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Romanian readers have always been fascinated by foreign literatures, and, when they have not been able to gain access to the original versions of their masterpieces, they eagerly read them in translation to their native tongue. In particular, during the Communist regime — when the borders were practically closed and people could not travel, there was no internet, and Western publications and films were scarce and circulated clandestinely– foreign literature written by contemporary Western authors was the only window open to forbidden and fascinating world outside of the Iron Curtain. (One needed to have lived at that time in Romania in order to understand the interminable lines at the bookstores where the translation of a foreign book was about to be brought, and the fact that an effective bribe, in the intellectual milieu, could be an out of print copy of a translated book by an important foreign writer.)
Besides, Romanians have always felt a special attraction to the literature written in Spanish, because they have always identified with this language (Romanian, like Spanish, is a Latin language) and have taken pride in the fact that the Roman emperor who conquered Dacia (present-day Romania) in 101 A.D. was no other than Trajan, who was born in Italica, a town in the vicinity of Seville, Spain. However, Spanish was not a language widely known in Romania, where the traditional foreign languages studied in school were French, German, English and (mandatorily, for many years) Russian, so translations from Spanish, with their touch of exoticism, appealed to an even wider readership than those from the other languages mentioned.
It should come as no surprise, then, that starting with the early sixties, after the University of Bucharest created a five year study program in Spanish (practically equivalent to an MA), and graduated the first cohorts of Romanian experts in Spanish language, literature and culture (one of whom is speaking to you right now) that the translations from Spanish into Romanian, sporadic until then, picked up speed and became an instant best-seller.
It was the time of the Latin American Boom, so its only natural that Carlos Fuentes, one of its protagonists, became one of the first Mexican writers to be translated to Romanian. La muerte de Artemio Cruz was published in Romanian in 1969, the same year that Los de abajo, by Mariano Azuela, was published, and just one year before Pedro Pramo and El llano en llamas by Juan Rulfo, appeared (in 1970). Moartea lui Artemio Cruz, as the title sounds in Romanian, was translated by Venera Mihudana Dimulescu and published by Editura pentru Literatur? Universal?, one of the most prestigious publishing houses in the country, specializing, as its name indicates, in disseminating the world literature in Romanian. As it was customary at that time, the translation was checked and endorsed by another expert, in this case, the University of Bucharest Professor of Latin American Literature Paul Alexandru Georgescu, who also wrote an extensive introductory study about the author and his work, entitled Via?a ?i moartea lui Artemio Cruz sau dialectica destinului( which translates into English as: The Life and Death of Artemio Cruz, Or the Destinys Dialectic). Paul Alexandru Georgescu had previously presented a paper, based on this topic, at the second triennial congress of the International Association of Hispanists, in Mexico City (1968), which was published in the Conference Proceedings; some years later, he published another study, on Fuentess narrative technique, in a collection of scholarly articles written by several faculty members of the Spanish Department at the University of Bucharest, entitled Stil ?i compozitie n romanul hispano-american de azi (Style and Composition in Todays Spanish-American Novel) (University of Bucharest Press, 1976). Paul Alexandru Georgescu included both essays in his book 1979 book, Literatura hispano-american? n lumin? sistematic? (The Spanish-American Literature from a Systemic Perspective), later on translated into Spanish and published in Spain. In this way, Paul Alexandru Georgescu (with whom my colleagues and I studied for several weeks La regin ms transparente, in a seminar on Latin-American masterpieces) can be considered the first Romanian critic of Fuentess work in the seventies, and I can assure you that he was both perceptive and sophisticated, as well as a fervent admirer of the Mexican master.
Other translations of, and critical comments, on Fuentess works in Romania appeared in the seventies in the journal Secolul 20, a book-length monthly publication of comparative literature sponsored by the Romanian Writers National Association, which introduced all the big names of the world literature to the Romanian audience, and was considered of such high quality that, in 1987, it earned an UNESCO award as the best journal on literature and the arts in the world. In 1973, Andrei Ionescu, another well-known Romanian Hispanist (who was also my professor, and then my colleague at the University of Bucharest) published in Secolul 20 (8-9) the play Todos los gatos son pardos, under the modified title of Corts ?i Moctezuma, and in 1975, in the same journal (5-6), long extracts from Timpo mexicano, under the title of Mexicul ?i recuperarea utopiei (eseu). In the same issue (5-6/1975), Cristina Isb??escu, who is currently an emerita Professor of Spanish at a University in Paris, published a translation of the short novel Fortuna lo que ha querido under the modified title of Linia vie?ii (The Life Line). As for the play, Andrei Ionescu also published it in a volume, in 1974, at the Publishing House Univers (the new name of the former Publishing House for World literature). To the best of my knowledge, no new translation of Fuentes was published in Romanian in the eighties, one of the most difficult and dark decades in that countrys recent history.
