Friday, January 25, 2013

Nathaniel Hawthorne: Rappaccini's Daughter (In Contemporary Englishy)

My revised version of Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter is now available in KINDLE.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

Brief Bio

The American author was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts to a family that had been prominent in the area since colonial times. His father died when he was four years old, leaving the child in the care of maternal relatives. Later he attended Bowdoin College where he met well-known literary and political figures of the day: writer Horatio Bridge, future Senator Jonathan Ciley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and future President Franklin Pierce. 
Later he befriended the finest American intellectuals of the time including Amos Bronson Alcott and his daughter Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson who was also prominent in the Transcendentalist movement.
Through his influential friends he managed to always find government employment.

Major Works

Rather than novels Nathaniel Hawthorne cultivated 'romances' —which allow the writer a quicker suspension of disbelief and more latitude than novels — that border on fantasies and dreams, one can say that narratives such as The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables do contain elements of magic realism. In particular, the closing scene of The House of The Seven Gables in which Uncle Venner "seemed to hear a strain of music and fancied that Alice Pyncheon ... had given one farewell touch of a spirit's joy upon her harpsichord as she floated heavenward from the House of the Seven Gables." This scene is reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's fabulous scene in which Remedios the Beauty —a character in One Hundred Years of Solitude— ascends to heaven in the midst of flapping sheets.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's short stories include “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” “My Kinsman, Major Molineux" (1832), "Roger Malvin's Burial" (1832), "Young Goodman Brown" (1835), and the collection Twice-Told Tales.

Rappaccini’s Daughter

While many read this story as a horror story, the story is really a love story.
The story is an ‘open story’ for which no definitive interpretation has been put forth. What is definitive is that it has spawned a small library filled with many serious and not-so-serious interpretations. Among the serious one we find some common threads: that it deals with transcendentalist themes; that Beatrice is a heavenly angel and a fatal seductress, and Giovanni a Puritan prototype; it is also read as an allegory of the Garden of Eden where Giovanni and Beatrice are the surrogates of Adam and Eve, and Rappaccini God and Satan, with a poisonous plant for the tree of life.

 Why this revised version

Like Chaucer, Shakespeare, and other classic writers, Nathaniel deserves to be read. Many good intentioned readers begin to read the first page of “Young Goodman Brown” only to abandon the story a few seconds later. It is the stilted language what deters readers. To make the story more agile and easy to follow, I have re-punctuated and re-paragraphed the text, removing the ‘thous,” “thees,” and other archaisms—making the prose resemble contemporary American English, while preserving Hawthorne’s admirable style.

My revised version of Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter is now available in KINDLE.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Atala: François René de Chateaubriand

A lively translation of ATALA is now available in KINDLE.

François René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848)
Biographical Information

French novelist, essayist, memoirist, translator, playwright, critic and biographer was born in Saint-Malo to a Breton family of aristocratic blood, growing up as the youngest of ten children.
Directionless as a young man, he thought of a naval career; later of priesthood, only to end up in the army, from which he resigned his commission after two years. After witnessing the fall of the Bastille in 1789, he sailed to America in 1791. A year later he returned to France where he served army, again, to defend the monarchy. Wounded and abandoned in the battlefield, against all odds he survived. In 1793 he moved to London to begin a literary career. 
In 1801 he published a romantic love story set in America titled Atala to great successful. The following year he wrote Le Génie du christianisme (1802; The Genius of Christianity), receiving great critical acclaim. Fond of traveling, he went to the Near East, Greece, Palestine, and Egypt. He served in different governmental posts while at the same time writing political essays and pamphlets.
In the 1830s, he began work on his Mémoires d'outretombe ; a lifetime project that he continued until his death in 1848.
Chateaubriand’s Claim to Fame
Chateaubriand was a leading literary figure in the French Romanticism movement, and his prolific literary works influenced subsequent generations of younger authors.
Lush lyrical descriptions—particularly of nature as one finds in Atala—together with moral issues fill the inner life of his characters. But that isn’t too surprising since the author himself was not only a romantic, but also a religious apologist and an aesthete.
Major Works
In An Historical, Political, and Moral Essay on Revolutions, Ancient and Modern, Chateaubriand examines classical literature, nature, politics and religion to understand the history of revolution.
In The Genius of Christianity he offers a romantic view of religion, focusing on its “moral and poetic beauties.” This serious treatise is perhaps, intellectually, Chateaubriand’s major contribution to literature, yet today he is better remembered by his short fiction—Atala and René.
Through Atala Chateaubriand contrasts nature and religion through descriptions of the primitive American landscape. Written with a lyrical and unbridled romantic voice, the tale is in the tradition of unrequited love —between Chactas and Atala— that brings to mind the romances of Tristan and Isolde, Romeo and Juliet, Paris and Helen of Troy, Odysseus and Penelope, and Orpheus and Eurydice—among others.
René, centers on the soul-searching of a youth who feels an incestuous love for his sister.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Atala by: François René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848)

