Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Guatemalan Fabulist

The Guatemalan Fabulist

The writer Augusto Monterroso, who died in 2003, is known for being the author of the micro-story known as "The Dinosaur" which I reproduce here in its entirety, both in the original Spanish and followed by my English translation:

Cuando despertó, el dinosaurio todavía estaba allí.

When he awoke, the dinosaur was still there.

Monterroso devoted himself to the study of the short form. Several of his other short fables can be found on this page, taken from larger published collections such as The Black Sheep and other Fables. I will also offer my clumsy translation of "The Burro and the Flute":

Out in the middle of the country there had been, for a long time, a Flute, which nobody played, until one day when a Burro which was passing by, gave it a forceful blow and produced the sweetest sound of its life - that is to say, the life of the Burro and of the Flute.

Incapable of understanding what had happened, since rationality was not their strong point and both believed in rationality, they went their own ways, embarrassed of the best thing that either one had done during their unhappy life.

1 comment:

Eva Kopie said...

I have two more short short stories for you, both by a Russian writer, Daniil Kharms. (English translation by Alexander Vuedensky):

The Beginning of a Beautiful Day (A Symphony)
The rooster had hardly crowed when Timofey jumped out of the window onto the roof and frightened all the passers-by who were on the street at that hour. The peasant Khariton stopped, picked up a stone, and threw it at Timofey. Timofey disappeared somewhere. "That is a clever one!" the herd of people shouted, and Zubov ran full speed and rammed his head ino a wall. "Oh!" a woman with a swollen cheek shouted. But Komarov beat up the woman, and the woman ran howling through the doorway. Fetelyushin walked past and laughed at them. Komarov walked up to him and said, "Hey you greaseball," and hit Fetelyushin in the stomach. Fetelyushin leaned against the wall and started to hiccup. Romashkin spat from the top-story window, trying to hit Fetelyushin. At that moment, not far from there, a big-nosed woman was beating up her kid with a trough. A fattish young mother rubbed a pretty little girl's face against the brick wall. A little dog broke its thin leg and rolled around on the pavement. A little boy ate some kind of loathsome thing out of a spittoon. At the grocery store there was a long line for sugar. The women swore loudly and pushed one another with bags. The peasant Khariton got drunk on denatured alcohol and stood in front of the women with unbuttoned trousers and said bad words.

Thus began a beautiful summer day.

Falling-Out Old Women
An old woman fell out of a window because she was too curious. She fell and broke into pieces.
Another old woman leaned out the window and looked at the one that had broken into pieces, but because she was too curious, she also fell out of the window--fell and broke into pieces.
Then a third old woman fell out of the window, then a fourth, and then a fifth.
When the sixth old woman fell out of the window, I became fed up with watching them and went to the Maltsevsky Market, where they said a blind man had been presented with a knit scarf.

Aren't they wonderful?