Censorship, Retranslation and Invisibility in the Spanish Edition of Nabokov’s Lolita

[Paper read at the 2018 V Jornadas Internacionales de Lengua Inglesa (Universidad del Salvador) and published in Ideas, 2.ª época, n° 4]

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Introduction

In 1955, Vladimir Nabokov, “an American writer who has once been a Russian one” (Navokov, 1967: 128), published his novel Lolita. After three rejections in the United States, the manuscript made its way to France and, more specifically, to Olympia Press, a publishing house owned by Maurice Girodias. Although it is true that Olympia Press had published several noteworthy text of the avant-garde (works by Jean Genet and Henry Miller, among others), its primary output was erotic fiction, a fact unknown to Nabokov himself that would not favor the reception of the novel in the United States. Lolita was published in two volumes in September and not long after was discovered by Graham Greene, who recommended it as one of the best books of 1955 in a piece for the Sunday Times. The debate soon transcended mere literary circles with the novel becoming a matter of public morality: it was censored in France on three occasions as well as in Britain, Belgium and Austria, while in Canada its importation was banned briefly. Nabokov was worried about the possibility of the text being censored in the United States, and the professional and financial backlash this would entail, which was why in 1956 he agreed to write an essay meant to accompany the long excerpts of the novel that Anchor Review first published in the United States in 1957. In “On a book entitled Lolita” (which has since then become the afterword to the American Edition) Nabokov puts forward his creative process and assure readers that “Lolita has no moral in tow” (Nabokov, 2000: 314). The author holds the same stance in a letter he wrote Girodias on March 10th, 1957, in which he regrets the legal hardships faced by the publisher and worries about the commercial future of his work:

My moral defense of the book is the book itself. I do not feel under any obligation to do more […] On the ethical plane, it is of supreme indifference to me what opinion French, British or any other courts, magistrates, or philistine readers in general, may have of my book. (Nabokov, 1989: 210).

Lolita was finally published in the United States on July 21st, 1958, and became a best-seller in January, 1959. It was never officially censored and despite its “abundant and extremely controversial critical history”[i] (Ocampo, 1959), it established Nabokov as a world-renowned author. He never regretted having written the novel (Nabokov, 1964).

The Argentine publishing house Sur published the first translation of Lolita into Spanish in 1959. The edition was the work of the translator, critic, professor, and, later on, editorial assistant for Sur Magazine, Enrique Pezzoni. By then,  Pezzoni had translated authors such as Carlo Levi, Guido Piovene, Julien Green, Caroline Gordon, Bertram David Wolfe y Roger Caillois and, after Lolita, went on to translate, among others, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, also by Vladimir Nabokov and Moby Dick, by Herman Melville.

Immediately after the novel was published in Argentina, and through a decree issued by the municipal authorities of Buenos Aires (Resolución 7718/1959), the book was deemed immoral and all copies were seized. The case “Editorial Sur c/ Municipalidad de Buenos Aires” made it to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the seizure in 1963 (Fallos 257:275).

CasoLol

As a response to the decree, Sur allotted over thirty pages of issue 260 of the magazine (September and October 1959) to the “‘Lolita’ file” or “Caso ‘Lolita’”. In said dossier, the editors, together with a group of critics and notable authors, answered a survey on the subjects of censorship and Nabokov’s novel. Pezzoni himself wrote about the literary merit of the work and the nonsense of imposing on it a moral reading:

Elucidating whether the banning of Lolita is fair or not seems to me no less petty than condemning the novel because it tells of an affair between a young girl and an older man. Are we spying through a keyhole or are we clearheaded readers, conscious of it being literary fiction? For my part, I would like to say now that I see in Lolita nothing but that: a work of fiction, the architecture of which attests to such prowess that we cannot help but read it. Whoever knows, at least in general terms, what pornography is, will not for an instant associate the idea to Lolita. (Pezzoni, 1959: 69)[ii]

It is by no means surprising that in his remarks Pezzoni should avoid referring to his role as translator of the novel, for he asked that his edition be published under the pseudonym Enrique Tejedor. He hoped to distance himself from any controversies that may impact his professional life and altogether “avoid the allegedly rightful prosecution conducted by the so-called guardians of literary morality, who are never the guardians of good prose, but only the mere imaginary henchmen of stupidity” (Panesi, 1989: 5)[iii].

