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A Translation of Juan Carlos Onetti's La Muerte Y La Nina

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Material Information

Title:
A Translation of Juan Carlos Onetti's La Muerte Y La Nina
Physical Description:
Book
Language:
English
Creator:
Pagani, Antonella
Publisher:
New College of Florida
Place of Publication:
Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date:
2012
Publication Date:

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Bachelor's ( B.A.)
Degree Grantor:
New College of Florida
Degree Divisions:
Humanities
Degree Disciplines:
Spanish Language and Literature
Committee Members:
Portugal, Jose Alberto

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Translation
Latin American Literature
Genre:
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract:
This thesis consists primarily of my translation of Juan Carlos Onetti's short novel La muerte y la ni�a from Spanish into English. The original text presents a host of challenges to the reader, challenges which I attempt to reproduce, rather than resolve, in my translation. I attempt to recreate the complicated syntax, unusual word choice, and linguistic ambiguity that characterize Onetti's style and this novella in particular. In my introductory essay I analyze the function of certain narrative mechanisms including the use of adjectives, repetition, and apparent "recklessness" in the creation of Santa Mar�a, the fictional world at the center of Onetti's fiction. I argue that these stylistic elements serve to make apparent the presence of a distinct creator behind Santa Mar�a, revealing the city and its saga as a chronicle of its own creation. Parting from this analysis, my primary concern as a translator was to preserve these important stylistic elements in the translation, at times at the cost of producing an easily readable text.
Thesis:
Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2012
Electronic Access:
RESTRICTED TO NCF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description:
This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local:
Faculty Sponsor: Portugal, Jose Alberto
Statement of Responsibility:
by Antonella Pagani

Record Information

Source Institution:
New College of Florida
Holding Location:
New College of Florida
Rights Management:
Applicable rights reserved.
Classification:
local - S.T. 2012 P1
System ID:
NCFE004646:00001

MISSING IMAGE

Material Information

Title:
A Translation of Juan Carlos Onetti's La Muerte Y La Nina
Physical Description:
Book
Language:
English
Creator:
Pagani, Antonella
Publisher:
New College of Florida
Place of Publication:
Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date:
2012
Publication Date:

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Bachelor's ( B.A.)
Degree Grantor:
New College of Florida
Degree Divisions:
Humanities
Degree Disciplines:
Spanish Language and Literature
Committee Members:
Portugal, Jose Alberto

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Translation
Latin American Literature
Genre:
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract:
This thesis consists primarily of my translation of Juan Carlos Onetti's short novel La muerte y la ni�a from Spanish into English. The original text presents a host of challenges to the reader, challenges which I attempt to reproduce, rather than resolve, in my translation. I attempt to recreate the complicated syntax, unusual word choice, and linguistic ambiguity that characterize Onetti's style and this novella in particular. In my introductory essay I analyze the function of certain narrative mechanisms including the use of adjectives, repetition, and apparent "recklessness" in the creation of Santa Mar�a, the fictional world at the center of Onetti's fiction. I argue that these stylistic elements serve to make apparent the presence of a distinct creator behind Santa Mar�a, revealing the city and its saga as a chronicle of its own creation. Parting from this analysis, my primary concern as a translator was to preserve these important stylistic elements in the translation, at times at the cost of producing an easily readable text.
Thesis:
Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2012
Electronic Access:
RESTRICTED TO NCF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description:
This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local:
Faculty Sponsor: Portugal, Jose Alberto
Statement of Responsibility:
by Antonella Pagani

Record Information

Source Institution:
New College of Florida
Holding Location:
New College of Florida
Rights Management:
Applicable rights reserved.
Classification:
local - S.T. 2012 P1
System ID:
NCFE004646:00001


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A TRANSLATION OF JUAN CARLOS ONETTI’S LA MUERTE Y LA NIA BY ANTONELLA PAGANI A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Spanish Language and Literature Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Jos Alberto Portugal, Ph. D. Sarasota, Florida May, 2012

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ii Thank you to my sponsor, Professor Portugal, for yo ur patience and willingness to agonize with me, and to Alec Niedenthal, for your f riendship and encouragement.

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iii ndice Abstract........................................... ........................iv Prefacio........................................... .........................v Ensayo introductorio............................... .................1 Obras citadas...................................... ....................41 Introduction to Death and the Girl ........................43 Death and the Girl .................................................45 Conclusions........................................ ..................103

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iv A TRANSLATION OF JUAN CARLOS ONETTI’S LA MUERTE Y LA NIA Antonella Pagani New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT This thesis consists primarily of my translation o f Juan Carlos Onetti’s short novel La muerte y la nia from Spanish into English. The original text presen ts a host of challenges to the reader, challenges which I attemp t to reproduce, rather than resolve, in my translation. I attempt to recreate the complicat ed syntax, unusual word choice, and linguistic ambiguity that characterize Onetti’s sty le and this novella in particular. In my introductory essay I analyze the function of certai n narrative mechanisms including the use of adjectives, repetition, and apparent “reckle ssness” in the creation of Santa Mara, the fictional world at the center of Onetti’s ficti on. I argue that these stylistic elements serve to make apparent the presence of a distinct c reator behind Santa Mara, revealing the city and its saga as a chronicle of its own cre ation. Parting from this analysis, my primary concern as a translator was to preserve the se important stylistic elements in the translation, at times at the cost of producing an e asily readable text. Dr. Jos Alberto Portugal Division of Humanities

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v Prefacio Esta tesis consiste primariamente en mi traduccin de la novela corta La muerte y la nia de Juan Carlos Onetti al ingls. Comienzo con un br eve ensayo analtico en el que introduzco la novela y a lo que se conoce como la s aga de Santa Mara de la cual la novela forma parte, y la cual abarca la mayor parte de la obra de Onetti. A partir de mi trabajo como traductora, el cual necesariamente req uiere un conocimiento detallado de los mecanismos narrativos, analizo el funcionamient o de estos dentro del texto particular y con observaciones sobre su importancia a lo largo de la saga. Eleg traducir la novela La muerte y la nia porque la considero una obra representativa del corpus sanmariano de Onetti y de los desafos que este presenta al traductor. En este ensayo introductorio afirmo la c onexin entre aspectos estilsticos de la escritura de Onetti y el tipo de mundo que crea. Av anzo el argumento que la saga creada por Onetti es, ms all de un intento a crear la il usin de un mundo ficcional, una crnica del proceso de creacin mismo: una afirmacin de la voluntad artstica de su creador que por su originalidad desafa las facultades comprens ivas del lector, invitando nuevas maneras de entender. Finalmente, el texto en ingls es introducido con u na breve descripcin de mi intencin como traductora y algunos de los problema s que enfrent en esta tarea. Notas a lo largo de la traduccin explican en ms detalle m i mtodo y decisiones. A lo largo del ensayo introductorio y la traduccin cito la versin de La muerte y la nia contenida en el volumen Juan Carlos Onetti: Novelas cortas. Tambin cito varios textos crticos contenidos en este volumen. Las cit as tomadas de cuentos de Onetti vienen todas del volumen Cuentos completos.

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1 Ensayo introductorio Introduccin Un poco sobre el autor Juan Carlos Onetti (1909-1994) es considerado el es critor uruguayo ms importante del siglo XX. Es reconocido como uno de los padres de la generacin de escritores del “Boom” de la literatura latinoameric ana en los aos sesenta, sin embargo su obra no ha llegado a un pblico muy vasto. Publica su primer cuento, “Avenida de MayoDiagonal Norte-Avenida de Mayo” en 1933 y su primer a novela, El pozo en 1939. Durante un periodo en el que la mayor parte de la p roduccin literaria latinoamericana estaba dominada por el regionalismo, Onetti escrib a sobre lo urbano y lo universal en un estilo notablemente desprovisto de “color local.” El principio de su carrera fue marcado por dificult ades econmicas y falta de reconocimiento crtico. Durante la dcada de los cu arenta sigue publicando novelas y cuentos, entre ellos algunos de sus ms famosos com o “Bienvenido Bob” (1944) y “Esbjerg en la costa” (1946). La publicacin de “La casa en la arena” (1949) y La vida breve (1950) marcan el inicio de la saga de Santa Mara, que de este momento en adelante dominar la mayor parte de su obra. En los sesenta se publican obras notables de la sag a: “Jacob y el otro” (1961), El astillero (1961) y Juntacadveres (1964). En esta dcada las obras de Onetti comienz an a ser traducidas y su mrito reconocido por la crtic a dentro y fuera de Latinoamrica. En el 1973 se publica La muerte y la nia y el prximo ao Onetti es encarcelado por la

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2 dictadura de Juan Mara Bordaberry por formar parte de un jurado que premia un cuento considerado “pornogrfico” por el rgimen represivo Es liberado unos meses despus, pero la condicin poltica del pas lo lleva a exil iarse permanentemente en Espaa en 1975. En el exilio sigue publicando relatos y las novelas finales de la saga sanmariana: Dejemos hablar al viento (1979) y Cuando ya no importe (1993). Esta ltima se publica apenas un ao antes de su muerte en 1994. En 1980 f ue propuesto para el Premio Nobel de Literatura por el PEN Club Latinoamericano y el mismo ao recibi el Premio Cervantes a la Literatura (Estenoz). Breve presentacin de La muerte y la nia Aqu dar un resumen breve de la historia y estruct ura narrativa de la novela. Al nivel de la trama, el texto se caracteriza como com plejo, fragmentado y nebuloso. La novela gira en torno a la muerte de Helga Hauser, d e la cual su esposo Augusto Goerdel es acusado de ser el responsable. (Estos dos person ajes hacen su nica aparicin en la saga de Santa Mara en esta novela.) El mdico Daz Grey y Jorge Malabia, dos de los personajes ms frecuentes a lo largo de la saga, tr atan de resolver el misterio que rodea a la muerte de Helga y el papel de Goerdel en ella. La secuencia de la historia central se puede reduci r a cuatro etapas, empezando con la visita de Goerdel al consultorio de Daz Gre y en Santa Mara, en la que Goerdel pide al doctor una solucin a la situacin en que s e encuentran l y su esposa: ella morir si queda embarazada otra vez, pero la pareja por al guna razn no puede dejar de tener

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3 relaciones y no estn abiertos a tomar medidas prev entivas, ya que Goerdel es catlico observante. En la segunda etapa Jorge Malabia visita a Daz Gre y para denunciar a Goerdel como asesino de Helga Hauser, quien ha muerto dando a luz. Tras el funeral de Hauser, Goerdel se exilia de Santa Mara y la Colonia (la c omunidad aledaa, de donde l es originario). Su regreso aos despus marca la tercera etapa, dur ante la cual hace planes para casarse con la hija menor de la familia Insauberry, una de las ms poderosas de la Colonia. El casamiento no se materializa sin embarg o, y Goerdel desaparece de nuevo. Su segundo regreso, ahora bajo el nombre Johannes S chmidt, marca la cuarta y final etapa. Schmidt vuelve de su exilio en Alemani a determinado a demostrar y hacer reconocer su inocencia en la muerte de Helga Hauser presentando una coleccin de cartas escritas por el supuesto amante de la mujer durante el periodo de concepcin del nio que la mat. Malabia y Grey analizan la eviden cia y no logran llegar a un juicio definitivo. Intercaladas a lo largo de esta enredada historia h ay otras historias: la de la fundacin de la Colonia por inmigrantes suizos; la del desarrollo de Goerdel, seleccionado de nio por el Padre Bergner supuestam ente para convertirlo en cura, que en realidad es un mero pretexto para entrenarlo como a gente financiero de la iglesia; y la historia de Daz Grey y su hija inexplicablemente p erdida. Las doce secciones numeradas de la novela saltan de una parte de la historia a o tra y se van tejiendo a ellas las historias secundarias fuera de orden cronolgico.

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4 La trama se hace an ms difcil de seguir dada la compleja estructura narrativa de la novela, en la que las identidades de los mlt iples narradores y las transiciones entre uno y otro son ambiguas. El doctor Daz Grey es uno de los narradores, como en muchos otros textos de la saga. Las secciones que parecen no ser narradas por Daz Grey (ya que en ellas el narrador se refiere a l en la tercera persona) son narradas por un sanmariano que no revela su identidad, que por momentos expres a incertidumbre sobre lo que est contando y en otros demuestra el tipo de conocimien to detallado sobre acontecimientos privados que se asocia con un narrador omnisciente. El aspecto inestable de este narrador annimo, los cambios a veces abruptos entre l y D az Grey y las a veces largas intervenciones de otros personajes contribuyen a la complejidad de la novela. La saga de Santa Mara El mundo ficcional de Santa Mara es central a la o bra de Juan Carlos Onetti. Se inicia oficialmente en La vida breve (1950), novela en la que Juan Mara Brausen, un guionista que vive en Buenos Aires, inventa la ciud ad como escenario para su ltimo guin. El mundo ficcional se establece de esta mane ra como una ficcin dentro de la ficcin. A partir de esta primera novela, Brausen d ejar de aparecer como personaje, convirtindose en una figura entre fundador mtico y dios de Santa Mara a quien sus habitantes obedecen, veneran y maldicen. Se estable ce un tipo de religin sanmariana que consiste primariamente en la aceptacin de los pers onajes de una existencia determinada por Brausen. Esta fe imbuye a los personajes y al m undo ficcional con una sensacin de entrega y pesimismo. Esta religin sanmariana en al gunos textos adopta las formas del catolicismo, remplazando al Dios catlico con la fi gura de Juan Mara Brausen.

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5 En este pasaje del comienzo de La vida breve Brausen se encuentra sentado en la cama junto a su esposa enferma, pensando en su gui n mientras juega con una ampolla de la morfina prescrita para la mujer: Estaba, un poco enloquecido, jugando con la ampolla sintiendo mi necesidad creciente de imaginar y acercarme a un borroso mdi co de cuarenta aos, habitante lacnico y desesperanzado de una pequea ciudad colocada entre un ro y una colonia de labradores suizos, Santa Mara, po rque yo haba sido feliz all, aos antes, durante veinticuatro horas y sin motivo Este mdico deba poseer un pasado tal vez decisivo y explicatorio, que a m no me interesaba; la resolucin fantica, no basada en moral ni dogma, de cortarse una mano antes de provocar un aborto; deba usar anteojos gruesos, tener un cuerp o pequeo como el mo, el pelo escaso y de un rubio que confunda las canas; este mdico deba moverse en un consultorio donde las vitrinas, los instrumentos y los frascos opacos ocupaban un lugar subalterno. Un consultorio que tena un rinc n cubierto por un biombo; detrs de este biombo, un espejo de calidad asombro samente buena y una percha niquelada que daba a los pacientes la impresin de no haber sido usada nunca. Yo vea, definitivamente, las dos grandes ventanas sob re la plaza: coches, iglesia, club, cooperativa, farmacia, confitera, estatua, rboles, nios oscuros y descalzos, hombres rubios apresurados; sobre repentinas soleda des, siestas y algunas noches de cielo lechoso en las que se extenda la msica d el piano del conservatorio. ( La vida breve 18) Aqu vemos los principios de la concepcin de Santa Mara y el ms frecuente personaje de su saga, el mdico Daz Grey, que, en vista de l a situacin en que Brausen lo imagina

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6 (jugueteando con una ampolla de morfina) lo podram os pensar como una suerte de alterego. Previo a La vida breve Daz Grey aparece en el cuento “La casa en la arena ” (1949), en el que no hay mencin de Brausen. En estos prime ros textos podemos detectar el comienzo de una manera desordenada y anacrnica de crear un mundo ficcional, ya que Daz Grey es concebido por Brausen luego de ya habe r aparecido en un texto de Onetti. La falta de adherencia a nociones cronolgicas a tr avs de los textos es un aspecto en que la saga de Santa Mara viola las convenciones de un a saga tradicional. Vemos en los detalles del pasaje que seala la crea cin de Santa Mara una marcada selectividad en cuanto a qu tipo de inform acin se revela al lector. La carencia de nombres propios para el ro y la colonia suiza e stablece una imprecisin de ubicacin que ser fuente de conjeturas y debate entre lector es y crticos. Santa Mara generalmente se reconoce como una ciudad rioplatens e, aunque el nombre del ro nunca se especifica. Aunque se ha discutido la posibilida d de que represente a Montevideo, Buenos Aires u otra ciudad de la regin, lo cierto es que la ciudad de Onetti evade tales precisiones o simplificaciones. De otro lado, el momento de creacin revela tambin un desdn de parte del creador por acatar las convenciones de causalidad: Brausen se niega a atribuirle un pasado a su personaje central porque “no le interes a.” Este es un buen ejemplo de cmo, a travs de estos vacos de informacin, la narracin crea incerteza y la expectativa y necesidad de ms informacin – que en ciertos casos es cumplida y en otros no. Por ejemplo, el Doctor Daz Grey se preguntar l mismo acerca de la ausencia de recuerdos de su propio pasado a lo largo de la saga (informac in que nunca llegar), y la historia de

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7 la colonia suiza que bordea a Santa Mara no se rev elar hasta La muerte y la nia, publicada dcadas despus de La vida breve. A lo largo de los textos se revelan detalles que co ntribuyen a crear la imagen del mundo fsico de la ciudad cerca del ro – nombres d e hoteles, bares y clubs sociales, descripciones de sus calles y plaza, las distancias entre el centro de la ciudad y la colonia y balnearios que la rodean – pero sin embargo nunca llegan a dar la sensacin de un mundo coherente y completo. El resultado es que el mundo ficcional ocupa un lugar impreciso y cambiante, determinado ms por las part icularidades del texto singular en que se lo trata que por un esquema rgido, preestab lecido. Un intento de construir un mapa de la ciudad, por ejemplo, sera complicado po r los huecos informativos en cuanto a ubicaciones de lugares y por las contradicciones entre un texto y otro. Cada texto dentro de la saga contribuye datos, pers onajes, preludios, eplogos y versiones alternativas a historias ya conocidas. Co ntribuyen al mecanismo de “apilamiento” que caracteriza la construccin del m undo ficcional del autor y lo vincula con otros, como el Yoknapatawpha de Faulkner y lueg o el Macondo de Garca Mrquez. A propsito de la obra de Faulkner, Clifford Geertz describe este mecanismo de modo que resulta relevante para la de Onetti: Faulkner, whose whole work was in some sense center ed about it – about how particular imaginations are shadowed by others stan ding off in the cultural and temporal distance; how what happens, recountings of what happens, and metaphoric transfigurations of recountings of what happens into general visions, pile, one on top of the next, to produce a state of mind at once more knowing, more uncertain, and more disequilibrated – had as e xact a sense for just how

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8 difficult it is as anyone who has written. […] Faul kner goes on bringing his volatile and sentient forces together again and aga in, adding the pieces, filling out the narratives, not only through the couple hundred more pages of the novel, but through his whole work, rendering the history of th is particular moral imagination (his, Oxford’s, the inter-war South’s) if not clear at least clearer, if not wholly decipherable at least not wholly inscrutable. (48-5 0) Se sabe que la influencia de Faulkner sobre Onetti fue extensa. La presencia del mecanismo que describe Geertz en la obra de Onetti es una manifestacin de esta influencia. Es en gran parte a travs de este tipo de apilamiento que Santa Mara se revela como un mundo ficticio nico, intricado y complejo. A su vez, el volumen y cualidad fragmentada de la informacin que recibimos a trav s de la narracin aproxima el sentido agobiante que experimentamos al intentar lograr un sentido de coherencia fuera de la ficcin. Desde el principio, como hemos visto en el pasaje c itado de La vida breve se establece un mundo ficcional que es simultneamente la manifestacin de una nostalgia, un calco de la realidad del presente y una fantasa escapista. La decisin de dnde ubicar a la ciudad que estar al centro del resto de la ob ra del autor es determinada por el recuerdo de un da feliz en la vida del protagonist a de La vida breve La creacin surge de la necesidad y el antojo de Brausen. Por eso, conoc er el comienzo del mundo ficticio de Santa Mara establecido en La vida breve es importante, ya que da sentido al resto de la saga como una construccin ficticia altamente idios incrsica. Brausen se presenta como un creador obsesivo, que suele ser guiado en su tar ea creativa por un instinto y necesidad

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9 inexplicados, combinando retazos de recuerdos, situ aciones (supuestamente) reales y fantasa. Desde este punto de partida muchos rasgos del estil o de Onetti – la falta de coherencia lgica dentro y entre textos, la repetic in de ciertas palabras y frases, la insistencia en los mismos temas y situaciones de te xto a texto – se pueden atribuir a la mente de este creador ficcional. El conjunto de te xtos que forman la saga de Santa Mara se puede concebir, entonces, menos como un intento de construir un mundo ficticio que pretende ser real, y ms como una crnica de la cre acin misma, en la cual la presencia de la figura autorial es constante e ineludible. Este aspecto distingue a la saga sanmariana de la n ocin tradicional de una saga como un texto o un conjunto de textos que cuenta de manera completa y cronolgica la historia de una familia o comunidad. Al mismo tiemp o que Onetti invoca la nocin de la saga, viola sus convenciones a travs de la incoher encia, inestabilidad, y falta de linealidad cronolgica que caracterizan al mundo fi cticio. La saga de Santa Mara no aspira a una representacin completa del mundo ficc ional que crea, y los mecanismos narrativos empleados en su creacin tienen la funci n de crear rupturas en la ilusin de Santa Mara como un lugar supuestamente verdadero, rompiendo tambin con el cdigo realista invocado por la saga. Anlisis de La muerte y la nia La muerte y la nia pertenece al grupo de textos que constituyen la sag a de Santa Mara. En esta novela corta se destacan varios aspe ctos del mundo ficcional presentes en otros textos y en algunos casos, de manera ms inte nsa o extrema. Por ejemplo, la

