Dare to Read

September 29, 2012

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer: Memoir

My aunt’s house, like most houses in Sevilla at the time, was built around a patio, its walls washed white, an orange tree on a corner and in the middle a running fountain to help fight the unbearable heat that came with summer. And it was sitting on the low ridge of the stone basin I saw Lucrezia for the first time.

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer in Immortal Love


La casa, como la mayoría de las casas de Sevilla en aquel año de mil ochocientos cuarenta y siete, estaba construida alrededor de un patio de muros blancos. Recuerdo todavía el naranjo que crecía al fondo y la fuente que ocupaba su centro, cuyas aguas siempre frescas ayudaban a combatir el calor agobiante del verano andaluz.

Y fue allí, sentada al borde de la taza de piedra que rodeaba la fuente, donde vi a Lucrecia por primera vez.

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer en Bécquer eterno.

August 20, 2012

Rima XXVII Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer

Filed under: Becquer,Photograph — carmenferreiroesteban @ 6:11 am
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Awake, I fear to look ;
Asleep, I dare to see ;
For that, soul of my soul,
I watch the while you sleep.

Awake, you laugh ; and laughing your unquiet lips appear
Like sinuous, crimson meteors upon a sky of snow.
Asleep, a sweet smile gently curls the corners of your
Soft as the track effulgent of the swiftly dying sun ;

Sleep ! Sleep!
Awake, you look ; and looking your moist eyes resplendent
Like a wave, whose crest is smitten by a jav’lin of the sun.
Asleep, across your eye-lids you send forth a tranquil
Like a lamp transparent, shedding even rays of tempered
light ;—
Sleep ! Sleep !

Awake, you speak ; and speaking, all your vibrant words
Like a show’r “of pearls in torrents pour’d into a golden

Asleep, in ev’ry murmur of your soft and measured
I listen to a poem, which my soul enamour’d hears ;

Sleep ! Sleep!
On my heart IVe placed my hand
Lest its beating should be heard,
Lest discordant it should sound
On the solemn chord of night.
I have closed the jalousies
Lest that roysterer, the dawn,
With his glaring robe of light
Should awake you from your dreams;
Sleep ! Sleep !

Translation into English by Mason Carnes, 1891

June 4, 2012

Bécquer eterno en versión digital / Bécquer eterno now available as an e-book


by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

For the ENGLISH text, see below.

A mis seguidores de habla hispana:

Después de sobrevivir múltiples aventuras, la versión española de Bécquer eterno ya está a la venta como un e-book. Por ahora solamente en Amazon (Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/B%C3%A9cquer-eterno-Spanish-Edition-ebook/dp/B0088JOJLG, y Amazon.es, http://goo.gl/kJlSE, entre otras) pero pronto lo estará en Barnes and Noble y Smashwords.

Así lo podréis leer independientemente del tipo de lector que tengáis, o en vuestro ordenador si no tenéis lector digital.

Y si vivís en Sevilla y visitáis la Exposición Bécquer tan cerca… a través del arte, no os olvidéis de visitar el patio dónde encontrareis entre otros libros y poemas dedicados a su memoria, una copia de mi sencillo homenaje al genial poeta.

After many adventures, the Spanish version of Bécquer eterno is available as an e-book. So far you can purchase it at Amazon (Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/B%C3%A9cquer-eterno-Spanish-Edition-ebook/dp/B0088JOJLG, and Amazon.es, http://goo.gl/kJlSE, among others) and soon too at Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

And if you live or plan to visit Sevilla before June 25, don’t forget to visit the exhibit, Bécquer tan cerca… a través del arte. There in the beautiful patio of the Fundación Valentín de Madariaga you can see a printed copy of Bécquer eterno, among other books and poems that remember the unforgettable genius of this most beloved poet.

May 3, 2012

My Road to Publication : Bécquer eternal



by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban



As I mentioned back in February (https://carmenferreiroesteban.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/Bécquer-eternal-and-astraea-press/), Astraea Press agreed to publish my paranormal novel, BÉCQUER ETERNAL, both in English and Spanish (BÉCQUER ETERNO).

Unfortunately my relationship with Astraea Press came to an end in March when, after two rounds of editing, my line editor discovered that one of my characters, Federico, was homosexual and, I was informed, Astraea Press does not publish books with homosexual characters.

They asked me, politely, to change this.

But how could I? Federico was a real person (Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936)), a Spanish poet who, as I mention in my story, was killed during the first days of the Spanish Civil War, because, among other reasons, he was homosexual. To change or not to mention his sexual orientation felt like a betrayal to him and would also destroy the plot of my story.

So, with regret, I told them I couldn’t do it.

Although, soon, I found another publisher interested in the English version of BÉCQUER ETERNAL, they do not publish titles in Spanish.