Sur published Pezzoni’s translation again in 1961. In 1975 it was bought by Editorial Grijalbo, and in 1986 by Anagrama, which published it until 2002. The Grijalbo and Anagrama editions are not, however, exact copies of the translation Pezzoni did for Sur, despite Enrique Tejedor being the only translator credited in both cases. The modifications, some of which will be analyzed in the following pages, are significant and affect not only the style but the integrity of the work in question. If one may say about Pezzoni that “his translation of Lolita has been for years the most popular door through which the Spanish speaking world has entered the Nabokov universe” (Tullio, 2014: 6)[iv], it is necessary also to remark that said door has been, in the overwhelmingly majority of cases, the editions published by Grijalbo and Anagrama, not the one published by Sur.

In 2002, Anagrama published a new translation of Lolita, attributed to Francesc Roca. This edition replaced Pezzoni’s and has been republished in numerous occasions. The most recent one is the hardcover edition or “Limited Edition” from October 2016 (now there’s a new 2018 edition with a drastic change of cover).

Francesc Roca is listed in Anagrama’s catalog as the translator of David Lodge, Truman Capote, Robert Penn Warren, Oliver Sacks, Jack Kerouac, Harold Brodkey, William S. Burroughs, Susan Faludi, Xavier Rubert de Ventós, Orson Welles, Robert Hughes, Noam Chomsky y Vladimir Nabokov. It is surprising that, despite such an array of prestigious authors, there is almost no information available about him. His edition of Lolita includes no paratexts, and neither has the translator given any interviews, nor are there any academic papers or articles allegedly penned by him. He has no online presence, not even a profile on Anagrama’s website, and the publisher ignores requests for information concerning their translators.

Hipotheses

The translation of Lolita must be considered form its two dimensions: that of content and that of form. The fact that the novel elicited a particular moral response in some of its readers resulted in the circulation, between the years 1975 and 2002, of a mutilated version on Lolita in Spanish, which is attributed to Enrique Tejedor but differs from Pezzoni’s translated version for Sur.

Our first hypothesis is, therefore, that there aren’t at present two versions of Lolita in Spanish but three, since the differences are numerous and meaningful enough to allow us to speak of different texts altogether.

In the aforementioned afterword Nabokov paraphrases an anonymous critic and modifies his commentary: “an American critic suggested that Lolita was the record of my love affair with the romantic novel. The substitution ‘English Language’ for ‘romantic novel’ would make this elegant formula more correct” (Nabokov, 2000: 316), and in his Playboy interview of 1964 he says: “I have never been able to see any generic difference between poetry and artistic prose” (Nabokov, 1964). The statements only reinforce that which the novel itself makes clear: that style lies at the heart of the text. Lolita practices what Naboov makes the narrator say in The Real Life of Sebastian Knight: “The Prismatic Bezel can be thoroughly enjoyed once it is understood that the heroes of the book are what can be loosely called ‘methods of composition’” (Nabokov, 1941: 93). In his 1989 essay, Trevor McNeely says: “Lolita was written to prove a simple point in a complex way. The point is that style can do anything” (McNeely, 1989: 185). The alliteration in the first lines of the first chapter, the careful selection of names, the precision of imagery (“[…]the small globe suspended so high in the zenith of the powerful and graceful cosmos she had created for the express purpose of falling upon it with a clean resounding crack of her golden whip” (Nabokov, 2000: 231-232)), the subtle ornament (“picnic, lightning” (Nabokov, 2000: 10)), the metalinguistic oddities (“[…]where he lay –a banked banker so to speak– was not in a dead faint […]” (Nabokov, 2000: 98)), are only a few of the instances that testify to both the careful composition and the constant delight the author takes in a language that he feels close enough to produce literature in, and foreign enough to fascinate him.

If we accept that all translation implies an act of interpretation, that this “is generally confirmed by the fact that there are no two identical translations of the same text, not even when translated by the same translator at different times. Styles and aesthetic concerns vary according to the time, place, fashion and impositions” (Féliz Fernadez y Ortega Arjonilla, 1997: 38)[v], and that, as a result, “when it comes to literary translation, it can be nothing if not creative, as are all readings of a text” (Pezzoni, 1976: 124)[vi], then it is logical also to admit that a highly aesthetic novel will result in a wide spectrum of translation possibilities. Our second hypothesis is that the new translation by Roca, in which he appears as the only translator, must display novel solutions to the translation problems posed by the source text. All sustained similarities between his version and Pezzoni’s must be the result of the reading and “transference” of the first translation into the second one.

Contrastive analysis: the translations by Enrique Tejedor/Pezzoni

The following table shows some of the differences between Pezzoni’s version for Sur and the version published by Grijalbo since 1975 and Anagrama since 1986. Roca’s version is also included.

