Ignacio's Notes on Kalpa Imperial

This is a demanding book, in the sense that it requires the reader to have their undivided attention on it. The voice of the different storytellers is a delight. One can almost hear them telling the stories, each in their particular style.

The translation

There are some things Ursula Le Guin didn't include in the translation:

The original book has a dedication "to Sergio Gorodischer"

I am deeply thankful for the stimulus provided by Hans Chrisian Andersen, J. R. R. Tolkien and Italo Calvino, without whose encouraging words this book wouldn't have been written"

And an epigraph:

"The twentieth century depresses me"

Trafalgar Medrano is the protagonist of Trafalgar, a collection of short stories about this space traveller and heavy coffee drinker.

In the last story, certain movies are mentioned, but some titles are not translated. The movies that Le Guin declined to translate in the last story:

dosmiluno 2001
rosadeabolengo Mrs. Miniver (1942, William Wyler)
alahoraseñalada High Noon
elmuelledelasbrumas Le Quai des brumes (Marcel Carne, 1938)
puertadelilas Porte des Lilas (Rene Clair, 1957)
elañopasadoenmarienbad Last Year at Marienbad (L'Annee Derniere Marienbad, 1961) dir. Alain Resnais
lahoradelobo Hour of the Wolf (Ingmar Bergman, 1967)

Some "characters" of the story the twentier tells are recognizable in our world, but I don't know who is "Prince Chikelgruber". If anyone has a guess, let me know! [Adolf Hitler's father was illegitimate, and initially used his mother's name, which was "Shickelgruber"--Raja]

Also in the last story, "The Old Incense road", the cat calls old Z'Ydagg "Padrecito", and this is translated as "Daddy". This is a difficult word to translate. I think some of the meaning was lost. For "Daddy" one would say "papi". "Padrecito" would be more like "little father". It includes in its meaning the clerical sense of "father", in a diminutive and affectionate way. It could also be used to refer to a teenage father, but since Z'Ydagg is old that meaning could be discounted. It could also refer to an old man to whom one professes great affection, while keeping an edge of taunting playfullness. Oh well, decisions have to be made. Translating would be an endless agony of searching for the exact word, which won't exist half the time.

The meeting

I feel some of the people were disappointed by the book. In part, I guess, because my advertising set the expectations very high. Another cause would be the (maybe) misleading presentation of the book as a novel. I don't think there is a better way to describe it, even though there are clearly short stories, they make a lot more sense collectively.

Chris and Jeff thought they were good beginnings of stories, but they never got really started. Peter, on the other hand, admired how Angélica left the story as soon as her point was made. He also accurately pointed out that these are stories are about the relations of people with power.

John was looking for hidden senses, asked me for keys in Argentine history (I don't know of any, other than the opening paragraph being a good description of Argentina in 1983), or other stories set in the same Empire (again, none that I know of).

That said, everybody seemed to have enjoyed at least some passage of the book and many were quoted during the meeting.