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10 centralidad en este texto de la relacin entre los habitantes de Santa Mara y Brausen, tema que atraviesa la saga entera, excede la de cua lquier otro texto. En La muerte y la nia Brausen est representado tanto como fundador, en l a estatua de la plaza al centro de la ciudad, y como dios creador, en la religin de S anta Mara, que en todos sus aspectos es idntica a la catlica, y an es nombrada como t al, salvo la obvia diferencia de que Brausen ocupa el puesto de Dios. Varios de los personajes centrales la saga sanmaria na figuran en La muerte y la nia : el doctor Daz Grey, el personaje y narrador ms frecuente a lo largo del ciclo; el Padre Bergner, sacerdote y luego arzobispo de la ig lesia sanmariana cuya contribucin ms importante al ciclo se da en la novela Juntacadveres (1964), en la que emprende una lucha contra el establecimiento del primer pros tbulo de la ciudad; Jorge Malabia, tambin personaje central de Juntacadveres, hijo del fundador del peridico sanmariano El Liberal ; y Anglica Ins Petrus, hija de Jeremas Petrus – fundador de Villa Petrus y el astillero (ver la novela El astillero ) – y esposa de Daz Grey, que es considerada loca por los sanmarianos. La muerte y la nia es de particular importancia para el desarrollo de los primeros dos personajes, ya que en ella Daz Grey cuenta la historia de la prdida de su hija y reflexiona como en ningn otro texto sobre su exist encia como creacin de Brausen; mientras que el Padre Bergner se revela como una fi gura esencialmente corrupta. Adems de estos personajes centrales se mencionan o tros, como Grimm y Miramonte (dueos de las funerarias) y el Prncipe Orloff (fotgrafo en los tiempos de la fundacin de Santa Mara) quienes nunca se desarrol lan pero contribuyen al tejido

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11 intertextual de este mundo. Por ltimo, la novela i ncluye a un protagonista cuya nica apariencia en el mundo es esta novela – Augusto Goe rdel. Como hemos visto, la trama de La muerte y la nia se centra sobre la muerte de la esposa de Goerdel, Helga Hauser, por la cual Goerde l es acusado de ser el responsable. Alrededor de esta historia, contada por distintos n arradores, en fragmentos fuera de orden, se narran otras: la historia de Daz Grey y la hija que perdi, la formacin del joven Goerdel y su relacin con el Padre Bergner, e l pasaje de Jorge Malabia a la adultez, y la historia de la fundacin de la Colonia por los inmigrantes suizos. Adems de correspondencias en cuanto a geografa, p ersonajes y aspectos de la historia, La muerte y la nia cabe en el mundo ficticio de Santa Mara a partir d e determinados aspectos narrativos. Es uno de los poc os textos del ciclo en los que la narracin se divide entre ms de un narrador, alter nando entre el doctor Daz Grey y un narrador sin nombre que no figura como personaje pe ro que sin embargo se identifica como residente de Santa Mara, a veces hablando por la colectividad sanmariana. La incertidumbre se crea a travs de los lmites impre cisos entre un narrador y otro. La novena seccin de la novela ejemplifica esta est ructura narrativa complicada y confusa. Comienza con la voz colectiva que en otras secciones es adoptada por el narrador annimo: “No nos estaba permitido envejece r, deformarnos apenas […]” (277). Este principio nos lleva a pensar que habla el narr ador annimo, sin embargo, el contenido de lo que est diciendo – reflexionando s obre el pasar del tiempo, su desdn por la multitud sanmariana, la referencia a “labora torios mdicos” – parecera pertenecer al discurso que asociamos con Daz Grey.

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12 Se complica an ms en la segunda pgina de la secc in, en que Daz Grey es introducido como personaje. Parece improbable que D az Grey est refirindose a s mismo en la tercera persona, pero es precisamente e sto lo que esta seccin parece sugerir. La falta de claras indicaciones para diferenciar a un narrador de otro crea enigmas como ste, a los que una resolucin completamente satisf actoria no parece posible. El nivel de oscuridad creada por la estructura narrativa de La muerte y la nia es uno de los ms extremos de cualquier texto sanmariano. De otro lado la aparente falta de coherencia tempor al y causal tambin llega a un extremo en esta novela, hasta el punto que “ha sido rechazada por ms de un lector por ser precisamente ilegible,” segn afirma Michelle C layton en su anlisis del texto, “Paciencia y barajar” (592). Los hechos que compone n la trama son introducidos fuera de orden, no obedeciendo una lgica inmediatamente det ectable. Es difcil seguir las distintas lneas narrativas y encontrar una relaci n entre ellas. Qu relacin hay entre la historia de la hija perdida de Daz Grey y el supue sto crimen de Augusto Goerdel, por ejemplo? En otros casos, hay puntos en la novela en los que se crea la expectativa de un hecho que nunca ocurre. Por ejemplo, en el primer r egreso de Goerdel a la Colonia parecen definirse los planes para un matrimonio ent re l y la hija menor de la familia Insauberry (seccin IX). El casamiento, sin embarg o, nunca ocurre – no se nos explica por qu – y solo nos enteramos que se ha casado con otra mujer, “la Bock,” dato mencionado por Jorge Malabia cuando ste le cuenta a Daz Grey que Goerdel ha regresado por segunda vez. El texto definitivamente demanda un alto nivel de p articipacin de parte del lector y a su vez tolerancia, ya que produce cierta frustr acin al presentar una situacin que

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13 estimula las facultades investigativas del lector y a su vez le niega la informacin necesaria para llevar a cabo la tarea de detective. La tarea del lector es tal vez mejor ilustrada, tal vez parodiada, por el final de la novela, en el que Daz Grey y Jorge Malabia se sien tan a intentar descifrar el conjunto de cartas presentadas por Augusto Goerdel, ahora bajo su nuevo nombre, Johannes Schmidt, como prueba de su inocencia. Juntos analizan patron es a travs de las cartas, frases repetidas, rasgos estilsticos, parecido a la maner a en que el lector rastrea el texto de la novela tratando de encontrarle una solucin satisfa ctoria. Se supone que las cartas deben comprobar que Helga Goerdel tena un amante en el m omento de la concepcin del beb que la mat, pero la evidencia no llega a convencer del todo, imitando la manera en la que el texto no llega a ofrecer una solucin defini tiva al misterio que crea. Dadas estas caractersticas, La muerte y la nia es tal vez el texto de Onetti que ms se acerca al gnero policaco, que era el prefe rido del autor en sus lecturas. Clayton, Ral Crisafio y Juan Ventura S. todos sugieren una lectura del texto como una novela policaca debido a su estructura y temtica. El rea l misterio, sin embargo, no es la muerte de Helga Hauser sino la construccin del propio tex to. A lo largo de l se llama la atencin al acto de la escritura y sus productos: l a receta que Daz Grey se niega a escribir para Goerdel, los “libracos” en los que lo s colonizadores suizos anotan su historia, los papeles oficiales que maneja Goerdel para acumular su fortuna, los poemas olvidados del joven Jorge Malabia luego descubierto s por Johannes Schmidt, quien se los presenta a la Biblioteca del Estado Alemn en una c arta. En todas estas instancias, la utilidad, validez, o autenticidad del texto es cues tionada.

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14 Al mismo tiempo, la novela se marca a s misma como un texto a la par con los que aparecen dentro de la historia. El aspecto meta -ficcional se destaca en La muerte y la nia ms que en casi cualquier otro texto de la saga. Ti ene el efecto de revelar el cdigo que est detrs de la ficcin y recordarnos que San ta Mara y su saga, a pesar de presentarse en un lenguaje que sugiere una organiza cin a partir de ciertas convenciones literarias, como las del realismo, constantemente s ubvierte las tradiciones que invoca. Una de las instancias ms curiosas de este tipo de ruptura en el cdigo ficcional ocurre en la pgina 269, cuando Jorge Malabia entra en la ofi cina de Daz Grey para denunciar a Goerdel como asesino de Helga Hauser. Daz Grey nar ra as su entrada: “Jorge entr, asombrosamente parecido al hombre descrito en la p gina anterior.” La pgina anterior consiste en las observaciones del mdico, quien, de sde la ventana de su habitacin, mira a Malabia y reflexiona sobre los cambios que han ocur rido en su visitante desde su adolescencia. Daz Grey parece sorprenderse al ver a Malabia de cerca y encontrar que su apariencia corresponde con la descripcin compuesta a lo lejos. Al mencionar la paginacin del texto, la novela hace referencia a s u propia construccin material. En lugar de crear la ilusin de un personaje que exist e en carne y hueso – lo que tpicamente esperamos de una descripcin en un texto de corte r ealista – el narrador lo desrealiza, reducindolo a palabras en una pgina. En relacin al cuestionamiento de textos que ocurre a travs de la historia de la novela, la sugerencia de la referencia metaficcion al es que debemos aplicarle el mismo cuestionamiento a la novela que tenemos delante de nosotros que a los textos incluidos dentro de ella.

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15 La arbitrariedad y fragilidad del mundo ficcional s ugerida por el elemento metaficcional es tambin afirmada por las reflexiones d e Daz Grey sobre su existencia y el mundo que habita. Tras la primera visita de Augusto Goerdel a su consultorio el doctor almuerza y se acuesta a pensar sobre su soledad: “B rausen puede haberme hecho nacer en Santa Mara con treinta o cuarenta aos de pasado i nexplicable, ignorado para siempre,” piensa el doctor, “Est obligado, por respeto a las grandes tradiciones que desea imitar, a irme matando, clula a clula, sntoma a sntoma” ( 259). Vemos aqu que el doctor es consciente de las decisiones creativas de Brausen y del efecto que stas tienen sobre su vida. La ausencia de un pasado corresponde a la fal ta de inters en el pasado de Daz Grey que Brausen expresa en el momento de su creaci n al principio de La vida breve. Se introduce tambin la nocin de que hasta el prop io dios omnipotente de Santa Mara est limitado en su poder creativo por el deseo de imitar “grandes tradiciones” – tradiciones literarias (como la de las grandes saga s novelescas del siglo XIX y comienzos del XX) – lo cual sugiere de nuevo el aspecto metaficcional. Al final de su reflexin Daz Grey supone la existencia de “un Brausen ms a lto, un poco ms verdadero,” que eventualmente castigar al Brausen familiar, dando a entender que existe un tipo de jerarqua de creadores imponiendo su voluntad arts tica sobre Santa Mara (260). Parece posible que este creador mayor, ms verdadero, sea una referencia a Onetti mismo. En La muerte y la nia la presencia del elemento meta-ficcional y las refl exiones de Daz Grey afirman la existencia de Santa Mara c omo el producto de una particular imaginacin que impone su lgica artstica sobre la saga entera. En la siguiente seccin discutir ms extensamente cmo especficos mecanis mos narrativos contribuyen a esta caracterizacin del mundo ficcional.

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16 Mecanismos narrativos En esta seccin analizar algunos de los mecanismos narrativos que caracterizan a la saga como un conjunto de textos cuyo propsito e s llamar la atencin al proceso de creacin que los une. Analizar el uso de adjetivos el uso de la repeticin dentro y a travs de textos, y los aparentes “descuidos” de On etti. Un aspecto que caracteriza el lenguaje de Onetti e s su uso de adjetivos. Los adjetivos se usan con una frecuencia que se acerca al exceso y de manera a menudo inusitada que rompe la isotopa semntica esperada por el lector. En La muerte y la nia por ejemplo, se introduce as a Augusto Goerdel, qu ien luego ser acusado de causar la muerte de su esposa: “Pensaba, un instante, en s m ismo; pensaba, mirando la cara asctica del visitante imprevisto, imprevisible el enfermo sano y bien vestido rgido en su asiento luego de la confesin,” nfasis mo (255 ). La escena ocurre en el consultorio de Daz Grey. El mdico reflexiona sobre s mismo m ientras mira a Goerdel, que ha venido a presentarle la situacin en la que se encu entran l y su mujer: ella morir si queda embarazada, pero dejar de tener relaciones no es posible. En la descripcin de Goerdel primero notamos la enumeracin de dos palab ras casi idnticas, que son como matices de un mismo aspecto: “imprevisto” e “imprev isible.” La segunda palabra sirve para enfatizar la primera: no es solo que Daz Grey no esperaba a Goerdel, sino que no haba manera de saber que vendra. Adems, agrega l a segunda un rasgo de la personalidad de Goerdel. Este tipo de construccin, este juego en el que dos posibles adjetivos son presentados es una manera de revelar el proceso selectivo del narrador al momento de elegir sus palabras.

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17 En la siguiente parte de la descripcin de Goerdel choca la contradiccin entre el sustantivo “enfermo” y el adjetivo que lo sigue, “s ano.” Si adoptamos la perspectiva de Daz Grey, la frase tiene sentido ya que las person as que lo visitan suelen ser enfermos, sin embargo Goerdel es un visitante con problemas p ero sin problemas de salud propios. Hay, pues, irona. La contradiccin en la descripci n tambin ayuda a establecer desde el nivel lingstico la identidad ambigua que define a l personaje de Goerdel a lo largo de la historia: supuesto sirviente de Dios, negociante, a cusado asesino, uno de los habitantes fundadores de la Colonia, que sin embargo luego va a regresar tras su exilio bajo otro nombre. La contradiccin al nivel lingstico se complica c on la fuerte presencia de contradicciones en la novela al nivel de la trama. Un ejemplo de tal incoherencia es el gnero cambiante del beb que mat a Helga Hauser: Daz Grey afirma que es varn, mientras Goerdel insiste sobre “ la hija asesina” (286). El texto no resuelve la diferencia ; parece ser una clara indicacin de la imposibilidad de reconciliar las distintas versiones de los hechos presentadas en el texto. En otro momento de la consulta de Goerdel el narrad or lo describe como “largo, an sentado, con las ropas caras y oscuras, con su escaso pelo rubio aplastado […]” (256). El uso de “largo” en lugar de “alto” para de scribir la figura humana resulta algo extrao, ya que la primera palabra es ms frecuente en descripciones de objetos que personas. La descripcin tiene el efecto de objetiv ar al personaje, revelndolo ms como una proyeccin del narrador (o el autor que lo inve nta) que una persona real. Enfatiza percepcin, espacializndolo, poniendo el nfasis e n lo horizontal (ya que no est parado).

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18 Las descripciones de Onetti suelen dar la impresin de personajes que han sido pintados a grandes rasgos, sin la intencin de prod ucir el tipo de imagen completa y coherente que esperamos de un estilo realista, por ejemplo. De otro lado las idiosincrasias del lenguaje descriptivo llaman la atencin a la fu erte presencia autorial. La extraeza de sus adjetivos es una manera en que el autor a trav s de sus narradores crea un mundo ficcional nico y cautivante, compuesto de fragment os y situaciones que podran fcilmente pertenecer al nuestro pero que sin embar go se convierten en algo definitivamente situado en otro mbito (el mundo de la ficcin) en manos de su creador. Otro recurso estilstico del autor consiste en la repeticin de ciertas palabras y frases, dentro de un texto a travs de sus obras. D entro de una obra la repeticin puede servir como una importante herramienta para descifr ar el texto. Esto hace Josefina Ludmer en su agudo anlisis de “La novia robada,” e n el que formula una posible lgica para el cuento que conecta la repetida ausencia de un anillo, la estructura circular del relato y la repeticin de la letra “o.” Este tipo d e anlisis estilstico detallista sugiere una clara intencionalidad de parte del autor al nivel d el lenguaje, el tipo de concentracin en el lenguaje que solemos esperar y encontrar en la p oesa, no la prosa. El tipo de anlisis empleado por Ludmer y otros cr ticos es en parte apoyado por la manera en que Onetti escriba, la cual se puede observar en sus manuscritos. A pesar de un afamado desdn por la prolijidad y una propen sin a perder el orden de las pginas, sus manuscritos, siempre escritos a mano, revelan u na atencin al detalle: subraya o encierra en crculos palabras y sonidos repetidos, aparecen sinnimos de palabras escritos uno encima del otro, en el caso de lenguaje tcnico (como el del mdico Daz Grey) se dejan blancos para luego rellenar tras consultar a un especialista (Balderston XLIII).

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19 El fenmeno de la repeticin dentro de una obra ocu rre a varios niveles, produciendo diversos efectos. Por ejemplo, en La muerte y la nia se repite una y otra vez la palabra “capricho” – en referencia tanto a l a motivacin de varios personajes como al clima sanmariano. El capricho es lo opuesto a la motivacin lgica. A travs del nfasis sobre l se alude a la dificultad de atribu ir causalidad lgica a los hechos presentados en el texto: el problema central es det erminar si Augusto Goerdel es responsable de la muerte de Helga Hauser, pero la i nsuficiencia e incoherencia de datos presentados imposibilitan una conclusin definitiva Al nivel del mundo ficcional, la nocin del capricho corresponde al hecho que todo l o que ocurre en Santa Mara ha sido determinado por la voluntad creativa de Brausen, o sus caprichos. En su anlisis de La muerte y la nia Juan Ventura S. ofrece esta descripcin de Santa Mara: “En el ambiente de Santa Mara flota l a duda, la sensacin de que el mundo est sostenido por unos cimientos que Dios ha deter minado desde un principio, porque el nacimiento de Santa Mara va de acuerdo al nacimien to de los sanmarianos; porque la nica posibilidad de justificar la existencia es ve getar, cuando no insistir, en la credibilidad de que el mundo ha sido hecho de esta manera porque s” (775). Los sanmarianos no tienen ms remedio que aceptar l a manera arbitraria en que Brausen ha determinado su existencia. La prevalenci a de la nocin del capricho en la novela corresponde con esta caracterizacin de Sant a Mara como un mundo regido no por el razonamiento lgico sino por una particular lgica artstica. En “Tan triste como ella” (1963), por su parte, la repeticin casi exacta al final del cuento de la imagen de la protagonista caminando ba jo la luna introducida al inicio funciona como una herramienta temporal. La siguien te descripcin se encuentra al inicio

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20 del cuento: “La luna ya era monstruosa. Casi desnud a, con el cuerpo recto y los pequeos senos horadando la noche, sigui marchando para hun dirse en la luna desmesurada que continuaba creciendo” (294). Podemos compararla con el final: “La luna continuaba creciendo. Ella, horadando la noche con sus pequeo s senos resplandecientes y duros como el zinc, sigui marchando hasta hundirse en la luna desmesurada que la haba esperado, segura, aos, no muchos” (316). El regres o a la imagen del comienzo sugiere que la historia entera ha ocurrido en un momento, e n la memoria de la mujer ya muerta. Aparte de sus implicaciones temporales, esta repeti cin de una considerable porcin del texto afirma la autoridad del narrador y mantiene e l texto firmemente plantado al nivel de las palabras. En la novela Dejemos hablar al viento (1979), uno de los ltimos textos de la saga, se repite incluso un captulo entero (dado qu e ste abarca una sola pgina). El pasaje aparece por primera vez bajo el ttulo “El c amino,” aproximadamente a un tercio del principio de la novela. El captulo acta como una interrupcin en la accin de la novela, en la que el narrador parece ofrecer su ver sin pesimista de la actividad de las personas que lo rodean. Comienza as: “Y ellos cont inuaban avanzando, sin saber, atravesando el vino de la primera misa, la lucha po r el pan de cada da, la ignorancia y la necedad. Avanzaban, alegres, distrados, pocas vece s dudando; tan inocentes, relajados o tiesos, hacia el hoyo final y la ltima palabra. Ta n seguros, comunes, callados, imbciles” (92). La imagen de personas caminando hacia un hoyo inevitable metaforiza la vida de los hombres como una marcha lenta hacia la muerte. La repeticin casi exacta del pasaje, menos algunas sustituciones de palabras con sinnim os, ocurre a dos tercios adentrada la novela, bajo el ttulo “El camino II” (201). Como e n el caso de “Tan triste como ella” un

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21 posible efecto de la repeticin es llamar la atenci n a la literalidad del texto y la intencionalidad de su creador. A travs de las obras sanmarianas este tipo de rep eticin afirma la importancia de una lgica artstica que acta sobre Santa Mara po r encima de la racionalidad. Al encontrar palabras, frases y, como veremos ms adel ante, descripciones familiares obra tras obra reconocemos que estamos en un mundo que m s all de consistir en una determinada geografa, personajes y situaciones rec urrentes, es concebido de una manera muy especfica. Adems de los fenmenos observados, la repeticin d e ciertos motivos a travs de los textos caracteriza a Santa Mara como la manife stacin y reafirmacin de un conjunto de fijaciones y obsesiones particulares de su cread or. Por ejemplo al nivel de la descripcin de los personajes se enfatizan ciertos rasgos, en particular los dientes y la caracterizacin de sus expresiones como “muecas.” Los dientes tienen un sentido algo morboso, ya que forman parte del esqueleto, que simboliza la muerte. Al describir los dientes s e expone una parte de la cara que tpicamente est escondida, produciendo un acercami ento tan extremo que puede crear cierta incomodidad. En La muerte y la nia se describe as a Augusto Goerdel durante su primera visita a la oficina de Daz Grey: “Ahora el hombre bien peinado sonrea apenas, pequeos dientes blancos sumergidos en una broma de la que slo l conoca la clave” (257). La descripcin de los dientes aqu contribuy e al aspecto siniestro de Goerdel establecido en esta primera visita: hasta su dentad ura, aunque parece revelar, sugiere que est escondiendo algo. El narrador annimo de esta seccin de la novela comparte esta fijacin sobre los dientes con muchos otros narrado res onettianos.

