Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dreams of Eça

"Last night I woke up dreaming about Eça de Queirós and lay awake for an hour remembering his novels. I think I remembered them all, even though I read them when I was between fifteen and eighteen. I remembered odd details: for example, that two of them, The Relic and The Illustrious House of Ramires contain in turn other novels, written by the protagonists of the main novels. I remembered the similarities between many of his works and those of Flaubert, whom he admired so much. I remembered his excellent journalistic reports, mainly those from London and from Paris, and the letters of Fadrique Mendes. And his stories, many of them unforgettable, such as 'A Blonde Girl's Eccentricities,' 'The Treasure,' and 'The Deceased Man,' which my father once read to us. And also his lives of the saints, his least good work even though it was his last. This confirms for me the indelible nature of the readings of adolescence and their influence on you. I would have to reread his work now to see if it is as good as it is in my memory. In any case, for me he is still a great novelist, unfairly forgotten. I don’t think I’ve ever seen his name or one of his books mentioned in a magazine or a literary article in France, and I haven’t seen translations of his books into French, either. Temptation to write a short, remonstrative article about him." 
This entry from Julio Ramón Ribeyro's diary, dated 2 November 1976, has inspired the publication of Fario's latest translation, of Eça de Queirós's brief tale "O tesouro."

One would also quite like to publish a translation of Ribeyro's excellent diary. His work, alas, unlike Eça's, is not yet in the public domain. And when it is (in another fifty years, perhaps) one is not much more likely to be in a position to publish it than the three rancid brothers of "The Treasure" are to make safely off with the chest full of doubloons they chance upon in a cave in the forest of Roquelanes.

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