However, after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which paved the way toward a new, democratic Romania, Romanians eventually rediscovered the pleasure of reading (although the introduction of the internet made some serious inroads in this traditional pastime, in Romania as everywhere else), and the intellectual elite renewed its interest in Latin-American authors, particularly in Octavio Paz, who had won the Nobel Prize three years later, and, surprisingly, was relatively little known in Romania before the nineties, and in Carlos Fuentes, who, among other distinctions, had earned the Cervantes Prize in 1987.
So, in 1998, the Publishing House Univers printed the Romanian edition of Gringo viejo, under the title of B?trnul gringo, an excellent annotated translation by Maria-Gabriela Neche?.

But it was the past ten years that have been the most prolific for the translation of many important works by Fuentes into Romanian (although several of his masterpieces remain to be translated). The list that follows demonstrates this point. In 2002, Cornelia R?dulescu (a former student of mine at the University of Bucharest) published Instinctul lui Inez (Instinto de Inez) at the Publishing House Humanitas in Bucharest. In 2003, Horia Barna (who is currently the director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in Madrid) published Diana sau zei?a solitar? a vn?torii (the Romanian title of Diana o la cazadora solitaria), at the same Humanitas Publishing House. In 2004, Horia Barna published Jil?ul vulturului (La silla del guila), at Curtea Veche Publishing, with an epilogue by C?lin-Andrei Mih?ilescu, another of my former students, who is currently a professor of Spanish Literature at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. In this essay, Professor Mih?ilescu compares Fuentes with Thomas Mann and Goethe, as far as their prolific and voracious encyclopedic writings are concerned, and concludes that Fuentes is un scriitor inevitabil (he means an essential writer of our times, but he uses the more expressive adjective of unavoidable).
The year 2005 saw the publication, at the same Curtea Veche Publishing, of Fuentess essays in memory of his son, under the title Crezul meu (a free Romanian translation of En esto creo). The translator was Simona ?ora, and the book included another essay by the already mentioned Canadian-Romanian Professor, C?lin-Andrei Mih?ilescu. 2006 was the year in which Constancia appeared in Cornelia R?dulescus translation at the Humanitas Publishing House, in the collection Cartea de pe noptier? (The Bedside Book Collection). In 2007 Romanian bookstores offered even more choices to Carlos Fuentess fans: in addition to a second edition of Gringo Viejo, under the title of B?trnul gringo, by Maria-Gabriela Neche? (Univers), and a revised edition of Andrei Ionescus Romanian version of Todos los gatos son pardos (Bucharest, the ART Publishing Group), there was an excellent annotated translation, with numerous cultural footnotes, of Inquieta compaa; the translator was again Andrei Ionescu, and the Romanian title under which the book appeared is O companie nelini?titoare (Humanitas Publishing House).(It is needless to mention that the book was received with heightened interest, among other reasons, because it includes Vlad, a contemporary Latin-American version of the Dracula myth, which is based on the historical figure of the Wallachian prince Vlad ?epe?).
To date, the most recent annotated translations into Romanian are those of Todas las familias felices and La voluntad y la fortuna. The former was translated by Eugenia Alexe Munteanu with the title of Toate familiile fericite (Curtea Veche Publishing, 2010) and the latter La voluntad y la fortuna, with the Romanian title of Voin?a ?i norocul, just appeared under the imprint of the same publishing house, at the end of 2011, in a translation by Horia Barna.[It is my understanding that this publisher is currently planning a new edition of La muerte de Artemio Cruz, but I have no information regarding when this is supposed to happen.]
It is apparent that Fuentes is a very popular author among the Romanian readers, and I can attest that even today, when access to all printed items is much easier than in the past, his books, like those of Garca Mrquez, another favorite of the public, are selling like hot cakes, as the American saying goes. The same is true of translations of works by other Mexican writers, since the public has developed a taste for this literature and demands more and more. Just as a matter of information, in 2008 Arrncame la vida, by ngeles Mastretta (translated by my friend Tudora ?andru-Mehedin?i, who spoke a few years ago here at Cal State about the reception of the Hispanic literature in Romania) and Domar a la divina garza, by Sergio Pitol, translated by Mona ?epeneag, were great best-sellers, while Love parade, by Sergio Pitol, in Irina Dogarus translation, was a hit in 2010.
