Demonios escondidos por todas partes (Demons lurking everywhere)

La cita de la semana hoy viene de un ensayo que Mario Vargas Llosa escribió sobre Henry Miller.

Today’s Quote of the Week is from an essay that Mario Vargas Llosa wrote about Henry Miller.

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Mario Vargas Llosa (1936-)

Esta es una de las más importantes funciones de la literatura: recordar a los hombres que, por más firme que parezca el suelo que pisan y por más radiante que luzca la ciudad que habitan, hay demonios escondidos por todas partes que pueden, en cualquier momento, provocar un cataclismo.

(Mario Vargas Llosa:
Trópico de cáncer: Henry Miller El nihilista feliz)


This is one of the most important functions of literature: to remind men and women that however firm the ground that they walk on appears to be, and however brightly the city that they live in shines, there are demons lurking everywhere that, at any moment, can cause a violent upheaval.

(Mario Vargas Llosa:
Tropic of Cancer: The Happy Nihilist)

 

La verdad de las mentiras (The Truth of the Lies)

Estaba hojeando – figurativamente, porque de hecho se trataba de un libro electrónico – un libro de ensayos de Mario Vargas Llosa anoche, cuando me topé con la siguiente:

I have been leafing through – figuratively speaking, because it was actually an e-book – a book of essays by Mario Vargas Llosa last night, when I came across the following:

«Los inquisidores españoles, por ejemplo, prohibieron que se publicaran o importaran novelas en las colonias hispanoamericanas con el argumento de que esos libros disparatados y absurdos —es decir, mentirosos— podían ser perjudiciales para la salud espiritual de los indios. Por esta razón, los hispanoamericanos sólo leyeron ficciones de contrabando durante trescientos años y la primera novela que, con tal nombre, se publicó en la América española apareció sólo después de la independencia (en México, en 1816).

“The Spanish inquisitors, for example, forbade the publication and import of novels in the Latin-American colonies with the argument that these ludicrous and absurd – that’s to say lying – books might be  detrimental for the spiritual health of the Indians. For this reason, the Latin-Americans only read contraband fiction for three hundred years and the first novel, which, with this name, was published in Spanish America only appeared after the independence (in Mexico, in 1816).

Al prohibir no unas obras determinadas sino un género literario en abstracto, el Santo Oficio estableció algo que a sus ojos era una ley sin excepciones: que las novelas siempre mienten, que todas ellas ofrecen una visión falaz de la vida.

By forbidding not certain works but an entire literary genre, the Holy Office established something that to them was a law without exceptions: that novels always lie, that all of them offer a falsa view of life.

Hace años escribí un trabajo ridiculizando a esos arbitrarios, capaces de una generalización semejante. Ahora pienso que los inquisidores españoles fueron acaso los primeros en entender —antes que los críticos y que los propios novelistas— la naturaleza de la ficción y sus propensiones sediciosas.

Years ago I wrote a work ridiculing these arbitrary men who were capable of such a generalisation. Now I think that the Spanish inquisitors were perhaps the first to understand – before the critics and the novelists themselves – the nature of fiction and its rebellious tendencies.

En efecto, las novelas mienten —no pueden hacer otra cosa— pero ésa es sólo una parte de la historia. La otra es que, mintiendo, expresan una curiosa verdad, que sólo puede expresarse encubierta, disfrazada de lo que no es. Dicho así, esto tiene el semblante de un galimatías. Pero, en realidad, se trata de algo muy sencillo. Los hombres no están contentos con su suerte y casi todos —ricos o pobres, geniales o mediocres, célebres u oscuros— quisieran una vida distinta de la que viven. Para aplacar —tramposamente— ese apetito nacieron las ficciones. Ellas se escriben y se leen para que los seres humanos tengan las vidas que no se resignan a no tener. En el embrión de toda novela bulle una inconformidad, late un deseo insatisfecho.»

Indeed, novels lie – can’t do anything else – but this is only part of the story. The other part is that, lying, they express a curious truth, which can be only expressed covertly, dressed up as something it isn’t. Said like this, it sounds like goobledygook. But, really, it’s very simple. People are not content with their lot and almost all – rich or poor, genius or mediocre, famous or unknown – wish to have a different life from the one they live. Fiction appeared to satisfy – in a deceitful way – this appetite. It’s written and read so that human beings could have the lives that they can’t resign themselves to not having. All novels are born from dissent, from unsatisfied desire.”

(Mario Vargas Llosa:
La verdad de las mentiras / The Truth of the Lies)

Algo para pensar por la tarde de un sábado de lluvia.

Thought for a rainy Saturday afternoon.

 

Aristotle Compares Authors (Aristóteles compara autores)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana:

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)

Sophocles is an imitator of the same kind as Homer- for both imitate higher types of character; from another point of view, of the same kind as Aristophanes- for both imitate persons acting and doing.

