Category Archives: Spain

Sketches to Portraits by Terentiy Travnik

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Terentiy Travnik and Darya Khanedany’an, Sketches to Portraits. Translated into English, Spanish and French by Julia Shuvalova and Patrick Jackson.

One of the milestone events of this year for me is a publication of a book Sketches to Portraits with the aphorisms by Terentiy Travnik and illustrations by Darya Khanedany’an.

Terentiy Travnik is a poet, artist and musician, a native Muscovite. Darya Khanedanyan was also born in Moscow into a family of artists, however her own creative career started in Spain. I took part in making the book as a literary editor, an editor of the English translation of aphorisms, and a translator into French. I also translated the opening article into English.

The pronounced Iberian facial traits is obviously a hommage to Spain; Travnik’s aphorisms retain their Russian heritage in form as in the intellectual depth. A harmonious combination of words and images is therefore all the more striking, strengthened by artistic editing by Travnik himself. The vibrant colours, ethnic rhythms and avant-garde stylisation all bring out a truly cosmic dimension in Sketches to Portraits.

The aphorisms by Terentiy Travnik deserve a special mention. One of his best-known books, A Splinter, that has seen 4 editions since it was first published in 1990s, is a collection of aphorisms that embrace practically all spheres of human life. One can note here a loyalty to the tradition of La Bruyère, Schopenhauer and other philosophers who found endless creative possibilities in the concise and succinct form of an aphorism. Ever after A Splinter Travnik’s work has been marked by the mentioned qualities (e.g. Tabulas, 49 Tabulas etc.).

Sketches to Portraits by Terentiy Travnik includes 41 aphorisms translated into English, Spanish and French languages. Great happiness matures slowly; There is a lot of grass in the field, but we can only remember the flower; Time does everything on the go; Touch the roots, and the crown will blossom; To do a foolish thing and to make a mistake are two different things; Wisdom does not take money; Education is the path from authority to truth; Treat the fatigue of the body with rest and the fatigue of the soul with work. This is but a little part of what the author invites the reader to think about. Perhaps, this openness to the dialogue is the most remarkable trait of these aphorisms. Nowadays the Internet is saturated with many an interesting and deep quote, but the most popular are those presented in a mentoring or affirmative voice. Do this; don’t do that; the meaning of that is this. Terentiy Travnik’s aphorisms, while speaking directly to the reader, don’t insist on their ultimate truth. Their deceptive simplicity disguises some really deep reflections.

Terentiy Travnik’s website

Other posts in Julia Shuvalova: Poetry and Prose archives

Moscow Sunset in Spanish Colours

You might remember me saying that one thing I terribly missed while in England were the sunsets I could watch from my window in Moscow. “Much ado about sunsets! They’re beautiful anywhere!” some may exclaim. Surely they are, but you only realise how important they are for you when you have to look at the rooftops of two-storey houses, only imagining how beautiful this celestial spectacle could be…

I’ve never been to Spain, but thanks to El Greco and Goya and the sounds of flamenco the colours I associate with Spain are dark-red, golden, and a tint of black. I think of Carmen, Cervantes, auto-da-fé, the Spanish Civil War, Guernica, the films by Bunuel and Almodovar, Polanski’s Ninth Gate, and Tempranillo Gran Reserva. And if I wanted to let my imagination run wild, I’d think that I was watching the sun setting down on the doomed Albigensian castles of Languedoc.

It is this everyday occurence that provokes a trace of analogies and ultimately brings inspiration that I missed.

Moscow Sunset from the balcony, medieval style

 

Pedro Saenz – La Tumba del Poeta

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Pedro Saenz, The Poet’s Tomb
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Pain of the Matador (photo by Greg Wesson)

The painting by Pedro Saenz La Tumba del Poeta reminds me of two things. One, is Pain of the Matador monument in Madrid; another is a poem by Nikolai Zabolotsky written shortly before his death when he and Alexander Tvardovsky visited Italy and stopped in Ravenna by Dante’s tomb. I translated this poem but I’m still slightly unhappy with two stanzas, so I’ll omit them.

