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L’AutoreInvisibile | Turin International Book Fair 2019
Introduzione: La scrittura resistente

Introduzione: La scrittura resistente

Written in Italian by Laura Pugno

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A vent’anni sono stata traduttrice. Vivevo già tra molte lingue, avevo appreso quel residuo che ciascuna lingua lascia, che non si scioglie nel bicchiere, che si deposita nel fondo come un sasso bianco, la materia porosa di cui parla Juan Villoro, la scrittura resistente che cade sul fondo.

I sassi erano pietre, larghe e piatte come quelle delle strade romane e si disponevano sul fiume delle lingue e delle vite, consentivano di attraversarlo, senza bagnarsi, in equilibrio, obbligando a volte a piccoli salti, a sfiorare l’acqua.

Quando sei già dall’altra parte e ti volti, ti accorgi che sei diventata capace di andare dalla poesia alla prosa, di tornare indietro, di attraversare in un senso, nell’altro. L’inglese, il francese, lo spagnolo infine.

Il Borges di Alan Pauls, o Neruda, i libri che erano nella tua casa d’infanzia. Imparare parole come manantial, prima ancora di saper chiedere la strada, ordinare un caffè in un bar.  Non lo trovi neanche strano, ti sembra normale che l’acqua sia subito profonda, sei sulle rive dell’oceano. La pietra in tasca di colore sempre diverso, più liscia, più dura, quel residuo intraducibile. La poesia.

Poi lo scoprirai, ma ci vorranno anni, che quello che scrive Enrique Vila-Matas è vero, che nella scrittura non c’è via d’uscita. Ma che neanche tu ne hai, dalla scrittura, o da quel mondo in cui la scrittura stessa sembra diventata contrabbando. Un segreto che condividete tutti, di cui nessuno parla. Che quei sassi bianchi, quelle pietre-ponte, non portano nel mondo, che il mondo affiora solo a intermittenza dalla nebbia.

Poi lo scoprirai, che quell’acqua è sempre anche il fiume Lete, che la memoria in ogni lingua è diversa, che le parole sono traslucide e mutano forme.

A vent’anni, quando ero a Londra e già in un’altra lingua, qualcuno, non ho mai saputo chi, lasciò a casa mia un maglione nero, forse il golfino di Jhumpa Lahiri – questa parola diventata anche lei italiana, golfino, che invece tu non hai mai usato, che ti suona estranea, perché ogni lingua è molte. Non ho mai saputo di chi fosse, quel maglione, l’ho amato moltissimo e l’ho portato con me dovunque andassi per anni. L’ho poi perduto, dimenticandolo chissà dove, lasciandolo forse a qualcun altro così come era stato lasciato a me, forse per me. Con Jhumpa mi piace pensare che fosse davvero il dono della lingua, la propria e insieme un’altra, che qualcuno aveva abbandonato per me, nelle mie mani, che io ho abbandonato in altre, e altre ancora, e così via.

Published May 6, 2019
© Laura Pugno 2019

Intro: The Resilience of Writing

Written in Italian by Laura Pugno


Translated into English by Paul D’Agostino

I was a translator at the age of twenty. Living among numerous languages at the time, I was becoming familiar with the residue each one leaves behind. It’s a residue that stays, one that water won’t dissolve in a glass — one that instead, like a small white stone, falls to the bottom, recalling the substance described by Juan Villoro when he writes of the porosity and resilience of writing.

Those residuals , they were just such stones, or even rocks, flat and broad like those that pave Roman roads. They’re the rocks that, like a bridge, allow you to cross the river of lives and languages without losing your balance, as you hop along from one to the next, here and there taking larger leaps.

You turn around, upon reaching the other side, and you realize you’ve become capable of passing from poetry to prose, to go back and forth, able cross over in both directions just as readily. In English and French, eventually in Spanish too.

All of this recalls Neruda, or the Borges of Alan Pauls. It recalls the books you grew up with. Even before you know how to ask for directions or order a cup of coffee, you learn words like ‘manantial’. And this doesn’t strike you as anything strange. For you, by now, it’s quite normal for the river’s waters to run so deep, for you to already find yourself so near to the ocean. The stone in your pocket that keeps changing color has become smoother and harder the longer you’ve had and honed it. That untranslatable residue has accrued. It’s poetry.

It will take a number of years, but you’ll learn that Enrique Vila-Matas is right about writing, about how there is no way out of it. Neither do you know how to exit it, or how to exit that world in which writing itself has come to seem like contraband. A hidden secret you share with others is that these white stones and rock bridges don’t lead you to the world, but rather that the world itself emerges bit by bit from the fog. 

