Enchanted Voices: Oral Tradition and the Compilation of Spanish Tales

As my very first post, I would like to share a short translation of which I am particularly proud. It is a “fabula” by Miguel Agustín Príncipe from the 1860s, with rhyming verses and a sarcastic and playful tone. I chose to begin with it because not only was it fun, yet difficult to translate, its theme is translation.

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Over the winter of 2018 I took on the project of translating the collected stories titled Cuentos de encantamiento, or Enchanted Tales, by Fernán Caballero (aka Cecilia Böhl de Faber) in a translation course mentored and guided by the talented translation and Spanish scholar Amanda Powell (who has published many wonderful translated works, especially Golden Age religious women’s writing—from Spanish to English–along with insightful history and literary analysis exposing us to the brilliant female minds often obscured by historical and current patriarchy). As I worked with the stories, I focused on maintaining the historical voices of the 19th century. Over the 10 week term I was able to translate a short fable/poem (above) and three short stories; “The Little Ant” (“La hormiguita”), “The Foolish Wolf and the Clever Fox” (“El lobo bobo y la zora astuta”), and “Bella-Flor.” I have set myself the goal of translating all of the 23 tales, all of which have varied voices, themes, and characters.

My hope is that there are others out there like me who adore the written word and storytelling who will enjoy reading these tales of enchantment. I also hope to share some historical background, though it may take research and some educated speculation as these lovely stories have been lost to the annals of time, unlike some of their male counterparts from other parts of the western world.

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