Adverbally

20 January 2010

Javier Marías, in a posed photograph from 1997 that is absolutely as serious as serious could possibly be.

I.
In which I talk about Corazon tan blanco
without actually saying anything about the novel itself.

It’s not necessarily that Javier Marías uses extravagant adverbs as a stylistic tic. Better to say, I don’t know whether they’re extravagant to an educated Spanish reader or just to me. And anyway, even though the narrator in Corazón tan blanco is a translator & has an obsessive way of spiraling around a topic or turning a thing over in his head, of seeing actions as modified, Spanish piles on the syllables more than in English. The suffix for an adverb is -mente instead of -ly.

II.
In which I sound words out under my breath.

Maybe it’s just the margins — skinny ones, so that sometimes the adverb is a third of the line. The sentence comes to a stop, as though the serifs had gotten into a car crash. I find myself stopping to sound them out, just to hear them roll off the tongue, endless parade of consonant-&-vowel: apresuradamente, incomprensiblemente, artificiosamente, amortiguadamente, retrospectivamente, momentáneamente, incansablemente, apróximadamente, and my favorite, estereofónicamente.

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One Response to “Adverbally”

  1. John B. Says:

    You said, ” . . . even though the narrator in Corazón tan blanco is a translator & has an obsessive way of spiraling around a topic or turning a thing over in his head . . .”

    This reminded me, and I know you know this, that la mente means “the mind.” Striking, isn’t it, that the assigning of adverbs is an interpretive act, even more so than the assigning of adjectives.

    (I have been a non-visitor for far too long. Good to see you are still around, and–for what it’s worth–I highly approve of the layout.)


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