My new translations of Atala are now available in both Kindle and Nook.

François René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848)

Información Biográfica
Novelista francés, ensayista, memorialista, traductor, dramaturgo, crítico y biógrafo, nació en Saint-Malo a una familia bretona de sangre aristocrática, creciendo como el más joven de diez hijos.
Joven y sin rumbo, pensaba en una carrera naval, y más tarde en el sacerdocio, sólo para terminar en el ejército, del cual renunció a su cargo después de dos años. Después de ser testigo de la caída de la Bastilla en 1789, se embarcó a América en 1791. Un año después regresó a Francia, donde sirvió en el ejército, una vez más, para defender la monarquía. Herido y abandonado en el campo de batalla, contra todo pronóstico sobrevivió. En 1793 se trasladó a Londres para comenzar una carrera literaria.
En 1801 publicó con gran éxito una historia de amor romántica ambientada en los Estados Unidos titulada Atala. Al año siguiente escribió Le Génie du christianisme (El genio del cristianismo, 1802), recibiendo elogios de la crítica. Amante de los viajes, se fue al cercano Oriente, Grecia, Palestina y Egipto. Se desempeñó en diferentes cargos gubernamentales, y simultáneamente a la redacción de ensayos y panfletos políticos.
En la década de 1830, comenzó a trabajar en sus Mémoires d'outre-tombe, un proyecto de vida que continuó hasta su muerte en 1848.
Distincion y  Fama
Chateaubriand fue una figura destacada en el movimiento literario romántico francés, y sus prolíficas obras literarias influenciaron a generaciones posteriores de jóvenes autores.
Ricas y exóticas descripciones; especialmente sobre la naturaleza, como las que uno encuentra en Atala, junto con los asuntos morales, llenan la vida interior de sus personajes. Lo que no es demasiado sorprendente, ya que el propio autor no sólo era un romántico, sino también un apologista religioso y un esteta.
Obras Mayores
En un ensayo histórico, político y moral sobre las revoluciones antigua y moderna, Chateaubriand examina la literatura clásica, la naturaleza, la política y la religión para entender la historia de la revolución.
En El genio del cristianismo nos ofrece una visión romántica de la religión, centrándose en sus "bellezas morales y poéticos." Este tratado grave es quizás, intelectualmente, la contribución principal de Chateaubriand a la literatura; sin embargo, hoy se le recuerda mejor por su corto metraje de ficción: Atala y René.
En Atala Chateaubriand contrasta la naturaleza y la religión, concentrándose en las descripciones del paisaje americano primitivo. Escrito con una voz lírica y romántica —a menudo harto desenfrenada— la historia pertenece a la tradición de amor no correspondido (entre Chactas y Atala); lo que trae a la memoria inmortales personajes: Tristán e Isolda, Romeo y Julieta, Paris y Helena de Troya, Odiseo y Penélope, y Orfeo y Eurídice, entre otros.
René, se centra en la búsqueda del alma de un joven que siente un amor incestuoso por su hermana.