(Aristotle: Poetics)


Como imitador, Sófocles, por una parte, se asemeja a Homero, pues ambos representan a hombres superiores, y por otra, a Aristófanes, desde que todos exhiben que actúan y realizan algo.

(Aristóteles: La Poética)

 

You might also like / Quizás también te gusta:Aristotle on HomerAristotle on the Unity of Action / Aristóteles sobre la unidad de acciónAristotle on Comedy & Tragedy / Aristóteles sobre la comedia y la tragedia

Image credit:
Tilemahox Efthimiadis via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Si un libro los aburre (If a Book Bores You)

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

Si un libro los aburre, déjenlo, no lo lean porque es famoso, no lean un libro porque es moderno, no lean un libro porque es antiguo. Si un libro es tedioso para ustedes, déjenlo… ese libro no ha sido escrito para ustedes. 

(Jorge Luis Borges: Borges profesor – curso de literatura inglesa en la Universidad de Buenos Aires)


If a book bores you, leave it, don’t read it because it’s famous, don’t read a book because it’s modern, don’t read a book because it’s ancient. If a book is tedious to you, don’t read it… that book was not written for you.

(Jorge Luis Borges:Profesor Borges – A Course on English Literature)

Muchísimas gracias, profesor. 🙂

Thank you, Professor. 🙂

Aristotle on Comedy & Tragedy (Aristóteles sobre la comedia y la tragedia)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana:

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)

But when Tragedy and Comedy came to light, the two classes of poets still followed their natural bent: the lampooners became writers of Comedy, and the Epic poets were succeeded by Tragedians, since the drama was a larger and higher form of art.

(Aristotle: Poetics)


Pero tan pronto como la tragedia y la comedia aparecieron en el ambiente, aquellos naturalmente atraídos por cierta línea de poesía se convirtieron en autores de comedias en lugar de yambos, y los otros inclinados por su índole a una línea distinta, en creadores de tragedias en lugar de epopeyas, porque estos nuevos modos del arte resultaban más majestuosos y de mayor estima que los antiguos.

(Aristóteles: La Poética)

 

You might also like: Aristotle on HomerAristotle on the Unity of Action / Aristóteles sobre la unidad de acción

Image credit:
Tilemahox Efthimiadis via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Motivo para escribir (A Reason to Write)

La cita de la semana / The Quote of the Week:

Octavio Paz (1914-1998)

Yo no escribo para matar el tiempo
ni para revivirlo
escribo para que me viva y me reviva


I do not write to kill time
nor to revive it
I write that I may live and be revived

(Octavio Paz: El mismo tiempo / Same time)

 

Image credit: Photo by John Leffmann via Wikipedia [CC BY 3.0]

Aristotle on the Unity of Action (Aristóteles sobre la unidad de acción)

A slightly longer quote this week, from the Poetics of Aristotle. He talks about the meaning of unity of action, or plot – one of the three unities (aka classical unities) in literature. The other two unities are the unity of place and the unity of time. The three unities were described by Aristotle in his Poetics; they were later followed by such neo-classical authors as Molière and Racine. A play that observes the three unities will have a single action occurring in a single place in the course of a single day.

Una cita un poco más larga este semana, de La Poética de Aristóteles. Nos habla sobre el significado de la unidad de acción, es decir trama – una de las tres unidades (también conocido como unidades clásicas) en literatura. Las otras dos son la unidad de tiempo y la unidad de lugar. Las tres unidades fueron descritas por Aristóteles en La Poética; luego fueron observadas por tal autores neoclásicos como Molière y Racine. Una obra que observa las tres unidades tendrá una acción sola, ocurriendo en un lugar único durante un día sólo.

Continue reading “Aristotle on the Unity of Action (Aristóteles sobre la unidad de acción)”

Aristotle on Homer

Quote of the Week:

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)

Homer, for example, makes men better than they are; Cleophon as they are; Hegemon the Thasian, the inventor of parodies, and Nicochares, the author of the Deiliad, worse than they are.


As, in the serious style, Homer is pre-eminent among poets, for he alone combined dramatic form with excellence of imitation so he too first laid down the main lines of comedy, by dramatizing the ludicrous instead of writing personal satire. His Margites bears the same relation to comedy that the Iliad and Odyssey do to tragedy.


So in this respect, too, compared with all other poets Homer may seem, as we have already said, divinely inspired, in that even with the Trojan war, which has a beginning and an end, he did not endeavour to dramatise it as a whole, since it would have been either too long to be taken in all at once or, if he had moderated the length, he would have complicated it by the variety of incident. As it is, he takes one part of the story only and uses many incidents from other parts, such as the Catalogue of Ships and other incidents with which he diversifies his poetry.


In composing the Odyssey he did not include all the adventures of Odysseus- such as his wound on Parnassus, or his feigned madness at the mustering of the host- incidents between which there was no necessary or probable connection: but he made theOdyssey, and likewise the Iliad, to centre round an action that in our sense of the word is one.