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22 Los dientes figuran tambin en “Un sueo realizado” (1941) – cuento que precede a la saga de Santa Mara. El protagonista-narrador, promotor de un teatro, recibe el extrao pedido de una mujer que desea llevar al esc enario una escena, compuesta y protagonizada por ella, sin intencin de mostrarla a ningn pblico. Langman, el narrador, describe as a la mujer: “Pero haba, s, algo en la sonrisa de la mujer que me pona nervioso y me era imposible sostener los ojos en sus pequeos dientes irregulares exhibidos como los de un nio que duerme y respira con la boca abierta” (105). Los dientes pequeos de la mujer corresponden a su aspe cto general, en el que se combinan de manera peculiar aspectos de la vejez y la infanc ia. De nuevo los dientes crean un sentido de incomodidad, ya que el narrador se sient e nervioso sin saber exactamente porqu al mirar su boca. La comparacin con la boc a abierta de un nio durmiendo resalta el aspecto de los dientes como algo que nor malmente no se ve, que se expone en un momento caracterizado por privacidad y vulnerabi lidad. La fijacin en los dientes revela un inters de parte de los narradores por re velar las ambivalencias de y hacia lo ntimo de los personajes en sus descripciones. Tambin es muy frecuente la palabra “mueca” en las descripciones de personajes. Una mueca equivale a una distorsin de la cara cuyo s rasgos y causa no son tan fciles de determinar como lo son para, por ejemplo, una sonri sa o un fruncir del ceo. La mueca tiene un doble sentido como algo incontrolable, cua ndo es de dolor, y de una expresin exageradamente teatral, cuando es forzada. La muec a es representativa del estilo descriptivo de Onetti porque parece revelar, aclara r, al mismo tiempo que vela y oscurece. En La muerte y la nia la descripcin de expresiones como muecas ocurre e n varias instancias.

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23 En la seccin que trata la inicial confrontacin en tre el Padre Bergner y el seminarista Goerdel, la palabra mueca se usa para d escribir las expresiones de ambos. “[Bergner] desliz los dedos por los lomos sombros de la biblioteca, demor mirando los ttulos y volvi a sentarse lentamente, con una mue ca dolorida” (265). Aqu la mueca de dolor simplemente revela el esfuerzo necesitado por el movimiento del Padre, un ndice de su vejez y tamao masivo. Luego se usa la palab ra de nuevo para describir la respuesta de Goerdel cuando Bergner le recuerda de su deber de amar a Dios por encima de todo: “Es lo que hago – dijo el muchacho con una mueca de resignacin, con dbil, novedoso cinismo” (266). Aqu la mueca corresponde a la actitud mentirosa de Goerdel, quien hasta esta altura ha fingido conviccin en el estar estudiando para ser cura. En el intercambio entre Goerdel y el Padre Bergner la mue ca revela lo actuado y lo falso. La atencin en similares rasgos distintivos en la d escripcin de personajes a travs de distintos textos otra vez afirma la presencia de un creador obsesivo. A pesar de las diferencias entre la variedad de personajes, dan la impresin de ser todos calcados de un mismo modelo, compuestos de los mismos materiales. Otro motivo que se repite a travs de las obras de Onetti es el sentido de “obligacin,” “necesidad,” el sentido de una actit ud o accin “impuesta” que acta sobre los personajes. La insistencia sobre este aspecto c orresponde al sentido de predeterminacin que satura la obra entera de Onett i. En las obras sanmarianas el poder creativo se adscribe a Brausen, dios-fundador de Sa nta Mara. En las obras fuera del ciclo el origen de esta predeterminacin es desconocido, pero sin embargo se lo ve operando en la manera de presentar la accin y los estados a nmicos de sus personajes. Tan temprano como en su primer relato, “Avenida de Mayo -Diagonal Norte-Avenida de

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24 Mayo” publicado en 1933, se encuentran rastros del sentido de predeterminacin que luego caracterizar a Santa Mara. Suaid, el protag onista del cuento, camina por las calles de Buenos Aires creando una elaborada fantasa esca pista en un intento intil de alejarse del pnico de un encuentro inexplicadamente inevita ble con Mara Eugenia, presumiblemente su novia o inters romntico: “Sab a que Mara Eugenia vena. Saba que algo tendra que hacer y su corazn perda tota lmente el comps. Lo desazonaba tener que inclinarse sobre aquel pensamiento; saber que, por ms que aturdiera su cerebro en todos los laberintos, mucho antes de echarse a d escansar encontrara a Mara Eugenia en una encrucijada” (29). Nunca se identifica la fu ente de esta certeza acerca del encuentro que lo aterroriza; sus pensamientos y emo ciones estn fuera de su control. Aunque se trata aqu de un hecho circunscrito a un individuo – y como tal explicable verosmilmente en trminos psicolgicos – la obsesi n del protagonista con un hecho predeterminado parece anticipar la psique sanmarian a: la certeza de que todo ha sido previamente decidido por otro. Es notable que dos d cadas antes de la publicacin de La vida breve novela que establece a Santa Mara como una creac in escapista de Juan Mara Brausen, su temtica central ya est de algun a manera anunciada en este primer texto. Un importante aspecto del lenguaje narrativo son l as frecuentes expresiones de incertidumbre por parte de los narradores onettiano s. A lo largo de la saga de Santa Mara distintos narradores recurren a las mismas expresio nes, dando la impresin que la vaguedad e inseguridad acerca de los hechos de la c iudad no estn limitadas a ningn narrador en particular, sino que caracterizan al mu ndo entero. No obstante, la presencia de esta incertidumbre en el lenguaje narrativo es m ayor en algunos textos que otros. La

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25 muerte y la nia es uno de los textos en el cual figura con ms prom inencia. Particularmente en las secciones relatadas por el n arrador sin nombre, que por momentos representa a la colectividad sanmariana, las expres iones de incertidumbre caracterizan a la informacin presentada como poco fiable, product o de chismes y rumores. En el siguiente pasaje, por ejemplo, este narrador habla sobre las supuestas, posibles coincidencias de las visitas del Padre Ber gner y el mdico Daz Grey a la casa de los Goerdel, cuando Augusto an era nio: “Repito q ue pudieron coincidir muchas veces y que, en algunas de ellas, porqu no, estuvieron j untos en la casa de los Goerdel” (261). Se supone que el doctor y el padre, en sus tantos v iajes por la Colonia, cruzaron caminos y que en algn momento el cruce debe haber ocurrido en casa de los Goerdel, pero no se ofrece ningn tipo de evidencia testimonial para ap oyar el encuentro. La manera de contar de este narrador tiene un aire especulativo y casual; no nos ofrece una versin del todo convincente. Cul es el propsito de esta ten dencia? Al comunicarnos la perspectiva del narrador vacila nte la narracin nos aleja de los hechos mismos. La falta de certeza expresada por el narrador acerca de los hechos que constituyen la historia complica el problema centra l de la novela – el presunto crimen de Augusto Goerdel – ya que los datos sobre los cuales la acusacin en su contra est fundada son nebulosos. La incertidumbre del narrad or contribuye a la sensacin general de duda en los textos, descrita por Mario Vargas Ll osa en su anlisis sobre la obra de Onetti El viaje a la ficcin : “El estilo de Onetti no es incorrecto, pero s es inusitado, infrecuente, intrincado a veces hasta la tiniebla, a menudo neblinoso y vago, pues nos sume en la incertidumbre sobre aquello que quiere c ontar hasta que entendemos que lo que quiere contar es esa misma incertidumbre” (115) La incertidumbre creada a travs

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26 del lenguaje narrativo refleja las ambivalencias y el carcter tentativo, cargado de posibilidades presente en el momento de creacin. En El viaje a la ficcin Mario Vargas Llosa sintetiza las opiniones de algun os de los primeros crticos de Onetti, quienes calificaro n a su estilo como “descuidado,” (Luis Harss), marcado por “la indisciplina y la dejadez” (Enrique Anderson Imbert) (113). Vargas Llosa vindica este estilo, incluyendo al asp ecto de aparente descuido, bajo lo que l llama “el estilo crapuloso” de Onetti: “El de On etti es un estilo que podramos llamar crapuloso, pues parece la carta de presentacin de un escritor que, frente a los personajes y a sus lectores, se comporta como un crpula” (116 ). De aqu Vargas Llosa pasa a caracterizar este estilo primariamente a travs de la actitud despectiva de sus narradores frente a sus personajes y la presencia de lo escato lgico en sus descripciones. Aunque la presencia de lo escatolgico es sin duda un aspecto importante en el mundo ficticio de Onetti, de este “estilo crapuloso ” me interesa ms el sentido de descuido que parece caracterizar a su escritura que la temtica de inmoralidad que resalta Vargas Llosa en su anlisis. Es posible que algunos lectores consideren aspectos de la narrativa onettiana, como su diccin por momentos i nusitada, o su puntuacin errtica, o frases que deambulan sin objetivo o significado pre ciso, como productos del descuido. Sin embargo la manera en que estos aspectos estils ticos se afirman de manera que solo podemos caracterizar como sistemtica a lo largo de la saga sanmariana contradice (paradjicamente) la nocin de un escritor desproli jo o desentendido de su obra. La opcin por este estilo, su insistencia en l, llama la atencin, nuevamente, al mundo ficcional de Santa Mara no como una ilusin comple ta y perfecta, sino como la crnica del proceso creativo de una particular imaginacin.

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27 Unas de los aspectos que ms me fascin de la nove la La muerte y la nia ilustra la relacin entre el estilo aparentemente descuidad o del autor y el tipo de mundo que ste crea. En el texto ocurren extraos cambios en la es tatua de Juan Mara Brausen que est situada en la plaza al centro de Santa Mara. Los c ambios inexplicables en la estatua toman peso especial dentro de este mundo ficcional en el que ocurrencias fantsticas de este tipo son casi inexistentes. La primera instancia en que Bergner nota el cambio es tras su enfrentamiento con el joven Goerdel, en el que se establece que Goerde l est siendo preparado no para servir de cura, como se haba fingido hasta entonces, sino para actuar de contador o gerente para los intereses econmicos de la iglesia. Goerde l y Bergner concluyen su discusin – el padre se debe ir a una reunin en el Club. Al sa lir del Seminario, nota por primera vez los cambios en la estatua: As qued resuelta la fecha de partida de Augusto Goerdel y tambin su destino. Y fue el padre Bergner el primero en descu brir, luego de santiguarse, a la luz de los faroles de la plaza, que la cara del jin ete de la estatua dedicada a Juan Mara Brausen, haba comenzado a insinuar rasgos va cunos. Nadie lo not, nadie me lo dijo. Tal vez los antig uos no vieron el cambio por la costumbre de mirar la cabeza casi todos los das; los nuevos, porque siempre la vieron as, sin mirarla. Acaso la ptina la mala luz, las palomas, mis ojos gastados, acaso una broma torcida del diablo. Mirar maana, en el sol. (266) Dada la secuencia de los hechos, parece que el camb io en la estatua coincide con la prdida de fe que acompaa el final de “la gran far sa mutua” entre Goerdel y Bergner.

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28 La segunda instancia en que se discuten los cambio s en la estatua tambin est asociada con la nocin de fe. En medio de una conve rsacin entre Bergner y Daz Grey, el padre le dice al doctor, expresando su fe vacila nte tanto en Brausen como en Goerdel, que a esta altura ha regresado a Santa Mara tras u n exilio autoimpuesto para reclamar su inocencia: “Ni creo ni dejo de creer, poniendo de l ado las penitencias de Goerdel, confesiones y la cantidad de hostias que sigue trag ando.” En este contexto, Bergner le pregunta a Daz Grey si l tambin ha observado cam bios en la cabeza del caballo de la estatua. “Puede ser, nunca me fij,” responde el do ctor. Luego se asoma a la ventana para mirar la estatua, y aunque no puede ver bien a l caballo afirma que s, que ha notado cambios en el jinete y que tambin es posible notar le cuernos al equino (278). En ambos ejemplos podemos deducir que las observac iones de Bergner y Daz Grey estn ligadas a la concepcin que tienen de Br ausen y el tipo de mundo en el que viven. Que tipo de creador produce este tipo de fe nmeno desorientador y porqu? Es que los cambios en la estatua son un mero descuido de Brausen, que un da se distrajo y le dio un aspecto diferente? En este caso, Brausen se caracterizara como un creador descuidado, que somete a sus sujetos a sus capricho s. Si son intencionales los cambios en la estatua se podran explicar como una manera en l a que el creador pone a prueba la fe de sus sujetos, recordndoles la fragilidad y poten cial insensatez del mundo que habitan. Pero al analizar instancias de posibles “descuidos creativos” por parte de Brausen en cuanto a la composicin material de Santa Mara podemos proyectar el mismo fenmeno al nivel del autor y su creacin literaria revelando una correspondencia entre el contenido del mundo ficcional y la manera en que ste es construido en el texto. Como paralelo a las reacciones de los personajes frente a los cambios en la estatua, la presencia

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29 de aparentes descuidos de parte del autor lleva al lector a un cuestionamiento del tipo de mundo que el texto presenta y el carcter de su cre ador. Potenciales descuidos autoriales aparecen al compa rar los dos casos analizados. Primero, cuando Bergner nota los cambios por primer a vez, es la cara del jinete la que muestra rasgos vacunos, mientras en la segunda inst ancia le dice a Daz Grey que es el caballo el que se parece a una vaca. Esta diferenci a se puede explicar como un descuido del narrador, del escritor, o un fallo en la memori a de Bergner mismo. De otro lado el anlisis de estos ejemplos parece revelar un posible descuido temporal por parte del narrador o el escritor. Sabe mos que el encuentro del segundo ejemplo entre Bergner y Daz Grey ocurre aos despu s del descubrimiento inicial de Bergner. La cantidad de tiempo no se especifica per o tiene que haber sido suficiente como para que el joven Goerdel se haya ido de Santa Mara a estudiar, regresado, se haya casado con Helga Hauser, tenido su primer hijo, hay a muerto Hauser con el segundo, haya escapado Goerdel a Alemania y regresado. Parec e ser improbable que en todos estos aos Daz Grey no hubiera notado el cambio en la es tatua visible desde su ventana. Adems, el Padre introduce su pregunta con, “Hace u n tiempo quera preguntarle…” – que resulta extrao para hablar de un plazo de tiem po que probablemente se aproxime a una dcada o ms (278). Las incoherencias que el lector puede detectar en el estilo narrativo equivalen a los inexplicables cambios en la estatua de Brausen que notan los habitantes de Santa Mara. Se pueden hacer las mismas preguntas sobre O netti como autor, que sobre Brausen como creador.

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30 Wolfgang A. Luchting en su anlisis de Los adioses (1970) teoriza sobre la funcin de los aparentes descuidos de Onetti, conje turando que es una manera en que el autor se burla del lector, demostrando la facilidad con la que ste cae en la ilusin de la ficcin a pesar de obvias fallas: “Onetti parece es tar tan seguro de que va a lograr su propsito, el de adormecernos, que incluso descui da o slo parece descuidar? – el manejo verosmil de los mismsimos ingredientes con stitutivos de su decepcin” (735). Esta nocin del autor “burln” coincide con la car acterizacin de Vargas Llosa del escritor que se comporta como un crpula hacia el lector. A travs de este estilo Onetti elimina la pretensin de una comunicacin f cil con su lector. La sistematizacin de este estilo a travs de la saga de Santa Mara e s una manera ms en que el autor afirma su presencia y la autoridad de una lgica creativa que no obedece la lgica que aplicamos al mundo real – la lgica del realismo. Lectores de Onetti Aparte de afirmar la autoridad de un creador encap richado con una manera especfica de crear, esta manera hermtica de crear estimula al lector hacia distintas maneras de entender. En la prxima seccin analiza r cmo los desafos presentados por el estilo de Onetti se manifiestan en distintos tip os de lectores.

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31 El lector cmplice En The Act of Reading Wolfgang Iser postula su nocin del lector implcit o: “He embodies all those predispositions necessary for a literary work to exercise its effect – predispositions laid down, not by an empirical outs ide reality, but by the text itself” (34). El lector implicado por el texto es uno que debe es tar dispuesto a tolerar los desafos presentados por sus estructuras. Los textos de Onet ti presentan un conjunto de caractersticas que demandan la complicidad del lec tor. Segn algunos crticos, la escritura de Juan Carlos Onetti de alguna manera anticipa la nocin del “lector-cmplice” que luego ayudar a definir la escritura de autores del Boom latinoamericano como Julio Cortza r y Mario Vargas Llosa. Antonio Muoz Molina describe as la tarea que demanda Onet ti de su lector: “A Onetti hay que leerlo tensando hasta un grado mximo las destrezas usuales de la lectura […] Leer a Onetti no es difcil, segn dice una supersticin i diota: tan slo exige lo que debera exigir siempre la lectura, una atencin incesante, un ensimismamiento que cancele cualquier otro acto, que suprima el mundo exterior” (15). Sus cuentos y novelas estn construidos de tal manera que provocan una conscien cia en el lector de sus propias facultades constructivas. Comenzar analizando cmo se demanda la complicidad del lector, como se exige su atencin, especficamente al nivel de la frase. La puntuacin confusa, la diccin frecuentemente in usitada y una cantidad agobiante de adjetivos, aspectos que definen el est ilo de Onetti, son capaces de dejar perplejo al lector desprevenido. El siguiente pasaj e ilustra estos desafos. En l, el narrador annimo de La muerte y la nia compara las actividades del Padre Bergner y el doctor Daz Grey, quienes pasan regularmente por la Colonia:

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32 Nadie puede negar probables coincidencias en las vi sitas del entonces Padre Bergner y del inevitable doctor Daz Grey a l a Colonia Suiza. Uno estaba comprometiendo a Dios con un bautizo, con un casamiento de novios previamente endurecidos para el trpode de O rloff, prncipe o gran duque, artista fotogrfico, o con un capricho de mu erte, hijo de un viejo sofisma aceptado sin pelea, a veces tambin endurec ido, otras en vsperas; el otro, Daz Grey, entablillando una pierna rota o pinchando una hidropesa. (261) Como suele ocurrir con los narradores de Onetti, la descripcin sirve ms para crear confusin que aclarar informacin. La funcin del fragmento dentro de la narracin es establecer una conexin entre dos personajes, si n embargo la manera en que est organizado disuelve la funcin explicativa a travs de su uso de adjetivos, la insercin de detalles cuya relevancia es difcil de determinar y el cambio abrupto en registros al pasar de un personaje a otro. El adverbio “entonces” delante del nombre del Padre Bergner, que aqu funciona como adjetivo, hace referencia al cambio de ttulo (de “Padre” a “arzobispo coadjutor”) que Daz Grey ha mencionado en su primera consulta con Goerdel al principio de la novela (257). Por su parte, la palabra “inevitable” para describir al doctor no tiene un sentido inmediatamente claro – se puede pensar que el doctor es “inevitable” porque sus visitas son inevitables, ya que los habitantes de l a Colonia deben enfermarse peridicamente o que l es el nico doctor disponib le. De otro lado, al nivel metaficcional, el lector familiar con otros textos sanmariananos puede detectar otro posible significado, en el sentido que Daz Grey es “inevitable” dada su frecuencia como

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33 personaje en el resto de la saga. En ambos casos, l a adjetivizacin del nombre lleva al lector en una direccin que lo distancia del moment o en la narracin y la supuesta convergencia de dos personajes que el narrador est postulando. En la siguiente frase comienza una serie de clusul as separadas por comas cuyo significado es difcil de acertar. Se podra reduci r a una lista de maneras en que Bergner involucra a Dios en los procesos de vida de los hab itantes de la Colonia: bautizo, casamiento, y muerte. La lista se complica, sin emb argo, primero con la insercin de la descripcin de los novios “endurecidos,” un uso met africo del adjetivo para describir a la pareja en pose para una fotografa, y la mencin de Orloff, que nuevamente apunta hacia una lectura intertextual. La referencia es ba stante remota dada la relativa insignificancia del personaje, que es mencionado en varios textos de la saga como un fotgrafo que pas por Santa Mara alrededor del mo mento de su fundacin. Solo un lector extremadamente atento se acordara de l. El aspecto remoto de la referencia es exagerado an ms por la ambivalencia de su ttulo (“prncipe o gran duque.”) El ltimo elemento en la lista, “o por un capricho de muerte, hijo de un viejo sofisma aceptado sin pelea, a veces tambin endurec ido, otras en vsperas,” resulta el ms enigmtico. Como he discutido anteriormente, a lo l argo del texto se tematiza la nocin del capricho, ligndola con la nocin de determinac in artstica que caracteriza a Santa Mara como el producto de la imaginacin de Juan Ma ra Brausen. El lector debe captar este concepto para interpretar al “capricho de muer te” como el destino impuesto por Brausen. An as, la expresin adems es complicada por la vaguedad que aade “hijo de un viejo sofisma aceptado sin pelea,” que alude a l a indiferencia caracterstica de la psique sanmariana. Por ltimo, la frase retoma el a djetivo “endurecido” previamente

