Alberto Mangel: Čudo pripovedanja

Alberto Manguel

Vrsnog pisca, prevodioca i priređivača Alberta Mangela ne treba posebno predstavljati. Stasavao je i kao čovek i kao pisac pod „dirigentskom palicom“ čuvenog, nadaleko poznatog Horhea Luisa Borhesa, i to se jasno vidi u njegovim životnim stavovima i književnim delima. Dovoljno je da spomenemo samo neka od njih: „Biblioteka noću“, „Sa Borhesom“, „Stivenson pod palmama“, „Svi su ljudi lažljivci“… Kako piše, kako doživljava jezik, reči, pisanje… samo su neke od „tajni“ koje nam je ovaj slavni pisac otkrio.

Iako je poreklom iz Argentine, ima kanadsko državljanstvo, a živi i radi u francuskoj provinciji erudita i pisac Alberto Mangel ima biblioteku od 30.000 knjiga, autor je čija dela prevode beogradski izdavači, a koliko je cenjen i omiljen među našim čitaocima govori i podatak da je dobitnik nagrade „Milovan Vidaković“ – koju je osvojio na Međunarodnom festivalu proze u Novom Sadu.

 

Jezik je igra rečima. Kako se Vi kao pisac igrate rečima?

Reči se pre igraju sa mnom, nego ja rečima. Ubeđen sam da jezik, iako je tek puki intrument, u velikoj meri, određuje našu komunikaciju. Tako u svakom jeziku svoje misli i iskustva iskazujemo na neki određeni način. Ne govorimo na isti način na engleskom kao kad govorimo na urdu jeziku, islandskom ili španskom. Jezik nas u velikoj meri definiše, baš kao i naš način razmišljanja. Tako na primer, Hamletova rečenica „Biti ili ne biti“ ne može isto da zvuči na španskom, u kojem „biti“ ima dva značenja: „ser“ u smislu „bivstvovati“ i „estar“ u smislu „postojati“ (u prostoru). Tako bi Hamletovo pitanje na španskom zvučalo ovako: „Bivstvovati i postojati ili ne bivstvovati i ne postojati“, što je besmislica.

Pravite li beleške pre nego što pristupite pisanju ili…

Da, zaista, pravim beleške. Popunio sam cele notese beleškama koje kasnije koristim u tekstovima. Pišem i po marginama knjiga: na to gledam kao na razgovor sa autorom.

Da li kroz prozu pisac izražava samo svoj revolt i samoću ili…?

Pisac može šta god poželi da izrazi kroz svoje pisanje, ali da li će to čitalac i prepoznati zavisi od njegove umešnosti, inteligencije, sluha, sreće i naklonosti zvezda.

Može li pisac da bude pasivan posmatrač?

Pisac, po definiciji, ne sme da bude pasivan. Pišući on uzima ulogu u svetu kako bi pretočio svoje iskustvo u reči. Ne možete to učiniti ukoliko sedite i vrtite palčevima.

Šta Vas privlači pisanju, čitanju, jeziku…?

Jezik nas definiše: kao vrstu, čovek je produkt jezika. Reći da gajim strast prema jeziku je isto što i reći da gajim strast prema životu. A zaista je tako.

Kako se i zašto (naročito danas) vrši nasilje nad jezikom?

Putem jezika preispitujemo svet u kojem živmo. Oni na vlasti nam, međutim, ograničavaju upotrebu jezika. To je prva stvar koju diktatori urade: cenzurišu jezik kako bi podjarmili pojedinca. Diktatori vole cenzuru, iako sa njom nikad nisu imali puno uspeha. Čak ni mučenje ni ubistvo ne uspevaju da uguše glas pojedinca. Sokrat je bio osuđen na smrt, ali mi i dalje čujemo njegov glas zahvaljujući Platonovim delima. Manguel-1

Možemo li govoriti o umetnosti čitanja?

Naravno. Poput svake druge ljudske aktivnosti, postoje talentovani čitaoci koji, tokom vremena, razvijaju svoju estetiku i metode čitanja, koje se menjaju tokom generacija. I među čitaocima se može naći poneki Mikelanđelo: Deni Didro, Horhe Luis Borhes, Virdžinija Vulf, David Albahari…

Postoje li istinski čitaoci?

Naravno. Kada bude umro poslednji čitalac, umreće poslednji čovek na zemlji. Svi smo mi čitaoci, iako mnogi od nas ne čitaju knjige.

Koliko je književnost u stanju da izmeni čitaoca?

U velikoj meri, što ne mora da znači da ga i menja. Hitler je čitao Šekspira, ali ga to nije promenilo, dok je Brodski čitao Odena, koji mu je promenio život.

Koje pisce volite da čitate? I zašto?

