chapter  5
Applying the Methodology (Part 2)
The Translation of Punctuation
WithRoy Youdale
Pages 30

Given that sentence length and structure are important elements of literary style, this chapter argues that in Gracias por el Fuego they are distinctive in relation to contemporary Latin American writers, and that assessing their stylistic importance benefits from the use of close and distant reading. It is argued that Benedetti’s extensive use of short sentences – mainly in the 4–10-word length range – when combined with the constant use of the present tense and a dominant interior monologue narrative framework, acts to draw the reader in to the central character’s worldview. It is also argued that the use of intra-sentential punctuation within both short and long sentences makes a significant contribution to stylistic effect in different ways, and that altering this in translation can result in stylistic and narrative shifts. This is illustrated by reference to the French translation of Gracias por el Fuego, L’Étincelle and three English translations of Benedetti’s short story ‘La Familia Iriarte’. The result of this analysis is to establish the maintenance of sentence length and structure as a goal for the English translation of Gracias por el Fuego, with particular reference to both very short and very long sentences.