Too late now, to query Spanish Houses, I decided to publish BÉCQUER ETERNO myself.

Right now, a Spanish POD publisher is printing the galleys.

If things go as planned, a printed copy of BÉCQUER ETERNO, my humble homage to Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, the most romantic of the Spanish poets, and Federico Garcia Lorca, IMHO, the greatest Spanish poet of the XX century will be at the Exhibit Bécquer tan cerca… A través del arte in Sevilla from May 25 to June 24.

How I wish I could be there!

April 26, 2012

My Adventures on Translation : Music and Words

Filed under: Becquer,On Traslation — carmenferreiroesteban @ 3:48 pm
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by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban




Last week after finishing my post, My adventures on Translation : Bécquer Eternal / Bécquer Eterno, where I talked about how a literary translation differs from a technical one, serendipity, that most gracious sister of chance, brought me to the following sentence while reading Robert Greenberg’s How to Listen to Great Music:

“Broadly defined, music is sound in time (…) Far beyond spoken language—which, with its sounds in time, might rightly be considered a low-end sort of music—music is a universal language.”

This struck me because it was exactly what I had been trying to convey in my post.

If language is as Mr. Greenberg so nicely puts “sounds in time” and “a low-end sort of music”, it makes perfect sense that to translate a sentence from English into Spanish word by word will not work in a literary/lyrical text because the length and sounds of the words that represent the same concept in English or Spanish are different. Thus “the sounds in time” the translation delivers in the other language will not “sing”.

To make them sing, the translator must find, in the other language not only words that translate the meaning, but words that translate the music. And that is quite a difficult task.

As an example of how words are indeed a form of music, I invite you to listen to this traditional song that fits perfectly the words of Bécquer’s Rima XXV.

Please don’t feel discouraged if you don’t speak Spanish because music, as Robert Greenberg tells us above, is “a universal language.”


April 12, 2012

My adventures on translation : Bécquer Eternal / Bécquer Eterno



by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban



I haven’t blogged lately because I have been way too busy with the translation of my paranormal story Bécquer Eternal into Spanish.

The reason?

This year marks the 176 anniversary of Bécquer’s birthday and his home town of Sevilla (Spain) is having an Exhibit in his honor.

Many artists (poets, musicians, painters, sculptures, silversmiths, etc.) will remember him with their work. And I’m happy to say a copy of my book in Spanish will be included in the exhibit.

As the Exhibit will take place between May 25 and June 24, I must finish my translation, like yesterday, so I can get a printed copy in time.

I have worked as a translator for over ten years and Spanish is my native language. So I was surprised to realize how difficult it was to translate my own work.

The difficulty was not only on translating the meaning accurately, but on trying to keep the rhythm and lyricism of the original, as well as other factors like cultural references, slang, etc…

Yes, I knew this to be the case when you’re working with a literary text. But I knew it in a cerebral way. I knew it in my mind, not in my guts.

I will show you examples in future blogs.

Right now, Ill explain what I mean with an image, two images to be precise, that happen to be the covers of the English and Spanish version of my book.

Although they’re quite different, both transmit the spirit of my story.

The Spanish cover includes a portrait of Bécquer on the left. This portrait is as iconic in Spain as a picture of a blonde Marylyn would be in the States. But the cultural reference would be lost in an American audience.

And so it’s with the literary images. Cultural references are lost and must be substituted with others, making the translation both a frustrating and an exhilarating experience.

I’ll tell you more about it next week. Now, it’s back to work for me.

Until then, Happy Spring!

April 2, 2012

Where Ideas Come From

Filed under: Becquer,Becquer Eternal,On Reading — carmenferreiroesteban @ 5:09 am
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From Bécquer Eternal

He was gone and back so fast that, but for the mask he held now in his hands I wouldn’t have noticed he had moved at all.

I stood and examined the mask, a delicate piece of art made of ivory silk with colorful feathers.

“Don’t you like it?” Bécquer asked, as I hesitated to pick it up.

“It’s beautiful.”

Again he smiled, the smile of a child pleased with himself. “Federico bought it for me last year when he was in Venice.”

March 26, 2012

Where Ideas Come From – 8

From The Revenge of the Wolf King

He stopped when we reached the river bank, and letting go of my hand, parted the reeds so very carefully. I saw it, then, white and slender, a bird made of light. It walked in the water on its long, slim legs, perfectly balanced, as if dancing to a music it could only hear.

“It’s beautiful,” I whispered.

From Bécquer Eternal

I locked my car and went down the bank, to the gravel strip by the water where Ryan and Bécquer had come ashore.

A heron, white and slender, walked the shore hunting for food. The heron that had made it into the narrative of the manuscript Bécquer had agreed to represent.

