Translation and Interpretation of Rosa Chacel’s Sonnets a La Orrilla De Un Pozo at the Edge of a Well

Author: Pieropan, Maria
Each of these sonnets, written in the early 30s, is written to a friend, relative or acquaintance of Chacel’s, and is a critical commentary on that person’s life circumstances. A prescription for action is contained in the tercets. Included among these are luminaries such as Pablo Neruda and Nikos Kazantzakis. The sonnets’ most unique feature is their deliberately cryptic nature: each poem is an erudite riddle. Without thorough and arduous investigation of a term’s symbolic, intertextual and linguistic complexity, the reader’s understanding of the sonnets is hindered. This book is the sole study of the sonnets, and the fundamental guide to decoding their content and dissecting their formal complexity. An introductory chapter that contextualizes Chacel as a Spanish poet, presents the circumstances surrounding the creation of the sonnets and a description of their content and form. Succeeding chapters investigate form, imagery, language, themes. An appendix presents each of the 30 sonnets in the original Spanish with a facing page English translation.


“. . . sheds important critical light on a fascinating collection of sonnets that has received scant critical attention to date. . . . After an outstanding initial chapter on Chacel’s poetic credo, there follow chapters of rigorous textual analysis on imagery, language, and theme. The brief concluding chapter, an analysis of sonnet #22, offers a magnificent example of the joys to be found in a close reading brilliantly performed. . . . This study’s conclusions regarding the collection’s organic unity are masterfully argued and quite convincing. Finally, Pieropan’s translations of the sonnets will be a great help to readers with little or no knowledge of Spanish.” – Mark C. Aldrich