Even if translators, sometimes, take some liberties with the originals (as is actually customary in the process of rendering any literary text into another language), they do not betray the spirit of the work - they are not traduttore, tradittore as the old Italian adage goes. As a translator myself from the Spanish literature of the 19th and 20th century into Romanian, I can attest to the fact that all the changes my fellow translators make are simply meant for the words to sound better in the new language. Overall, in my opinion, all the translations of Fuentess works into Romanian are of high quality and do justice to the great Mexican writer.
To conclude, I am including (for cross-linguistic comparison purposes) a short passage from Todos los gatos son pardos in Romanian. I have selected parts of Marinas monologue, in the first scene. Here is the Spanish original:
Malintzin, Malintzin, MalintzinMarina, Marina, MarinaMalinche, Malinche, MalincheAy!, a dnde ir? Nuestro mundo se acaba. Ay!, a dnde ir? Acaso la nica casa de todos sea la casa de los que ya no tienen cuerpo, la casa de los muertos, en el interior del cielo; o acaso esta misma tierra es ya, y siempre ha sido, la casa de los muertos. Ay! Totalmente nos vamos, totalmente nos vamos. Nadie perdura en la tierra! Alegrmonos!… Malintzin, Malintzin, MalintzinMarina, Marina, MarinaMalinche, Malinche, MalincheTres fueron tus nombres, mujer: el que te dieron tus padres, el que te dio tu amante y el que te dio tu pueblo
Diosa, amante o madre, yo viv esta historia y puedo contarla.No es sino la historia de dos hombres: uno lo tena todo y su nombre era Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, Gran Tlatoani de Mxico; el otro nada tena y su nombre era Fernando Corts, pequeo capitn y pequeo hidalgo de Espaa.Yo viv esta historia y puedo contarla.No es sino la historia de dos historias: la de una nacin que dud demasiado y la de otra nacin que dud demasiado poco. Malinzin, Marina, Malinche: yo fui la partera de esta historia, porque primero fui la diosa que la imagin, luego la amante que recibi su semilla y finalmente la madre que la pari.Diosa, Malintzin; puta, Marina; madre, Malinche.
And here is the Romanian version of this part of the monologue:
Malintzin, Malintzin, MalintzinMarina, Marina, MarinaMalinche, Malinche, MalincheVai! Unde s? m? duc? Lumea noastra se sfr?e?te.Vai! Unde s? m? duc? Poate c? singura cas? unde mai putem g?si ad?post este casa celor care nu mai au trup,casa mor?ilor, sus n cer; sau poate chiar p?mntul acesta a devenit, ?i a fost ntotdeauna, casa mor?ilor. Vai! Plec?m pentru totdeauna, plec?m pentru totdeauna. Nimeni nu tr?ie?te o ve?nicie pe p?mnt. S? ne bucur?m. Malintzin, Malintzin, MalintzinMarina, Marina, MarinaMalinche, Malinche, MalincheTrei nume ai purtat, femeie: cel pe care ?i l-au dat p?rin?ii, cel pe care ?i l-a dat iubitul ?i cel pe care ?i l-a dat neamul t?u.
Zei??, iubit? sau mam?, eu am tr?it aceast? istorie ?i pot s-o povestesc. Nu este dect istoria a doi oameni: unul avea tot, ?i numele lui era Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, Mare Tlatoani al Mexicului; cel?lalt nu avea nimic, ?i numele lui era Ferando Corts, un nensemnat c?pitan ?i biet hidalgo spaniol.Am tr?it aceast? istorie ?i pot s-o povestesc. Nu este dect istoria a dou? istorii: istoria unei na?iuni care s-a ndoit prea mult ?i istoria unei na?iuni care s-a ndoit prea pu?in. Malintzin, Marina, Malinche: eu am fost moa?a acestei istorii, fiindca mai nti am fost zei?a care a imaginat-o, apoi ibovnica ce i-a primit s?mn?a ?i, n sfr?it, mama care a n?scut-o. Zei?a, Malintzin; trfa, Marina; mama, Malinche.

Domnita Dumitrescu
Professor of Spanish Linguistics
College of Arts and Letters
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
King Hall D -3086
(323) 343- 4235
Fax (323) 343-4234 or (323) 343-2670

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