To Florence-mother always a stepson,
I chose Ravenna as my final home.
Stranger, accuse me not; let Death alone
Torment the soul of the cheating one.

I didn’t take my broken lyre with me.
It rests in peace among my native people.
Why then you, Tuscany, for whom I’ve longed so deeply,
Now on my orphaned mouth are kissing me?

Go on, almight bellman, ring your bells!
The world is still awash with blood-red foam!
I chose Ravenna as my final home
But even here I found no rest.

Julia Shuvalova © 2012

Baltasar de Alcazar (1530-1606) – Tres Cosas, A Gastronomic Poem

Baltasar del Alcazar
Three things have chained my heart in love
That equally do please:
The fair Inez, a well-smoked ham,
And aubergines in cheese.
Friends, this Inez of whom I speak
Has such a hold on me
That I must hate all else but her.
Who can her equal be?
For one whole year she ruled my sense,
A task within her means,
Until she served for lunch one day
Smoked ham and aubergines.
Inez, victorious at first,
No longer keeps that role.
My judgment gone, these three main things
Share equally my soul.
Not measure, weight, nor taste of each
Can help me find the means
To judge between the fair Inez
And ham and aubergines.
Now Inez boasts a beauty rare,
But Aracena ham,
With aubergines and Spanish cheese,
Makes other foods a sham.
So equal are these three in weight
That all are sure to please;
Alike are all the three to me,
Inez, the ham and cheese.
At least this matter of new loves
Will force Inez to free
Her favors much more cheaply now
And sell herself to me.

Wherefore if reason stirs her not
I still have other means;
A slice of ham smoked in the fire,
Au gratin aubergines.

Translated from Spanish by Wayne Rollins.
I’m currently reading Renaissance And Baroque Lyrics: An Anthology Of Translations From The Italian, French, And Spanish, and there is this marvellous, funny poem by the Spanish poet Baltasar de Alcazar. He was born in Seville, a member of a noble family, and pursued a military career in the fleet. His lyrics were noted for their originality. He used the old Spanish metrics to write with gusto and humour. Among his poems were epigrams, jests, and romantic poems, influenced by Martial, the Roman poet. Although he evidently never published his poems, a selection was printed in Flores de Poetas in 1605. Tres Cosas is a popular poem, fully epicerean and celebrating love for all earthly things. Even I could easily find myself in exactly the same conundrum. What fair man could beat “well smoked ham” and “aubergines in cheese”?
Concerning the poem, the Spanish original is a series of quatrains, a perfect ABBA, where every second stanza employs the same rhyme, -eso/-on. Every line also contains 8 syllables. This is not quite the case with the English translation, which, nevertheless, preserves the melody of the Spanish poem (the text is under the “Read more” break).

  Tres cosas me tienen preso
de amores el corazón,
la bella Inés, el jamón
y berenjenas con queso.

Esta Inés (amantes) es
quien tuvo en mí tal poder,
que me hizo aborrecer
todo lo que no era Inés.

Trájome un año sin seso,
hasta que en una ocasión
me dio a merendar jamón
y berenjenas con queso.

Fue de Inés la primer palma,
pero ya júzgase mal
entre todos ellos cuál
tiene más parte en mi alma.

En gusto, medida y peso
no le hallo distinción,
ya quiero Inés, ya jamón,
ya berenjenas con queso.

Alega Inés su beldad,
el jamón que es de Aracena,
el queso y berenjena
la española antigüedad.

Y está tan en fil el peso
que juzgado sin pasión
todo es uno, Inés, jamón,
y berenjenas con queso.

A lo menos este trato
de estos mis nuevos amores,
hará que Inés sus favores,
me los venda más barato.

Pues tendrá por contrapeso
si no hiciere razón,
una lonja de jamón
y berenjenas con queso.

