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Reviews111 Pasto, David. The House of Trials: A Translation ofLos empeños de una casa by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. New York: Peter Lang (Ibérica Series, 21), 1997. Hardbound. 150 pp. David Pasto prefaces his translation of this play with a brief biography of Sor Juana, a commentary on the self-reflexive character of the play as manifested in the prolific use of asides, an essay summing up interpretations of the play by several feminist critics, a description of the entire Feste /o (which includes loas, saínetes, letras, and a concluding sarao or masque, in addition to the play), and a briefbibliography. To begin, it should be said that the play is a clunker. The plot is silly, the stagecraft cluttered, character development stunted by the constant need for each character to explain what happened previously or what exactly it is that he or she is doing on stage. The male characters in particular, with the exception of the gracioso Castaño, are wooden, and the women mostly just dither. As Pasto writes in one prefatory comment, "Sor Juana borrowed the conventions of Golden Age drama and then subverted them to suit her own proto-feminist views" (19). A pity she did not use them to write a livelier comedy with more engaging characters. Pasto apparently likes the play, describing the plot as "delightfully complex" (21). Paste's translation has the virtue ofbeing speakable on stage and reasonably accurate, but he takes a rather relaxed approach to matters of poetic form. Sor Juana's play begins with forty-five redondillas (quatrains of eight-syllable verses in full, ABBA, CDDC, EFFE rhyme) of fairly tedious exposition. Perhaps Sor Juana meant this syntactical monotony to be read as a stylish sort of self-reflexive irony, but the effect is merely heavy. Pasto renders these redondillas in unrhymed quatrains, mostly in verses of six, eight, or ten syllables and with no clear sense ofmetrical pattern. Instead of lightening the exposition, he intensifies the tedium of Doña Ana's long speech with its string of adverbial clauses of causation (I, 29-72), rendering them on pages 36-37 with an amazing seven becauses in seven consecutive stanzas. When at verse 181 Sor Juana switches to romances (eight-syllable verses with even-numbered verses vowel-rhyming in a-o), Pasto stays narrow on the page in indirect acknowledgment of the poetry of the original, but he's clearly writing a prose translation. Not that he is incapable ofpoetic rendering: his later translation of Doña Ana's sonnet (I, 559-72), though unrhymed, is taut and effective, and his rendition of the singing and the subsequent echo of the singing by the characters (II, 412-504) on his pages 84-86 is excellent. 112BCom, Vol. 51, No. leí 2 (1999) An early flat and not so careful translation occurs in the very first exchange between doña Ana and her maid Celia (I, 1-12): Doña Ana Hasta que venga mi hermano,We must wait up, Celia, Celia, le hemos de esperar.until my brother arrives. CeliaPues eso será velar,I'llkeep an eye outfor him porque éljuzga que es tempranoHe'll be late, because he thinks la una o las dos; y a mi ver,one or two in the morning is early. aunque es grande ociosidadIt's best to speak the truth, viene a decir la verdad,even though it's obvious: pues viene ai amanecer.He won't come until morning. Mas, ¿por qué ahora te dioButwhatmakes you esa gana de esperar,so impatient now? si te entras siempre a acostarWhy don't you go to bed as usual tú, y le espero solayo?and I'll wait for him alone? The verb velar is meant to describe both their actions, not just Celia's, and decir la verdad has the brother as subject, not some impersonal speaker. The word ociosidad here does not signify some impertinent obviousness for which Celia is apologizing; rather, it applies to the brother and his habit of coming in so late that, by comparison, one or two a.m. does seem early. More accurate would be CeliaThen we 'Il...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 111-113
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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