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34 usado para los novios, dando corporeidad al concept o abstracto introducido por “capricho de muerte.” La construccin de “a veces, […] otras […]” al final aporta an otro nivel de ambivalencia. Notamos el creciente nivel de complej idad a lo largo de la lista, que embarroca cada vez ms las actividades del Padre Be rgner en la Colonia. Despus del punto y coma encontramos una descripci n tpica del doctor Daz Grey que combina el vocabulario tcnico de la medic ina con la vulgaridad de lo cotidiano. El cambio en registro tiene un efecto de sestabilizador sobre el lector. El lenguaje directo y la brevedad de la descripcin ch ocan con la descripcin anterior de las actividades del Padre Bergner. La diseccin de este fragmento descriptivo expone l a extensin de la tarea interpretativa presentada al lector por el estilo d e los narradores de Onetti. Si el lector pretende comprender al texto, debe estar dispuesto a dejar de lado algunas certezas sobre el lenguaje y la puntuacin para captar el sentido de construcciones complicadas o ajenas, y aplicar su conocimiento del resto de la obra del autor para descifrar referencias intertextuales. Este tipo de lectura disectiva, por otro lado, resu lta tediosa y frustrante, por lo tanto la tarea del lector consiste tambin en acept ar el enigma y estar satisfecho con una manera de entender que se puede llamar “rapsdica” en el sentido que consiste en combinar los retazos que se pueden rescatar como co mprensibles para formar una interpretacin aceptable del texto. La saga de Sant a Mara afirma la validez de este tipo de conocimiento incompleto e inestable en la interp retacin de una obra artstica. El texto requiere del lector una actitud a su vez investigat iva y tolerante. Hay una correspondencia

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35 entre esta actitud casi resignada o indiferente pro vocada en el lector de Onetti y la entrega de los habitantes de Santa Mara a los enigmas pres entados por Brausen. El lector crtico literario En vida Onetti pareca provocar cierto miedo en sus crticos y su escritura an sigue teniendo este efecto. El miedo del crtico se puede atribuir al conflicto entre la tarea demandada por el estilo de Onetti al lector cmplic e y la tarea que requiere el trabajo del crtico. El tipo de comprensin incompleta e inesta ble que provoca el texto choca con la tarea explicativa del crtico. La dificultad de ex plicar o resolver los enigmas del texto en un lenguaje crtico demuestra su resistencia a ser racionalizado. Wolfgang A. Luchting explica as el miedo del lector crtico: “A Onetti, todo el mundo le tiene miedo. Al menos es sta la impresin que me causa el magro nmero d e estudios, reseas e intentos de anlisis de sus obras. Yo, lo admito, tambin tengo cierto miedo a meterme con Onetti: es tan complicado, tan hermtico. Pero en Los adioses me parece, este miedo puede descartarse [… ]” (733). El artculo de Luchting fue escrito a fines de los aos sesenta, poca en la que Onetti comenzaba a recibir atencin de parte de la crtica, aunque segua pesando su reputacin de subcampen en concursos literarios y apenas se empezaban a producir las primeras traducciones de algunos cuentos y novelas, haciendo limitada su lectura fuera de Latinoamrica y Espaa. Esto explica la observacin de Luchting sobre la es casez de crtica sobre Onetti, la cual no sera vlida hoy en da que abunda la crti ca sobre el escritor. El “miedo a meterse con Onetti” tiene dos componentes – uno, el miedo a producir una interpretacin invlida

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36 del texto; dos, el miedo a la desaprobacin del aut or mismo, que an desde la muerte impone su presencia temible. En el caso de Luchting result que este miedo se ju stificaba: Onetti respondi a su artculo con una nota titulada “Media vuelta de t uerca,” en la que critica al intento de Luchting de resolver la ambigedad de la historia d e Los adioses con un mero “turn of the screw” (alusin a Henry James) y sugiere la imp osibilidad de su resolucin total. La respuesta de Onetti revela simpata irnica por el crtico, e incluso acepta su interpretacin en cierta medida, pero afirma el rec hazo del autor y la resistencia del texto al tipo de interpretacin definitiva que suele impo ner la crtica. Onetti rechaz con an ms violencia la interpretac in alegrica de El astillero ofrecida por algunos crticos: Por ejemplo, yo he ledo ms de una resea sobre un libro mo que se llama El astillero Bueno, una de ellas es norteamericana, y entonces se deca que era un testimonio del Uruguay actual; es decir, el astille ro, la cosa que se est derrumbando, que no tiene sentido, que es absurda. Yo esto no lo escrib en ningn momento pensando en el Uruguay ni con nimo proftico, simplemente yo crea que se pareca ms a la vida humana que a la vida del Uruguay” (Musselwhite). En la interpretacin del crtico extranjero vemos u n intento a distanciarse del texto, fijando su significado a un tiempo y lugar e specifico. Onetti, aunque reconoce algunas posibles correspondencias entre su ficcin y la realidad, rechaza este intento de fijar, de reducir su obra a una representacin art stica de la realidad poltica de su pas.

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37 El trabajo del crtico lo lleva a imponer una corre spondencia entre la novela y la realidad que ayuda a descifrar sus enigmas, exactam ente lo opuesto al tipo de tarea interpretativa que el texto demanda del lector cmp lice. Onetti refuta la interpretacin restrictiva del crtico con la explicacin expansiv a y vaga de la semejanza de su obra con “la vida humana.” El lector traductor La tarea del lector traductor abarca los problemas planteados por los dos tipos de lectura ya discutidos. Si los mecanismos narrativos que definen e estilo de Onetti requieren una flexibilidad de parte del lector cmp lice al momento de leer, en el lector traductor la flexibilidad requerida se extiende al acto de escribir. Debe estar dispuesto no slo a lidiar con los aspectos estilsticos que des afan sus facultades comprensivas sino a reproducirlos en su propia escritura. Similarmente al lector crtico literario, el traduc tor tiene la presin de producir una interpretacin del texto que se considere vlid a por una comunidad de crticos y lectores. El miedo del crtico a producir una inter pretacin fallida del texto original es magnificado en el traductor, ya que su interpretaci n lleva el peso agregado de reemplazar al texto original para el lector de la t raduccin. El contraste entre el trabajo del crtico y el del traductor se puede ilustrar al comparar los dos tipos de trabajo realizados por el crtico y traductor Daniel Balderston. Balderston se puede considerar una autoridad crtic a sobre la obra de Onetti: ha escrito extensamente sobre el autor en castellano e ingls, ensea cursos sobre l y sirvi como coordinador del volumen crtico de sus novelas cort as en Archivos. Public en 1990

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38 Goodbyes and Stories, coleccin que rene sus traducciones de la novela c orta Los adioses y algunos de los relatos cortos ms conocidos de On etti. Considero que, por lo menos en cuanto a la obra de Onetti, su trabajo com o traductor es inferior a su produccin como crtico. Sera posible atribuir est a diferencia a que Balderston no es nativo hablante del castellano, sin embargo su trab ajo crtico en el idioma apunta a un dominio de la lengua escrita. Un anlisis detallado de su traduccin del cuento “ Un sueo realizado,” por ejemplo, revela una falta de atencin a las complej idades del lenguaje del texto original. En el cuento, publicado en 1941, un promotor de tea tro retirado narra su recuerdo de la propuesta que le trajo un da una mujer: llevar al escenario una obra compuesta por ella, que consiste de solo una escena, sin la intencin d e atraer un pblico. A pesar de no comprender ni el sentido de la obra ni el deseo de la mujer de verla realizada, el promotor acepta su propuesta. Balderston comete varios errores al traducir al ing ls el lenguaje relacionado con el teatro que figura en el cuento. Traduce, por eje mplo, un pasaje en el que habla el personaje femenino diciendo, “la mujer que voy a re presentar yo” como “the woman I am going to represent” ( Cuentos completos 111; Goodbyes and Stories 56). La traduccin literal no funciona aqu ya que el verbo “represent ” en ingls no tiene el sentido teatral de actuar la parte de un personaje como lo tiene en ca stellano. Una traduccin mejor, entonces, sera, “the woman I am going to play.” La pobre traduccin del lenguaje teatral que figura en el cuento es de particular importanci a porque compromete el tema de la relacin entre la vida y el arte en el cuento.

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39 El lenguaje del cuento tambin apunta hacia el tema de la predeterminacin que atraviesa la obra entera de Onetti. La traduccin d e Balderston elimina algunas de las instancias sutiles de este tema en el cuento. Por e jemplo, la primera pgina del original presenta el discurso del narrador que dice: “todo e se tiempo perdiendo y ganando un dinero que Dios y yo sabamos era necesario que vol viera a perder en la prxima temporada” (103). Balderston traduce: “all the whil e losing and winning money that both God and I knew I would lose again the next season” (49). La traduccin elimina el “era necesario” que enfatiza no solamente el conocimient o de lo que va a ocurrir sino el sentido de necesidad misteriosa e inevitable. Otra frase tpicamente onettiana, dicha, otra vez, por el narrador, para caracterizar su forma de proceder que es descrita como: “un estilo cauteloso que me era impuesto no s por qu, ” Balderston traduce como, “in a cautious way I assumed for some unknown reason” ( Cuentos completos 106; Goodbyes and Stories 52). Al cambiar el sentido del verbo (que me era i mpuesto/I assumed) se le atribuye una agencia al personaje en la traduccin que est notablemente ausente en el relato original. Se pierde el sentido de una fuerza ajena imponiendo su voluntad sobre el personaje. Mantener la intencin del original toma particular peso en este caso ya que instancias como sta conectan a la obra temprana de Onetti con la saga de Santa Mara que domina su produccin a partir de “La casa en la arena” de 1949. La traduccin aqu compromete la conexin del protagonista de “Un sue o realizado” con los personajes sanmarianos que vivirn con la sensacin de actitud es, acciones y destinos enteros impuestos sobre ellos por Brausen. La prdida en significado que observo al nivel del texto singular y al nivel intertextual, causada por las fallas aparentemente menores en la traduccin de Balderston,

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40 ilustra la necesidad de observar y reproducir efect ivamente el estilo del autor para ser fiel al original. La necesidad de reproducir el estilo d e Onetti en la traduccin, con sus complicaciones, ambigedades e incoherencias, enfa tiza la inextricabilidad de forma y contenido presente en la obra del autor. Como he av anzado en mi anlisis, la saga de Santa Mara adquiere su sentido como una crnica de su misma creacin a travs de especficos mecanismos narrativos. Si el traductor falla en su reproduccin de estos aspectos despoja a la obra de su significado esenci al.

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41 Obras citadas Ansa, Fernando. Las trampas de Onetti. Montevideo: Editorial Alfa, 1970. Balderston, Daniel, ed. Juan Carlos Onetti: Novelas cortas. Poitiers: Universit de Poitiers, Centre de Recherches Latino-Amricaines, 2009. Balderston, Daniel. Introduccin. Balderston XXI-LX Clayton, Michelle. “Paciencia y barajar.” Baldersto n 592-610. Estenoz, Alfredo Alonso. “Cronologa.” Balderston 4 57-468. Geertz, Clifford. Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretive Ant hropology. New York: Basic Books, 1983. Iser, Wolfgang. “Readers and the Concept of the Imp lied Reader.” The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1978. 27-37. PDF. Luchting, Wolfgang A. “El lector como protagonista de la novela de Onetti: Los adioses. ” Balderston 731-738. Ludmer, Josefina. “La novia (carta) robada (a Faulk ner).” Hispamerica. Ao 3, No. 9 (1975): 3-19. JSTOR. Web. 15 abril 2012. Muoz Molina, Antonio. Prlogo. Cuentos completos. Onetti, Juan Carlos. Musselwhite, D.E. “ El astillero en marcha.” Onetti.net. Web. 15 abril 2012. Onetti, Juan Carlos. El astillero. New York: Penguin, 1996. ---. “Avenida de Mayo-Diagonal Norte-Avenida de May o.” Cuentos completos. 27-34. ---. Cuentos completos. Madrid: Alfaguara, 1994. ---. Dejemos hablar al viento. Barcelona: Editorial Bruguera, 1981. ---. “A Dream Come True.” Goodbyes and Stories. Trans. Daniel Balderston. Austin: University of Texas, 1990. 49-61.

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42 ---. Juntacadveres. Montevideo: Editorial Alfa, 1964. ---. “Media vuelta de tuerca.” Balderston 739. ---. La muerte y la nia. Balderson 255-292. ---. “Un sueo realizado.” Cuentos completos. 103-118. ---. “Tan triste como ella.” Cuentos completos. 293-316. ---. La vida breve. Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1968. Vargas Llosa, Mario. El viaje a la ficcin: El mundo de Juan Carlos Onet ti. Lima: Alfaguara, 2008. Ventura S., Juan. “ La muerte y la nia: Una novela policaca?” Balderston 774-775.

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43 Introduction to the Death and the Girl The following is my translation of La muerte y la nia originally published in 1973. The original text presents a host of challeng es to the reader, to the extent that it has been labeled as “illegible” by some critics. My mai n task as a translator was to recreate the features in the original that not only make it an outstanding singular work but that connect it to the author’s body of work, which cent ers on the saga of Santa Mara, Onetti’s fictional city. Santa Mara is a fictional world characterized by uncertainty and instability: its geographical location is unclear, its characters come into existence without pasts, significant events are introduced out of ord er. Unlike fictional worlds created by more traditional sagas, Santa Mara does not aspire to the type of transparency, completeness, and coherence which we associate with real places. Instead, it constantly reveals itself as the product of an individual imag ination, subject to its whims, limitations, and errors. This is achieved through Onetti’s distinct style, characterized by certain idiomatic constructions and narrative mecha nisms which I paid particular attention to in my translation. Since I consider On etti’s use of language so inextricable from the type of world his fiction creates, I gener ally stayed as close as possible to a literal translation in an attempt to recreate the o riginal’s use of Spanish in the English version. I paid particular attention to preserving the repetition of certain words, phrases, and grammatical constructions within the text as we ll as stylistic elements that appear repeatedly throughout Onetti’s work. Knowledge of the rest of the saga helps orient the reader and enriches the reading but is not essential to understanding the text. Death and the Girl features some of Santa

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44 Mara’s most important characters: Daz Grey, the s antamaran doctor and most frequent character throughout Onetti’s stories and novels; F ather Bergner, Santa Mara’s priest; Jorge Malabia, son of the founder of the newspaper El Liberal ; and lastly Brausen, considered the god/founder of Santa Mara, having c onceived the imaginary city and its inhabitants in the saga’s opening novel, A Brief Life (1960). Augusto Goerdel and Helga Hauser, the couple at the center of the novel’s plo t, appear only in this text. As a singular unit, the text’s narrative structure and level of incoherence make it a difficult text. Even readers familiar with Onetti’s work, who can pick up on the intertextual references, are likely to be frustrate d. The original text challenges the reader with complicated syntax, unusual word choice, and l inguistic ambiguity, sometimes to the extent of obscuring the meaning of a phrase or sentence. In my translation I seek to reproduce, rather than resolve, these challenges. I have made notes at points where I feel an explanation for my translation is necessary. To illustrate my decisions as a translator I use a previous translation of the text, Death and the Maiden by Michelle Clayton, published in the literary journal The Dirty Goat #23 in 2010. For reference I have included the page numbers of the original text I us ed, La muerte y la nia, from the collection Juan Carlos Onetti: Novelas cortas edited by Daniel Balderston.

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45 Death and the Girl1 Juan Carlos Onetti For Mara Rosa Oliver I (255) The doctor leaned back and sat for a while hi tting the now useless prescription pad – dead from idleness, old age, and the unsought wealth – with the end of his green pen. He was thinking, for an instant, of himself; he wa s thinking, watching the ascetic face of the unforeseen, unforeseeable visitor, the well-dressed and healthy sick person, rigid in his seat following the confession. “So there’s nothing to do,” he reflected gently. “ So this son of a great bitch and of the classic seven spurts of semen from seven also u nknown dogs keeps putting all of us, one after the other and with less haste than a leap year, keeps on stuffing us in his bag. He walks lethargic,2 telling the world his future crime, murder, homici de, uxoricide (one of those words for when the Police Station remember s me, when they need a forensic doctor); he strolls through these remains of Santa Mara with a hanging card that barely brushes his thigh, because his gait is of malice an d slowness, a sign that announces in gray and red: I shall kill. That’s enough for him. He is sincere, he cannot say he coveted his neighbor’s wife because he would be lying. His only neighbor is himself. And so, he 1 Clayton chooses the title “Death and the Maiden”, which directly references Schubert’s string quartet The original, on the other hand, modifies the name of t he opera, La muerte y la doncella to the less formal La muerte y la nia therefore I translate the title of the novella to Death and the girl. 2 Here and in several other instances throughout th e text, I reproduce the Spanish predicative use of an adjective following a verb to modify both the subje ct and the action: “Camina desganado contando al mundo su futuro crimen, asesinato…” (255). By contr ast, Clayton usually turns the adjective into an adverb. In her version this phrase appears as, “He’ s walking around indifferently telling the world of his future crime…” (151).

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46 keeps turning all of us into his witnesses for the prosecution and the defense: the bishop and Jesus Christ, Galeno Galilei and me, all of San ta Mara. And it’s possible that night after night, crying and on his knees, he prays to B rausen Our Father who Art in Nothingness to make him a forced accomplice, to tan gle him up in his plot, with no real need, out of a dark desire for artistic culmination .” “That’s all, doctor,” said the visitor in a voice accustomed to resignation; adding: “What can I do?” Daz Grey let go of the pen and re mained watching in silence the trap, the hypocrisy, the hidden harshness, the congenital astuteness. (256) “And her?” he asked as if believing to be ga ining time, a timeless and absolutely useless time. “I don’t understand, doctor.” Long, even when seat ed3, with his expensive and dark clothes, with his plastered sparse blond hair, still handsome but as aggressive and ignoble as his hard nose, which always seemed to ha ve just been raised from between two pages of the enormous yellowing bibles brought to t he Swiss colony by the first immigrants. “I mean. Whether she knows. Whether the doctors to ld her, like they told you, that another birth would mean a risk of death.” “Yes, she knows. They’ve told her here and in the Capital. They told her in Europe, last year. But they didn’t talk to her abou t a risk of death. They assured her of death.” 3 Here I reproduce the somewhat strange use of “long ” to describe a person’s height, which is present i n the original: “ –No entiendo, doctor –largo, an sentad o, con las ropas…” (256).

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47 Each time, with each phrase, more certain and dete rmined to convince. Climbing through the confession of his crime, anticipating i t almost with delight, fatalist in any case, so candidly inhabited by desperation. “One fact,” requested Daz Grey. “The first child, only one, I suppose, when was he born? How old is he?” “One year, three months.” “And since then, since the birth and the healthy q uarantine…” “Since then we’ve been suffering. We look at each other, we bite our knuckles, pray and cry.” “But she,” said Daz Grey half-heartedly, as if sp eaking to a teenager that was mocking him, “she can help you. She can do what the y call taking measures, she can, also, refuse.” The client moved his head, patient, misunderstood, worn weary by the misunderstanding. “She knows, like I do, that any precaution would b e a mortal sin. And,” he lifted his head without pride, “She would not refuse, eith er. The conflict, I repeat, is only mine. That’s why I requested this meeting.” It’s not the only reason, son of a bitch; there’s a horror behind it, there’s a calculation. He felt weaker than his visitor, began hating him with frankness. With deliberate slowness and no noticeable purpose he be gan undoing the buttons of his robe, worn, useless, which he continued to wear out of ha bit and homage. “Well, then,” he pronounced with indifference, as if talking about aspirins and tonics. “It’s about you, accountant, exclusively ab out you; you who loves and desires her

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48 more each day, more and more as love keeps filling your heart and semen your vesicle; you who can’t rent out a prostitute because that wo uld mean sinning against Brausen; who can’t spill your seed on the sheets, who can’t masturbate, who has no salvation, apart from killing her.” (257) The thin face of the well-dressed man appear ed to count in silence and stillness while Daz Grey spoke. Then it moved to assent. The robe was open, the doctor lifted it off his sh oulders. “Like you, I do not support killing her. If there is no other path, destroy yourself and I hope to help you. I’m not talking about total destruction because that would also be a mortal sin. And Brausen does not forgive desertio ns. I know on this we agree. It would mean, then, prescribing cold morning showers, bromi de and camphor, daily two or three hour walks, Good Friday fasts as the only dietary r ecommendation. It would mean achieving your impotence many years before the natu ral climacteric. It is sad, I understand. To lie beside the beloved wife with no hope of satisfying the immortal desire. But this way, the desire will die before she does, and you will be left free from the demons and the remorse.” Now the well-groomed man was smiling slightly, sma ll white teeth submerged in a joke to which only he had the key. “I accept,” he said without emotion, “I will try e verything ordered by your prescription,” and added softly: “Doctor.” Daz Grey took the tunic in two fingers and made i t slide from the back of the armchair onto the rug with large trampled and wilte d flowers.