Nabokov Tejedor/Pezzoni for Sur Tejedor/Pezzoni in Grijalbo/Anagrama[1] Roca for Anagrama
There my beauty lay down on her stomach, showing me, showing the thousand eyes wide open in my eyed blood, her slightly raised shoulder blades, and the bloom along the incurvation of her spine, and the swellings of her tense narrow nates clothed in black, and the seaside of her schoolgirl thighs (42) Allí mi belleza se echó boca abajo, mostrándome, mostrando a los mil ojos desorbitados en mi sangre sus omóplatos ligeramente prominentes, y la pelusilla en la ondulación de su espinazo, y la turgencia de sus nalgas tensas y estrechas, vestidas de negro, y la intimidad de sus muslos de colegiala (45) Allí mi belleza se echó boca abajo, mostrándome, mostrando a los mil ojos desorbitados en mi sangre, sus omóplatos ligeramente prominentes, y la pelusilla en la ondulación de su espinazo…(45/51) Allí mi bella se echó boca abajo y me mostró, mostró a los mil ojos desorbitados abiertos en mi sangre palpitante, sus omóplatos ligeramente prominentes y la pelusilla en la ondulación de su espinazo, y también las prominencias que formaban sus estrechas y tensas nalgas vestidas de negro, y el interior de sus juveniles muslos (55)
…this mixture in my Lolita of tender dreamy childishness and a kind of eerie vulgarity, stemming from the snub-nosed cuteness of ads and magazine pictures, from the blurry pinkness of adolescent maidservants in the Old Country (smelling of crushed daisies and sweat); and from very young harlots disguised as children in provincial brothels (44) …esa mezcla que percibo en mi Lolita de tierna y soñadora puerilidad con la especie de vulgaridad descarada que emana de las chatas caras bonitas en anuncios y revistas, del confuso Rosado de las criadas adolescentes del viejo mundo (con su olor a sudor y margaritas estrujadas), de las rameras muy jóvenes, disfrazadas de niñas, en los burdeles provincianos. (47) …esa mezcla que percibo en mi Lolita de tierna y soñadora puerilidad, con la especie de vulgaridad descarada que emana de las chatas caras bonitas en anuncios y revistas, el confuso rosado de las criadas adolescentes del viejo mundo (con su olor a sudor y margaritas estrujadas). (47/53) …esa mezcla que percibo en mi Lolita de tierna y soñadora puerilidad y una especie de desconcertante vulgaridad. Una vulgaridad que me trae a la memoria muchos recuerdos: el de la pretenciosa elegancia de los anuncios y las fotografía de las revistas femeninas, sin duda, pero también el de las rechonchas y coloradotas adolescentes que trabajaban como criadas en mi viejo país, las cuales despedían un olor agrio a colonia barata y sudor, y el de las jovencísimas prostitutas vestidas de niña en los burdeles provincianos. (58)
and all the while keeping a maniac’s inner eye on my distant golden goal, I cautiously increased the magic friction that was doing away, in an illusional, if not factual, sense, with the physically irremovable, but psychologically very friable texture of the material divide (pajamas and robe) between the weight of two sunburnt legs, resting athwart my lap, and the hidden tumor of an unspeakable passion. (59) …y mientras tanto, fijando siempre una mirada interior de maniático en mi dorada meta, fui aumentando sigilosamente la fricción mágica que anulaba –en una sensación ilusoria, si no real- la contextura de la división material (pijama y bata), físicamente inamovible, pero psicológicamente desdeñable, entre el peso de dos piernas tostadas por el sol que descansaban atravesadas sobre mi regazo, y el tumor oculto de mi pasión indecible. (61) …y mientras tanto, fijando siempre una mirada interior de maniático en mi dorada meta, fui aumentando sigilosamente la proximidad. (61/68) …y mientras hacía todo esto, sin perder nunca de vista, con un maníaco ojo interior, mi distante y gloriosa meta, incrementé con la mayor cautela la mágica fricción que eliminaba de un modo ilusorio, ya que no podía ser real, la inamovible en lo físico, pero deleznable en lo psicológico, textura de la separación material (bata y pijama) entre el peso de dos piernas tostadas por el sol que descansaban al través sobre mi regazo y el oculto tumor de mi inconfesable pasión. (74)

