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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

La traducción

Pablo De Santis

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To purchase La traducción

Title: La traducción
Author: Pablo De Santis
Genre: Novel
Written: 1998
Length: 200 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: La traducción - US
La traduction - France
Die Übersetzung - Deutschland
  • La traducción has not yet been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B : decent little cerebral-literary thriller

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 5/2/2001 Sebastian Domsch
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 22/2/2001 Martin Ebel

  From the Reviews:
  • "Pablo De Santis treibt mit seinen Lesern ein Versteckspiel, das sich sowohl aus Elementen der Kriminalgeschichte als auch aus literarischen und mythischen Anspielungen zusammensetzt. Den intellektuellen Mehrwert liefern sprachphilosophische Reflexionen, eingestreut in Diskussionen und Vorträge, die zwischen überraschenden Erhellungen und esoterischen Verdunklungen schwanken. So wie die Todesopfer des Buches spielt auch De Santis mit dem Feuer. Er schreibt ironisch über esoterische Theorien und geht ihnen schließlich doch auf den Leim." - Sebastian Domsch, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       La traducción is narrated by Miguel De Blast, an Argentine translator (from the Russian and French), who here recounts what happened at the translation-conference in the out-of-the-way coastal resort of Puerto Esfinge he was invited to five years earlier. Miguel turned forty at the conference; more or less happily married he nevertheless didn't, for example, mention to his wife that one of the other invited guests was an old flame, Ana; another was the rival he lost her to, Naum (though their affair was only a brief one, and both have meanwhile moved on).
       The conference was cobbled together by the well-meaning Julio Kuhn, but from the start he had trouble keeping things under control. The translators too were a rather hapless lot: as Miguel notes, they all really had little to do with one another professionally (each dealing with publishers and the like, but not other translators). Puerto Esfinge was also not especially welcoming -- more would-be than actual resort, it never having quite caught on, with even the hotel where the conference was held only half finished, the funds to complete it having run out --, and the weather poor; the dead sea lions on the beach didn't make it much more inviting, either.
       Things went wrong from the get-go, and when the first scheduled speaker was a no-show Miguel stepped in; like all the lectures, his was only a partial success. Then the bodies started showing up -- and the question was: are they suicides or murders ? A tell-tale coin was found with each victim, suggesting a connection, and while there were indications of suicide other evidence pointed to their being driven to it.
       De Santis weaves a mystery around translation, the conference allowing him to bring various ideas and theories about language and translation into play. Among the most interesting presenters was a neurologist who came with a patient in tow: the patient suffered a brain injury that left him compelled to translate everything, even language that he did not understand. Then there was that mysterious language in circulation among some of those in attendance; it was too much for this compulsive translating patient -- and, apparently, the others too.
       With references ranging from John Dee and Marsilio Ficino to the obligatory Borges, De Santis weaves in alchemy and myth along with the entirely conventional -- the local newspaper reporter trying to get the story, the local police and their limited investigative zeal -- as well as Miguel's mix of feelings around his old flame and the rival who had had a so much more successful career than he had. The mundane balances what literary theory and exposition there is well (and among the best bits of the novel is the almost incidental explanation of what's behind the mini-epidemic of sea lion deaths).
       La traducción works quite well as literary thriller; if anything, De Santis rushes through it all a bit too hurriedly: given all the layers he peels away, more exposition (and more game-playing) would have been welcome. Still, it offers the necessary mystery-satisfaction, as well as some enjoyable literary play.

- M.A.Orthofer, 31 October 2010

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La traducción: Reviews: Other books by Pablo De Santis under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Argentinian author Pablo De Santis was born in 1963.

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