Friday, May 11, 2007

Shadow of Barc.



Well folks, that's what they call it over there. Over heard a couple of Barcelonans talking football in a bar just a week or so ago....Real vs. Barc. produced a lot of glum, unusually quiet Cataluyans.

The subject today is Barcelona in literature. Not counting Homage to Catalonia which I don't really see as fiction. HTC apparently has a lot of inaccuracies, misinformation, bias - or what we might call spin - in the facts within the 'fiction'. The only other book I have read with a Barc. theme : Shadow of the Wind. But do recommend Woodcock's Anarchism if you want to get a few snippets of Barcelona together with its connection to Spain's 19th. and early 20 C. history.

It is not anything very profound: simply that thing about reading a book and wishing you could check if the street names were real or made up. My paperback copy of SOTW has maps inside both covers. Bit of a tease: a vertical block amounting to half a page 'hides' both the maps.

Having recently visited this great city for the first time, and being mightily impressed - from a cultural point of view if not from the levels of CO and NOXs - I can now recognise which part is shown in the SOTW maps: the area just south of the Universitat below the Grand Via. The business of going through the whole book yellow penning every street name has not come about yet! It's one of those deferred gratification thangs....you know you are going to enjoy doing it but it is also quite pleasurable just to anticipate the enjoyment to come.

To start with - by random page flicking - there is Monjuic Cemetery to check. So far no cemetery IRL, But in looking found a small street off the Las Ramblas called Fortuny, and above it Bonsucces, which gives close readers an idea of how he came up with some of the family names...and the re-realisation that this was a book written in Spanish with a readership familiar with the names, the city and the wordplay possible with the knowledge.

On the theme of Lost in Translation (favourite film right now) - and in memory of a few short passages in Douglas Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach, we have the problem and fascination of translation which reared up for me big time when studying around Proust a few months ago. How much is lost in translation? Some mathematician must have come up (or will do now that I mention it) with a generalised formula which could be used to say in percentage terms roughly how much any book lost read in another language. Seems like about 25% of ALR to me. Then I can't read French well enough to tell.

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