The Origins of Trolls – Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote

One of the Russian bloggers I know did an interview with an Internet troll. Yes, that very troll who creates havoc in forums and makes people clash, while he quietly sits in front of his PC or laptop having a laugh at this typically human penchant for taking everything seriously. In particular, trolls enjoy challenging someone to do what they, trolls, insist someone cannot do. This includes giving a proof to something. And if you thought this kind of trolling behaviour only originated in the 20th c. (or maybe 19th) then think again after reading the passage from The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. The part one, published in 1605, gives a brilliant example of trolling that led to the trolls’ victory. After the English translation there is also a Dutch text and the original Spanish passage.

Engraving by Gustave Dore

He now came to a road branching in four directions, and immediately he was reminded of those cross-roads where knights-errant used to stop to consider which road they should take. In imitation of them he halted for a while, and after having deeply considered it, he gave Rocinante his head, submitting his own will to that of his hack, who followed out his first intention, which was to make straight for his own stable. After he had gone about two miles Don Quixote perceived a large party of people, who, as afterwards appeared, were some Toledo traders, on their way to buy silk at Murcia. There were six of them coming along under their sunshades, with four servants mounted, and three muleteers on foot. Scarcely had Don Quixote descried them when the fancy possessed him that this must be some new adventure; and to help him to imitate as far as he could those passages he had read of in his books, here seemed to come one made on purpose, which he resolved to attempt. So with a lofty bearing and determination he fixed himself firmly in his stirrups, got his lance ready, brought his buckler before his breast, and planting himself in the middle of the road, stood waiting the approach of these knights-errant, for such he now considered and held them to be; and when they had come near enough to see and hear, he exclaimed with a haughty gesture, “All the world stand, unless all the world confess that in all the world there is no maiden fairer than the Empress of La Mancha, the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso.”

The traders halted at the sound of this language and the sight of the strange figure that uttered it, and from both figure and language at once guessed the craze of their owner; they wished, however, to learn quietly what was the object of this confession that was demanded of them, and one of them, who was rather fond of a joke and was very sharp-witted, said to him, “Sir Knight, we do not know who this good lady is that you speak of; show her to us, for, if she be of such beauty as you suggest, with all our hearts and without any pressure we will confess the truth that is on your part required of us.”

“If I were to show her to you,” replied Don Quixote, “what merit would you have in confessing a truth so manifest? The essential point is that without seeing her you must believe, confess, affirm, swear, and defend it; else ye have to do with me in battle, ill-conditioned, arrogant rabble that ye are; and come ye on, one by one as the order of knighthood requires, or all together as is the custom and vile usage of your breed, here do I bide and await you relying on the justice of the cause I maintain.”

“Sir Knight,” replied the trader, “I entreat your worship in the name of this present company of princes, that, to save us from charging our consciences with the confession of a thing we have never seen or heard of, and one moreover so much to the prejudice of the Empresses and Queens of the Alcarria and Estremadura, your worship will be pleased to show us some portrait of this lady, though it be no bigger than a grain of wheat; for by the thread one gets at the ball, and in this way we shall be satisfied and easy, and you will be content and pleased; nay, I believe we are already so far agreed with you that even though her portrait should show her blind of one eye, and distilling vermilion and sulphur from the other, we would nevertheless, to gratify your worship, say all in her favour that you desire.”

“She distils nothing of the kind, vile rabble,” said Don Quixote, burning with rage, “nothing of the kind, I say, only ambergris and civet in cotton; nor is she one-eyed or humpbacked, but straighter than a Guadarrama spindle: but ye must pay for the blasphemy ye have uttered against beauty like that of my lady.”

And so saying, he charged with levelled lance against the one who had spoken, with such fury and fierceness that, if luck had not contrived that Rocinante should stumble midway and come down, it would have gone hard with the rash trader. Down went Rocinante, and over went his master, rolling along the ground for some distance; and when he tried to rise he was unable, so encumbered was he with lance, buckler, spurs, helmet, and the weight of his old armour; and all the while he was struggling to get up he kept saying, “Fly not, cowards and caitiffs! stay, for not by my fault, but my horse’s, am I stretched here.”

