Shenandoah Volume 68, Number 1
Volume 68, Number 1 · Fall 2018

Extinción de los jardines

 

Tengo un amigo que apenas lee novelas y cuando se topa con una que lo apasiona, entra en un estado de gran nerviosismo. Cada tres páginas sale a dar una vuelta al jardín de su casa, preguntándose cómo evolucionará tal o cual situación de la historia. Reanuda la lectura y, dos páginas después, regresa al jardín para rumiar lo que leyó. Las ventajas de este método de lectura son evidentes. Para empezar, el ejercicio. Mi amigo está en constante movimiento y en contacto con la naturaleza. Puede que viva cien años. ¿Cuántas novelas habrá leído al cabo de ese tiempo? Con su método, es probable que sólo una docena, lo cual representa otra ventaja. ¿Para qué leer más? En realidad, lo que hace mi amigo es sabotear el final de las novelas que lee. En su jardín, mientras pasea entre los arbustos y las flores, se hace tantas preguntas y baraja tantas posibilidades de la trama que, cuando llega por fin a su desenlace, o ya lo conoce, porque es una de las soluciones que contempló de antemano, o bien, después de todas las perspectivas y los caminos que sondeó en su mente, el final ha pasado a un segundo plano. Mi amigo, en resumen, lee todas las novelas como historias inconclusas. Lee resignadamente, lo que le permite sumergirse en cada página como si fuera la última. La clave está en su jardín. Con un jardín a disposición donde poner a secar las frases leídas y darles vuelta una y otra vez, mi amigo puede pasearse entre las flores mientras pondera tal acción, tal diálogo, tal conflicto de los personajes. Para los que no tenemos esa suerte, que somos la mayoría, nuestro único jardín es el final de la novela, que es el momento en que nuestro espíritu podrá salir de paseo para rumiar lo que ha leído. Mientras no llegue ese momento, hay que leer la historia de prisa, devorando sus páginas, casi sin levantar la cabeza del libro, como obreros en una cadena de montaje o mineros en el fondo de una mina. Así, la novela, género que, aún más que el cuento, se cimenta en una lectura voraz y absorbente, no habría surgido sin la gradual extinción de los jardines.

Extinction of the Gardens

translated from the Spanish by Curtis Bauer

I have a friend who hardly ever reads novels and when he encounters one that he really loves, he enters into a state of great unease. Every three pages he goes out for a walk around the garden of his house, wondering how this or that situation of the story will unfold. He resumes reading and, two pages later, returns to the garden to ruminate on what he just read. The advantages of this method of reading are evident. To begin with, the exercise. My friend is in constant movement and in contact with nature. He might live a hundred years. How many novels will he have read in that time? With his method, it is likely only a dozen, which represents another advantage. Why read more? Actually, what my friend does is sabotage the end of the novels he reads. In his garden, while he strolls among the shrubs and flowers, he asks himself so many questions and considers so many possibilities for the plot that, when he finally arrives at the denouement, either he already knows it, because it is one of the solutions that he thought about beforehand, or else, after all the prospects and the paths that he explored in his mind, the end has become secondary. My friend, in summary, reads every novel as if it were an unfinished story. He reads resignedly, which allows him to immerse himself in each page as if it were the last. The key is in his garden. With a garden at his disposal where he can set read phrases out to dry, turn them over again and again, my friend can walk among the flowers while he ponders whatever action, whatever dialogue, whatever conflict between the characters. For those of us who have no such luck, we are the majority, our only garden is the end of the novel, which is the moment that our spirit will be able to get out for a walk and meditate on what it has read. Until that moment comes, you must read the story quickly, devour its pages, almost without lifting your head from the book, like workers on an assembly line or miners at the bottom of a pit. In this way, the novel, a genre that, even more than the story, is rooted in a voracious and absorbing reading, would not have emerged without the gradual extinction of gardens.


Fabio Morábito was born in Alexandria Egypt in 1955 to Italian parents. He moved to Milan when he was five, and when he was fifteen he moved to Mexico City, where he currently lives and works in the Autonomous University of Mexico. Morábito is the author of four books of poetry including De lunes todo el año [Monday All Year Long], which won the Aguascalientes National Poetry Prize, and Delante de un prado una vaca [In Front of a Pasture, a Cow], two novels including Caja de herramientas [Tool Box] (Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1989), which was translated into English by Geoff Hargreaves and published by Xenox Books in 1996, five books of short stories including La vida ordenada [An Ordered Life] (Tusquets, 2000) and Grieta de fatiga [Rift of Fatigue] (Tusquets, 2012), and three books of essays including El idioma materno [Mother Tongue] (Sexto Piso, 2014). Morábito is also a prolific translator, and he has translated the complete works of Eugenio Montale and Aminto de Torquato Tasso, among many other Italian poets and prose writers. In addition to Geoff Hargreaves’s English translation of the book Tool Box, his writing has been translated into German, French, Portuguese and Italian.

Curtis Bauer is a poet (most recently The Real Cause for Your Absence from C&R Press) and a translator of poetry and prose from the Spanish: most recently Image of Absence by Jeannette Clariond from Word Works Press, Eros Is More by Juan Antonio González Iglesias from Alice James Books, and From Behind What Landscape by Luis Muñoz from Vaso Roto Editions. He directs the creative writing program at Texas Tech University and is the translations editor for the Common.