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The Dog and the Fever
A Perambulatory Novella
Pedro Espinosa; William Carlos Williams, trans.; Raquel Hélène Williams, trans.; Jonathan Cohen, ed.; Paul Mariani, fwd.

Publication date: February 6, 2018



Wesleyan
2018 • 88 pp. 4 illus. 5 1/2 x 8"
Poetry / Poetry - European / Poetry - Spanish & Portuguese

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7803-7
$30.00 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7804-4

(Hardcover is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)



“Jonathan Cohen shows us why translation is crucial to understanding Williams, who approached it as an essential act of poetry. The poet emerges as the... [continued in Reviews below]”—Edith Grossman,

First full publication of translation and commentary by famed American modernist

The legendary modernist poet William Carlos Williams described this seventeenth-century book as “far more ‘modern’ than ever Hemingway or even Gertie ever thought of being” and “hot as hell besides.” Williams translated this Spanish novella, originally published in 1625, with the help of Raquel Hélène Williams, his Puerto Rican mother. Williams recalled that its biting satire targeting the corruption of the court, the church, and society and driven by comic double entendre made them laugh out loud and amused them tremendously as they worked on the translation. In Williams’s hands, the novella becomes a daring modernist experiment with the poetry of prose and the American idiom. This edition includes Williams’s as-yet unpublished running commentary on the narrative, and an illuminating introduction from editor Jonathan Cohen that contextualizes the work in Williams’s canon.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Jonathan Cohen shows us why translation is crucial to understanding Williams, who approached it as an essential act of poetry. The poet emerges as the first among our modernist writers to see the literary value of translating classical and contemporary verse from both Spain and Latin America. By Word of Mouth makes that clear.” —Edith Grossman

“It seems clear that Williams is the twentieth-century poet who has done most to influence our very conception of what poetry should do, and how much it does not need to do.” —The New York Review of Books

“It is ever more apparent that Williams is this century’s major American poet.” —The Chicago Tribune

“For all his roughness there remains with me the conviction that there is nothing meaningless in his book, Al Que Quiere!, not a line.” —Ezra Pound

“England never knew that Golden Age Spain invented the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European drama, poetry, and novel. Jonathan Cohen clarifies the entangled wonders in William Carlos Williams’s translation of the seventeenth-century Spanish novel, The Dog and the Fever, by Pedro Espinosa, whose outrageous dog’s tale recalls Miguel de Cervantes’s earlier masterpiece, The Dialogue of the Dogs. Williams’s vital English version mirrors Espinosa’s unsurpassed dog novel related by an eloquently talkative canine.” —Willis Barnstone, author of ABC of Translation

“A novella of extraordinary sensuality, humor and lyrical imagination, translated with exquisite delicacy by William Carlos Williams, whose love of the Spanish language is manifested in this work. A book to treasure.”—Marjorie Agosín, author of The White Islands / Las Islas Blancas

“Anything that William Carlos Williams put his hand to is more than worth reading, and Pedro Espinosa’s The Dog and the Fever is no exception. The text, with its tumble of aphorisms and proverbs, reads like proto-dada or -surrealism, and when we realize that Williams did the translation project with his elderly mother, Raquel Elena Hoheb, it takes on the importance of a family project. (Their labor gave birth to another extraordinary Williams book, Yes, Mrs. Williams!, that also deserves our attention.) Jonathan Cohen, a poet and noted translator, who has already gathered Williams’ translations in By Word of Mouth: Poems from the Spanish 1916-1959 and prepared a new edition of Williams’ breakthrough book, Al Que Quiere!, has done Williams readers a great service in blowing the dust off this translation and sprucing it up for a new century.”——Bill Zavatsky

“This ‘dredges of language’ novella as Williams wanted it published, with his ‘running commentary’ on both the work and his translation: Williams reveling in America’s modernist future as he reclaimed his (and therefore its) Spanish literary heritage.” —Julio Marzán

From the Book:

I am a dog; to bark, not to bite: God save me from madness, for today there is no more to do than kill fleas with the teeth; and since I speak of madness, there shall be none in the world till the Savior come; nor possessed of the devil, till there be Cleric to conjure them. It is not wise to cross a wooden bridge on horseback; enough to sprinkle it with a goat’s beard. He praised writing with a peacock plume, because it has eyes. Suddenly I betook myself to the garden, with my doggish speech, short as the luck of a greybeard, verse of a dirge, or hair of goat. Pardon me, Your Grace, that I think to cool the soup by barking; and thus coming back to my thema, or anathema, I would ask, lady mine: For whom does the blind man’s wife adorn herself?



PEDRO ESPINOSA (1578–1650) was a Golden Age Spanish poet and fiction writer whose works include a famed 1605 anthology of contemporary poets called Las flores de poetas ilustres de España (“Flowers of Spain’s Illustrious Poets”).

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (1883–1963) is widely recognized as one of the greatest American poets of the twentieth century and as an influential founder of literary modernism. In addition to poetry, he authored works of fiction, criticism, drama, and translation. Among his most celebrated books are Spring and All, In the American Grain, Paterson, and Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems for which he posthumously received the Pulitzer Prize. All told, Williams published some twenty books of poetry as well as seventeen books of prose.

JONATHAN COHEN is an award-winning translator of Latin American poetry and scholar of inter-American literature. He is the compiler and editor of William Carlos Williams’s By Word of Mouth: Poems from the Spanish, 1916–1959 and editor of the centennial edition of his Al Que Quiere!, both published by New Directions.

Click here for author's website.


Wed, 15 Nov 2017 14:00:33 -0500