There are full sections missing both in the 1975 Grijalbo edition and in the 1986 Anagrama edition, and the text has been modified to make sense without them. At the same time, there are minor differences between those editions. In the same paragraph from which the first extract is taken, Anagrama transforms “malla” into “traje de baño”, “armónicas más ásperas” into “efluvios más ásperos”, “en movimiento de inmediato” into “de inmediato en movimiento”. The phrase “mi virilidad”, which appears in the Sur version but is omitted in Grijalbo, becomes  “mi masculinidad” in Anagrama; “estera” becomes “esterilla”, “mamá paquidérmica”,  “paquidérmica mamá”. Grijalbo omits “el verde, rojo, azul Príapo” which Pezzoni does translate, and the omission persists in Anagrama. “Napas” is replaced by “manchas” and what is translated in the Sur edition as “mi gula” inexplicably becomes “mi guía” in the later editions.

The paragraph is indicative of the general treatment given to the original translation. The Grijalbo edition presents a first revision of Pezzoni’s text, which mutilates the original version so as to make it into a more decorous text (thus turning it, in a way, into a modern belle infidel). The Anagrama edition reproduces those modifications but also attempts to “neutralize” or, at least, de-regionalize the language, and adds minor stylistic changes. This information is not consigned anywhere in the editions considered. The translator is always Enrique Tejedor, but it seems unlikely that Pezzoni would accept these prudish changes both because he had no problem producing a much more explicit and faithful version sixteen years earlier, and because of his stance regarding neutral Spanish: “I believe a translator should dare to use the language if his community, with all its peculiarities, but setting himself a certain limit” (Pezzoni, 1976: 124-125)[vii].    

We must, therefore, speak of two (or even three) renditions of Lolita into Spanish attributed to Enrique Tejedor. The first one, published by Sur, is entirely the work and responsibility of Enrique Pezzoni. The second one and its modified version, published by Grijalbo and Anagrama respectively, are so only in part.

Contrastive analysis: the translations by Pezzoni and Roca

The tables show fragments from the first pages of Pezzoni’s translation for Sur and Roca’s translation for Anagrama, so as to highlight the main coincidences and differences.

Navokov Pezzoni for Sur Pezzoni in Grijalbo/Anagrama Roca for Anagrama
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. (9) Lolita, luz de mi vida, fuego de mis entrañas. Pecado mío, alma mía. (12) Lolita, luz de mi vida, fuego de mis entrañas. Pecado mío, alma mía. (11/15) Lolita, luz de mi vida, fuego de mis entrañas. Pecado mío, alma mía. (15)

The very first lines of the novel. Pezzoni makes use of hyperbaton to preserve the rhythm and symmetry of the original and to compensate the loss of alliteration (incidentally, this is the same strategy used by Nabokov in his translation of the novel into Russian). Roca’s version is identical.

Original Pezzoni for Sur Pezzoni in Grijalbo/Anagrama Roca for Anagrama
…in the morning standing four feet ten in one sock. (9) …por la mañana, un metro treinta de estatura con un pie descalzo.(12) …por la mañana, un metro cuarenta y ocho de estatura con pies descalzos. (11/15) …por la mañana, cuando estaba derecha, con su metro cuarenta y ocho de estatura, sobre un pie enfundado en un calcetín. (15)

Pezzoni makes use of a reasonable modulation (the perspective shifts from one foot to the other), while the first Grijalbo/Anagrama version distorts the meaning slightly (since Lolita is not fully barefooted in the original). Roca’s version attempts to correct the previous Anagrama edition but is a case of overtranslation (there is no need to know she’s standing straight and the phrase “enfundada en un calcetín” implies a heaviness that contradicts the spirit of the original formula: “in one sock – in slacks – on the dotted line”). The most accurate measurement is the one used in Grijalbo and Anagrama.

Original Pezzoni for Sur Pezzoni in Grijalbo/Anagrama Roca for Anagrama
About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. (9) Tantos años antes de que naciera Lolita como tenía yo ese verano. (12) Tantos años antes de que naciera Lolita como tenía yo ese verano. (11/15) Aquel verano faltaban para que naciera Lolita casi tantos años como los que tenía yo entonces. (15)

Pezzoni’s translation is literal while the terms are inverted in Roca’s. The strategy chosen by the latter eases comprehension but betrays the objective of the original (immediately after this the narrator adds: “You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style”).

