“rolling from echo to echo”: On Sky-Quake: Tremor of Heaven by Vicente Huidobro (Trans. by Ignacio Infante and Michael Leong) by Zack Anderson

Zack Anderson has a tremendous review in the Action Books blog of my co-translation, with Ignacio Infante, of Vicente Huidobro’s Sky-Quake. Thanks to Zack for the insights–and to the good people at Action Books. Here are the last two paragraphs:

Unlike previous translators, Infante and Leong foreground Sky-Quake’s intertextuality, noting that “both works constitute two parallel poetic artefacts contemporaneously produced in two different languages—as such, Temblor de cielo and Tremblement de ciel comprise together a larger artwork.” Infante and Leong approach the “infinite versability” of Sky-Quake “by engaging the translation process as originating from both the Spanish and the French texts. Our translation is, thus, constituted by a fluid translational method constantly connecting both parallel originals.” The translators’ collaborative approach allows them to attend to the Spanish and French texts as equal, mirrored versions, while the English translation takes shape in the mise-en-abîme.

Near the end of Sky-Quake, as Tristan’s death approaches, he declares, “I am not afraid of nothingness and I wouldn’t fear it even if I didn’t have the certainty of remaining in my echo, of intangibly rolling from echo to echo.” It seems plausible that Huidobro might have been thinking of the infinite versioning of translation and its utopic international possibilities. Infante and Leong have managed to capture the infinite versability of this text that pours between genres and languages. Sky-Quake serves as an excellent reminder that, as Berman argues, “the translation is a priori present in any original: Any work, as far as one can go back, is already to several degrees a fabric of translations or a creation that has something to do with the translating operation.”

In addition, Sky-Quake is among fine company as a finalist for Big Other‘s Book Award for Translation.

~ by Michael Leong on March 9, 2021.

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