Manuel Talens

Manuel Talens is a novelist, translator and columnist in the Spanish language press.

Born: July 27, 1948, Granada, Spain
Died: July 21, 2015, Valencia, Spain

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Training

In 1971 he graduated in Medicine at the University of Granada and specialized in pathological anatomy at McGill University, Montreal.

Translator

Professional translator from English and French into the Spanish language.
Translated texts of fiction, semiotics, psychiatry, theater, essay and cinema.

Works

Founding member (2005) of Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity.

Novels

1992 – The parable of Carmen the Queen.
1997 – Daughters of Eve.
2007 – The Ribbon of Moebius.

Books

1995 – Revenge.
1997 – “Alone tonight”, story included in the collective volume Erotic Christmas Tales.
2001 – Wheel of time.
2003 – Saskia’s smile and other minimal stories.

Awards

1997 – Turia Billboard Award (Valencia) for the best literary contribution for his novel Daughters of Eve.
2002Andalusia Critics Award for his book of stories Rueda del tiempo.

As a professional translator, Talens brought more than seventy works of fiction, semiotics, linguistics, psychiatry, theater, essays and cinema to the Spanish language, by such diverse authors as Groupe µ, Georges Simenon, Edith Wharton, Groucho Marx, Paul Virilio, Blaise Cendrars, Derek Walcott, James Petras, Donna J. Haraway, Natan Zach, Fred Goldstein and Guy Deutscher, among others.

Mallory Fox

Time Magazine

Articles

Ana Rosa Quintana in his novel Flavor a gall

Ana Rosa Quintana in his novel Flavor a gall

For more than a month the talk in the forums of this country has been the subject of the plagiarism committed by Ana Rosa Quintana in his novel Flavor a gall. There was everything: jokes in the newspapers, disqualifications in the markets and in the everlasting radio gatherings, brave articles of the best feathers and even messages spread by email that make fun of the famous woman fallen into disgrace, like the one that reproduces the cover of the edition that Martín de Riquer made of Don Quixote, only that in her the name of Cervantes is replaced by that of the presenter put into novelist. Anyone would say that the helpless little lamb suffers the harassment of a pack of wolves down the mountain to tear it apart and I confess that I also fell into the evil of resending some friends the aforementioned Quixote de la Quintana that one day I received in the mailbox of my computer.

The idea of ​​harassment transmitted by the movie Ana and the Wolves (Carlos Saura, 1972) translates in my opinion the spirit of what I intend to comment here and that is why I have not hesitated to use it as the title of these lines, even knowing that, just as the courtyard is, anyone could accuse me of plagiarizing the Aragonese director, which is an artistic crime against the majesty.

The DRAE thus defines the second meaning of the plagiar verb: “Copy in substantial works of others, giving them as their own”. When seized in his book of some pages taken from novels by Danielle Steel, by Angels Mastretta, by Colleen McCullough and who knows how many more authors (that will be deciphered in their day), Quintana becomes the inmate of one of the literary crimes most persecuted by the hypocritical Western Judeo-Christian society: the theft with copyright copyright. The examples are famous: the beatle George Harrison was sentenced to pay a heavy sum in compensation for the plagiarism of the chords he allegedly incurred in composing his sales success My Sweet Lord and, in France, the writer Calixte Beyala had difficulties with the justice for reproducing in her novels passages from other books, to which she replied that in the African oral tradition from which it comes, precisely because it is oral, everyone tells stories to the neighbor and nobody cares to attribute authorship. The case that concerns us now smells of fresh money in abundance and, therefore, not many moons will pass before the lawyers launch themselves into the jugular of Ana Rosa Quintana or her editorial, hunting for a good pinch to throw Body.

However, things were not always like that and it is enough to take a look at yesterday to realize that in other times the method used in Gall Flavor was common. To make it clear how his contemporaries were to understand the Book of Good Love, Juan Ruiz, the Archpriest of Hita, left textually written in a notebook via that “any man who hears it, even if Trovar knows, can add and amend if I want to “(quartet 1629). Let us not forget that during the Middle Ages – as still today in some rural areas of the Third World – literature was largely oral and that is why Juan Ruiz addressed the notice to his listeners, not to his readers, but the same principle can be applied to the print letter. Most likely he, who knew “well trovar”, used material from others to rework his book and, aware that art was something communal, offered in fair compensation the fertile ground of his verses to whom he was able to enrich them. “Add and amend”, there is the key. I don’t think there is a more beautiful concept in the work of a writer than the one expressed by those magical words of the archpriest: creation as a universal heritage.