Original Pezzoni for Sur Pezzoni in Grijalbo/Anagrama Roca for Anagrama
…with a dash of the Danube in his veins. I am going to pass around in a minute some lovely, glossy-blue picture-postcards. (9) …con una corriente del Danubio en las venas. Revisaré en un minuto algunas encantadoras postales de brillo azulino. (12) …con una corriente del Danubio en las venas. Revisaré en un minuto algunas encantadoras postales de brillo azulino/azulado  brillo. (11/16) …con un toque del Danubio en las venas. Revisaré en un minuto algunas encantadoras postales de azulado brillo. (16)

Pezzoni compensates the loss of alliteration in the first sentence by reinforcing the metaphoric image in a way that is appropriate to Humbert Humbert’s narrative voice. Roca’s literal rendition forgoes part of the aesthetic load. The second sentence in Roca is exactly the same as Pezzoni’s in Anagrama.

Original Pezzoni for Sur Pezzoni in Grijalbo/Anagrama Roca for Anagrama
My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lighting) when I was three (10) Mi madre, muy fotogénica, murió a causa de un curioso accidente (picnic, rayo) cuando tenía yo tres años (12) Mi madre, muy fotogénica, murió a causa de un absurdo accidente (un rayo durante un pic-nic) cuando tenía yo tres años (12/16) Mi madre, muy fotogénica, murió a causa de un absurdo accidente (un rayo durante un picnic) cuando tenía yo tres años (16)

The parenthesis may seem insubstantial but it comprises the only words Humbert will devote to his mother in the introduction.  It is true that Spanish prefers explicit linking of elements and “is characterized still by its greater depth or ‘syntactic density’ and its linking of adverbials” (Ayora, 1977: 111)[viii], but completing the phrase in this case diminishes the emotional, connotative value of the comment. Roca’s version is identical to the Grijalbo/Anagrama version, except for the change in spelling in the word “picnic”.

Original Pezzoni for Sur Pezzoni in Grijalbo/Anagrama Roca for Anagrama
…or suddenly entered and traversed by the rambler, at the bottom of a hill, in the summer dusk; a furry warmth, golden midges.(10) …o súbitamente invadido y atravesado por las trepadoras, al pie de una colina, en la penumbra estival; sedosa tibieza, doradas mosquitas. (13) … o súbitamente invadido y atravesado por las trepadoras, al pie de una colina, en la penumbra estival; sedosa tibieza, dorados moscardones. (12/16) … o súbitamente invadido y atravesado por las trepadoras, al pie de una colina, en la penumbra estival; llenos de sedosa tibieza y de dorados moscardones. (16)

Pezzoni’s translation is particularly creative and idiosyncratic. “Penumbra estival” for “summer dusk” is a correct, precise and elegant option but it is certainly not the most obvious one. There is, as well, a curious “transposition”, not of syntactic categories but of texture: “furry” becomes “sedosa”. Roca’s version reproduces all of Pezzoni’s choices.

Original Pezzoni for Sur Pezzoni in Grijalbo/Anagrama Roca for Anagrama
She wrote poetry. (10) Omisión Omisión/Escribía poemas. (12/16) Escribía poemas. (16)

Anagrama corrects an undesired omission in Pezzoni’s version, overlooked also by Grijalbo.

Original Pezzoni for Sur Pezzoni in Grijalbo/Anagrama Roca for Anagrama
Around me the splendid Hotel Mirana revolved as a kind of private universe, a whitewashed cosmos within the blue grater one that blazed outside. From the aproned pot-scrubber to the flanneled potentate, everybody liked me, everybody petted me. Elderly American ladies leaning on their canes listed toward me like towers of Pisa. Ruined Russian princesses who could not pay my father, bought me expensive bonbons. (10) En torno a mí, el espléndido Hotel Mirana giraba como una especie de universo privado, un cosmos blanqueado dentro del otro más vasto y azul que resplandecía fuera de él. Desde la fregona de delantal hasta el potentado de franela, todos gustaban de mí, todos me mimaban. Maduras damas norteamericanas se apoyaban en sus bastones y se inclinaban hacia mí como torres de Pisa. Princesas rusas arruinadas que no podían pagar a mi padre me compraban bombones caros. (13) En torno a mí, la espléndida mansión Mirana/el espléndido Hotel Mirana giraba como una especie de universo privado, un cosmos blanqueado dentro del otro más vasto y azul que resplandecía fuera de él. Desde la fregona de delantal hasta el potentado de franela, todos gustaban de mí, todos me mimaban. Maduras damas norteamericanas se apoyaban en sus bastones y se inclinaban hacia mí como torres de Pisa. Princesas rusas arruinadas que no podían pagar a mi padre me compraban bombones caros. (12/17) En torno a mí, el espléndido Hotel Mirana giraba como una especie de universo privado, un cosmos blanqueado dentro del otro más vasto y azul que resplandecía fuera de él. Desde la fregona que llevaba delantal hasta el potentado vestido con traje de franela, a todos caía bien, todos me mimaban. Maduras damas norteamericanas se apoyaban en sus bastones y se inclinaban hacia mí como torres de Pisa. Princesas rusas arruinadas que no podían pagar a mi padre me compraban bombones caros. (17)

This more extensive excerpt shows how Pezzoni’s and Roca’s translations coincide almost entirely. The only differences are the addition of two verbs and the paraphrase “a todos caía bien”.

