Gonzalo Torrente Ballester’s ‘Crónica del Rey Pasmado’ translated to Filipino

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The Filipino translation of Spanish novelist Gonzalo Torrente Ballester’s “Crónica del Rey Pasmado” (The King Amaz’d: A Chronicle) will be launched tomorrow, 6 p.m., at the 13/F, Henry Sy Sr. Hall, De La Salle University, Manila.

Translated by Marlon J. Sales, “Ang Kuwento ng Haring Tulala” is published by Cacho Publishing House.

Set in 17th-century Spain, the novel is about a king who’s obsessed with the idea of seeing his queen in the nude. Restricted by the strict court customs, he tries to get rid of his urges by visiting the quarters of Marfisa, the Spanish court’s most renowned courtesan.

The title of this 1989 novel refers to the visible expression of utter amazement which appears to have been made permanent on the king’s face after his encounter with Marfisa.

The king’s obsession takes place alongside other wonders in the land—perils arising from a crack in the streets leaking sulfur in the air, a giant snake roaming around, and a pending war with the British and the Dutch.

The novel, light and humorous in tone, presents a parody of the customs and traditions of Spanish high society of that era. Beyond the storyline of one man’s urges, the novel tries to shed light on political themes during the Inquisition in Spain. A movie version was released in 1991 by Spanish filmmaker Imanol Uribe.

The author, Gonzalo Torrente Ballester (1910-1999), was a novelist, essayist and playwright during his time. In 1995, he received the Cervantes Prize, the most significant literary award in the Spanish-speaking world.

After his death, the Gonzalo Torrente Ballester Foundation was created to help preserve and promote his works for future generations of readers. It is headed by his son, Álvaro Torrente Sánchez-Guisande, and Carmen Becerra.

The two visited the country in 2012 to present an exhibit of Torrente Ballester’s works, held in the gallery of Instituto Cervantes in Manila.

During that event, the idea for this project was formed in conversations between Cacho Publishing House, headed by RayVi Súnico, and Instituto Cervantes.

The Gonzalo Torrente Ballester Foundation contributed to the project by facilitating the acquisition of permissions from the heirs of Torrente Ballester. Finally, the project was funded through a grant given by the Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation.

For the translator, Marlon Sales, the biggest challenge was how to handle translating Spanish erotica into the vernacular while staying faithful to a tone that would have been what was used in the 17th century.

Sales is a translator, researcher and professor of Spanish. He went to the University of Valladolid, Spain to take up his Master’s degree in Spanish as a scholar of the AECID.

Attendance to the launch can be arranged through prior reservation by contacting the Cultural Department of Instituto Cervantes at cultx2mni@cervantes.es.

Other agencies that helped the project include the Embassy of Spain, Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation of Ministerio de Educación y Cultura de España, and De La Salle University’s Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center.

More information at www.manila.cervantes.es and www.facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila.

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