IN CATALAN AND ENGLISH:

Touched by Fire

A Bilingual Edition of Manuel de Pedrolo’s

Tocats pel foc

Translated by Peter K. Griffin

199 pages

Format: 6 x 9 inches (paperback)

ISBN: 978-0-9774988-0-2

U.S. retail price: $15.00

Available to booksellers through Baker & Taylor or the distributors.

"Peter Griffin’s deft and careful translation lifts away all distractions so that Pedrolo has his unadorned and penetrating say on both sides of every page." - Patricia Hart (Purdue University) in World Literature Today

Excerpt:

Ella va observar com la Sogues alçava els ulls del plat i entreobria els llavis com si es disposés a fer una pregunta. Es va limitar, però, a mirar-se’l breument abans d’enfonsar de nou la forquilla en els fesols. L’Anto va apoderar-se de l’ampolla i abocà vi a tots quatre gots.

-Fan venir set, els llegums.

Ella en va beure un glopet i, amb els llavis humits, digué:

-Al poble, hi havia anys que en menjàvem tot l’hivern.

El seu home va replicar:

-Ara no som a l’hivern.

-Ja ho sé.

L’Ange va empassar-se la forquillada que acabava de posar-se a la boca i s’interessà:

-Teníeu terra vostra?

Li ho preguntava a ella, però el seu home li passà davant:

-Una mica...

La Sogues, que deixava el got, va precisar:

-Tres finquetes i una casa.

-Bé, no sé si se’n pot dir casa...

-Sempre valia més que això.

Va veure que el xicot tornava a mirar-se-la, però tot seguit desvià els ulls cap a l’Anto.

-Us ho vau vendre, en marxar?

-No. Mai no he estat partidari de vendre res, jo.

L’Ange va allargar la mà cap al vi, però no va aixecar el got de damunt la taula.

-Ho vau deixar arrendat, potser?

-Tampoc. No vull tenir embolics.

La Sogues va mirar cap al xicot, que ara s’atansava el got a la boca. Ella va fitar-los tots dos, i, quan l’Ange va haver begut, li preguntà:

-I tu no tens res?

El noi va deturar el gest, sorprès.

-Jo?

-No ets fill de pagès, també?

-El meu pare era un jornaler. Mai no va tenir res més que el vestit que duia al damunt.

Va reprendre la forquilla i, amb l’ajuda del pa, va trencar un tros de botifarra, mentre afegia:

-I me’n alegro.

Ella va adonar-se que el seu home arrugava el front, i observà que un dels fesols se li esmunyia per un costat de forquilla abans de desprendre’s per caure de nou al plat.

-Com? No ho havia sentit dir mai, això.

El xicot va mastegar el tros de botifarra que tenia entre dents, i ara la seva expressió també era seriosa, gairebé severa.

Potser no. Però és que, a mi, posseir em sembla una cosa immoral.

Hi va haver un silenci sobtat i dens fins que el seu home s’escurà vagament el coll abans d’estranyar-se en veu alta:

-Immoral? Què vols dir?

-Que si posseís alguna cosa em sentiria culpable.

L’Anto va reposar la forquilla sobre l’hule amb una expressió desconcertada.

-No ho entenc.

La Sogues va alçar els ulls del plat i gairebé va somriure.

-Jo, sí.

El seu pare va fer un moviment, sense mirar-la.

-Calla, tu.

She saw Sogues look up and partially open her lips as if she were about to ask something. But the girl merely looked at him for a moment before digging into the beans again with her fork. Anto took the bottle and poured wine into all four glasses.

"Legumes make you thirsty."

The woman took a swallow and, with moistened lips, said:

"In the village, some years we ate them all winter long."

Her husband replied:

"It’s not winter now."

"I know."

Ange swallowed the forkful he had just put in his mouth, and then inquired:

"Did you have your own land?"

It was her he was asking, but her husband answered before she could:

"A little bit..."

Sogues, putting down her glass, specified:

"Three little fields and a house."

"Well, I don’t know if you could call it a house..."

"It was better than this, anyway."

She saw that the young man was looking at her again, but he quickly turned his eyes toward Anto.

"Did you sell it, when you left there?"

"No. I’ve never believed in selling anything."

Ange reached for the wine, but didn’t raise his glass from the table.

"Did you lease it to someone, or what?

"No, I don’t want to get into problems."

Sogues looked at the young man, who was now drawing the glass to his mouth. Isa looked at both of them, and when Ange had taken a drink, she asked him:

"What about you? Do you have anything?"

The youth responded with a look of surprise:

"Me?"

"Aren’t you a farmer’s son yourself?"

"My father was a day laborer. He never owned anything but the clothes he had on."

He picked up the fork and, with the help of the piece of bread, cut off a piece of sausage, adding:

"And I’m glad of it."

Isa noticed that her husband was wrinkling his brow, and she observed how one of the beans slid down the edge of his fork and fell back onto the plate.

"What? I’ve never heard anyone say that before."

The young man chewed the piece of sausage he had between his teeth, and now his expression was serious too, almost severe.

"Maybe not. But you see, to me possessing things seems immoral."

There was a sudden, heavy silence until the husband scratched his neck with a puzzled look and then expressed his amazement aloud:

"Immoral? What do you mean?"

"I mean if I owned something I’d feel guilty."

Anto set his fork back on the oilcloth with a disconcerted expression.

"I don’t get it."

Sogues looked up from her plate and almost smiled.

"I do."

Her father moved his head, but didn’t look at her.

"You be quiet."

 

 

 


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