Original Pezzoni for Sur Pezzoni in Grijalbo/Anagrama Roca for Anagrama
and some interesting reactions on the part of my organism to certain photographs, pearl and umbra, with infinitely soft partings, in Pinchon’s sumptuous La Beauté Humaine that I had filched from under a mountain of marble-bound Graphics in the hotel library. (11) y ciertas interesantes reacciones de mi organismo ante determinadas fotografías, perla y sombra, con hendiduras infinitamente suaves, en el suntuoso La Beauté Humaine, de Pinchon, que había hurtado de bajo  una pila de Gráficoss, encuadernados en papel jaspeado, en la biblioteca del hotel. (17) y ciertas interesantes reacciones de mi organismo ante determinadas fotografías, nácar y sombras, con hendiduras infinitamente suaves, en el suntuoso La Beauté Humaine, de Pinchon, que había hurtado de bajo una/encontrado debajo de una pila de Graphics, encuadernados en papel jaspeado, en la biblioteca de la mansión/del hotel. (13/17) y ciertas interesantes reacciones de mi organismo ante determinadas fotografías, nácar y sombras, con hendiduras infinitamente suaves, en el suntuoso La beauté humaine, de Pinchon, que había encontrado debajo de una pila de Graphics, encuadernados en papel jaspeado, en la biblioteca del hotel. (17)

Again, Roca’s translation is identical to the one published by Anagrama and credited to Tejedor, which reproduces the changes made to the original by Grijalbo and adds a few more. In the paragraph that includes this selection, and which is over two hundred words long, there are only six differences between the old Anagrama edition and Roca’s new version (“iba” instead of “asistía”, “kilómetros” instead of “millas”, “sacaba muy buenas notas” instead of “obtenía excelentes calificaciones”, “la rosaleda” instead of “el rosal”, “habría” instead of “habríamos”, “a quien recurrir” instead of “con quien consolarme”).

Original Pezzoni for Sur Pezzoni in Grijalbo/Anagrama Roca for Anagrama
and the other when you instantly evoke, with shut eyes, on the dark innerside of your eyelids, the objective absolutely optical replica of a beloved face… (11) con la otra evocamos, instantáneamente, con los ojos cerrados, en la oscura intimidad de los párpados, el objetivo, réplica absolutamente óptica de un rostro amado… (14) con la otra evocamos, instantáneamente, a ojos cerrados, en la oscura intimidad de los párpados, el objetivo, réplica absolutamente óptica de un rostro amado… (13/18) con la otra evocamos, de manera instantánea, con los ojos cerrados, tras la oscura intimidad de los párpados, nuestro objetivo, réplica absoluta, desde un punto de vista óptico, de un rostro amado…(18)

Roca’s version coincides with Pezzoni in the use of the phrase “oscura intimidad”, despite there being nothing in “innerside” that might lead one directly to the notion of “intimidad”. The choice is creative and subjective. At the same time, Roca’s version perpetuates the transposition (possibly unfounded) that Pezzoni resorts to in “objective”. The word seems to function as an adjective in the original, not as a noun. The differences between versions are limited to the change of an adverb that ends in –mente for the alternative phrase “de manera” plus and adjective, and the paraphrase “desde un punto de vista óptico”.

The coincidences between editions become less pronounced as the novel advances, but Pezzoni’s text consistently underlies Roca’s[2]. The fragments selected attempt to show that the relationship between these versions is not altogether different from the one that has been shown to exist through the first analysis: Francesc Roca’s version is not an autonomous translation but a hybrid text that takes the revised and censored version of Pezzoni’s translation as a guide and tries, above all else, to recover the missing segments.

