I clearly recall the day I first became truly aware of myself, I mean of myself as something that everything else was not. As a boy I liked best those dead intervals of the year when one season had ended and the next had not yet begun, and all was grey and hushed and still, and out of the stillness and the hush something would seem to approach me, some small, soft, tentative thing, and offer itself to my attention. This day of which I speak I was walking along the main street of the town. It was November, or March, not cold, but neutral. From a lowering sky fine rain was falling, so fine as to be hardly felt. It was morning, and the housewives were out, with their shopping bags and headscarves. A questing dog trotted busily past me looking neither to right nor left, following a straight line drawn invisibly on the pavement. There was a smell of smoke and butcher’s meat, and a brackish smell of the sea, and, as always in the town in those days, the faint sweet stench of pig-swill. The open doorway of a hardware shop breathed brownly at me as I went past. Taking in all this, I experienced something to which the only name I could give was happiness, although it was not happiness, it was more and less than happiness. What had occurred? What in that commonplace scene before me, the ordinary sights and sounds and smells of the town, had made this unexpected thing, whatever it was, burgeon suddenly inside me like the possibility of an answer to all the nameless yearnings of my life? Everything was the same now as it had been before, the housewives, that busy dog, the same, and yet in some way transfigured. Along with the happiness went a feeling of anxiety. It was as if I were carrying some frail vessel that it was my task to protect, like the boy in the story told to us in religious class who carried the Host through the licentious streets of ancient Rome hidden inside his tunic; in my case, however, it seemed I was myself the precious vessel. Yes, that was it, it was I that was happening here. I did not know exactly what this meant, but surely, I told myself, surely it must mean something. And so I went on, in happy puzzlement, under the small rain, bearing the mystery of myself in my heart.
Was it that same phial of precious ichor, still inside me, that spilled in the cinema that afternoon, and that I carry in me yet, and that yet will overflow at the slightest movement, the slightest misbeat of my heart?
Recuerdo con claridad el primer día en que fui consciente de mí mismo; me refiero a mí como algo que lo demás no era. De niño, lo que más me gustaba eran aquellos vacíos interludios del año, cuando una estación terminaba y la otra aún no había comenzado; todo era gris, silente e inmóvil. Fuera del sosiego y del silencio, algo parecería aproximarse, algo pequeño, suave, vacilante, que se ofrecería para captar mi atención. En este día que menciono, me encontraba caminando sobre la calle principal del pueblo. Era noviembre, o marzo, no frío, sino neutro. Desde el cielo nuboso caía llovizna, tan ligera que no se percibía. Era de mañana; las amas de casa se encontraban fuera, con sus bolsas de compras y sus pañuelos. Un perro curioso me pasó trotando afanado, sin voltear ni a diestra ni a siniestra, siguiendo una línea recta invisible del pavimento. Había un olor de humo y carnicería, uno salobre del mar, y, común en un pueblo de aquellos días, el tenue y suave hedor de la bazofia. La entrada de la ferretería exhalaba su óxido mientras pasaba. Absorbiendo todo, experimenté algo que sólo podría nombrar felicidad, aunque no era felicidad, sino más y menos que felicidad. ¿Qué había ocurrido? ¿Qué cosa de aquella escena corriente, del paisaje y la música ordinaria del pueblo, había provocado que lo inesperado, fuese lo que fuese, brotara de repente en mi interior, como una posibilidad de réplica a los anhelos de mi vida? Todo era igual que antes, las amas de casa, aquél perro afanado, iguales; y, sin embargo, de alguna manera transformados. Contiguo a la felicidad hallé un sentimiento de ansiedad. Era como si cargara una frágil copa y fuera mi tarea protegerla, como aquél niño de la historia que nos contaban en clase de religión, que llevaba la Hostia escondida en su túnica por las calles promiscuas de la antigua Roma. En mi caso, sin embargo, parecía que era yo la preciada copa. Sí, eso era. Yo estaba sucediendo ahí. No sabía con exactitud qué significaba esto, pero seguro, me dije a mí mismo, seguro debe significar algo. Así que continué mi camino, en dichosa perplejidad, bajo la lluvia ligera, transportando el misterio de mi ser en mi corazón.
¿Era la misma ampolleta de preciada hondura, dentro de mí, la que se derramaba en el cine aquella tarde, y que aún llevo dentro, y que todavía se desbordará al menor movimiento, a la más ligera arritmia de mi corazón?
John Banville's style is characterized by a careful word choice designed to evoke feelings of ambiguity and openness of the imagination. In his writings, there is often a use of adjectivization that differs from common pairings between nouns and adjectives. There is also a deliberate delay on the subjects, so that all the components of the predicate create an expectation in the reader to discover the subject they describe and the agency they have. Banville's sentences are crafted in an abundance of descriptions; yet, they are often short and precise. This is emphasized by the use of punctuation and conjunctions, which give a fragmentary cadence to the sentences meant to evoke contemplation and a stream of consciousness. In the Spanish translations I have found, especially in Eclipse, the emphasis seems to be in the general plot and idea described instead of the craftsmanship of the sentence. The result is that some words and even complete sentences are deliberately changed, the sentences are often long and redundant, and the rhythm, the imagery, the delay, and the ambiguity are lost. The virtues of both translations are the fidelity to the punctuation and use of conjunctions, and the fidelity to the descriptions. My criteria for the translation is to preserve the rhythm, word choice, metaphors, and acuteness of the sentences by staying as close as possible to the original design of the sentence. Thus, I intend to maintain the precise word choice to recreate the ambiguity and lyricism of Banville's prose. I removed some of the conjunctions to not distract the reader from the evocation of the sensorial.
In my translation of Eclipse I tried to maintain the delayed subject, which culminates in the epiphanic moment of the narrator's experience. I preserved the word choice and metaphors in the descriptions of the sensorial. I eliminated some of the conjunctions and altered the order of some prepositional phrases because it became unclear what they modified. In the fragments of Dr. Copernicus, the main challenge was to keep the allusion to a notion described as “it” or “the thing itself”, since the equivalents in Spanish more often than not gave an aspect of informality that is not present in English. Nevertheless, the attempt was made to contrast the concept described with the boy denominated as “he”. In terms of the prayers and song fragments, I chose to alter the word order and, at times, the meaning itself so as to keep the rhyme and rhythm of the fragments, while still maintaining the overall tone and purpose of the lyrics.