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49 “No,” he said. “Not the prescription; I don’t want to write it or give it to you. This is enough, I trust in your memory. And, above all, I believe in your intelligence. I believe in it and I don’t feel happy. On the other hand, yo ur priest doesn’t write you certificates, either.” He was sure of having spoken in a definitive tone, so much so, that it was almost as if he had pushed the other man out of the room. But the long, thin, blond man, ironedout, gleaming, had also gotten up and recited with measure, his eyes half-closed: “He doesn’t either, of course. I’m not going aroun d looking for documents. It’s enough to make myself heard.” “It’s clear, I understand. The coadjutant bishop o r whatever his name is today has already heard you. For me his name is still Father Bergner. Now it’s my turn. And it’s certain that at least all the adult inhabitants of the colony are familiar with the prologue I just heard.” “Maybe,” said the client. “But I’ve only spoken ab out this with the bishop and with you. With the bishop, it’s true, I didn’t do i t as a confession. But I’ve known him since childhood – mine, naturally – and I’m sure of his discretion, as I’m sure of yours.” For the first time in the meeting – though Daz Gr ey would not be able to affirm, later, (258) that it had really been the first time – the man let slip a cynical and almost amused smile. The man said: “Neither Father Bergner nor you. But it is not imp ossible that she, just as desperate as I, and on top of that a woman, has spo ken with friends or relatives. With women, it’s different. They believe, like the chron ically ill, you know better than I do, that by divulging their problems they receive some help, or, at least, some support in

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50 exchange for each confidence. For now we have decid ed on a postponement. You could call it a temporal solution. Perhaps the Lord wants to help us. I plan on going for a few months to the Capital and to Chile, attending some courses. By myself, naturally.” Daz Grey could not contradict him. He moved his h ead slowly, affirming his conviction to remain cornered, back to the wall, by a trap, a greater subtlety, an indefinable premonition, lumpy and repulsive. The man also responded with a nod. And, despite e verything written, someone could have said that deep down they parted close an d cordial. II Daz Grey knew the condemned woman – Helga Hauser – and had examined her three times one year before, two of them in the mut e presence of the husband who exaggerated his will not to find out, the other una nnounced and almost furtive. During this one the doctor recited the diagnosis, preventi on. He palpated with rubber, disgust, and incomprehension the woman spread open on the ex amining table. “I don’t understand. If they already told you in t he Capital and in Europe. For me it’s certain, unquestionable, without chance of err or. I don’t understand why you consult an insignificant doctor, a Santa Maran who isn’t e ven a gynecologist.” “I don’t know,” she murmured as she got dressed. “ A hope. A preference for dying here.” After paying she laughed for a moment and joked: “Maybe I want to complicate you. I don’t know.”

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51 Love had left Daz Grey’s life and sometimes, whil e playing solitaire or chess by himself, he would wonder, confused, as to whether h e had ever truly had it. Despite the absent daughter, known only from bad p hotographs, who was now inevitably swaying through that blessed dirty adole scence and whose birth could not do without a prologue. Adolescence with errors and fil th, illuminated always by the belief in the eternity of experience, an unconscious faith th at would be eaten away at by the inevitable seasons. (259) Every Thursday at dusk, save a blue moon4, he had a woman on the creaky table or on the inappropriately heavy carpet which mixed dozens of indefinable smells or, at least, was indefinable in the whole. The condemned woman had been here over a year back The proclaimed murderer one day ago. Women did not really matter to him: they were peop le. He ate lunch hungrily and lay down on the bed with his clothes on. By the movement of the sun, Daz Grey could have s upposed that he had spent over an hour trapped in the meditation that came to him instead of the lost nap and the habitual dyspepsia. He did not remember the murdero us visitor or the future promised by his impassive confession. He did not remember for h imself, for anyone, not even for an impossible bum who wandered or slept on the nearby beach. He doubted, disinterested, as to his own age. Brau sen could have made me be born in Santa Mara with thirty or forty years of i nexplicable past, ignored forever. He is 4 The phrase in Spanish here is “salvo la luna” – li terally “save the moon” – which I interpret to mean an irrational break in the doctor’s weekly routine (25 9). In my translation I borrow from the English phr ase “once in a blue moon” and replicate the use of the verb “save” to mean “except.” Clayton seems to take the expression to signify a monthly interruption of the routine and simplifies it to, “Three Thursdays out of four” (154).

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52 obligated, out of respect for the great traditions he wishes to imitate, to go on killing me, cell by cell, symptom by symptom. But he must also follow the monotonous example set by innumerable creators before him and order life and reproduction. And so came the languished adolescents, their courtships and matings, the overwhelming birt hs that I had to carry out; and so came the girls, their adjectives, their profiles, their hair, their hard breasts and buttocks. They came and remain, always absent, cheerful or melanch olic. (That true moment in which one of the lovers, almo st never the woman because she knows herself to be, and it is true, immortal, scrupulously repeated from the beginning and toward infinity. That passing, quickl y forgotten moment in which one of the two manages, without purpose, with a thinning5 desire to apologize, excuse himself, to see underneath the skin of the other’s face, mad e glistening by love or wine, through the skin of the face that is loved. When one of the m stumbles on, goes through without wanting to, the skin so pitifully defenseless, tens e or soft on the face of the other. And sees during one second, guesses and measures the au dacity of the bones, the candor of the cheekbones, the fragility and useless greasy insole nce of the chin. When one of the lovers suspects – a spark and then oblivion – the future s kull already put into this world, into his life, of the other lover.) The girls always distant and untouchable, set apar t from me by the disparity of the thirty or forty years imposed upon me by Juan Mara Brausen, damned be his soul (260) that hopefully will burn during one or two pairs of eternities in the appropriate hell which has already been prepared for him by a Brausen that is higher, slightly more real. 5 Here is an example of Onetti’s idiosyncratic use o f adjectives – he uses a word usually ascribed to t he human figure to describe a sentiment: “un adelgazad o deseo de pedir perdn” (259). Clayton chooses to translate it to “attenuated,” which removes the phy sical sense of the description (155).

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53 III Augusto Goerdel had been conceived in the Swiss Co lony or was already in his mother’s womb during the long voyage of our swaying Mayflower In any case, he was born here, in the newly founded Colony. If one can give the name foundation to a capricious6 and asymmetrical distribution of trunks and demarc ations with green logs, to a methodical search for manure and soil to make bri cks. The soil was easy; twenty meters from the coast, g oing through and digging up the sand, they found reddish and moist soil which t hey would spread out under the sun and air after dragging it toward the mystery of wha t they condemned to colony and settlement. For the manure they distributed during the day squads of children that already knew how to move indifferently, on alert for neighs and moos. Later, the nocturnal robbery, the large bags smelling of stable and bedd ing. Later still, during consecrated mornings, the large separated fires, the slow cooki ng, the fear of sudden rains and fogs, the fear of being pulled apart and of fragility.7 If one can give the name foundation to a daily suf fering, which could not be measured in hours, over piling up bricks, putting u p walls, thatching roofs, until the bestial rest of the exhausted who believes he has a home and achieves a Sunday of peace and gratitude, kneeling over the enormous, almost u nmanageable bible with black covers 6 The word “capricho” is repeated throughout the tex t, a repetition which I try to maintain in my trans lation. To do this I translate “capricho” as “caprice” in m ost instances, even though the Spanish word is of a more common register than the English equivalent. The ph rase in the original reads: “Si se puede llamar fundacin a un reparto caprichoso y asimtrico de b ales” (260). Here Clayton translates the phrase as : “If one can give the name ‘foundation’ to such a haphaz ard and asymmetrical distribution,” which both alte rs the meaning and compromises the repetition (155). 7 The original frequently uses fragments, which espe cially in the sections narrated by the anonymous santamaran lend a sense of orality to the narratio n. Clayton often modifies these to form complete sentences, while I usually keep the fragment in my translation.

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54 before the shaking fence of Latin voices spoken by a priest that came out from anywhere because he was indispensable. And then, for Santa Mara and for me, the uncertai nty. No one knows, nor does it matter, how many months or years passed – aided, pu shed without mercy for themselves or for anyone – before the blond, severe rats that had disembarked with less hope than suicidal rabidity became rich and fat, came to domi nate the city founded by our Lord Brausen with no need to show it. Perhaps they were repulsed by the evidence. They were oblique, they were indirect, they were modest. That time does not exist on its own is self-eviden t; it is the child of movement and should the latter stop moving we would not have tim e nor erosion nor beginnings or endings. In literature time is always written with a capital T. (261) No one can deny probable coincidences in the visits of the then Father Bergner and the inevitable doctor Daz Grey to the Swiss Colony. One was getting God involved in a baptism, in the marriage of a bride a nd groom previously stiffened for the tripod belonging to Orloff8 – prince or grand duke, photographer – or in a cap rice for death, son of an old sophism accepted without conte st, sometimes also stiffened, others in anticipation; the other, Daz Grey, splinting a bro ken leg or puncturing a dropsy. I repeat that they may have coincided many times a nd that, on some of them, why not, they were together at the home of the Goerdels I see them greeting one another with the short aff ection that corresponds to two enemies that would have preferred not to be, with t he deep and cold respect of pairs. It doesn’t matter what the doctor prescribed for A ugusto Goerdel’s cold, who was eleven years old at the time of the supposed coinci dence. This could be traced back, if it 8 Russian photographer who passes through Santa Mar a around the time of the Colony’s founding.

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55 mattered, in the books of Barth, pharmacist, counc ilman, and again pharmacist. What matters is ignoring forever – and here there is a k ind of happiness – what Father Bergner talked about, what he knew, what he deduced in the possible visit that, we fancy, was crepuscular, slow, and calm. Because, it must never be forgotten, Bergner’s parents also arrived on our Mayflower to the Santa Mara coast by the will of Brausen. U nited to the Goerdels by resemblances of history, as well as by language and, above all, by the style in which they made it colloquial. Very important because the Father’s visits became frequent and less than a year later Augusto Goerdel passed over to Santa Mara to continue his studies at the Cathedral on a very poor scholarship, exact for Bergner’s pla ns. Because the Father pretended to be manufacturing a priest, knowing always that this was neither Augusto Goerdel’s destiny nor his use; he was thinking further. Much further than the Chapter of the Church, secular and shorn, that gathered and believed to decide matters, twice a month, in the austerity of the refectory elongated in its deliberate gloom. Bergner did not belong to the Order of the Jesuits ; he mistrusted and admired them. But he had heard them say, and more than once : give us your son and we will return him to you with a diploma under his arm. He calmly studied his false future priest. If the inspiration, the project, came truly from Brausen and were not tricks of the devil, time did not matter. (262) He learned that the young man was intelligent, that he had been bor n implacable because of ambition and the German necessity for triumph, for revenge. Wha tever his destiny were, now, with

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56 Bergner or without him, he would never return to th e misery of his house in the Colony; he would no longer accept the foreseeable and rural future of breeder and peasant. A resolution which Bergner upheld, able and distra cted. His was, A.M.D.G.9, despite his violent rejection of the initials, a pa tient task of refinement and corruption. From the coarse young man, from the student and alt ar boy, needed to be born his instrument, his fanatical servant to the Church. He learned that the immature Goerdel, fallen into his hands, was ambitious, refined in lying and in his cautious retractions, h ard beneath the childish smile, an instinctual knower of those probable useful futures that he needed to flatter without excess, indifferent without rudeness toward those t hat were not worth cultivating. He knew besides and from the start that the instru ment and the fanatic would be his as long as the Church allowed him to grow and p rosper. With no words, at least until the approach of the hypocritical goodbye, Bergner also knew he had not made a mistake, that his choic e was good and could not have been better. He confirmed it through the days and years: Augusto Goerdel was the most adequate for his purpose of all the inhabitants of Santa Mara and the Colony; and the education and discipline of the Church the best for the patient and resolved will to triumph of the child, adolescent, adult. Bergner be lieved in divine inspiration; Goerdel believed in opportunity and good luck. Bergner persisted happily until the separation, un til his death. But long before that became necessary the great mutual farce. 9 Ad Maiorem Dei Gratias, Latin motto of the Society of Jesus; translates in English as “For the greate r glory of God.”

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57 Or, rather, the end of the farce begun ten years e arlier by Bergner and suspected, followed implicitly by the sick boy in his cot in t he room of the hovel in the Colony, who knew how to cry in silence, face up, discovering in the thatched roof the unmoving spiders of fear and of mystery. On their first encounter, the boy, on his own or as sisted by his mother, succeeded in tangling his hands in a rosary; moving his finge rs with a delicate faithlessness which bordered upon, with remoteness and despair, the uns aid plea. A couple of years later, now in the wing of the ch urch they had baptized as Seminary even though Augusto Goerdel was the only s eminarist, Bergner smiled between the shadows at a similar and perfected scene. (263) From the adolescent’s always poor bedroom – which contained only prints of various saints and virgins in order to fulfill t he rite of the prologue that would bring on sleep – a hall of always cold tiles extended until the spiral staircase which descended, twisting, toward the temple, the masses, the confes sions. The second scene was contemplated by a hidden and cautious Bergner, woken at daybreak by the sound of a door opening and closing A deliberate sound, he thought, without apprehensions and curious. He left his bedr oom, barefooted and slow like the thief that would arrive by night. In the hallway, always smelling of humidity and ab sence, encrusted in the wall, barely illuminated by a greenish phosphorescence, p rotected by the ambivalent aid of a glass, was a bleeding wax Jesus Christ nailed on th e cross. Under the firefly light, a poem by an anonymous author could also be read. Four lin es on undulating ocher paper:

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58 You, passerby, look at me Count, if you can, my sores Oh, son, how poorly you pay me The blood that I have spilled.10 And there, in a nightshirt and kneeling, beating h is chest to go along with the crying, Augusto Goerdel. “He must do it every night,” thought Bergner, “swe ating or frozen, tenacious and punctual, betting on the law of probabilities, sure that eventually I will have to see him, take him by surprise performing his act of bravery and believe in him. My poor idiot hypocrite, my brother.” IV In the announced great – but not last – mutual far ce, both showed unquestionable resolution and recognized without words the strengt h within and without themselves. In the adolescent’s small room, invaded without war ning and almost fully occupied by Bergner’s enormous body, the conversati on faked around the weather, basic theology, questions and answers printed in the cate chism (264) read by children until Bergner began separating himself from the grey opac ity of the window and asked without raising his voice: “God, Brausen. Do you believe in him?” Goerdel contemplated him, disconcerted, and docile ly said the lie: 10 Inscription can actually be found on entrance to c rypt of Church of San Francisco, one of the oldest churches in Montevideo.

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59 “If I did not believe in him, I would not be here. It is, Father, five or six years of being here.” “Oh, yes,” nodded Bergner, “I would have given the same answer if an imbecile had asked me.” He introduced a pause, looked for a short time at the humidity resting upon the window. “But,” he continued, “neither you nor I are imbeciles. Tell me slowly whether you believe that the sins of thought and ac tion, tepid and pitiful, that you have practiced, accumulating them in this foul cell, are enough for Brausen to send you, without trial, to hell, to endlessly burn your immo rtal soul. Your supposed immortal soul, supposing that you have or suffer from that or some thing like it.”11 The young man, black sweater, dirty, torn denim pa nts, now lowered his eyes to look at his feet in their sandals. Aside from masse s, he always dressed this way, muscular against the wind, indifferent toward the sweats of the warm season. But now, on that late morning, weak and waiting for lunch, Goerdel’s atti re and Goerdel himself showed a ragged despair. He replied in a voice timid and surprised, slow, w ithout aggression: “You must know better than I do, Father. You should know and judge, pass sentence with no need for questions or help. You ar e my confessor.” “It’s true,” smiled the priest, “For five years. T he trap was there all along. It was so simple. You desired the wife of your neighbor, b ut you did not kill him. You invoked the divine name, in vain but jokingly. You respecte d your mother and your father with disdain, growing disdain. I ordered a punishment fo r each stupid thing, for each lie you 11 The original here reads: “supuesto que usted tenga o padezca eso o algo aproximado” (264). This pilin g up of or’s at the end of a sentence is characterist ic of Onetti’s convoluted, ambiguous style. Clayton chooses to eliminate some of the wordiness of the p hrase, translating it as, “supposing you indeed hav e one or suffer from such like” (158).

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60 whispered in confessionary secret. You already knew to stutter and turn pale. During five years I pressed you to say everything. To reveal to me the depths of your brain. Souls will forever be unknown. Sometimes you would despair on the other side of the curtain, others, more anxious, without warning, in whatever part of the church I would allow myself to be cornered into. You and I respected eac h other, a bit solemnly. You and I amused ourselves with seriousness and kept – we wer e two gentlemen – to the rules of the game, that perhaps lasted too long, that ends n ow,” and repeated slowly, “That ends now. At noon on a thirty-first of March, according to the Gregorian calendar.” “Sorry, father,” said the young man. “What is it t hat is ending? And why today, now? What did I do…” (265) Bergner raised a calm hand and delayed his s mile. Despite the hunger and bad weather there was no hostility between the blon d, worried and frowning young man and the mature, almost old man with wrinkles that h ad not formed on his face to show the years. They showed, exhibited a will that would go through, now and forever, the obligatory and secret skepticism constructed by exp erience. So many years of seeing and measuring. He measured again and contemplated the juvenile, e xpectant face; then looked at the window made blind by the rain and said calmly, as if giving a sermon whose interruption was impossible. “You studied, Augusto. One week ago the curial gav e you your bachelor’s degree and, if I remember correctly, cum laude. Yesterday, the secular and reformist university ratified the diploma. Of course they didn’t have laude to offer or bestow. As far as theology, your grades are acceptable,” he watched t he young man again, smiling barely

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61 with his eyes. “Then the moment arrived which you s o begged for, sometimes kneeling and in tears, to continue in the Seminary, if we ca n call it that, to study, promise, go through the unavoidable lies, put on the habit and serve the Lord. I responded with a pat on the back, without words, consenting perhaps by n odding my head. That is how it was, true?” “That is how it was, father.” Bergner lifted his years off the hard wooden armch air, contemplated the ivory cross, polished, dead, without nails or spears, wit hout suffering; he slid his fingers over the somber spines of the library, he hesitated look ing at the titles and sat back down slowly, with a pained grimace. He sighed, tired, and crossed his fingers over his stomach. The young man had not moved; with his hands flattened on the table, h e let the blackness of the sweater climb slow and tenacious, darkening his face. Bergner waited for the minutes that had been deter mined, minutes neither long nor short, but that had their life set. Then he sai d, more bored than tired: “You and I have been playing the same game for years. You and I res pected each other, knew how to pretend; each one accepted in the relationship, as true, the always cheating and always selfish attitude of the other. In short, you and I accepted lying, accepted the lie protected by silence. But now…” The young man raised his head, the unmoving face i nserted into the pertinent nightfall. “Agreed,” he said, “Agree on everything. Here and now. I listen and obey.”

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62 He did not say it with irony. He was resolved to l istening and speaking. He waited until Bergner half closed his eyes to see, unsure, his own soul, until the priest straightened up, blaspheming: (266) “Damned be their souls. Ora pro nobis. Is it that you believed at some point that I believed your farces? That you didn’t know f rom the beginning that I pretended to believe in them… and to believe in my words of enco uragement and comfort? I knew you once I saw you and I chose you. I needed four y ears of your life and four of mine. Brausen gave them to me, blessed be his name. Now I know you better than the mother that cast you out into the world. The mother that t oday embarrasses you. And it’s alright; because if you are obligated to respect your mother and father, first is the duty to love God above all things.” “That is what I do,” said the young man with a gri mace of resignation, with weak, novel cynicism. Bergner noticed a prologue of sarcasm and his own weariness. He abandoned himself, then, to the comedy and pathos. He hit wit h a hardened index finger the chest of the adolescent. “You were not born to serve the Lord within the Ch urch. I also did not raise you for that. I see you, I aspired always for you to be immersed in the world, Santa Mara and the Colony, not representing Our God but rather int roducing, strengthening the faith in the Lord. Without the habit, of course, because you never wanted, really, to wear it. But useful, with whatever title, to serve the Church an d with her support. I want you rich and successful in your earthly life; I want you hypocri tical and subtle. I want you to serve us and I offer to serve you. You will have to go to th e Capital, on a scholarship that will

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63 barely save you from hunger and with support of whi ch we will speak later. They will be five or six years of absence and vigilance. If you fail, we will let you fall. Even in the immense wisdom sparrows will freeze to death.” Bergner remembered vaguely the hundreds of times h e had said the last phrase. He adjusted himself in his rigid chair like a worke r at the end of a soul-crushing day, admitted the young man’s smile as an acceptance wit hout reservations; then, slowly, looking at the black window, spoke calmly of wills, of mortgages and purchases, of the goods of this world, of inheritances and dazzling s ums. He did not say anything of tithes because he considered the subject hasty and inoppor tune and because they were waiting for him at the Club. And the date of Augusto Goerdel’s departure was re solved, as well as his destiny. And Father Bergner was the first to discover, after crossing himself, by the light of the streetlamps in the square, that the face of the joc key on the statue dedicated to Juan Mara Brausen had begun to insinuate bovine traits. Nobody noticed it, nobody told me. Perhaps the old timers did not see the change because of their habit of looking at the face almos t every day; the new ones, because they always saw it this way, without looking. Maybe the glaze, the bad lighting, the doves, my worn-out eyes, maybe a crooked joke by the devil. I will look tomorrow in the sun. (267) The hardness of the bronze showed no sign of horns forming; only the placidity of a wandering, ruminating cow.