Conclusion

The modified versions of Pezzoni’s translation published by Grijalbo and Anagrama make no explicit mention of the changes undergone by text, leaving the reader with the wrong impression not only of the original novel but of the ability and work ethic of its translator. Pezzoni always aimed to reinvent the visions of the world as they appeared in the original in his own versions (Pezzoni, 1976: 124), but the numerous omissions present in those later editions necessarily hinder said recreation. It is unfortunate that it should be those editions that have circulated for so many decades among Spanish speakers, and that they should be the ones that the average reader associates with Enrique Pezzoni.

Literary retranslation is an enriching activity and, in many cases, a necessary one.  Enrique Pezzoni’s translation for Sur is not flawless. Lolita dies giving birth to a boy (8) instead of a girl, Humbert goes to a “psicópata” (9) instead of to a psychopathologist, and the reader doesn’t find out that Humbert was born in Paris (12), nor that Aunt Sybil wrote poetry (13). No translation is perfect, and mistakes and minor oversights are an expected corollary of the way in which translators are made to work: “the underpaid translator must, in general, keep to rather rigid deadlines and, in order to make a living, has no other option than to accumulate translations and reduce the time he devotes to each one” (Pezzoni, 1976: 126)[ix].  Second translations shine a light on obscurities present in previous renditions and bring new life to the original in the target language; “translations age, and to keep fulfilling their communicative functions new translations must be made, so that they again connect to the readership” (Hurtado Albir, 2010)[x].

The new edition of Lolita in Spanish holds the inscription “Traducción de Francesc Roca”. Pezzoni´s pseudonym has been obliterated, but the text could not exist without him. For Antoine Berman “retranslation is done for the original and against preexisting translations” (Berman, 2014: 116)[xi], but in the second section of this analysis we have tried to show that Roca’s translation was not done “against” but “on top of” Pezzoni’s version and its later anonymous revisions. When in his article “Música y sentido: las aliteraciones” for the translation journal El Trujamán Mario Grande references the opening of Lolita and writes “In the Spanish translation Francesc Roca (2002) translates it as ‘entrañas’”[xii], Grande ignores the fact that Pezzoni had already translated the term as “entrañas” in 1959. He takes for granted that all the indispensible information concerning the translation of the novel is included in the book it is in, and said book makes no reference to its first Spanish translator.

Pezzoni’s translation is the result of the talent, technique and expertise of a particular translator at a particular point in time. It is right for flaws to be mended in later editions, but it is also right for those editions to highlight the virtues of that previous translation. Giving visibility to the translation history of a novel is paramount if we are ever to find a solution to the problem that Pezzoni already identified as most troubling and prevalent in the life of the literary translator back in 1976; the lack of recognition as creator to which he is subject (Pezzoni, 1976:125).

[1] For the sake of legibility, and since the differences between the Grijalbo and Anagrama editions in the case of the selected fragments are minor, they are presented in the same column, with their corresponding page numbers. In cases where the editions differ in their lexical choices, the terms are presented in the following order: Grijalbo/Anagrama.

[2] See first table.

[i] “[…] abundante y en extremo polémica historia crítica”. (Ocampo, 1959)

[ii] “Dilucidar si es justa o no la prohibición de Lolita no me parece menos baladí que condenar la novela porque nos cuenta los amores de una niña con un hombre maduro. ¿Estamos espiando por el agujero de una cerradura o somos lectores lúcidos y conscientes de la ficción literaria? Por mi parte, quisiera decir desde ahora que no veo en Lolita otra cosa que eso: una obra de ficción cuya arquitectura es de una destreza tal que no podemos sino acceder a ella. Quien tenga una idea, siquiera difusa, de lo que es la pornografía, no pensará un instante en asociar con ella a Lolita.” (Pezzoni, 1959: 69)

[iii] “[…] evitar la persecución pretendidamente justiciera de los guardianes de la moral literaria, que nunca son los guardianes del buen decir, sino los peleles fantasmáticos de la estupidez”. (Panesi, 1989: 5)

[iv] “[…] su traducción de Lolita se mantuvo durante años como la puerta más transitada por la que el mundo hispanohablante entró al universo de Nabokov”. (Tullio, 2014: 6)

[v] “[…] existe una constatación general de ello en el aserto de que no hay dos traducciones iguales de un mismo texto ni siquiera de un mismo traductor en dos tiempos distintos. Estilos y estéticas varían según épocas y lugares, modas e imposiciones”.  (Féliz Fernadez y Ortega Arjonilla, 1997: 38)

[vi] “[…]  en materia de traducción literaria esta no puede ser sino creativa, como lo es toda lectura de un texto”.  (Pezzoni, 1976: 124)