Time was responsible for breaking that state of affairs. Gutenberg invented the printing press, literature began the path of no return that took her away from orality and the author was born, more and more eager to see his name on the cover and to preserve the content of his works as non-transferable property whose usufruct, within a very capitalist logic, it belongs exclusively.

Despite this, this logic can be objected, which will not help but at least intend to undermine principles considered today as dogma. It is enough to read two germinal works of our culture, Lazarillo or Don Quixote, to warn that any book worth its salt does not disdain resorting to loans from the previous baggage, since basically literature, like life, is a chain in which We are all adding links. Lázaro de Tormes begins the story of his adventures by quoting Pliny: “there is no book, however bad it may be, that it has no good thing.” Then go to Tulio (Cicero): “Honor rears the arts” and then proceeds relentlessly to a string of hidden allusions – the text is literally sown – to the Golden Ass of Apuleyo, Salustio, Marquis de Santillana, El Crotalón, to the Psalms, to the Deuteronomy, to the prophets, to Tacitus, to La Celestina, to the Journey of Turkey, to the Andalusian lozana, to the Amadís de Gaula, to Fray Antonio de Guevara and many more, and even games of words with passages from the gospels of San Mateo and San Juan (I interrupt the list here so as not to bore the reader, that you can check what I say by going to the enlightening study published by Francisco Rico in the collection Letras Hispánica, de Cátedra). Already in the pit of the ridiculous, if through a temporary extrapolation we applied to Lazarillo the reasoning of these wolves, perhaps we could suggest the hypothesis that the real reason that forced the author of the first modern novel to remain anonymous was not to give credibility “autobiographical” to his story, but to prevent a constipated inquisitor from burning him at the stake for plagiarism.

Did anyone accuse Pablo Picasso of plagiarizing Velázquez for having shot Las Meninas or Don Miguel of having plagiarized Ariosto by putting an end to the first part of Don Quixote with the forse altri canterà with miglior plettro, taken from the song 30 of Orlando furioso ? What would happen if the famous Arabian Cide Hamete Benengeli had really existed, would Cervantes be a plagiarist for having adapted the history of the best novel of all time to Spanish? I suppose that the most violent wolves of the pack that now roam around Ana Rosa are unaware of the innumerable commented editions that the Knight of the Sad Figure has been subjected to, to begin with that of Diego Clemencín, who show Cervantes shaking hands like a possessed of what he had at his disposal, because like every good artist, he knew instinctively that the plagiarized verb is epistemologically a solemn nonsense.

But let’s go back to Ana Rosa. The media society that we have embraced so hard according to the vacuous model of the United States makes a whole blooming of clowns among us spring blooming, that under the protection of certain media live as bishops sucking the tit of the “Famous.” The legion of rocioítos, folklore, lequios, mazagateras and cantantuchos that today swarm in Spain is a real ignominy, but the worst thing is that some of them, as my illustrious countryman Francisco Ayala has said with the grace that characterizes him, once literate They decided to be novelists (and why not, we could ask, if the mentecatez lacks limits?), which means, I add, that in addition to going out in the Hello they sigh to look like curtos and the ideal shortcut is to be written.

I think (although I would not put my hand in the fire) that Ana Rosa is somewhat above average in this fauna, but is a victim of the social environment in which she moves by her own will, a rarefied environment of falsehoods, stabbed in the back , arribismos, elbows to see who climbs more and bad milk to blanket. With black or without black writing in the shade Flavor of gall, the curse has not fallen on Quintana for quoting even the morning star, but for searching at any price – vanity vanity – a glory for which perhaps not be prepared, using a lever as vain as the public image that transmits daily on the small screen.

It is sadly possible that today the medium is the message, as Marshall MacLuhan predicted, but that does not turn a pretty face into a novelist overnight, because you do not learn to be it in the cocktails of beautiful people or in the television marujeo programs. Bestsellers and Kleenex literature – of consuming and throwing away – are another mirage of this postmodern era, which deceives the innocent with their appearance of ease, hiding that writing well is an arduous and hard work, which is slowly forged For years in the silence of a work room, reading to the teachers who preceded us and blurring pages with the desire – almost always useless – to be able to live up to one day.