Full English text

De kooplieden konden uit Don Quichots gansche toetakeling en uit de dolle taal, die hij uitsloeg, wel dadelijk opmaken, dat het met hem daar boven niet recht pluis moest wezen, en een van hen, een jolige snaak, antwoordde dus dadelijk met even groote deftigheid: “Koen, dapper en roemwaardig ridder! wij hebben den naam van de eerbare jonkvrouwe, dien gij daar uit- galmt, nog nooit gehoord en hebben dus ook geen sikkepitje tegen haar in te brengen. Laat ons dan zien, hoe zij is, en is zij werkelijk het toonbeeld van schoonheid, waarvoor gij haar uitgeeft, dan zullen wij haar eer en lof volgaarne overal uitbazuinen.”

“Dat is maar dwaze praat!” voegde Don Quichot hun toe. “Als ik haar toonde, zou ’t geen verdienste wezen, dat ge voor haar op de knieën neervielt. Neen, ook zonder haar liefelijk aangezicht te aanschouwen zult gij gelooven, bekennen en bezweren, dat zij de schoonste op aarde is, of allen door de kracht mijner lans in het stof worden neergeworpen. Komt nader dan, komt nader, een voor een of allen te gelijk, en ik wil u toonen, wat straf hen wacht, die wagen, aan de edele en hooge dame Dulcinea van Toboso de verschuldigde achting te ontzeggen.”

“Ei, heer ridder, hoe kunt gij u ook zoo schrikbarend driftig maken?” antwoordde de spotzieke koopman, met moeite zijn lachlust bedwingende. “Toont ons maar eene beeltenis van uwe aangebedene, en al is die ook maar zoo groot als een gerstekorrel, we zullen tevreden zijn en uwe heerlijkheid alle eer bewijzen, zelfs als uit dat konterfeitsel blijkt, dat de edele Dulcinea erg scheel ziet en voor en achter een bochel heeft.”

“Ellendige, laaghartige schavuit!” riep Don Quichot, ten uiterste verontwaardigd. “Doña Dulcinea van Toboso kijkt niet scheel, en nog veel minder wordt haar edele gestalte door een bult ontsierd. Maar gij zult voor uwe snoode lastering het met den dood boeten.”

En nog terwijl hij dit uitschreeuwde, gaf hij Rocinante de sporen en stormde met zulk een geweld op den spotachtigen koopman in, dat hij hem met zijne lans doorboord zou hebben, zoo niet een gelukkig toeval dat dreigend gevaar had afgewend, De arme Rocinante namelijk, op dat harde rennen nog niet afgericht, stiet tegen een steen aan, struikelde, stortte neer en slingerde zijn ridderlijken berijder met zooveel kracht uit den zadel, dat hij wel tien passen ver door de lucht vloog. Hij deed wel al zijn best, om zich van zijn val weer op te richten; doch de zware last zijner rusting belette hem dat. Desniettegenstaande ging hij voort met schimpen en razen en overstelpte de kooplieden met een vloed van scheldwoorden, terwijl dezen daarbij zaten te schudden van lachen.

Full Dutch text

En esto, llegó a un camino que en cuatro se dividía, y luego se le vino a la imaginación las encrucejadas donde los caballeros andantes se ponían a pensar cuál camino de aquéllos tomarían, y, por imitarlos, estuvo un rato quedo; y, al cabo de haberlo muy bien pensado, soltó la rienda a Rocinante, dejando a la voluntad del rocín la suya, el cual siguió su primer intento, que fue el irse camino de su caballeriza.

Y, habiendo andado como dos millas, descubrió don Quijote un grande tropel de gente, que, como después se supo, eran unos mercaderes toledanos que iban a comprar seda a Murcia. Eran seis, y venían con sus quitasoles, con otros cuatro criados a caballo y tres mozos de mulas a pie. Apenas los divisó don Quijote, cuando se imaginó ser cosa de nueva aventura; y, por imitar en todo cuanto a él le parecía posible los pasos que había leído en sus libros, le pareció venir allí de molde uno que pensaba hacer. Y así, con gentil continente y denuedo, se afirmó bien en los estribos, apretó la lanza, llegó la adarga al pecho, y, puesto en la mitad del camino, estuvo esperando que aquellos caballeros andantes llegasen, que ya él por tales los tenía y juzgaba; y, cuando llegaron a trecho que se pudieron ver y oír, levantó don Quijote la voz, y con ademán arrogante dijo:

— Todo el mundo se tenga, si todo el mundo no confiesa que no hay en el mundo todo doncella más hermosa que la emperatriz de la Mancha, la sin par Dulcinea del Toboso.

