Thursday, March 26, 2009

Aimless Reading: The C's, Part 13 (Rosario Castellanos)

Castellanos, Rosario
The Book Of Lamentations

Lori bought this a few years ago at the Niagara Falls outlet mall ($4.50), accompanying me on one of my cheap paperback book-buying binges. I remember her lying next to me reading it in bed over the course of several weeks. Tonight, I asked her if she liked it, thinking that if she did, I might order it in the original Spanish. She said she remembers the cover and the title, but has no memory of ever having read the book.

I started poking around on the web to find out more about it -- it's original title is Oficio de tinieblas, which translates more like, "Evening Vespers," or, more literally, "Dark Mass." "Book of Lamentations" is a good title, but it only covers half of the original.  That is, it gets at "oficio," which is a religious service, but excludes the literal meaning of "tinieblas," which is "darkness."

It begins:

San Juan, the Guarantor, he who was there when the worlds first appeared, who spoke the yes that started the century on its way and is one of the pillars that keep stable what is stable, stooped down one day to contemplate the land of men.

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