators for each country. The shortage is terrible. And it is normal for all Romanian writers to be translated at some point, but we are dealing with only three or four translators, for which reason the competition is stifling. I want to confess my great gratitude not for the fact that I was translated in a multitude of languages, but because I was translated properly. It doesn't matter at all that you have been translated into 100 languages, if the translation is poor. You're being done a disservice. You have been given a mask that does not represent you. But if you have a good translation, the book is simply reinvented in a different language. Which is why I am happy to work with the best translators of the moment, in at least 10 or 15 European languages. I am utterly happy from this point of view. I am also happy to work with a few wonderful editors. Which is why I am thanking translator Marian Ochoa de Eribe and editor Enrique Redel."
Marian Ochoa de Eribe made known in Spain works by Romanian classic authors, such as Panait Istrati, Mihail Sebastian, and Mircea Eliade. Solenoid was not the first encounter with Mircea Cartarescu's work for her. She had already translated for Impedimenta the books The Roulette Player (2010), Travesti (2011), Nostalgia (2012), and Beautiful Strangers (2013). At present she is busy translating his book The Levant. Marian Ochoa de Eribe talks about the impact that Solenoid had on her.
"I worked on Solenoid for a year, isolating myself. I translated almost daily. Of course I had trepidations, I was sleepless and had nightmares. That is what happened to Enrique when he started reading the book, he called me one day and said that he understood what I told him. I would like to say that I completely agree with Gabriel Liiceanu with regard to the three chapters, the three extraordinary steps in Solenoid's literature. When I finished a chapter, I thought that you couldn't go any higher literarily and aesthetically. I know I share this feeling about the reception of the book with a lot of readers. This book changes you forever. Translating Mircea Cartarescu's literature has changed my existence. But I am also sad, I would have liked to be a naïve reader. But, as a translator, I can no longer be like the others."
Enrique Redel, director of Impedimenta Publishing House, spoke about the 'Cartarescu phenomenon' in Spain, and said he was fascinated by Solenoid:
"For me it was a physical experience, organic. I read without stopping, even though this book should be read drop by drop. During reading, reality changed for me profoundly. I started having nightmares, like Marian said, I woke up with a dead arm, I thought it had paralyzed, it seemed to me that the gentleman drinking his coffee every morning in front of my house was a figment of my imagination. I envy those who can read this book drop by drop, as I said. On the Internet I found many who have taken this approach in reading it, as if the book had various levels. However, I, as an editor, had to focus on certain technical aspects. I am fascinated by Mircea Cartarescu's literature, and I enjoy it as much as I enjoy Thomas Pynchon, James Joyce, or John Barth."