(Aristotle: Poetics)

 

You might also like:
⇒ The Poetics of Aristotle

Image credit: 
Tilemahox Efthimiadis via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Wait Until the Author Is Dead (Esperar hasta que el autor está muerto)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana:

Italo Calvino (1923-1985)

As for collecting essays as occasional and disparate as my own, one should really wait until the author is either dead or at least in advanced old age.

(Italo Calvino: Letter to Niccolò Gallo, 27 September 1961)


Para recoger ensayos dispersos e inorgánicos como los míos hay que esperar a la propia muerte o por lo menos a la vejez avanzada.

(Italo Calvino: Carta a Niccolò Gallo, 27 septiembre 1961)

Gloss upon the Odyssey

Quote of the Week:

Everything in this book may well seem both to lovers of poetry and to classical scholars an unnecessary gloss upon the Odyssey. In one sense it is, for it is clearly unnecessary to attempt to trace the voyage of Ulysses when millions of people, for thousands of years, have been quite happy to read the Odyssey as if it was only a fable…

I do not think that anything is lost by attempting to find a skeleton – however magnificent the cupboard that hides it. I have seen coral formations disguising the old bones of ships, but I did not feel less amazed by the beauty of the coral just because I had found the timbers and iron frames which the polyps had disguised and decorated.

(Ernle Bradford: Introduction to Ulysses Found)

Embed from Getty Images

Why Read the Classics?

In 1981, the Italian writer Italo Calvino wrote an essay titled Why Read the Classics?. It’s less than ten entertaining pages, so I recommend you read it if you can lay your hands on it. (It’s been published in a book form, in a collection of his essays, bearing the same title.)

What follows here is the 14 definitions of what classics are as put forward in the essay – 14 definitions worth thinking about:

Continue reading “Why Read the Classics?”

Por qué no deberías leer Shakespeare (Why You Shouldn’t Read Shakespeare)

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

Hace mucho tiempo el escritor argentino, Jorge Luis Borges estaba enseñando literatura inglesa en la universidad de Buenos Aires. Un día dijo a sus estudiantes:

A long time ago the Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges taught English Literature at the University of Buenos Aires. One day he said to his students:

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Si Shakespeare les interesa, está bien. Si les resulta tedioso, déjenlo. Shakespeare no ha escrito aún para ustedes. Llegará un día que Shakespeare será digno de ustedes y ustedes serán dignos de Shakespeare, pero mientras tanto no hay que apresurar las cosas.”

(Jorge Luis Borges: Curso de literatura inglesa en la universidad de Buenos Aires)


If Shakespeare interests you, that’s fine. If you find him tedious, leave him. Shakespeare hasn’t yet written for you. The day will come when Shakespeare will be right for you and you will be worthy of Shakespeare, but in the meantime there’s no need to hurry things.

(Profesor Borges: A Course on English Literature)

Van Gogh in the Bookshop (Van Gogh en la librería)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana:

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

So often, in the past as well, a visit to a bookshop has cheered me up and reminded me that there are good things in the world.

Vincent Van Gogh: Letter to Theo Van Gogh, 30 October 1877

A menudo, en el pasado también, una visita a la librería me ha animado y me ha recordado que haya cosas buenas en el mundo.

Vincent Van Gogh: Carta a Theo Van Gogh, 30 de octubre de 1877

The Wine-Dark Sea

Quote of the Week:

“Sailing over the wine-dark sea…” (Homer: The Odyssey)
[Image public domain via Pixabay]

It was evening when we made our way back to the cove. The sun was setting fire to the headlands west of us, and the sea had become absolutely still. Not even a cat’s-paw trailed across the purple water. The sea was truly like wine to look at. The professors who had decried Homer’s adjective and invented other meanings for it, had never been sailors.

(Ernle Bradford: The Wind Off the Island)

Palabra mágica (Magic Word)

The library of Pannonhalma Archabbey, Hungary. Photo by Thaler Tamás via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 4.0]
En septiembre 1931, el poeta Federico García Lorca hizo un discurso por la ocasión de la inauguración de la biblioteca pública en su pueblo natal, Fuente Vaqueros en Granada.

In September 1931, the poet Federico García Lorca made a speech on occasion of the inauguration of the public library in his hometown, Fuente Vaqueros in Granada.

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week

¡Libros! ¡Libros! He aquí una palabra mágica que equivale a decir amor, amor, y que debían los pueblos pedir como piden pan o como anhelan la lluvia para sus sementeras.

(Federico García Lorca: Medio pan y un libro)


Books! Books! Here is a magic word that is equivalent to saying love, love, and what people should ask for like they ask for bread or yearn for rain for their crops.

(Federico García Lorca; Half a Bread and a Book)