Thursday, 15 January 2009

English in Spanish, Spanish in English

After his excellent reading in Zafra few years ago, I was lucky enough to share a few tapas with Antonio Gamoneda, whose unique body of work I’ll describe in more detail in a later post.

We ended up discussing his collection, Blues Castellano, a remarkable attempt at using the tools of The Blues in Spanish verse. Our conversation then ended up at Borges’ door – I’ve always felt specifically English cadences, structures and devices permeated all Borges’ work, especially his prose. Bear in mind that his childhood reading included authors such as Chesteron, while he collaborated with his translator on the English-language versions of his work.

Gamoneda’s Blues Castellano is an intensely Spanish re-interpretation of the form, as he uses it to engage with personal and social melancholy brought about by the darkest period in Spain’s recent history; Borges, meanwhile, linguistically spooks me – at times I feel I’m reading Spanish in English or English in Spanish, both languages playfully enriching each other, such is his knowledge of the cultures and connotations involved.

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