You’ll also learn that this river has been Lethe all along. You’ll learn that memory itself is different in every language, and that words are translucent and alter in form. 

At the age of twenty, when I was already in the world of another language in London, I discovered that someone had left a sweater behind in my flat. I never found out whose it was. It might’ve been the sweater Jhumpa Lahiri writes about, her ‘golfino’ — this word, ‘golfino’, is one that has become Italian but that you’ve never used, as it has always seemed strange, the kind of word that shows how every language consists of so many others. I came to truly love that sweater, bringing it with me wherever I went for many years. But then, at some point, I lost it, with really no idea where I’d misplaced it. Perhaps I left it behind for someone else to find and grow fond of, as it had been left for me. Like Jhumpa thinks of her ‘golfino’, I like to think that the sweater was a gift, to me, from language itself, from the language in which I was then living that both was and was not my own. That sweater was a gift that someone had passed along to me, and that I had passed along to someone else, and that would eventually be passed along yet again, and so on.

Published May 6, 2019
© Specimen 2019

Introducción: La escritura resistente

Written in Italian by Laura Pugno


Translated into Spanish by Celia Filipetto

A los veinte años fui traductora. Ya vivía entre muchas lenguas, había aprendido que cada idioma deja un sedimento, que no se disuelve en el vaso, que se deposita en el fondo como un guijarro blanco, la materia porosa de la que habla Juan Villoro, la escritura resistente que se precipita en el fondo.

Los guijarros eran piedras, anchas y planas como las de las calles romanas y se colocaban en el río de las lenguas y de las vidas, permitían cruzarlo sin mojarse, haciendo equilibrio, obligando a veces a dar pequeños saltos, a rozar el agua.

Cuando has llegado a la otra orilla y te vuelves, te das cuenta de que has adquirido la capacidad de ir de la poesía a la prosa, de volver sobre tus pasos, de cruzar en un sentido y en el otro. El inglés, el francés, al final el español.

El Borges de Alan Pauls o Neruda, los libros que estaban en la casa de tu infancia. Aprender palabras como manantial, antes de saber cómo pedir indicaciones para llegar a un sitio o que te sirvan un café en un bar. Ni siquiera lo encuentras raro, te parece normal que el agua cobre profundidad enseguida, estás a orillas del océano. La piedra en el bolsillo, de un color siempre distinto, más lisa, más dura, ese residuo intraducible. La poesía.

Y descubrirás, al cabo de años, que lo que escribe Enrique Vila-Matas es verdad, que en la escritura no hay salida. Pero tú tampoco la tienes de la escritura o de ese mundo en el que la escritura misma parece transformada en contrabando. Un secreto que todos compartís, del que nadie habla. Que esos guijarros blancos, esas piedras pasaderas, no conducen al mundo, que el mundo aflora solo de modo intermitente entre la niebla.

Y descubrirás que esas aguas siempre son, además, el río Lete, que la memoria varía en cada lengua, que las palabras son traslúcidas y cambian de forma.

A los veinte años, cuando estaba en Londres y en otra lengua, alguien, nunca supe quién, se dejó en mi casa un jersey negro, tal vez el golfino del que habla Jhumpa Lahiri, esta palabra que también se ha vuelto italiana, golfino, pero que tú nunca has usado, que te suena rara, porque cada lengua es muchas. Nunca supe de quién era aquel jersey, le tomé mucho cariño y, durante años, lo llevé conmigo a todas partes. Después lo perdí, a saber dónde, se me olvidaría en algún sitio, tal vez se lo dejé a alguien del mismo modo que me lo habían dejado a mí, para mí. Como le ocurre a Jhumpa, me gusta pensar que se trataba de verdad del regalo de la lengua, la propia y a la vez otra, que alguien había abandonado en mis manos, para mí, y que yo, a mi vez, abandoné para depositarla en otras manos, luego en otras y así sucesivamente. 

Published May 6, 2019
© Specimen 2019


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In collaboration with L’AutoreInvisibile, Specimen dedicates a full Dossier to some of the writers and translators attending this unique, translation focused space. You will find here gathered a wide range of thoughts and reflections on literature, languages and translation by Enrique-Vila Matas, Juan Villoro, Jhumpa Lahiri, Alan Pauls, Fernando Savater, and Adrian Bravi, with an introduction by Laura Pugno. Check the program of the industry talks, curated by Ilide Carmignani at bit.ly/AutoreInvisibileSalTo19


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