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64 V I heard the horse arrive in the morning twilight a nd the whistle always used by Jorge Malabia to announce his arrival. I let him wh istle and wait, I adjusted myself in bed to pursue a happy, unreachable dream. A while later came another dream, incoherent and melancholic, inhabited by dead persons now forgotte n. It was possibly between seven and eight in the mor ning that Daz Grey accepted being awake, demanded from the servant the large mu g of black coffee. Through the window he saw the foal harnessed with every imagina ble kind of silverwork, he saw Jorge Malabia sitting in the grass, pouring himself mat12 with a thermos. He found him heavier, more patient and mature, perhaps fattened by the wintering period. The horse came guided by an old custom that he sha red with or was imposed upon him by Marcos Bergner13 (lost years ago in the fog). In a distant time the nationalists, the ranchers, insisted on saying “ain’t,”14 on wearing hats with a raised brim in the winter and p referring ponchos to coats. This was the fatherland even if they shivered from cold and had coats brought from Manchester or London at home. In another, decreasing order, Jorge was learning t o be an imbecile. He now had two cars but was insistent on the use of the semi-A rabic horse, on the evidence of the revolver, to deliver the news he deemed important. Maybe he felt, in this way, more gaucho15 and national. 12 mat: a bitter infusion made from the leaves of a South American shrub 13 Father Bergner’s nephew; prominent character in Juntacadveres (1964) 14 Here I use the English “ain’t” to reproduce the ki nd of incorrect Spanish described in the original: “decir ‘haiga’” (267). Clayton opts instead for a descript ion of the type of speech: “speak like gauchos” (16 0). 15 gaucho: a cowboy from the South American pampas

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65 The invariable tenderness, the due respect of the elderly for the young, was now, from the window to the grass, invaded by suspicion and mistrust. He watched him for some time until emerging lucid from his sleep. He saw the foal and his silver; saw Jorge drinking mat without pause, saw the shirt of a Canadian axman. The blond and faded hair descending to his s houlders. That year, he remembered, long hair was a symbol, the emblem of Santa Maran machismo, popular among the questionable ones. Two inheritances, he thought, that will one day se rve to unite or separate us. Anglica Ins, his wife, was asleep, drooling, upst airs. Jorge stretched out on the ground, waking up, swollen with the news that pushed him to wards (268) me, that obligated him to wait for me, enter, put himself in some corner o f the office or the sitting room, inside of me in any case. He, Jorge Malabia, had changed. He no longer suffe red because over suicidal sister-in-laws or impossible poems. He watched over El Liberal at will, bought lands and homes, sold lands and homes. Now he was a man aband oned by metaphysical problems, by the need to catch beauty with a poem or a book. Beauty as eternal and definitive as squashing a butterfly, a moth, between your hands a nd observing for a brief moment the glare that follows the blow and death. His face and his stomach were getting fat and no o ne could know with what outcome, what they would mean two or three years la ter.16 No one would bet for sure on the almost immediate future of Jorge Malabia. 16 The original here reads: “Su cara y su vientre est aban engordando y nadie podra saber con qu destin o, qu significaran dos o tres aos despus” (268). C layton’s translation changes this sentence, removin g the assignation of a destiny to Malabia’s body parts: “ His face and belly were growing pudgy, and no-one could foresee what his destiny would bring in two o r three year’s time” (161).

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66 But I also felt myself changed. Not only aged by t he years that Brausen had imposed on me and that cannot be counted by the pas sing of three hundred and sixty-five days. I understood since long ago that one of the f orms of his incomprehensible condemnation was to have brought me into his world with an unvarying age, between an ambition limited in span and the loss of hope. Exte rnally, always the same, retouched with some grey hairs, wrinkles, passing ailments to conceal his purpose. I was also another: my initial indifference had tu rned into a false cordiality, into lips always open for a smile, into a shameless and placating smile that meant: Brausen is in the skies, the world is perfect, you and I must be happy. They believed me; when I could not give cures I ga ve comfort. But my change had a different appearance. I knew it was easier an d more powerful: I listened to their confidences always helping, absorbing, smiling. The n I would back away to display, in a prepared semidarkness, my face vacillating in worry or thought. I suffered the sickness of my sick patients.17 It was not due to my skill as a doctor; for a whil e each of my organs would bear the pain and disorders of the visitor. ( There were exceptions, or course; but no one found out.) Then, all of a sudden, I would place my smile, my happiness, my understanding back into the fullness of the light. Everything und erstood, everything cured. I asked two or three questions, showed my teeth after each answ er and wrote – in studied hieroglyphics – prescriptions for Barth’s pharmacy 17 I repeat the word “sick” to replicate the repetiti on that is in the original, which emphasizes the co nnection between the doctor and his patients: “Yo sufra la enfermedad de mis enfermos” (268). It also produces a connection with the phrase “healthy sick person” fr om the first page of the novel. Clayton does not reproduce the repetition, translating the sentence as, “I suffered the illness of my patients” (161).

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67 We were all happy, except for my iron vanity, cove red up from the time I woke until the early morning hours, mixed up and differe nt in dreams, never known, hidden until death by my sympathy and kindness. (269) I made him wait – the little horse, below, b owed its head searching for real food in the grass. I shaved, I bathed, I dressed wi th care as if I didn’t know who the visitor was. The sun was high. I said to the monste r on shift, dressed in a nurse18 costume, to let Jorge pass into the office. There w as more light there than in the waiting room. I heard the thump of boots on the steps and asked in silence for Anglica Ins to not wake up, for a few hours to pass before the sta rt of the limbo and everyday purgatory, one for her, the second one for me. Jorge entered, strikingly resembling the man descr ibed on the previous page.19 The red and grey lumberjack shirt, a beard intentio nally unkempt, the large boots, the ridiculous, enormous, S. & W. moving over the hip, a deliberate accent of sweat that did not reach me from his armpits, but rather from the entirety of his challenging, openlegged, imposed body. I watched him calmly from my armchair. I knew that the emptiness of my eyes, the stillness of my hands resting and unmoving, fin gertip on fingertip, would make him explode. And so, we eliminated any greetings. “He killed her,” yelled Jorge. “He killed her at m idnight with a baby. She had always thought about a little female. He killed her at midnight and we searched for him to kill him but he’d already hidden. We’re going to fi nd him, doctor, I swear.” 18 The English word nurse is in the original. 19 Here Clayton’s translation omits “on the previous page,” thereby eliminating the metafictional elemen t which characterizes this text and most of Onetti’s work (161).

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68 And did he not see – did it not show? – his grotes que dead Abel, resuscitated by comrades, acquaintances of that hamlet? Did he not think about God and Cain? Because Cain was obligated to do it, was obligated by a mandate not explicit but unavoidable. He never wanted Abel’s sheep, gave up the farm too ls and became a hunter under the tireless gaze of God. Cain did it. But Brausen, having fulfilled his inexplicable pur pose forever and for us, acted like a political leader. He protected Cain before t he magistrate, warned the police that any punishment for homicide would entail a sevenfold re petition of justice and revenge. And he placed on the killer a label of prevention and i mmunity. And in his cave, at the hour of venison and sleep, he contemplated the triangular and greenish eye that watched him without pause. Tw o or three weeks without words: “You were obligated to know that I would do it, bec ause You chose me Yourself, among so few; You wanted me to do it and I did. I don’t k now why You ordered me to do it. The anxiety You promised doesn’t matter to me. I hunt a nd eat because You made men this way. (270) “You watch me, eye and triangle; you bring m e sleep. Now comes the darkness, now I am tired and sated. I’m going to sl eep. Tomorrow, perhaps, You will take away Your eye convinced that it is useless. Tomorro w, maybe, we will talk. You know me by heart; I want to see You.” He waited weeks and months in the smoky cave. But our Lord Brausen let the centuries pass; the meeting became impossible becau se Brausen’s paths are unfathomable or because he wanted to install crime into the race he invented, or because he wanted to

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69 install forever the certainty that the strongest wi ll triumph for centuries over the weak and mild. While it lasted, the green triangle defeated the i nsomnia of the fratricide, of the hunter; helped extinguish his weariness, his memory He was happy, lying there, muscular, contemplating the soft light of the clean eye that watched him, now insignificant, never friendly but now languid, perhaps, he as well, dozing. VI “Yes,” said Daz Grey. “It was inevitable. Goerdel himself came by, a few months ago, to announce his crime. A crime that had been i nitiated two hundred sixty days before. And it was not possible to prevent it. It h adn’t happened yet; but it was impossible to stop it. Only by killing her, by blowing a bulle t into the head of the victim.” “Words,” said the young man, rigid and in costume, following the incomprehension, the ire, and the silence. “The son of a bitch murdered Helga knowing exactly what he was doing. We’re going to search fo r him until we find him.” Daz Grey restrained himself. He retained his post ure of a well-dressed doctor at the opening of the consultation, just shaved, the n ew tie, the long, clean fingers joined to hurt the terse jaw.20 20 Onetti creates a peculiar image: “los limpios, lar gos dedos unidos para herir la mandbula tersa,” wh ich I choose to translate literally (270). Clayton’s tran slation offers an interpretative version which elim inates the violent intentionality attributed to the fingers in the original: “long clean fingers gripping his ter se jaw” (162).

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70 Then he abandoned himself to his accumulated hate for stupidity. He raised his eyes to measure the figure in the Alaskan shirt, in tall boots, in a wide belt from which hung the revolver. He also measured the unbelieved smugness.21 And he said tenderly: “I always hated the sons of bitches that today are after Goerdel, Augusto, I believe.22 I always hated, since childhood, the sad half-star ved guys23 that bow – dressed as civilians or in rags – that bow down to a corpor al, a sergeant, an official or half of one.24 It’s both of them that are in need; one, for his h unger, (271) his imagined children, his little vices. The other wants a man that won’t ask questions before the gunshot or after. In the shift from son of a gun over to son o f a bitch lies no more promise than a weekly ration of crackers, the monthly barrel of mat leaves Besides, of course, the miserable pay, the soggy uniform, eaten away at the knees and pits.” “I’m not interested in your detective story.25 We’re not interested in the police. We’re going to find him today, wherever he’s hiding and he’ll have to figure his own way in hell.” 21 The phrase in the original is “la petulancia incre da” (270). It is unclear whether the lack of belie f in Malabia’s attitude is attributed to Malabia himself or to Daz Grey. “Increda” does not appear as a w ord in the Spanish dictionary, therefore I create an equiv alent word in the English. 22 Clayton removes this hesitation on Goerdel’s first name from Diaz Grey’s speech, where he is either expressing or feigning forgetfulness (162). 23 The expression used in the original – “casi muerto s de hambre” – has an insulting sense which is lost in the English translation (270). “Muerto de hambre” i n Spanish refers to someone not only poor but desperate, pathetic and self-seeking. I choose to r etain the literal translation because of the emphas is on hunger as Daz Grey continues his explanation. 24 The original here makes enigmatic use of “half”: “ un oficial o mitad” to emphasize the low status of the figure of authority (270). 25 The expression “historia policial” in the original could be taken to mean police history, police reco rd, or detective story (271). Throughout the text there is a play on the word “historia,” which means both st ory and history. This ambiguity is not possible in Engl ish, so an interpretation is necessary. I chose the “detective story” interpretation because it emphasi zes Daz Grey’s role as a storytelling character an d alludes to the presence of the genre in the structu re of the text.

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71 “Paradise will be a common hell for us. Don’t look for sins because they don’t really exist. Brausen didn’t even give us a chance to invent them.” Jorge Malabia was long past the age of listening t o phrases with biblical overtones. “Patricio,” – it was the name of the dead woman’s brother, – “was distant, drunk all day and crying.” “And you, the circle of close friends, even if you weren’t crying, also drunk in solidarity.” “Yes. We’re Patricio’s friends. And that murdering Jew tried to get into his wife’s wake and shed a tear. And Patricio couldn’t take it anymore and tried to kill him.” “But you held him back, right? Patricio had return ed from far away, but not from his drunkenness, to say goodbye to his sister and, while at it, get revenge. But his brotherin-law…” “He fled. The dirty murdering Jew.” “Goerdel is more Aryan, probably,26 than you and me. It’s likely that not a single Jew has come out of the Colony. But here, in Santa Mara, none of those words work as an insult. So, Goerdel the Jew.” “The murdering son of a bitch. And someone said he came here to hide in the wee hours. Is it true?” 26 Onetti frequently places a word or phrase between commas at an unusual point in the sentence. This suspension has the effect of expressing uncertainty creating ambiguity, or complicating the meaning o f the phrase. This may also be understood as a mark of or ality. Since this is a feature characteristic of th e author’s style I try to reproduce it in my translat ion to the extent that it is present in the origina l, whereas Clayton tends to “smooth out” the original’s punctu ation to produce a more flowing text. The original here reads: “Goerdel es ms ario, probablemente, que t y yo” (271). Clayton’s translation reads: “Goerdel’ s probably more Aryan than either of us” (163).

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72 Daz Grey felt his aggressiveness growing while Jo rge strolled around making the floor sound with his foreign and disproportionate b oots. It was not, he thought, envy over the years that separated them, over the young man h aving time at his disposal that he no longer had. It pained him that Jorge would hand his future over to nothingness, to making money without effort or purpose. It pained him that the other would get fat, that he, so innocent, would get mixed up with the stupidity and filth of the future the city offered him. “No,” he said, “he didn’t knock asking for shelter But had he done it, he would be here, protected as best as I could manage from i mbecile loudmouthed thugs. (272) Why didn’t you kill him when he was trapped in the wake? Because Patricio wasn’t suffering enough, because he was no longer sufficie ntly drunk or was too drunk. And you held Patricio back for a matter of decency and let the murdering Jew escape.” Jorge had stopped in front of the desk and was try ing to look into the doctor’s eyes. “No,” continued Daz Grey, “you never had a real l ove for melodrama. But you gladly fell into the ease of denying your own self by way of farces. It’s pitiful; as your relative Bergner would say: may Brausen forgive you .” With an implacable grimace of a smile Malabia said slow and contemptuous: “I think of my youth and I cry. Perhaps, when I’m as old as you. It’s a pity we won’t be able to cry together then. Unless you aske d me to make a trip to the cypresses.27 But, in any case, it will be a solitary cry.” 27 In this portion we find the predicative use of adj ectives which is repeated through the text, and in particular the repeated use of the word “slow” to a pply to both the subject and the action. The punctu ation creates elliptical phrases which emphasize the sens e of orality in Malabias speech. Traveling to the

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73 “It’s true,” said Daz Grey. “It will be impossibl e, I suppose. But I can still see the stupid joke. And, if I were to cry, it wouldn’t be for myself. I don’t have Goerdel in this house. But I have many tall mirrors for you to see yourself in. A caprice of Anglica Ins, full-length mirrors. She, everyone says, doesn’t kn ow anything about anything. But she understands, or understands herself. It doesn’t mat ter; over there, in each room, you’ll find a convenient mirror for your costume. From the boots to the long hair. Not to mention the shirt and the comical revolver. And if Patricio meant to kill Goerdel, it wasn’t with bullets, I bet. It must have been with a big hunting knife, meant for quartering venison. And now you’ll go out looking f or the murderer with wild dogs or police dogs lent to you by the police station. “But if Goerdel didn’t ask me for help,” continued Daz Grey, “the truth is that he spoke to me from Coln, in the middle of the night. He said something about a plane. I can imagine the route. The voice. The voice wasn’t cynical or scared. He was just saying goodbye.” Malabia stopped and began watching him as if remem bering, as if he could isolate through the years each time he had seen the doctor. And those memories remained independent, attached barely by the name. “One curiosity,” said Malabia. “One very old curio sity. Now I feel like it’s been stretched, a cumulative process as the instructions on medicine labels say. Who are you? Sorry; it doesn’t matter, I don’t need to know beca use I can see you and judge. But I am interested in learning about your past, in knowing who, what you were, doctor, before cypresses is an expression that symbolizes mourning an invitation It can be interpreted as ,“Unless you asked me to go and mourn with you,” which is how Cl ayton translates the phrase (163).

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74 getting mixed up with the inhabitants of Santa Mar a. The ghosts that Juan Mara Brausen invented and imposed.” (273) Daz Grey found the whole thing sad and amus ing. It at least emanated28 tension, a sense of the hunt, the unavoidable imbec ility of the people that populated his world: the stupidity of the conformists, the stupid ity of those who claimed to believe in universal – or Santa Maran – happiness, writing fo r the clandestine papers or talking at the tables of cafs on the shore. Of course; there were other young people, respecta ble ones, that let themselves be killed in sparse forests by thirst, ignored insects fevers that seemed to descend, resolved and accurate, from distant tropics, from the real j ungles of the Amazon and Orinoco. Sometimes, for greater humiliation, they ended up k illed by the machine guns of the Corps of Honorables that, supposedly, carried out t he orders of Juan Mara Brausen. “My past?” Daz Grey said, slow, pensive. VII Daz Grey got up and brought to the desk two decks of cards and an envelope swollen with photographs and letters. “There is a past,” he said, almost stunned, as if he did not fully understand it. Jorge Malabia says or thinks:29 that it’s sweet or holds for me the sweetness of mystery, to continue to call the woman in the photo s the woman without a face. And 28 The original uses the verb “desmayar,” which gener ally means “to faint,” in an unusual way to describ e Daz Greys interpretation of Malabias determinati on to catch Goerdel (273). I interpret it as “emana te” to express the sense of a passive release of tension. 29 Clayton here chooses to slightly diminish the unce rtainty of the original, translating the phrase as, “Jorge Malabia says, out loud or to himself.” (165) The c ontrast between the two possible verbs – saying and thinking – is reduced to two possible ways of sayin g.

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75 woman without a face she was called by Daz Grey hi mself, with a different intention, that time, perhaps the first time he accepted talki ng about her, recognizing her existence in the presence of another, in an unvarying, reciti ng voice, a voice that for himself, even, approached the ceiling of mystery: that did not ref er to the past and his distant pain, nor to the present and his confusion, his perplexity. A rheumatic Daz Grey, imagined Malabia in a forged memory, in a robe, wool slipper s, scarf and hat, leaning his left shoulder into any Bach concerto, to his right the b ottle of rum, the lemon juice, the large fogged-up jar of hot water.30 Daz Grey and the implacable survival of his gleam ing eyes, of the almost completely disinterested testimonial expression on his thin, smooth, gnawed face. Daz Grey barely moving in the large armchair of the eno rmous, absurd room of the house built by Jeremas Petrus, so many years earlier, pr opped up so many times, kept in a farce of good health by contractors and workers, never st raying from the capricious, difficult original plans dictated by the cold resolutions and (274) fury of Petrus himself. The large house on pillars that was now his by way of undesir ed conquest. Daz Grey saying, saying to me: “I stopped seeing her when she was three and keep all the photographs I was able to get, from almost as early as her birth until tha t age. After that, over long stretches, I received other portraits, other faces that kept cli mbing abruptly across ages, towards who knows where, but certainly getting farther from wha t I had seen and loved, from what it was possible for me to remember. With Brausen’s app roval, naturally. And these, those 30 This is an example of a common descriptive techniq ue in Onetti – the listing of details. The precisio n of language contrasts with the seemingly haphazard lis ting mechanism, casting an effect of simultaneous clarity and disarray upon the scene described. Clay ton’s translation overlooks the specificity of the last detail in the list, saying, “a large steaming jug o f hot water,” when the word used in the original re fers not to steam coming out of the jar but condensation for ming on its surface.

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76 new faces were, with each sluggish arrival of the m ail, with each year, more incomprehensible, less mine, much more distant from something that mattered, without a doubt, more than her or me: my love for the three y ear old girl. Yes. The new faces separated from my love or from my love of the memor y and the suffering of that memory. With a cyclical regularity I substituted th e cards of my nocturnal solitaires; the solitaires with which I went slowly and unconvinced through the fatality of insomnia and the familiar murmurs of daybreak. Of course, the fa cedown photographs were never as many as the cards. It was, is, the only cheat I all ow myself. Later on would come the pills, sometimes the syringe, the sleeping until no on. But before, it was necessary that I yield, that I lean back in my chair, that I set the key ring on the table and stroke it with my index finger until it touched the key to the des k drawer. I would take out the envelope with the pictures, pile up the pictures, the cards for the new solitaire and would go on with my game, a game that always died without letti ng me know whether I had won or lost. Then I scattered out the pictures, now lookin g at me, the ones that were mine and those that were speeding up their flight. Despite b eing timeless, despite knowing myself a slave to the dream of a miserable paranoiac, I resp ected the chronology.31 Each portrait has on the back a tiny date, the numbers written in my nearsighted hand. I would spread them out on top of the desk, piling up the months o n the left, piling up the years at the 31 This is an example of the original’s ambiguity com plicating the task of translation. In the first cla use it is unclear whether Daz Grey is attributing timelessne ss to himself or to the game of solitaire. Clayton eliminates this ambiguity, choosing to convey only the second option: “Even though it was outside time …” In the second clause it is clear that the doctor is speaking about himself – though it is left unclear whether the “miserable paranoiac” whose dream he is a slave to is the doctor himself or Brausen, his creator. The second option is valid given Daz Grey’s consciousn ess of himself as a product of Brausen’s imaginatio n. This ambiguity is absent in Clayton’s translation d ue to the incorrect translation of “paranoico” to “paranoia” (165). My aim in such instances is to re create, rather than resolve, the degree of ambiguit y created in the original.