Previše ih ima da bih ih sve naveo. Moja naklonost prema piscima zavisi od mog raspoloženja i doba dana u kojem ih čitam. Ponekad je to Dante, ponekad Luis Kerol, a ponekad je to neki novi pisac za kojeg još uvek ne znam da ću ga čitati.

Šta vas je „nateralo“ da napišete knjigu „Istorija čitanja“? Da li je bilo teško pisati je?

Napisao sam je kako bih shvatio ko sam i čime se bavim. Napisavši je, shvatio sam koliko sam slabo poznavao sebe i svoj zanat. I da, bilo ju je teško napisati, jer sam za svako pitanje morao da pročitam nekoliko desetina knjiga kako bih na njega našao odgovor.

Napisali ste „Biblioteku noću“, jednu od najlepših knjiga koje sam ikada pročitala u životu. Roman, jer to je za mene roman, napisali ste kao pasionirani zaljubljenik u knjige. Kako ste došli na ideju da napišete ovakvu knjigu?

Vrlo ste ljubazni; drago mi je da vam se knjiga dopala. Zanimljivo je da ju je američki izdavač, koji je prvobitno trebalo da je objavi – Džonatan Galasi iz izdavačke kuće Ferar Straus – odbio, uz obrazloženje da ima manje od 300 stranica koliko je bilo predviđeno ugovorom. Srećom, nisu svi izdavači budale, pa je knjigu objavio Jejl univerzitet (Yale University Press).

Knjigu sam počeo da pišem jer sam želeo da pokažem ljudima kako svaki čovek organizuje svoj svet onako kako bi ga najbolje razumeo: biblioteka je bila savršen simbol za to. Baš sam u to doba dovršio sređivanje svoje biblioteke u novoj kući u Francuskoj, pa mi je način na koji sam je oformio i uredio bio svež u pameti.

07photo-philippe-matsasImate veliku biblioteku. Možete li nam reći nešto o njoj? Kako je nastala, sećate li se kako ste kupili svoju prvu knjigu, šta najviše volite da čitate?

Moja je biblioteka rasla zajedno sa mnom. Čine je nekoliko različitih biblioteka koje sam sakupljao na različitim mestima, a potom napuštao ili skladištio u podrume. Sve dok nisam pronašao kuću u Francuskoj, živeo sam u malim stanovima, pa je moja kolekcija knjiga morala da bude mala. Sada su, zahvaljujući zvezdama, sve pod jednim krovom i polako se šire.

Prva knjiga koju sam kupio bila je nemačka knjiga o prirodi za decu, izvrsno ilustrovana, pod nazivom „Svet u kojem živimo“.

Šta najviše volim da čitam? Ne bih tačno znao da kažem. Trenutno mi pored kreveta stoje: esej o anarhizmu, roman Dejvisa Robertsona, zbirka horor priča koju je priredio Alfred Hičkok, španski prevod romana Gorana Petrovića i Simenonov detektivski roman.

Pišete li po marginama svojih knjiga, i ako pišete – šta pišete?

Pišem, da, oduvek sam to činio. Pišem komentare, zapisujem uzvičnike (kako bi me podsetili da mi se nešto dopalo, ili nije), i uspravne linije, kako bih obeležio pasus i stranicu na kojoj se nalazi, kako bih ga upotrebio u nekom od svojih budućih tekstova.

Da li ćete opet pisati o knjigama, i ako hoćete – kada?

Završio sam knjigu „Putnik, kula i crv: Čitalac kao metafora“ (The Traveller, the Tower and the Worm: The Reader as Metaph), koja bi trebalo da izađe iz štampe krajem 2013. godine (University of Pennsylvania Press).

Prevela i razgovarala: Tamara Lujak

Bosanska vila, br. 59-60, str. 43, Sarajevo, 2014.

121003162106594_45_000_apx_470_

Alberto Manguel, The miracle of storytelling

 

A skilled writer, translator and editor Alberto Manguel needs no introduction. He grew up, as a man and as a writer, under the „baton“ of the famous, well-known Jorge Luis Borges, and that is clearly seen in his life attitudes and literary works. It is sufficient to mention just some of them: „The library at night,“ „With Borges“, „Stevenson under the palm trees“, „All men are liars“… How he sees the language, words, writing… are just some of the „secrets“ that we discovered talking to this famous writer.

Although originally from Argentina, erudite writer Alberto Manguel has Canadian citizenship; he lives and works in the French province, and has a library of 30.000 books. He is the author whose works are translated on Serbian. He is respected and popular among our readers – he is the winner of the „Milovan Vidakovich“ prize – which he won at the International Festival of prose in Novi Sad.

 

A man can play with words. How do you, as a writer, play with words?