Since ignorance is usually a bad counselor, someone should have done Ana Rosa Quintana a favor and warned her where she got when she submitted the manuscript. However, what is really serious, what shows how far we have not come back, is that more than one hundred thousand unsuspecting people bite a hook whose bait – the fame of a face – belongs to the realm of virtual reality. Forges has already said it on other occasions: what country!



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The “text” language and the Orwellian language

The “text” language and the Orwellian language

Last July, during a trip to the Pyrenees, I listened absently to the France Culture station while the car was sliding down the road. An interview suddenly started to interest me. They made it to the restrained author of a book about the “text” language, that gibberish with which young people communicate with each other in Internet chats and mobile phone messages. The interviewee – a linguist and university professor from Paris – came to say that the need to save time and money at the time of writing any sentence has been the engine of the extraordinary flourishing of this metalanguage that was born as an appendix to the old languages ​​of the European culture The specific examples he gave in French (kkse for “qu’est-ce que c’est”, dm for “demain”, etc.) are transportable to Spanish. Let’s see: among many other innovations, the language “text” in our latitudes has replaced ll with and has eliminated the “unusable” accents, the spelling of some words (for example, “four” has definitely become 4, “by what »is pq,« more »is +,« above »is and so on) and has buried the letter h (who is interested in that rest of yesterday, which is not even pronounced?).

The real time of connection to the network – intercom or telephone – is expensive, the professor added (for whom everything seemed to be a matter of low budget) and the less young people take to transmit the message, the cheaper they get .

Faced with a position so little analytical, the journalist worried about the danger that what has started as a banal game, restricted to distance communication and a specific range of the population – teenagers -, one day to generalize due to the boom unstoppable computer equipment around us, but the respondent replied that the language “text” will probably coexist with the cultured, grammatical form of traditional writing, apparently disregarding the disturbing fact that more and more university students are European Union unable to express themselves correctly, in word or in writing, in different languages.

The immediate question arises here, of course: What is “expressing oneself correctly”? And, from it, another question derived: Is it not perhaps a retrograde stance, an opposition to individual freedom, to defend at all costs syntactic rules that come from feudal times? It is clear that the fact of posing the problem in such terms seems to carry in itself the germ of a healthy challenge, and we already know from Freud that to grow it is necessary to oppose. But does he really wear it?

During the last three decades, from the moment in which the world began its unstoppable acceleration, we have witnessed the discredit or the frank breaking of rules and principles, good and bad, that had needed centuries of calm setting. Family and social relationships, the concepts of authority, respect and coexistence have been pulverized or are unrecognizable, the physical distances between previously distant countries have been reduced and today nothing is the same as what we knew very recently. Why, then, would language not suffer the ravages of postmodernity? If culture, so appreciated once, has lost its place of privilege to be replaced by immediate superficial information – constantly renewed – if knowledge of history, of the knowledge transmitted by previous generations is already something so obsolete that school curricula they get rid of him like old shoes, isn’t it that we are entering a new era of humanity, which will definitely do away with much of the previous baggage to start from scratch a Huxleyano Brave New World?

A syrupy speech like this, with the concealment not innocent of any negative link, is the merchandise that the ultra-liberal defenders of ultraliberalism intend to sell us, wrapped in the halo of a supposed individual emancipation. However, the reality that is hidden behind such fallacies – the language “text” liberating the grammar chains is part of them, together with the supermarkets of the “free market”, the “rule of law” or the ” humanitarian wars »- is very different.

At this point in my presentation, the reader will allow me to copy here a long quote from George Orwell, extracted from the appendix of his overwhelming novel 1984 *, which defines the new language of the final stage of the social dictatorship: «The intention of The neo-language was not only to provide a means of expression to the worldview and mental habits of the Ingsoc devotees, but also to make other forms of thought impossible. What was intended was that the old forgotten language, any heretical thought, that is, a divergent thought of the principles of Ingsoc, be literally impens.

 

More information about Manuel Talens in Wikipedia.