[vii] “Creo que el traductor debe atreverse a usar la lengua de su comunidad, con todas sus peculiaridades pero fijándose un límite”.  (Pezzoni, 1976: 124-125)

[viii] “[…] se caracteriza todavía por su mayor profundidad o ‘densidad sintáctica’ y por el enlace de ‘circunstantes’”. (Ayora, 1977: 111)

[ix] “El mal pagado traductor por lo general debe cumplir con plazos más o menos rígidos, y para ganarse la vida no puede sino acumular traducciones y reducir el tiempo que puede destinar a cada una”. (Pezzoni, 1976: 126)

[x] “Las traducciones envejecen y, para seguir cumpliendo con su función comunicativa, se efectúan nuevas traducciones para acercarlas a los lectores”. (Hurtado Albir, 2010)

[xi] “La re-traducción se realiza para el original y en contra de sus traducciones existentes”. (Berman, 2014: 116)

[xii] “En la traducción al castellano Francesc Roca (2002) lo traduce como ‘entrañas’”. (Grande, 2017)

Bibliografía 

Fuentes:

Nabokov, Vladimir (1959). Lolita. Trad. de Enrique Tejedor. Buenos Aires: Sur.

Nabokov, Vladimir (1961). Lolita. Trad. de Enrique Tejedor. Buenos Aires: Sur.

Nabokov, Vladimir (1980). Lolita. Trad. de Enrique Tejedor. Barcelona: Grijalbo.

Nabokov, Vladimir (1999). Lolita. Trad. de Enrique Tejedor. Barcelona: Anagrama.

Nabokov, Vladimir (2016). Lolita. Trad. de Francesc Roca. Barcelona: Anagrama.

Nabokov, Vladimir y Appel, Alfred Jr. (2000). The Annotated Lolita. Londres: Penguin Books.

Bibliografía específica:

Berman, Antoine (2014). La traducción y la letra o el albergue de lo lejano. Trad. de Ignacio Rodriguez [La Traduction et la lettre ou l’Auberge du lointain, 1999]. Buenos Aires: Dedalus.

Félix Fernández, Leandro y Ortega Arjonilla, Emilio (eds.) (1997). Estudios sobre traducción e interpretación. Málaga: Centro de ediciones de la Diputación de Málaga.

Grande, Mario (2017). Música y sentido: las aliteraciones. El Trujamán, https://cvc.cervantes.es/trujaman/anteriores/abril_17/28042017.htm [2/11/2017].

Hurtado Albir, Amaro y Hector Pavón (2010). Amparo Hurtado Albir: “Las traducciones envejecen”. Revista Ñ, http://edant.revistaenie.clarin.com/notas/2010/05/19/_-02197474.htm [2/11/2017].

McNeely, Trevor (1989). “Lo” and Behold: Solving the “Lolita” Riddle. Studies in the Novel, 21:2, 182-199, http://www.jstor.org/stable/29532635 [2/11/2017].

Nabokov, Vladimir (1941). The Real Life of Sebastian Knight. Nueva York: Vintage.

Nabokov, Vladimir (1989). Vladimir Nabokov: Selected Letters 1940-197, Nueva York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Nabokov, Vladimir y Alfred Appel, Jr. (1967). An Interview with Vladimir Nabokov. Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature, 8- 2, Winsconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 127-152, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1207097 [26/10/2017].

Nabokov, Vladimir y Alvin Toffler (1964). Playboy Interview: Vladimir Nabokov. Playboy, 20-45. http://reprints.longform.org/playboy-interview-vladimir-nabokov [2/11/2017]

Ocampo, Victoria et al. (1959). Crónicas: el caso “Lolita”. Sur, 260, 44-75.

P.E.N, Comité de Traducción (1970). Manifiesto sobre la traducción. Trad. de Jaime Rest. Sur (1976), 338-339, 204-212.

Panesi, Jorge (1989). Enrique Pezzoni: profesor de literatura. Filología, 24 1-2, 5-10.

Pezzoni, Enrique (1976). El oficio de traducir. Sur, 338-339, 124-126.

Pezzoni, Enrique (1976). El oficio de traducir. Sur, 338-339, 124-126.

Tullio, Damián (2014). La angustia de la elección imposible: el contexto de la traducción de Lolita de Enrique Pezzoni para la editorial Sur. VI Congreso Internacional de Letras: Transformaciones culturales. Debates de la teoría, la crítica y la lingüística. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires.

Vázquez-Ayora, Gerardo (1977), Introducción a la traductología. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

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