Rather than play with words, words play with me. I’m convinced that, even though language is the instrument that we use to communicate, our communication is, to a great extent, determined by this instrument. In particular, each language fashions our thought and experience through its own characteristics. We don’t have the same thoughts in English as in Urdu, in Icelandic as in Spanish. Language, to a great extent, defines us and our ways of thinking. Hamlet’s „To be or not to be“ cannot come up naturally in Spanish, for instance, where „to be“ exists in two forms: „ser„, which means being as an existential state, and „estar“ which means being in space. So, for Hamlet’s question to occur to a Spanish Shakespeare, it would have to be phrased as: „To be in time and to be in space or not to be in time and not to be in space“, which is nonsense.

Do you take notes before writing or…

Indeed I take notes. I fill whole notebooks with notes which I afterwards use to write my pieces. I also write on the margins of my books: I find it is a form of dialogue with the author.

A writer expresses only his anger and loneliness through his writing or…

A writer can express anything he wants in his writing, but whether the reader recognizes that expression is a question of skill, intelligence, an ear for music, luck and the kindness of the stars.

Can a writer be a passive observer?

A writer, by definition, can’t be passive. To write is to take action in the world, in order to put experience into words. You can’t do that sitting back and twiddling your thumbs.

Why are you so passionate about writing, reading, language itself…?

Because language is what defines us: as a species, humans are creatures of language. To say that I’m passionate about language is equivalent to saying that I’m passionate about living. Indeed I am.

Violence against language today: how and why?

Because through language we can question the world around us, those in power try to curtail our use of language. It’s the first thing a dictatorship does: censor language in order to stultify individuals. Censorship, which has never truly worked, is the preferred weapon of dictatorships. Even torture and murder don’t succeed in fully silencing the voice of the individual. Socrates was condemned to death but we still hear his voice in Plato’s books. alberto-manguel-library-1-copy

Can we talk about the art of reading?

Of course. Like every human activity, it has its more or less talented practitioners who, over time, develop an aesthetic and a method, and these change from generation to generation. Reading too has its Michelangelos: Denis Diderot, Jorge Luis Borges, Virginia Woolf, David Albahari…

Are there any true readers (left)?

Of course. When the last reader dies the last human being will have died. We are reading creatures, even if many of us don’t read books.

Can a literature change the readers?

Yes, it can. That does not mean that it necessarily does. Hitler read Shakespeare and it didn’t change him. But Brodsky read Auden and it transformed his life.

Who are your favorite writers and why?

They are too many to name. And they are my favorites depending on the time of day and my state of mind. Sometimes it’s Dante, sometimes it’s Lewis Carroll. And sometimes it’s the next author I’m going to read and I don’t yet know he’s my favorite.

What compelled you to write “A History of Reading”? Was it hard for you to write it?

I wrote it to understand who I was and what I did. And writing it, I came to know how much I didn’t know about myself and my craft. And yes, it was very hard, because my ignorance is such that for every question I had to study dozens of books in order to learn something of the subject at hand.

You wrote the most beautiful book I’ve ever read: „The Library at Night“. It is a novel, for me, a novel written by a man in love (with books). How did you came up with an idea to write such a book?

You are too kind; I’m glad the book pleased you. Interestingly enough, the American publisher who was first going to publish the book –Jonathan Galassi at Farrar Straus — read the manuscript and rejected it because, he said, „it was shorter than the 300 pages required by the contract.“ Fortunately, not every publisher is an imbecile and the book was picked up by Yale University Press.

My idea was to write a book about the human desire to organize the universe in order to understand it: the library was the obvious emblem of such an enterprise. And I had just finished setting up my library in my house in France, so the questions about order and collecting books were fresh in my mind.

manguel-albertoYou have a big library. Can you tell me something about it? How did it grow, do you remember buying your first book, what do you like reading about the most?

My library has grown with me. It is made up of several libraries begun in different places and then abandoned or sent into storage. Until I found my house in France, I’d lived in small apartments, and therefore my collection of books had to be small. I would send away boxes of books into storage, but I could hear them calling out to me at night. Now, thank the stars, they are all under one roof and growing daily.

The first book I bought was a German nature book for children with wonderful illustrations, called The World in Which We Live.

What do I like reading most? I can’t say. Right now, by my bed are: an essay on anarchism, a novel by Robertson Davies, a collection of horror stories collected by Alfred Hitchcock, a Spanish translation of a novel by Goran Petrović, and a detective novel by Simenon.

Do you write on the margins of your books, and if you do, what do you write?

Yes, I do, I’ve always done this. I write comments, exclamation marks (to remind me that I liked something, or that I didn’t) and straight lines to mark a passage that I note on the last page, with page number for future reference.

Will you be writing about books again, and if you are – when?

I’ve finished a book called The Traveller, the Tower and the Worm: The Reader as Metaphor, which will be published by University of Pennsylvania Press next month.

 

Interview and translation by

Tamara Lujak

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