But for the heron, the place was deserted. The boats and canoes that dot the lake in summer time, were now grounded ashore in the crescent shaped inlet to my left. And the owners of the cars sitting by mine were nowhere in sight.

Turning my back to the lake, I walked to the bench Bécquer and I had shared the previous night, and sat down.

The weather had been unusually mild this past October and the trees had just reached their full autumn colors, but the stunning beauty of my surroundings I had profusely photographed over the previous weeks, failed to impress me.

Maybe it was because the effect of Bécquer’s blood had worn off during the night, and, after perceiving the world through immortal senses, it seemed dull now that I was seeing it with my human eyes. Maybe it was, plain and simply, because Bécquer was not with me and I wished he were.

March 20, 2012

Never before published Rhymes by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer : Bécquer as Translator

Filed under: Becquer,On Traslation — carmenferreiroesteban @ 5:19 am
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Ciprés alto y airoso,

flor de corola oscura,

joven de ojos más negros

que la noche sin luna.

¿Ves ese vellón blanco

que leve el aire empuja?

Así pasan los días

para no volver nunca.

The Spanish publishing house, Reino de Cordelia, published in 2010 two stories, Abdallah, and Aziz y Aziza, written in French by Édouard Laboulaye, translated into Spanish by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, and illustrated by Bécquer’s brother Valeriano.

Because I am both a writer and a translator, I appreciate the difficulty intrinsic to a literary translation.

Technical translators must act as mirrors. They must “invert” (pour) the text into the other language while maintaining its meaning and the integrity of its sentences and structures.

The mission of the translator of a literary work is more complex. The one of the translator of a poem, near impossible. He/she must keep not only the meaning, but also the rhythm, assonance and alliteration of the original verses. In a few, perfect words, the translator must convey to us the story and, at the same time, touch our heart by provoking in us a visceral and mystique reaction that will transform us.

In his translation of the twelve rhymes included in these two novels, Bécquer passes the test with flying colors. The poems interspaced among the prose touched my heart as Bécquer’s own did, so long ago, when I read them for the first time, as a teenager, back in Spain.

Out of respect for the master, I won’t translate the poem into English. But, if you ever considered learning Spanish, reading Bécquer’s poems in his native language, could be as good an incentive as any. For I promise, they’re well worth the effort.

 Rimas inéditas de Bécquer: Bécquer traductor

La editorial Reino de Cordelia publicó en el 2010 dos novelas cortas, Abdallah, y Aziz y Aziza, escritas en francés por Édouard Laboulaye, traducidas al castellano por Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, y con ilustraciones de su hermano Valeriano.

Porque soy escritora y traductora aprecio por partida doble la dificultad intrínseca a una traducción literaria.

Un traductor técnico ha de ser como un espejo. Debe “invertir” (verter) el texto al otro idioma manteniendo su significado y la integridad de sus frases y estructuras.

La misión de un traductor de una obra literaria es más compleja. La de un traductor de poemas, casi imposible, pues ha de conservar no solo el sentido sino también el ritmo, la asonancia y la aliteración del texto original. En breves, perfectas palabras, el traductor nos han de transmitir la historia y, al mismo tiempo, provocar en nosotros una reacción visceral y mística que nos transforme.

En su traducción de las doce rimas incluidas en estas dos novelas, Bécquer pasa la prueba con nota alta. Los versos que salpican la prosa me conmovieron como los suyos propios hicieron, hace ya tanto tiempo, cuando los leí por primera vez durante mi mocedad en España.

Esperando que la editorial disculpe mi atrevimiento, he reproducido más arriba uno de ellos como ejemplo.

March 19, 2012

Where Ideas Come From – 7

From Bécquer Eternal by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban


Outside the window, coming down Main, a blue BMW convertible waited at the light. As I watched, the roof rolled back and the sun poured inside the car, on the black hair and pale skin of the man who claimed to be Becquer. I held my breath, afraid that he would burst into flames. Across the distance, Becquer smiled and, in my head, I heard his laughter, a clear sound of childish joy. Before I could react, the light turned green and,with a slight movement of his hand, he shifted gears, and, disappeared in a blur of blue.


Bécquer Eterno
Un descapotable azul parado frente al semáforo me llamó la atención. Mientras lo miraba, el techo del mismo se abrió y el sol entró a raudales dentro del coche, bañando con su luz el pelo oscuro y la piel pálida del hombre que decía ser Bécquer. Contuve mi respiración, temiendo quizás que fuera a estallar en llamas. Bécquer miró en mi dirección y en mi mente escuché su risa, una risa clara de alegría infantil. Antes de que pudiese reaccionar, el semáforo se puso verde y, con un ligero movimiento de la mano, Bécquer cambió de marcha, y desapareció en un relámpago azul.

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