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77 end and to the right.32 From the little baby of a few months and in diaper s to the most recent arrival. And then, Jorge Malabia, I would pl ay the great solitaire; I would watch the faces, attentive and calm, to better suffer, to get the full worth out of the game: the face, the faces, evolution and change, the small an d vindictive transformations. I would light a cigarette, move my eyes closer, move them a way, understand the changes or try to understand. Sometimes hours, always useless.33 But the solitaire with pictures had its rules and I respected them. I ended by gathering mi ne, the ones that didn’t go past the age of three and then I concentrated on the ones from t he escape, carried out in violent leaps. Now there were the questionable similarities, the s ecret, the impotence, the twelve or twenty faces of my misfortune. Growing and challeng ing me, (275) carefully placed in their chronological order, the faces quickly went a way, almost without gradations, exhibiting the indecency of their changes, altering the ovals of the faces, the shapes of the lips and the meanings of the smiles, the lines of p rofiles, neck and cheekbones; changing incessantly and selfishly the outline of the eyes t hat, nonetheless, remained attentive, large, and separated. Until I learned – so long las ted the game – that she was not her, that I was seeing a different person, who bore no relati on to the little bunch of photographs collected during the first three years, far from he re, in the other lost world. “And one night that won’t be any sadder than the o thers, I will burn all the pictures that go beyond the age of three. If I deci ded to think of her as a woman without a 32 From the wording of the original it is not clear e xactly how the cards are being organized: “Los dist ribua encima del escritorio, encima de los meses, a la iz quierda, encima de los aos al final y a la derecha ” (274). This is a good example of a phrase that is hard to translate because its meaning in the original is no t wholly decipherable. Clayton interprets and simplifies the phrase to: “I would set them out on the desk, acco rding to months, from left to right by year” (165). I opt for a literal translation which maintains the conf usion created by the original. 33 This is an example of the type of elliptic phrasin g which characterizes the dialogue. The original re ads: “A veces horas, siempre intiles” (274). If we were to fill in the gaps in the sentence, it would beco me something like: “A veces haca eso por horas, siemp re intiles horas.” Claytons translation offers a more interpretative version of the phrase: “Sometimes I d spend hours at it, all in vain. (165).

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78 face it wasn’t because she was turning into a diffe rent woman, year after year, one reluctant piece of mail after the other. I did it b ecause I didn’t have the strength to tolerate her being a person.” VIII In the beginning Goerdel used a wagon, a vehicle p rotected by a black top from the hysterical caprices of the weather, dragged by a fat little unclipped bay horse. The ensemble was fitting for the designs of Father Berg ner and for the dirt paths being formed throughout the Colony by the weight of wagons, oxen cabriolets, trucks, men and women that came and went killing the grass with the ir feet. It is impossible to seriously calculate the length of this first period in which Goerdel felt both the sense of ridicule and the cha nges in seasons from within the black wagon and the imposed garb, also black. Wills, mort gages, purchases and sales, loans with interests set by Father Bergner, with the mone y proportioned by Bergner or the mysterious Chapter that gathered in the church on t he second and fourth Monday of each month. A while later it became known that the task prefer red by Goerdel consisted in the disputes among neighbors in the Colony. Fences or s tone walls that advanced during the night, cattle that fed on neighbors’ fields, thin s treams that, forced, searched out different paths. In these cases Goerdel limited himself to his perc entage. But he was much happier hearing complaints and depositions, investigating, wearying himself drawing up official

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79 papers that always sustained, before the judge, the position and innocence of the client that paid him, imposed on him by chance. (276) For Goerdel the wearinesses,34 the complicated discussions, the smiling diplomacy, the measured slaps on the backs of his c lients, the sighs that confirmed an eviction, turned into money, thousands of bucks ast onishingly more numerous than he could have ambitioned during his first routes as me rchant or intermediary. From the very first success he turned the total earnings over to Father Bergner, but never gave up, never accepted discussing the rigid five percent that he established before the first torturous trip around farms, settlements, hovels that aspired to b eing businesses, to brick, adobe, and electricity. “It’s better this way,” Father Bergner had said, a pproving of the crooked wagon and the unflagging hairy horse. “For now they mistr ust the rich; once they gain riches with their cows, their milks, their butters, wines and cheeses, they’ll start mistrusting the poor.” Bergner also said: “I know the Colony is Catholic. But we can’t forget that each family brought their Bible and there took note of b irths, marriages, and deaths. We can’t forget the physical, Teutonic weight of the tomes. And that they prefer the Old Testament to the Gospels. I’m not worried about the atheists because these will come back to us, brought by misfortune, instability, or old age. But I am wary of the incursions being made by the heretics of the Seventh Day, the paired off Jehova’s Witnesses, the Mormons, the colonels of the Salvation Army. That whole pack, pe rsistent and better paid than us. For now I don’t know of any Jews arriving. But I fear t hat the chosen territory, the Colony, 34 I make grammatically incorrect use of a plural her e to mimic the plural noun – “cansancios” – in the original (276).

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80 could, by means of patience, prove fertile for thos e damned people. That is why I need you, and more each day.” Goerdel fulfilled his duty, defending the Apostoli c Roman Catholic Church, with no need for controversy, as sure and calm as if he were mentioning the distant points at which the sun would be born tomorrow or sink at the end of the afternoon. He believed exaggeratedly in Father Bergner’s fear s; he persisted, tenacious, in his five percent, in his multiplications. So that Bergner ended up thinking of an uncertain ally, of a blond, strong, handsome young man35 that on a daily basis lost himself among the paths of the Colony, chasing after his five percent, calling upon the fa ith in the true Church, in Saint Peter and his successors. Then Bergner began thinking in a different way and convinced himself that a new duty had been imposed on him. (277) He was intelligent and astute, his opinions continued to be sacred for many hundreds of faithful, he knew how to separate the l ies from the confessions without ever showing it, punishing without mockery with Our Fath er’s and Hail Mary’s whose number and haste adapted themselves to the sins they murmu red to him, faltering, before forged doubts, before the always romantic, “Bless me, Fath er, for I have sinned.” And, besides, age did not keep him from valuing or intuiting the qualities of the females kneeling on the other side of the false curtain that separated God from the guilty ones that daily recited their repentance. 35 Here is another example of an elliptical construct ion, which in the original reads: “De modo que Berg ner lleg a pensar en un aliado inseguro, en un joven r ubio, fuerte, buen mozo” (276). It is up to the rea der to infer that Bergner is thinking of Goerdel as his ally, a handsome young man, etc. Claytons tran slation fills in this interpretive gap: “So Bergner ended up thin king he had an uncertain ally, a strong young blond helper” (167).

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81 On the other hand he knew, one could say, all of S anta Mara, all of the Colony. And his conversations with Goerdel helped him learn about enlarged or diminished fortunes, of others that supported with no harm the taxes on inheritance, the taxes on the unconscious use of air, on the right to walk the st reets. He thus managed sums, beauties, reputations; he wa s able to act, sure and slow. He pushed Goerdel toward the Hausers – a house in S anta Mara, homes and properties in the Colony – conspired, said definitive words that could sound like just, objective, and weightless observations.36 Once sure of having won he did not wish to rush; h e continued talking and commenting, alluded, for the Hausers, to a bloodles s but inexcusable holy war against vague and powerful enemies. He judged his surplice old and worn and ordered a new one from the Capital, detailing his tastes, putting a g ram of heterodoxy into the cut and length. Months later, on the Friday before Christmas, he m arried Augusto Goerdel to Helga Hauser, nodding at each I do that he provoked and heard. By then, witness to the wedding, Patricio Hauser already hated Augusto Goer del. 36 This portion of the original reads: “Manej, pues, cifras, bellezas, reputaciones; pudo actuar seguro y lento, arrim a Goerdel a los Hauser – casa en Sant a Mara, casas y tierras en la Colonia –, conspir, dijo palabras definitivas que podan sonar como observas iones justas, objetivas y sin peso” (277). We see a gain the leitmotiv of “lento” used in the predicative se nse – an adjective acting as an adverb. I place the adjectives between commas, introducing a period aft er to slightly mitigate the confusing punctuation o f the original.

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82 IX We were not allowed to age, barely to become defor med, but no one prevented the years from passing, signaled by celebrations, b y the joyful and repugnant racket of the immense rowdy majority of those who ignored – somet imes you could believe they had forgotten – that Brausen’s bureaucrats had made the m be born with a death sentence attached to each birth certificate.37 So that ripping dated pages from the calendars dis tributed generously by the medical laboratories was nothing more than a habit, no more or less symbolic than that of tearing fragments from the rolls of toilet paper. (278) This should, might…I attempt38 to explain and to convince as to why no one in Santa Mara knew exactly the year, the month the number that corresponded to Goerdel’s return. Neither could we – nor can we now – believe in any convincing answer for his short, unnecessary visit. We had forgotten him; we routinely and apathetical ly detached many pages from our calendars, persistently discarding Saint Sylves ter and Saint Lucian. Suddenly – Saint Maurice –39 we learned he was among us, first in the Plaza, af terwards in any of the homes that were his, next to the beach, in Villa Pe trus. In a place that could have been mine. 37 The original reads “la inmensa mayora ruidosa de los que ignoraban – a veces poda creerse en un olv ido – que los burcratas de Brausen…” (277). Clayton’s translation removes the important interjection at t he middle of the sentence and reads “didn’t know” inst ead of “ignored.” In the original the narrator accu ses the Santa Marans of ignoring the death sentence im posed on them by Brausen to the extent that they ha ve almost forgotten it. 38 The original is odd here in that the verbs in the list change from third person to first person: “Est o debe, puede, intento explicar…” (278). I maintain this sw itch, while Clayton eliminates it: “This should, or might, or at least attempts…” (167). 39 Saints’ days are used to mark the passage of time. The original reads “De pronto – San Maurilio – supimos que estaba entre nosotros…” (278). Clayton mediates the disorientation produced by the interjection of “Saint Maurice,” translating the ph rase as, “All of a sudden, one St. Maurice’s Day we found him back in our midst…” (167).

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83 He came, deteriorated, pale, tall and upright like always. Brausen’s permission must have been motivated by a secret cause, by a pl an which we were not able to understand until we had grandchildren. Not even the n fully convinced. Brausen’s paths were always mysterious to us. Goerdel arrived and remained locked up for a week in the whitewashed building the coadjutant archbishop calls Church or Seminary. It depended on who happened to be listening. But it was always church for us. Until one rainy day when Bergner requested a meeti ng with Daz Grey and they talked about other mysteries comparable to the unav oidable and infinite one that gathered habitual celebrations and despairs. The priest was still broad and tall but seemed a l ittle diminished and ill-tempered. Bergner said: “I neither believe nor cease to believe, putting as ide Goerdel’s penances, confessions, and the amount of hosts he keeps swall owing. A while ago I meant to ask whether you noticed that sometimes, at sundown, the head of the horse in the statue has features that are more like those of a cow than of an equine.”40 “It could be, I’ve never checked,” said Daz Grey. He looked out of the office window; but from there he could only judge the damp haunch of the inferior beast. 40 The dialogue disorients the reader here by startin g at what seems to be the middle of the conversatio n between Father Bergner and the doctor: “Ni creo ni dejo de creer, poniendo de lado las penitencias de Goerdel, confesiones y la cantidad de hostias que s igue tragando” (278). The intransitive use of “cree r” contributes to a sense of incompleteness; we can de duce that he is talking about believing in Goerdel s version of the story, while at the same time the in transitive use of “creer” suggests the possibility of him stating his wavering faith in God.

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84 “But the rider, yes. I’ve always suspected mistake s in him. As far as the ride, I think on some nights the horns seem to come out; I’ m sure of having seen the buds with the help of a few hours of contemplation. But I don ’t think it’s worth it. If you’ll forgive me, Father, I think we’ll have plenty to be happy a bout (279) once the earthquake comes that takes the old horse and ambiguous rider off to hell. It’s a shame Santa Mara is so far from the Andes. “But during the inauguration and the speeches,” co ntinued the doctor, “the horse had something of a gentle cow and the figure on top bore the traits of a stallion, of an indomitable beast.41 I didn’t look at them closely again. But they must have continued the process. The tame cow and the mustached rider. But don’t forget that the cow gives milk but also knows how to butt.” Daz Grey opened a book on the table and read out loud: “And if I go back to the rider, Father, it’s possi ble that I’ll discover the head of a horse, the muzzle of a stubborn donkey, the flatten ed forehead of a mastiff, the bestial snout of a pig, the stupid profile of an ox. As you can see, I was reading Ibsen last night. To calm my insomnia.” “An erred spirit: but a great one,” commented the priest, distracted. Then the Father quickly made the sign of the cross and wanted to talk about more important, more immediate things; despite not wanti ng to show haste, whether he had it or not. At least he spoke as if submerged in solita ry mediations. 41 I stray from the Novelas completas version of the text here because there seems to be a clear omission in the phrase: “Pero durante la inauguracin y los dis cursos – sigui el medico – la vaca mansa y la figu ra de arriba tena rasgos de potro, de bestia indomable” (279). The complete phrase appears in Obras completas as: “Pero durante la inauguracin y los discursos – sigui el medico – el caballo tiraba a vaca mansa y la figura de arriba…” (390).

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85 “Augusto Goerdel, doctor. As you must already know given that you live in a city where only good deeds go unknown, Goerdel the accountant returned to Santa Mara and remained, for a week or longer, locked up in my Seminary. He slept in the same room he occupied during his years as a student. You could almost say that, aside from the liturgical rites, we spent seven days face to face. He left and must have been able to rest in Coln’s most luxurious hotel. Patricio Hauser di sappeared long ago and Jorge Malabia has better things to do and think about than to rem ember that absurd revenge. Besides that, these people, the Santa Marans, are weak at keeping up passions. The same curiosity will have wilted two or three months late r. On another note, Goerdel is rich, very rich. And in this world the very rich only suf fer an initial and brief scandal. Fireworks.” “Excuse me, Father. Goerdel had a mother. I saw he r myself, years ago, in the poorest house in the Colony. Boards and zinc and ca rdboard.” “Yes. Goerdel’s child – we always think of the sec ond one – Goerdel’s two children study in Germany. Years ago Goerdel gave h is mother a good house in the Colony. She never set foot in Santa Mara. And she died two months after the move.” “It must’ve been long ago. I don’t remember signin g the form. So our friend Augusto Goerdel has no heirs here. And if we exclud e you, he doesn’t have any friends, either.” (280) “He is not my friend,” said Bergner drily. “ He is my son under God.” “I understand. I never knew you to lie.” In a tacit pause, in a silence made tactile by the will of both of them, they remained looking at each other and looking away. At last Daz Grey lost and said:

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86 “Mr. Augusto Goerdel, Accountant.” “If we must return to our sheep,” smiled the prie st faintly; he did not seem sick, sure of himself as always. “Of course, I’ve discuss ed it with others. With Our Lord every night. But I was interested in your opinion and not because you are a doctor.” Daz Grey nodded his head; Bergner tried to suppre ss the excessive pause. “You must know the Insauberrys. A pair of lazy bum s, thicker than horse hooves,42 believers, irreproachable. If things could be fixe d with examples, this city would be heard in Heaven and I could put a lock on the confessionary.” “Yes,” said the doctor. “At some point the Insaube rrys called for me over a little bronchitis or some liver trouble. Her or him. Or al l the bugs that kids get. Nothing serious, thankfully. I think, also, that they have millions here, in the Colony, in the Capital.” “Yes, countless acres and many businesses. But the y remain as humble and frugal as when they were poor, when I married them. They a re not rich; they are, materially, powerful. But they will go, without difficulty, I’m sure, through the eye of the needle.”43 “Cable,” said Daz Grey. “There are no camels.” “Yes; some poor remote animal read and wrote camel .” Then the priest raised a pure and tortured face; h e had in his eyes the light of the afternoon and the ominous gaze of Daz Grey. 42 The colloquial expression “ms brutos que bota de potro” is used here, referring to a type of rustic boot fashioned by gauchos out of leather and a horse hoo f as the sole. I formulate an expression in English which retains some of the literal meaning of the or iginal. 43 Bergner alludes here to the Christian saying “It i s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a nee dle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” D az Greys response is an allusion to the theory he ld by some that “camel” in the saying is an error of tran slation in the New Testament from the Greek, a mixup of the word kamlo (camel) and kamilo (cable). The ell iptical nature of the exchange makes the reference hard to grasp and again establishes an unmitigated orali ty in the dialogue.

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87 “And besides those kinds of assets, they have a tw elve year old daughter, the youngest of seven, all female. “And now let’s talk,” continued the priest, “about what matters, about the reason for this visit. As you know, Augusto returned to th e Seminary about ten days ago. He spent that whole time, without me being able to tel l for sure whether he was sincere or fake, telling me of a dream. He did it so many time s, between tears and prayers, that now, for me, it’s almost exactly as if I had dreamt it. I close my eyes and I see it, maybe I embellish it, maybe I mix it up with the memory of some religious print. For years, soon after the death of Helga Hauser, Goerdel dreamed ea ch night that his dead wife, dressed in white down to the ground, brought him the Insaub erry girl by the hand and pushed her gently, so she would move forward and become unmist akable. I would say in that the chronic, repeated dream (281) the deceased woman’s attitude was not that of an order or an offer. She simply showed the girl, she wanted th e dreamer not to forget her.” “Well,” said the doctor, making fun of his thinkin g but respecting the priest, “now our friend Goerdel wishes to adopt a twelve-year-ol d girl. It’s understandable. He only ever had sons.” Bergner snorted, as if between offense and rage. “Sorry, doctor. But your jokes fail to amuse me. B rausen was right when he placed you into this world.” “Agreed, father. He didn’t make a mistake with you either. Santa Mara needs you. I would almost say that this city is inconceiv able without you, as are you without this city. I add, without effort, the Colony.” The priest nodded and managed to produce a tame an d even-tempered voice.

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88 “A bad joke. You perceived the truth from my first mention of the dream.” “Repetitive, persistent, and reliable. I don’t bel ieve in Goerdel. Neither in his dreams nor his vigils. He’s a nasty devil, no disre spect to your opinion. But I don’t know what your opinion is.” “One moment. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have m y doubts. I would know my path and reach the end without consulting anyone bu t God. But I doubt. There are moments in which Goerdel’s desperation seems sincer e. He inspires pity, mercy in me. I see him plagued by that dream, I feel he’s condemne d, I believe Helga begs him, night after night, to accept the girl.” “Yes,” sung the doctor. “I take this one as wife, as my wife and my woman. In my youth I heard and chanted that same song in unison. I didn’t understand it completely, it was not possible for me to understand the carnal me aning of the words. But they were amusing and moving. I think Goerdel already knows a bout that. Not to mention the millions, of course. You, father, have doubts and I have none. So I can’t help you. Trust in Brausen. One day, by surprise, he will illuminat e you. No millions, of course. For her mother is a rose and her father a carnation.44 Very curious, right? C’est toujours la mme chanson.45 But, all in all, it’s about a party or a childish d oubt. Twelve years old is the kid, you said? And not foreseeing the monstrosity t hat awaits her once she bleeds on her night gown, serving her dolls water tea and biscuit s.” 44 The original here alludes to, “Hilo de oro,” a Spa nish children’s rhyme, which I translate literally. In the original, Daz Greys singing of the song begins wi th, “Llevo a sta por esposa, por esposa y por muje r” (281). He then proceeds to reflect on his understan ding of the song and its relation to Goerdels situ ation. After reassuring Bergner to trust in Brausen the do ctor picks up the song again: “Pues su madre es una rosa y su padre es un clavel,” which means that the wife being selected in the rhyme is of mixed social cla ss, and therefore not extremely rich. The weaving toge ther of the childrens song and Daz Greys reflect ions on the proposed marriage between Goerdel and the In sauberry girl underscores the doctors mocking attitude toward the situation. 45 “It’s always the same old song.”

