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June 13, 2010 / Melissa Leeanne

Translation

No hablo español.  Therefore, I would like to thank Edith Grossman for translating Love in the Time of Cholera from Spanish to English.  Were it not for award winning translator, Edith Grossman, I would not be enjoying this work by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

This is not the first time I have thought about translation, having studied Spanish briefly and German for somewhat longer; I have been tasked with translating blocks of text myself.  I have the utmost respect for those who can translate literature and poetry, faithfully reproducing the meaning as well as maintaining the intended aesthetic.

Now that I’ve expressed my respect for Grossman’s translation, I have to say, I may not stay faithful.  I may check out another translation: a queen’s English translation.

It is almost embarrassing to admit the reason for my infidelity: eggplant.

“The harmony they had longed for reached its culmination when they least expected it, at a gala dinner at which a delicious food was served that Fermina Daza could not identify.  She began with a good portion, but she liked it so much that she took another of the same size, and she was lamenting the fact that urbane etiquette did not permit her to help herself to a third, when she learned what she had just eaten, with unsuspected pleasure, two heaping plates of pureed eggplant.  She accepted defeat with good grace, and from that time on, eggplant in all its forms was served at the villa in La Manga with almost as much frequency as at the Palace of Cassalduero, and it was enjoyed so much by everyone that Dr. Juvenal Urbino would lighten the idle hours of his old age by insisting that he wanted to have another daughter so that he could give her the best-loved word in the house as a name: Eggplant Urbino.”

I don’t know what the original text read and I also don’t know the common word for eggplant in Spanish, though in my brief study of the language I did learn many food words.  I do know that in British English, eggplant is called Aubergine.  The idea of naming a child after a food is meant to be absurd, but I feel the absurdity of naming a child Eggplant seems almost out of place in a book that seemed to so subtly and gracefully glide between reality and magic.  Aubergine, however, is a delightful name for a daughter and did it not belong to a food, I would consider it.

It is not Ms. Grossman’s fault that I am left wanting.  I believe her translation to American English is beautiful, I just wish the word ‘eggplant’ were similarly as beautiful.  If we could only switch to calling it ‘aubergine’ instead, I would be a happier person.

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