By Jose Asuncion Silva

Misplaced in a shipwreck in 1895, rewritten earlier than the author's suicide in 1896, and never released until eventually 1925, Jose Asuncion Silva's "After-Dinner dialog" (De sobremesa) is one in every of Latin America's best fin de siecle novels and the 1st one to be translated into English. maybe the one most sensible paintings for figuring out turn-of-the-twentieth-century writing in South the US, "After-Dinner dialog" is additionally mentioned because the continent's first mental novel and a great instance of modernista fiction and the Decadent sensibility. Semi-autobiographical and extra very important for variety than plot, "After-Dinner dialog" is the diary of a Decadent sensation-collector in exile in Paris who undertakes a quest to discover his loved Helen, a imaginative and prescient whom his fevered mind's eye sees as his salvation.Along the way in which, he struggles with irreconcilable urges and temptations that pull him in each path whereas he endures an atmosphere detached or opposed to religious and highbrow objectives, as did the modernista writers themselves. Kelly Washbourne's very good translation preserves Silva's lush prose and experimental sort. within the creation, probably the most wide-ranging in Silva feedback, Washbourne areas the lifestyles and paintings of Silva of their literary and ancient contexts, together with a longer dialogue of the way "After-Dinner dialog" matches inside Spanish American modernismo and the Decadent circulation. Washbourne's perceptive reviews and notes additionally make the radical obtainable to normal readers, who will locate the paintings strangely clean greater than a century after its composition.

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Additional resources for After-Dinner Conversation: The Diary of a Decadent (Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture)

Example text

The question arises: Why use the metaphor of the “nerves” to represent aristocracy? Part of the answer lies in that, discursively, the sick individual is seen as someone outside the order of things, alone, unique; nerves, then, are intimate, alienating, the barometer of excess. The reality of illness, however, cannot be fully contained by the metaphor. Inevitable dissatisfaction contributed to suffering that had nothing metaphorical about it: the anhedonia and listlessness (“neurasthenia”), the hypochondria and anxiety of the times—and at the extremes, nihilism and despair.

A true hunting party through cultivated fields, leafless vineyards, the fox at our heels and the dog behind the fox; shotgun at the ready, amidst a cloud of partridges that suddenly rises, and warrens of scampering hares; the true exhausting hunt, in which all one’s sorrows, all one’s worries are forgotten, and for which one is as passionate as for a game of baccarat. After dinner— one of those dinners with only men in attendance—in which there is hard drinking, the putting of elbows on the tablecloths amidst heated arguments through cigarette and pipe smoke, the subtle aroma of coffee and the strong emanations of alcohol, Pedro de Entreves began talking about all that was inexplicable that arose in life, of the marvelous, the hidden, with which we have such frequent brushes, of the mysteries in which we are made anxious as if in a lake of dark shadows, of the sickly TRANSLATOR’S INTRODUCTION 19 attraction that mystical journeys to the beyond hold for restless spirits, of the accursed sciences, of colloquies with the invisible, and in these times of unbelief, of calculated or brutal debunkings, which have given me something akin to a soul from the [from Cuentos negros] Middle Ages.

So to consider this edition (as all translations are editions) from the vantage point of skopos, or purpose, we recognize that for one type of translation user this version is cumbersome or somehow “impure,” but for another this hypercultural, highly allusive, and self-contradictory novel could have been well served only by an annotated text, particularly for an academic setting. 70 So, a tentative conclusion would be that we can never read After-Dinner Conversation exactly how De sobremesa was read; the work has to be doubly translated—linguistically and culturally.

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