Paráronse los mercaderes al son destas razones, y a ver la estraña figura del que las decía; y, por la figura y por las razones, luego echaron de ver la locura de su dueño; mas quisieron ver despacio en qué paraba aquella confesión que se les pedía, y uno dellos, que era un poco burlón y muy mucho discreto, le dijo:

— Señor caballero, nosotros no conocemos quién sea esa buena señora que decís; mostrádnosla: que si ella fuere de tanta hermosura como significáis, de buena gana y sin apremio alguno confesaremos la verdad que por parte vuestra nos es pedida.

— Si os la mostrara —replicó don Quijote—, ¿qué hiciérades vosotros en confesar una verdad tan notoria? La importancia está en que sin verla lo habéis de creer, confesar, afirmar, jurar y defender; donde no, conmigo sois en batalla, gente descomunal y soberbia. Que, ahora vengáis uno a uno, como pide la orden de caballería, ora todos juntos, como es costumbre y mala usanza de los de vuestra ralea, aquí os aguardo y espero, confiado en la razón que de mi parte tengo.

— Señor caballero —replicó el mercader—, suplico a vuestra merced, en nombre de todos estos príncipes que aquí estamos, que, porque no encarguemos nuestras conciencias confesando una cosa por nosotros jamás vista ni oída, y más siendo tan en perjuicio de las emperatrices y reinas del Alcarria y Estremadura, que vuestra merced sea servido de mostrarnos algún retrato de esa señora, aunque sea tamaño como un grano de trigo; que por el hilo se sacará el ovillo, y quedaremos con esto satisfechos y seguros, y vuestra merced quedará contento y pagado; y aun creo que estamos ya tan de su parte que, aunque su retrato nos muestre que es tuerta de un ojo y que del otro le mana bermellón y piedra azufre, con todo eso, por complacer a vuestra merced, diremos en su favor todo lo que quisiere.

— No le mana, canalla infame —respondió don Quijote, encendido en cólera—; no le mana, digo, eso que decís, sino ámbar y algalia entre algodones; y no es tuerta ni corcovada, sino más derecha que un huso de Guadarrama. Pero vosotros pagaréis la grande blasfemia que habéis dicho contra tamaña beldad como es la de mi señora.

Y, en diciendo esto, arremetió con la lanza baja contra el que lo había dicho, con tanta furia y enojo que, si la buena suerte no hiciera que en la mitad del camino tropezara y cayera Rocinante, lo pasara mal el atrevido mercader. Cayó Rocinante, y fue rodando su amo una buena pieza por el campo; y, queriéndose levantar, jamás pudo: tal embarazo le causaban la lanza, adarga, espuelas y celada, con el peso de las antiguas armas. Y, entretanto que pugnaba por levantarse y no podía, estaba diciendo:

— ¡Non fuyáis, gente cobarde; gente cautiva, atended!; que no por culpa mía, sino de mi caballo, estoy aquí tendido.

Original Spanish text

The Street of Sevilla Through the Eyes of a Russian Blogger

I have just seen a few absolutely wonderful photos of sun-filled Sevilla, photographed by the Russian LiveJournal blogger. One photo, featuring an old couple, is accompanied by the caption: “I imagine that when I and Igor are old we will still be walking hand in hand in a street of a beautiful city”. I totally share this dream, I also want to be able to walk hand in hand with my beloved in the streets of all cities in the world. Back to photography, though: some of the angles, even though this is colour photo, reminded me of the films by Ingmar Bergman, especially Wild Strawberries.

All photos are here: The Streets of Sevilla.