Incarnadine was not the word

Incarnadine was not the word, but it was the word from which we wrung the bloody red that we needed in the words that thrust the end of the novel into the universe with all that which preceded it.

It is a pity my Macbeth faltered just when it would have been nice to toss that snippet into the air around the table at which we sat.  Never mind, here it is now:


     Whence is that knocking?
How is ’t with me when every noise appals me?
What hands are here? Ha! They pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.
Act II, Sc. iv.


Of course, I cannot be more specific yet.

What I can say is that the brainstorming to find the words to fit took place between the author, that translator and me, the copy-editor, of a novel to be launched two months from now.

We did not stop until we found the words – and thanks to Shakespeare, incarnadine was not one of them, nor would it have done the job!

There is nothing automatic about the writing of a novel; it takes great skill, an imagination, and a voice forceful enough to say something. So, too, translating a novel; the same is true of revising – to an extent, anyhow.

Today,  I read a novel from beginning to end – in one sitting, as they say. This is the first time I am reading something that has now assumed its true form as a novel in English.  I know the translator has read the whole thing through several times; I have a different method, which precludes such repetitive behaviour.

Christmas 2017 (2)

This is the same novel the translator has been translating from Portuguese for the last month, and sending me what she has produced in batches. This is the same translation of a novel I have been revising for the last month, and sending the batches back to her, and so on. This is the same novel—complete but not finalised—for which the translator and I travelled equal distances to meet first with each other, and then with the author, in Lisbon, to discuss and resolve the few outstanding queries.

How wonderful to have such an enthusiastic author.  How gratifying to work with a translator with whom I already know I work so well, for we have paired up several times over the years. This back and forth, back and forth, and then some brainstorming with the author, and text all resolved, but needing one more check by me followed by one more check by the translator, followed by one more of each, only not everything, just certain bits…

And, finally, the novel is sent to the publisher, who, somewhat amusingly, replied, “And now, to work…”!  We will exhale when the gong goes and someone says the book is printed and copies are on their way. Until then, we will simply be grateful that incarnadine is a word, but even more grateful that incarnadine was not the word in the book.

©2018 Allison Wright

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