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How I saw God one evening in Havana

How I saw God one evening in Havana

Last June, when I least expected it, I saw God, which is something that doesn’t usually happen to unbelievers like me. But Cuba is the country of miracles. I was in Havana invited by ICAIC to attend the IV International Congress Culture and Development.

That day, after lunch, I presented my paper sitting somewhat nervous between two great figures, Danny Glover and the Brazilian Roberto Amaral. At the end, already calmer, overflowed with joy, because despite my fears having to share tribune with illustrious characters, the audience was very receptive to my words. Phew!

In the middle of the afternoon I received a note in my room, which read: “Commander Fidel Castro invites you this afternoon to meet him. At 7:30 pm we will pick you up with the other colleagues at the hotel door”

From now on I confess to the reader that I live oblivious to the fauna of those who hold public office in any administration, either in my country or abroad. But there are politicians and politicians, what the fuck.

They say that the Caribbean people are not very serious about punctuality, but I attest that at 7:30 p.m. the coach moved through the streets of the Cuban capital with a multinational shipment of writers, journalists, academics, political scientists and cultural faranduleros, who they rioted like children before the imminence of the encounter. The wait was brief in the anteroom of the palace behind the Revolution Square. And suddenly, while admiring the bronze busts of Lenin and Marti that are there, God appeared. Reality is usually more prosaic than fiction, as there was no lightning or thunder noise nor did it glow with the aura of light that I remember in the prints of my children’s books of Sacred History. Rather he adopted the appearance of a normal, bearded man, yes, and with two eyes, not one who sees all things from inside a triangle. But it was God, I swear. He was dressed in khaki and was stiff as those electricity poles that line the roads. And he smiled. We shook hands (I touched God!) And then we went to a great hall, which I recognized for having seen it in the Oliver Stone Commander movie.

The audience was long. I did not expect less from an occasion like that. God spoke, and spoke, and spoke. Us too, but less. He is an affable grandfather, laughing, cultured, of exquisite education, intelligent to the excess, loving of the human race and, above all, solidary. He told us his many battles, but not those of the old days of David and Goliath, but the recent ones, which continue to obey the same cause because, today as yesterday, they are fought between greedy and dispossessed possessors who decided to resist. I already knew them from my readings, although they always sound better on the lips of a main character. Eisenhower, Nixon, Che Guevara, Kennedy, Kruschev, Allende, Reagan, the Bush … came to life in the beautiful inflection of his words, pronounced with a lucidity that the poor humans already wanted. Later, at midnight, we had dinner. Nothing fancy, salmon fillet, salad and some other dish that I don’t remember. Ice cream dessert and glass of rum. And, to top it off, God gave each of the attendees a cigar. It was a majestic cigar, almost 20 cm, and in its vitola of black, yellow and gold tones, it read: “COHIBA, Habana, Cuba”. I never acquired the habit of smoking and the idea of ​​turning it into ashes did not occur to me. Carlos Tena and Gennaro Carotenuto, along with me, also put him in a safe place. On the other hand, the Argentine Atilio Borón, who was one step away, lit it without hesitation, but it is that God gives him cigars regularly and it is already known that the relics, when there are many and there is trust, lose value.

We took a group photo and I managed to be behind God on his left, because the other flank gives me hives. Afterwards, he fired us not before inviting us for an upcoming occasion, as fresh as if he had just got up after a restful night. We saw him disappear at the bottom of the hall with an agile salsa step. It would be said that neither the years nor osteoarthritis leave a mark, they must be the things of divinity. Nor then did I perceive lightning or thunder or aura of light around him (damn Hollywood cinema, which always deceives us with its special effects). It was three o’clock.

Two days later I returned to Europe. Inside my handbag, rolled up in some pages of Granma, I kept the cigar of God as a trophy. The flight is long and I arrived exhausted, eager to get into bed. But first, in the little garden, I couldn’t resist the temptation to unwind the treasure to proudly show it to my neighbor. I slept soundly while it rained outside without stopping. After breakfast, I started to take out the luggage in order to put them in their place. The habano of God was not among the newspaper sheets. I felt panic, because what had happened came to my mind like a flash. Indeed, it was on the grass, soaked in water and much less airy than when I received it.

Five months have passed and, thanks to my care, the cigar of God only partially recovered his galanura. But what’s more. Derek Walcott once said that when we break a vessel the love that gathers the fragments is stronger than the love that took its previous symmetry for granted. I will keep it that way for the rest of my life and I will only smoke it when I finally meet God in the sky of Don Karl.



