Translation from NER 36.1
from Memories in Ruins
There was no other neighborhood in São Paulo more propitious to cultivating Austro-Hungarian obsessions than Sumaré—obsessions that, frustrated over there, had found fertile soil over here, and could develop freely. Drüben—on the other side—there had been a correct order for everything: a framework that shaped our souls and allowed us to put everything in its assigned place, according to a hierarchy sanctified over time, and which we held in the same regard as the ten Sephirot of the Kabbalistic tree. It was an order we clung to as we might the very tree of life, and that showed us the true value of all things. Thanks to this order we—unlike the nameless poor of undefined race—were not colonized, nor were we akin to those displaced Jews who turned up like beggars on the doorsteps of unknown lands. We wanted to believe this would make us Europeans: Europeans in places of exile, like Sumaré, where we dreamt of founding our colony of expats—a colony that would be a real Gartensiedlung: a neighborhood of gardens cultivated skillfully and efficiently; of impeccably organized libraries; of intact inheritances from grandparents and great grandparents; a neighborhood of stamp collectors and alchemists; of orchid lovers and men of letters; where the cool breezes and shady gardens would bring respite from all cares and relief from all pain—a world that was like a book itself, where we imagined we would not be swallowed by time and by history, by the hurricane that blows from Paradise, but where we would be safe: a vegetable patch and an orchard that neither the heat nor the despair that oppressed the city’s streets could penetrate; our city of peace, the port of our happiness. There would be permanence and durability here, and we longed for the seasons to come, each in its turn: the heat of the dry season and the rain of the rainy season and the cold of the cold season.
—translated from the Portuguese by Ana Fletcher
Luis S. Krausz, born in São Paulo, holds a PhD from the Universidade de São Paulo where he teaches Jewish Literature. He is the recipient of several literary prizes in Brazil, including the Jabuti Prize and the Benvirá Prize.
Ana Fletcher is an editor and translator based in Rio de Janeiro. She holds an MA in Comparative Literature from University College London. Her translations from Portuguese and Spanish have been published in Granta, Music and Literature, and Wasafiri.