Mrs. Jones and I don’t have chirdren, as Mayor Daley pronounces it, but we do like to speculate on names. For example, she or I will say:
“What do you think of ‘Culpepper Jones’?”
And the other will reply:
“We could call him ‘Cully.’”
If you’ve been following me for a while (I mean, if that’s you in the brown macintosh), you may remember my related joke about “Régledor.
Anyhow, lately I’ve thinking about “Rayuela” Jones. We could call her “Ray.” (Though we doesn’t have to.) Aside from the fabulous connection to world literature, the name has a kind of a nice 19th-century feel to it, when it was more common to see male names feminized for female offspring. That’s because people in those days used to name kids after relatives or ancestors, as opposed to the current practice of naming them after celebrity half-wits or luxury automobiles.
Anyhow, long way of leading you to the fact that I’m reading Gregory Rabassa’s If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents, and enjoying it immensely. Interesting personality: he actually reminds me a bit of my old friend Smyth. Anyhow (notice we’re now at the second underground level; remember where you park your car), it’s an eccentric little book that is great fun, in part, for Rabassa’s recollections about the great writers whose books he has translated: Garcia Márquez, Lispector, Asturias, Goytisolo, Amado, Donoso, and many others.
Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch, née Rayuela, was the first novel Rabassa translated. Here’s a charming anecdote about Cortázar that I came across in the book this morning.
[My daughter] Clara had met Julio and was impressed with his height, comparing him to President Lincoln and calling him “the six-foot-four-man.” In his correspondence there would always be a sketch for her. As can be seen from some of his stories, there is some kind of bond between Cortázar and small children, a mutual recognition and understanding that goes beyond notation. In so many ways he was a great child, large and pure, and children can sense those who are their peers, even when they look them over coldly as one dog does another.