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A beautiful old woman called the Queen in her youth

A beautiful old woman called the Queen in her youth

My grandmother Carmen used to say – a beautiful old woman whom the Alpujarreña had called the Queen in her youth – that the best way to grow was to let herself be dragged by the imagination, and to that end she helped my brother and me telling stories about The table stretcher. They were the years when television had not yet arrived in Spain and, at night, we listened on the radio to the Argentine comedian Pepe Iglesias el Zorro. Our house was on the outskirts of Granada, so to the limit that a hundred meters further was the Andalusian countryside. In the hall, on the right, there was a small room, pompously called “the cabinet”, with upholstered chairs in scarlet velvet and an imprecise-style piece of furniture whose shelves glittered treasures of all colors: they were books. Once I was able to read fluently, I began to pass the clearest of my vigils immersed in those strange worlds and I verified the truth of my grandmother’s reasons, since, indeed, I continued to grow incessantly, as the signs showed every six months they immortalized my successive stretches in the kitchen door frame.

I do not know what would be the first book that I managed to get my teeth in completely, but there is one that left a deep impression on me: it had green covers, golden letters on the spine and a suggestive title: The Innocents of Paris by Gilbert Cesbron. In it I shared the cuitas of a band of gamins of modest origin -Cipriano, Milord, Vévu and El Pequeno- who faced a group of rich children from Monceau Park. I walked with them on Trois-Novembre Street and Ville de Bois Avenue, stroked his cat, called Monsieur Popoff, and crossed the Seine with a heavy heart in the direction of Claude Bernard Hospital, where one of those friends of mine, almost as palpable as those of reality, died on the last page and, without realizing it, the novel provoked in me that infinite love for France that has never abandoned me.

A good treasure chest must necessarily keep jewelry of different fur. The cabinet cabinet was heterogeneous like Ali Baba’s cave. There was the collection of El Coyote, by José Mallorquí (The brand of El Cobra was the novel that I liked the most), Dombey and son of Dickens, Memories of the house of the dead of Dostoyevsky, The search for Baroja, Our Lady of Paris de Hugo, fourteen adventures of Tarzan of the monkeys, Werther, Lazarillo de Tormes, Flower of legends of Alejandro Rodríguez «Casona», Espronceda, Bécquer, Quevedo and many other things.

I kept reading. I lost my grandmother, but there was no way to stop. It was shortly thereafter when I discovered Don Quixote, and in Cide Hamete Benengeli I thought I could see the fountain where one day, if I could work hard, I could secretly drink.

Life, however, makes one take unexpected steps: I ended up taking a path that has little or nothing to do with writing and that, perhaps because of that, I abandoned without regret. A bride broke my heart, another recomposed me, I left my hometown without a return ticket and chose the nomad’s fate, but always with a novel under my arm.

The books serve not only to grow, but to continue growing and, therefore, it would not be fair to forget in this hurried census to the writers of the boom or to some Americans that I admire, from Faulkner to Richard Ford.

Many years later I recovered The innocents of Paris at my parents’ house. It is an edition of the then incipient Editorial Planeta, sealed in July 1954. I have not read it again, nor will I ever do it, for fear of disappointment. I don’t know what could have happened to the other treasures in the cabinet. I have often missed their aging pages, thinking without a doubt that if I could touch them, I would be able to resuscitate the sensations they caused when I grew up.

Tastes change as much as we ourselves: already in maturity, I am increasingly attracted to the books of exquisite invoice, where there is not a word left over, obvious proof that they were composed with patience, without hurry to reach the goal. I keep reading novels with frenzy, as if the world was about to end, but I write mine slowly as a turtle, because while I live with my characters in each of them, I enjoy the same intensity as when I was a child while admiring Paris Gilbert Cesbron’s hand, perhaps because, as in the story of my friend, Leonard Antonio Pereira, the literature is wonderful as a woman’s back, with its pores, its moles and the trail of golden fluff by the tailbone, which at stroking it knows little and one loses the north wishing to turn around slowly, slowly.

Other articles : The “text” language and the Orwellian language // Ana Rosa Quintana in his novel Flavor a gall



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