Tag Archives: Roger W. Smith translation into Spanish of passage from George Gissing

Roger W. Smith, translation into Spanish of passage from George Gissing


passage from Gissing

Roger’s Gissing translation


Posted here (above) as downloadable PDF documents is an assignment of mine in an advanced class in Spanish grammar and composition taught by Professor Susana Redondo de Feldman, Chairman of the Spanish and Portuguese Department at Columbia University.

The assignment was to translate a lyrical passage from George Gissing’s The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft from English into Spanish. It was a challenging assignment, and a fun and rewarding one.

George Gissing (1857-1903) was an English novelist who — while he has by no means been forgotten and is still read today — should be much better known. The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft is a semi-fictional autobiographical work in which the author casts himself as the editor of the diary of a deceased acquaintance.

I had hitherto been unacquainted with Gissing. The assignment, giving me sudden exposure to Gissing’s prose up close, made me want badly to read him. But, the book from which the passage was taken was not identified. It took me a long time to find which of Gissing’s books the passage came from.

I became a great admirer of Gissing — both as a storyteller in the realistic mode and as a masterful prose stylist (I admired, for example, his impressive vocabulary in The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft) — and have read many of his novels.


— Roger W. Smith

  August 2017



George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Rycroft, Chapter XXIII

Every morning when I awake, I thank heaven for silence. This is my orison. I remember the London days when sleep was broken by clash and clang, by roar and shriek, and when my first sense on returning to consciousness was hatred of the life about me. Noises of wood and metal, clattering of wheels, banging of implements, jangling of bells–all such things are bad enough, but worse still is the clamorous human voice. Nothing on earth is more irritating to me than a bellow or scream of idiot mirth, nothing more hateful than a shout or yell of brutal anger. Were it possible, I would never again hear the utterance of a human tongue, save from those few who are dear to me.

Here, wake at what hour I may, early or late, I lie amid gracious stillness. Perchance a horse’s hoof rings rhythmically upon the road; perhaps a dog barks from a neighbour farm; it may be that there comes the far, soft murmur of a train from the ether side of Exe; but these are almost the only sounds that could ever force themselves upon my ear. A voice, at any time of the day, is the rarest thing.

But there is the rustle of branches in the morning breeze; there is the music of a sunny shower against the window; there is the matin song of birds. …



Todas las mañanas cuando me despierto, yo doy gracias a Dios por el silencio. Esto es mi oración. Recuerdo aquellos días londineses, cuando mí sueño se interrumpía por fuertes sonidos metálicos y penetrantes gritos agudos, por ruidos y chillidos, cuando mi primera sensación al recobrar el conocimiento era el de odio hacia la vida que me rodeaba. Ruidos de madera y metal, el traqueteo de ruedas, el golpetazo de utensilios, el cencerro de campanas–cosas semejantes son suficienmente malas, pero aún peor es el clamor de la voz humana. Nada me irrita, nada es más detestable que un bramido o chillido de ira brutal. Si fuera posible, yo no oiría nunca jamás la manifestación de ninguna voz humana, salvo de los pocos que me son queridos.

Aquí–no importa a que hora me despierte, temprano o tarde–reposo en medio de una tranqulidad grata. Quizá los cascos de un caballo resuenen rítmicamente a lo largo del camino; acaso un perro ladre desde una granja vieja; tal vez llegue de lejos del otro lado del Exe el murmullo suave de un tren. Pero estos son casi los únicos sonidos que podrían imponerse a mis oídos. El sonido de una voz, a cualquier hora del día, es algo rarísimo.

Pero hay en cambio el susurro de las ramas en la brisa matinal; hay la música de una lluvia soleada tocando en mi ventana; hay la canción matutina de los pájaros. …

— translation by Roger W. Smith