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89 Bergner got up and barely nodded goodbye. He did n ot make any of the doors slam. X (282) Two or three months of mild and ochre autumn dragged themselves through the leafless streets of Santa Mara. The doctor, Daz Grey, kept going from one end of the city to the other, signing identical prescriptions, saying flu to the young, i nfluenza to the older ones. He did not kill any of his sick patients or none of them, despite t heir varying ages, accepted dying. Miramonte and Grimm chewed on46 their disappointment; but they kept greeting the doctor, respectful and cordial, trustful of a nearb y and happy future. For Daz Grey, at least, it was no secret that Our Lord Brausen had agreed to shine his Light on Father Bergner. So many days, n ights, of pleading and begging, so many sweaty daybreaks with the deceased woman pushi ng the girl forward, breaking the silence at the end to give the order. Always dresse d in white. Perhaps Bergner needed a new roof for the Church-S eminary; or aspired to bringing in an organ from the Capital which would n ot sporadically imitate the breathing of an old asthmatic or the meowing of ten cats in h eat. Aside from Juan Mara Brausen, he did not act, I am sure, out of personal interest Whatever the cause, every Thursday Bergner and Aug usto Goerdel visited the Insauberry mansion for a few hours. It was always a t five, teatime; and while the adults in the living room talked about future harvests, about the whims of the weather, about 46 Miramonte and Grimm are the owners of Santa Mara’ s funeral home. The original uses the verb “mascar” – literally, “to chew” – in the metaphoric sense of the men holding in their disappointment. I opt for a literal translation while Clayton interprets it as “muttered.”

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90 scandals (barely alluded to), about the quality of the cake, Mara Cristina, the chosen one, played with dolls in her room. It is possible that the four adults, bored, without words, awaited and believed to attract, by magic and desir e, the first period of the happy and ignorant girl, to be able to talk freely of money, dowries, and of a honeymoon which, by way of silence, grew across more landscapes and str engthened in illusion. XI “Madman,” said Jorge Malabia. It is likely that by that time he had given up on poems and was just writing editorials for El Liberal dictated by his father from the grave, timidly em bellished with populist, almost demagogic phrases. (283) “But,” he continued spellbound, “not the kin d of madman one imagines. You must understand this, you must know it. Not the kind of threatening, incoherent madman that forces us to be on guard. This is a dif ferent thing. Calm and proud, talking with the confidence of a traveling salesman about b usiness and prices. Slowly raising his offers so that the newspaper publishes what he call s proof of an injustice that cannot pain anyone, after so many years. Firmly, calmly, convin ced that the only problem is the price. The proofs of his madness and his astute filth. I t old him no seven times. I think I convinced him and, besides, hunger struck. It must have been about three when he gathered the copies and got up. He kept talking abo ut a posthumous justice, though he’s still alive, at the same time insistent and unworri ed. He promised to come see you; he wants nothing to do with my uncle Bergner, whether dying or in health. It’s easy to explain; I was saving, until the end, the surprise. He lives in Germany, yes; but in the

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91 communist part. And he’s a Catholic priest, a papis t. He keeps having children. He’s already on his third with his second wife, the Bock woman. Maybe he has a special bull, maybe he’s going around in a priest costume. He’s g oing around with a hat of unknown origin, a hat, I’m sure, stolen off a corpse from t he war. It’s grey flannel, with four leather straps. Over his prop cassock he wears a lined coat with fur neck and lapels. He’s not Goerdel anymore. Out of humility he demoted himself to Johannes Schmidt. He joins his heels in greeting and lowers his back when offering his hand. But he’s still the same greasy son of a bitch and tirelessly offers the kin d smile of the Catholic missionary or the communist that hands out slogans like little medals He discovered, I don’t know how, a book of very bad poems which I wrote and published when I was twenty years old. He also found an old and stuttering Chilean edition of Ernesto Borges. Essays. He sent everything to his boss in Berlin. Since he’s a gent leman and mocks our Latin American sentimentality, he considered it his duty to leave me a copy of what he rampantly conceived on one of the typewriters of El Liberal. I brought it for you. I don’t understand why he talks about Juan Mara Brausen’s conjugal ex ploits. We all know he’s still in the clouds, controlling us from the sky.” This is my memory, translated, of Jorge Malabia’s excessive words. We were halfway through the afternoon, the drizzle and sorr ow were shouldering my windows, alcohol proved useless. Then I read the letter sent by Goerdel Schmidtt to Berlin, too long to copy but with some curious details:

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92 Mr. Director of the German State Library Berlin. (284) German Democratic Republic. Dear Sir: Some time has passed since I was last able to send you any works. I think one of the last works I was able to send was a copy of Sokrates signed by the author, Monsignor Romano Guardini. Now I send to you a work by Jorge Malabia with a dedication by the author to your Library, along with a work by Ernest o Borges. On Malabia’s character, I will allow myself to inf orm you that he is sophisticated, skeptical, not at all friendly. He will not even of fer one a glass of water. But in all this I will say that he is almost the national prototype o f the Santa Maran, because I have spent many days in this place, and I can honestly say tha t among the 49 countries across 4 continents that I have known since the Second World War, I have known none less welcoming than this one. The people here are inhosp itable. And I doubt that this is only because of the political situation in the country. I think this is a “national character” crystallized through its history. Because it is not just one class. It’s all of them. So that after getting to know Santa Mara personal ly, I do not spill as many tears for this country as before. If they wish to be self ish and adopt the position of “we are better than you and everyone in the whole world,” w ell then let them resolve their own problems, and not ask anything of anyone. They clea rly state the position of the revolutionaries: sex and power, to destroy those in power because they are in power, because they are aesthetically ugly, unjust, rich, etc. But obviously this is not pure

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93 idealism, nor positive idealism, but rather negativ e and destructive. If they do not want a society built on love, what kind of society do they want? Obviously, all they want is power, to feel powerful. Pure vanity. All an exerci se in machismo, the sui generis disease of Latin America, all sexually entrenched, and very primitive. At the level of the most primitive societies of the jungle. The university students are disgusting. They envy the First Lady for having 18 children. But as predicted, they all try to impress one with their sense of self-importance. The doctors claim to be so good that they could eas ily go to other countries…everything Santa Maran is better than the rest. And they bare ly even exist within Latin America. They say that when they go away to Australia and Ca nada they “realize that as Santa Marans they are culturally superior to their neigh bors.” (285) So I believe that this country, with all its presumptions, does not need anyone’s help. I am leaving next week. I have not d one anything. What can one do in a country where everyone is a genius? My greetings to your entire staff.47 See you shortly. Johannes Schmidt, Student. Dusk, always slow and deceiving in bad weather, ha d begun. I ordered the lights turned on, made use of the stethoscope like a wizar d’s solemn maneuver,48 filled prescriptions with uncertain futures, went back to my armchair and to reflecting upon the small part of the world which I was allowed to cons ider comprehensible. 47 The word “staff” appears in English in the origina l. 48 Clayton interprets this phrase, which I translate literally from the original, as “I used my stethosc ope like a solemn magic trick” (173).

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94 My grades in History, when I was a student and amb itious, were always poor. Not because of a lack in intelligence or attention; I l earned this much later and without need of analysis. The failure lay in that I was unable t o relate the dates of military or political battles to my version of the history they taught me or I tried to understand. For example: from Julius Ceasar to Bolvar was, for me, all an e vident but unfeasible novel. Innumerable facts, sometimes contradicting, were of fered me in books and classes. But I was so free and so clumsy as to construct from all of that a fable, never fully believed, in which heroes and events capriciously came together and separated from each other. Napoleon in the Andes, San Martn in Arcola. I was always aware of the repetition: heroes and p eoples rose and fell. And the outcome which was possible for me to affirm, I real ize it now, was a hundred or thousands of Santa Maras, enormous in population a nd territory, or small and provincial like this one which I had gotten by chance. The dom inators dominated, the dominated ones obeyed. Always awaiting the next revolution, which would always be the last. It was not the best mood in which to receive, now in the exclusive, Santa Maran night, Goerdel’s visit. I think everything went properly; we shook hands an d no one thinks in detail as to what the hand he shakes has done in the past few ho urs. At least, I think, neither he nor I. Hands have always acted before and in secret. He is probably not mad, I thought; obstinacy, disda in, a clear idea. The man seemed determined to cross, like a lunatic, every w all put up by the sane; to violate, lucid, every obstacle that we, heirs to the madness of wel l-being, to an unvarying passive existence, constructed.

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95 I felt the old fear of a meeting in the open. I offered him a seat and a drink. He chose to leave his soggy hat on the rug. (286) To use words that I neither like nor consider fitting I will say that the man was calm, outside of time,49 expelled violently from a doubt that grew until it deposited him, one more time, the last time, on the coast of Santa Mara. After the meaningless, worn out, wilted greetings, Goerdel spread out on my table the six or ten photocopies he had used on Malabia. There was no prologue, I did not look at the shiny copies; I looked at him and stood waiting. I was never able to figure out wheth er he had improvised the misfortune or was reciting a speech he knew from memory. Perhaps the same one that had failed him at El Liberal the same one he was willing to repeat in the ear of every Santa Maran excited by the novel scandal. And not to everyone, because Goerdel had planned respectable and infallible points of diffusion. I think the request to have the letters published in Malabia’s paper never went beyond a bluff.50 I continued to wait and he spoke. He was almost bal d, the blond and white hair plastered with gel. Taller and thinner, I thought, more comfortable, and almost floating in his new clothes. I searched for diagnoses, syndrome s, sure of guessing incorrectly. I found him older and healthier, unbridled and timid in his rocking, when the silence, my stillness, forced him to speak. He said only, as if recurring to various forgotten things, mixed up and calm: “Here are the letters, doctor, at least the unquest ionable photographs of the letters Helga received during the months in which the whole city, her friends, relatives, the ones 49 The original here reads “sin tiempo,” to mean that Goerdel exists outside the constraints of time (28 6). Clayton gives a more interpretive translation, tran slating the expression as “unaffected by time” (173 ). 50 The word “bluff” appears in English in the origina l.

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96 maddened by a nonexistent truth, spurred themselves to accuse me of the crime. Which was not a crime, could not be one, even if I had be en, were to have been, the one responsible. The dim voice clung to the automated speech that ha d been brought, also for me, by the complicit voice of the dusk that was startin g to devour the light of all the days that were repeated for us by Brausen, Juan Mara, almost Snatcher for the atheists.51 “Read the letters, now or tomorrow. I was far away in the Capital and later, at those Catholic courses in Chile. Frei and Tmic.52 The letters, you will see, are repulsive. But the dates do not fail, they are exact. You are a doctor and understand. I was not in Santa Mara at the time of the murderous daughter’s conception. Not even had it consisted of a trained premature birth.” The disconcerting part was that the man spoke witho ut irony, without a smile. Without sadness, even. He remained upright and calm turning the leather stool into a hard friar’s chair. And then I understood that he had not only returned to fight against slander or injustice. He wanted to talk about himself, wanted to explain himself, wanted to cover up with disinterested cynicism a portion of his past, the anecdote of a (287) woman killed, years ago, not by him but by a girl, Brausen’s unfa thomable will. He did not mention the sin – the word held no meaning for me; maybe not fo r him either, now. So Goerdel spoke, without passion, always recitativ e and monotonous. 51 This is a difficult phrase to translate because of its obscure meaning in the original: “La voz apaga da se adhera al discurso autmata que haba trado, tamb in para m, la voz cmplice del crepsculo que empezaba a devorar la luz de todos los das que nos repeta Brausen, Juan Mara, casi Junta para los a teos” (286). Besides the intricacy of the metaphoric lang uage used, the phrase makes an intertextual referen ce to Juntacadveres, the nickname given to the character Larsen throughout the saga of Santa Mara. Clayton totally misses this reference and interprets “Junta ” as “a political junta” (174). 52 Reference to Eduardo Frei Montalva and Radomiro T mic, important political figures in Chile from the late 1940’s to the 60’s.

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97 “From the age of eleven or twelve I’ve had the reso lve to succeed. The starting date is vague but it must coincide, more or less, w ith the first pollution of my dreams. If you were as intelligent as me, you would understand that this will to prosper had nothing to do with what we call success, half-hearted greed profit, money. A lot of money in my case. What obsessed the boy, me, was a need to esca pe the misery and cow smell of the recently built Colony. The Colony had been built ac cording to the plan, council-driven, if you’ll allow me, approved by the elders. They had b eards and talked, after work, the scarce dinner, almost always radish salad, I think, and after the hot chocolate. Very thick; I don’t know how they got it. Maybe they had brough t it over or stolen it, precisely on this land where only a madman would have thought to harvest cocoa. But they were happy watching the unmoving spoon stuck into the he art of the mug. The mugs always bigger than normal. We had arrived together, had, a ll of us, come from the same place. But I listened to them without understanding, could only see short smiles or frowns that would, tomorrow, last a whole day. The controlled n oise of the voices. The silences came but I didn’t understand; I could barely make out th eir dark mouths and the teeth sunken into tufts of beards that climbed up from the blond ness and stopped their course well before reaching the mustaches that darkened the dis tance and sweetness of Santa Maran time.53 As you can hear, doctor, I’m using the same langua ge you use to lie. No offense intended. We all lie, even before the words. For ex ample: I tell you lies and you lie by 53 Here is another instance of descriptive language w hich is convoluted to the point of being indecipher able, making translation difficult. The original reads: “ apenas vea bocas oscuras y dientes hundidos en la pelambre de las barbas que trepaban del rubio para detenerse mucho antes de los bigotes que ennegreca n la distancia y la dulzura del tiempo sanmariano” (287) I maintain the figurative use of the verb “trepar ” (climb) which appears repeatedly throughout the nov el, as well as the enigmatic use of the noun “rubio ” (blondness). Clayton seems to attribute the blondne ss to the men’s chest hair and produces a more interpretative, less enigmatic translated version: “I could barely make out their dark mouths, their t eeth sunk into the hairiness of beards which crawled up from their chest and stopped well short of the whis kers that darkened the distance and sweetness of time in Santa Mara” (174-5).

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98 listening to them. But something always remains of the first, oldest memories, that is preserved despite every attempt to forget, invulner able, with no chance, even, of being worn out by any of the deliberate attempts that all of us, without purpose, make with varying frequency. And so it was, allow me to expla in. All of the imbeciles that step foot on Santa Mara and the Colony have wanted to know – at times frankly, when they light a pipe and fake interest in the colors of the sunset; other times smoking fake Cuban cigars in the Plaza or at the Club. They all asked, direct or torturous, about my aged memory, the first or last that I had brought back from Euro pe. Look: I always lied. I spoke of people escaping by highway, I tried to give them bu rned down villages, smells, columns of smoke. I also deceived Father Bergner. He only l istened and moved his head in an (288) acceptance which seemed to me unsympathetic, not requesting pauses to pray in Latin. “But my real and, I know, eternal memory has nothin g to do with the brutality of war. Of that one or any other. “I returned to Santa Mara to slander and feel abso lved. A caprice, if you’d like. But sometimes what we call caprice is the result of years of shame, of suffering in silence.” The visitor’s voice went on monotonous, without dip s or hills, with no signs of stopping before reaching the end of the speech know n by heart. Daz Grey listened, almost unmoving, attempting out of habit to gather the symptoms and give his opinion in silence. He could not say that Goerdel was insane, could not accept such a perfect farce. He said: “Excuse me. You live in Europe.”

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99 “Germany.” “You live in Germany and I expect will die there. I don’t understand how after so many years – you must already have a son serving as a Prussian cadet – that so many years later you’ve come back to this poor excuse fo r a city to hand out slander and seek absolution from a fantastic crime.” “The Military Academy is no longer in Prussia.” “Pardon me. But in one Germany or the other there m ust be academies that will teach the art of killing to any boy older than fift een.” “I understand. It’s hard, you find it strange. Perh aps, a bit more; abnormal, absurd. But my response is: pride. Perhaps I want r evenge. But that is worth little, it’s not my motive. I only want to prove that the child coul d not have been mine. I did not kill Helga. I had nothing to do with the pregnancy and b irth. It’s the pride in proving, so many years later, that I am or was innocent. My pri de is stronger than that of all these poor devils put together. And I want to prove it, I ’m proving it to you, with these photographs of letters. Compare the dates. A cold-h earted cuckold, very Nordic, thank God, and more so each day, if you like, but never a murderer. Please understand: it consists in a fantasy, of the last name Goerdel whi ch will soon be forgotten, and forever, by the boors that tarnish what they continue to cal l a city but is really only a sixteenth century village, and by those that perhaps are stil l tilling soil in the colony that is no longer Swiss nor German. I will spend less than a w eek at the hotel and then the oblivion, the goodbye forever, which on the other hand doesn’ t matter. But I ask you to read the letters and make them known.” “Is the hotel the Plaza?”

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100 “Possibly. But I won’t be receiving anyone and don’ t plan on answering the phone.” (289) He immediately got up, smoothed his clothes n eedlessly and before striking heel with heel said, his head erect, almost looking at the ceiling, weakening with each word: “I don’t know his name and I don’t care. But all t he men should be saddened and angered over the vile act committed in the village. ” XII Jorge Malabia was suddenly in a good mood. Mine re mained unvarying, adult and serene and only changed, many years later, when my daughter arrived in Santa Mara and I tried to bring them together with no determined p urpose, only out of a curiosity, almost scientific, to see them, as far as it was possible, react. Perhaps this is not a different story.54 Malabia would arrive at the beginning of the night and I would quit my chess, my solitaires, and Bach. But I would never quit the ri tual of going to Anglica Ins’ bedroom, suggesting a tall mirror and hearing her l augh with joy when she looked at her body, more thin than naked. My way of helping her w as manifold. Sometimes I would tell her enthusiastically that the world had never seen such a whore; others, I would show myself saddened, not too much, over her showing her self lustful, lost in indecency. Perhaps she never managed to understand me. But she would always flatten the bones of 54 This sentence does not seem to make much sense, as Daz Grey is, indeed, straying from the main story to discuss his interest in a meeting between Malabi a and his daughter. I translate the original direct ly while Clayton adjusts the sentence to something seemingly more logical: “But this is perhaps another story altogether” (176).

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101 her arms against her ribs, to laugh or to cry. She always ended happy, slipping toward one of her mysterious tangled dreams which she some times remembered, or dreamed again, while she held me, shivering, so I would lis ten. I repeat that thanks to the resuscitated ironic an d almost happy Jorge, we spent many late nights with a bottle of J.B. and the kind of joy that is inseparable from every fool’s paradise. So little by little, with faked impatience, we cam e to believe that all the photographed letters had been written by a man; tha t they had always – there were eight examples – been written by the same man; that in six of the letters the birth of a girl was alluded to or insisted upon; that in one of the letters had been written, shame lessly, “fruit of our love”; that the dedications varied from “Dear Helga” to “ my love or precious or beloved”; (290) that “now nothing will be able to separate us ” was abundant; that the dates coincided, without unquestionable p reciseness, with the conception and birth of the girl; that they were all signed with an H in printed let ter; that the drafter of the letters had preferred blac k or dark blue ink and had spilled it out in a hand surprising in its firmness and had ke pt margins of unvarying amplitude; that not disposing of any paper other than the ove rly shiny one used by the photographer, it was impossible to determine the re al age of the letters. We also discovered – and perhaps this was the only pride the mornings left us – that all the letters had been written up in identic al style: they began corny and platonic,

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102 continued this way for two paragraphs and then fell rolled around in a frenzied anatomical enumeration and the meticulous recollect ion of the most curious ways of fitting together. This was not just pornography cop ied out of the little Catalan books that accompanied the few solitary hours we were able to get during puberty: you could smell the proposed vulgarity, the hate, the will to offen d. Until one night, after asking the editorial office of El Liberal just before closing time, whether any news had arrived about the Palest inians or the death of a Kennedy, Jorge Malabia chose to be obvious, one of the many forms of error offered to men. “All this crap doesn’t add up to an absence. Just one letter written by her. Even if it were only a note, a ‘truly, your beloved.’” “Yes. As Goerdel would say, let the dead bury thei r own dead. And may the sons of bitches to remain faithful to their destiny. And it’s also written, I believe, that he who kills condemns himself to defamation and lies.” It was already morning when we stopped playing che ss. I got up to crack open the windows and silence Bach’s andante.

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103 Conclusions During my baccalaureate exam it was pointed out to me that my introductory essay could very well serve as an argument for why not to translate Onetti. Why mix yourself up in his complications, tricks, and ambig uities? And it’s true, working with Onetti was not an easy process, and at times not a very pleasant one, either. Towards the end of it, I realized that the root of the difficul ty lay in the personal nature of my relationship to the subject matter I was dealing wi th. Writing critically about your favorite author is hard enough, insofar as what att racts us to one writer over another is rarely rational or even explainable. Putting my ver y abstract impressions of Onetti’s fiction into understandable, coherent language for the purposes of my critical introduction was the most challenging aspect of my thesis. It wa s hard to avoid feeling like I was betraying my experience as a reader, one marked by confusion and abstraction. Becoming a translator of Onetti in some ways made the challenge of critically analyzing his writing even more difficult because t hrough the process of translation La muerte y la nia in a sense became my own writing, and it’s always h ard to detach from your work. On the other hand, the translation porti on of the thesis served as a complement to my anxieties about rationalizing my r eading of Onetti in the essay. The process of translation was satisfying in that throu gh my decisions as a translator – which always involved an attempt to reproduce the complic ations, tricks, and ambiguities – I was able to affirm my reading of the novel as one m arked by uncertainty and confusion, and to communicate this reading to others.


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