David Copperfield



David Copperfield, de Charles Dickens, fue publicada como novela en 1850. El título completo de la novela es The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account). En estos párrafos David Copperfield cuenta de su nacimiento, ligado a la buena o mala suerte, de acuerdo a las tradiciones de la época. ¿Qué es caul? Al final su aclaración y algo sobre la tradición folklórica.

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.
In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighbourhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits; both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night.
I need say nothing here, on the first head, because nothing can show better than my history whether that prediction was verified or falsified by the result. On the second branch of the question, I will only remark, that unless I ran through that part of my inheritance while I was still a baby, I have not come into it yet. But I do not at all complain of having been kept out of this property; and if anybody else should be in the present enjoyment of it, he is heartily welcome to keep it.

I was born with a caul, which was advertised for sale, in the newspapers, at the low price of fifteen guineas. Whether sea-going people were short of money about that time, or were short of faith and preferred cork jackets, I don’t know; all I know is, that there was but one solitary bidding, and that was from an attorney connected with the bill-broking business, who offered two pounds in cash, and the balance in sherry, but declined to be guaranteed from drowning on any higher bargain. Consequently the advertisement was withdrawn at a dead loss—for as to sherry, my poor dear mother’s own sherry was in the market then—and ten years afterwards, the caul was put up in a raffle down in our part of the country, to fifty members at half-a-crown a head, the winner to spend five shillings. I was present myself, and I remember to have felt quite uncomfortable and confused, at a part of myself being disposed of in that way. The caul was won, I recollect, by an old lady with a hand-basket, who, very reluctantly, produced from it the stipulated five shillings, all in halfpence, and twopence halfpenny short—as it took an immense time and a great waste of arithmetic, to endeavour without any effect to prove to her. It is a fact which will be long remembered as remarkable down there, that she was never drowned, but died triumphantly in bed, at ninety-two. I have understood that it was, to the last, her proudest boast, that she never had been on the water in her life, except upon a bridge; and that over her tea (to which she was extremely partial) she, to the last, expressed her indignation at the impiety of mariners and others, who had the presumption to go ‘meandering’ about the world. It was in vain to represent to her that some conveniences, tea perhaps included, resulted from this objectionable practice. She always returned, with greater emphasis and with an instinctive knowledge of the strength of her objection, ‘Let us have no meandering.’
Not to meander myself, at present, I will go back to my birth… (David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens.)

Para saber
Caul /kol/: saco amniótico
Caul (Latín: Caput galeatum, literalmente, "helmeted head") es un pedazo de membrana que puede cubrir la cabeza y la cara de un recién nacido. El nacer con el saco amniótico es raro, ocurriendo menos de 1 en 80.000 nacimientos. La membrana no es dañina y es removida por el médico o la partera al nacer el niño.
De acuerdo a Aelius Lampridius, el emperador Diadumenian se llamó de esa forma porque nació con una diadema formada por una placenta enrollada.
En la edad media la aparición de la placenta en un niño era visto como un signo de buena suerte. Era considerado que el chico estaba destinado a la grandeza. Juntar la placenta en un papel era considerado una importante tradición: la partera raspaba la cabeza y la cara del bebé con un pedazo de papel. La membrana era luego presentada a la madre, para ser guardada como una joya. Algunas tradiciones europeas modernas relacionan el nacimiento del niño con el saco amniótico a la habilidad de defender la fertilidad y la cosecha contra las fuerzas del mal, como las brujas.
Surgió la idea que la posesión de la placenta de un bebé daría a su dueño buena fortuna y protegería a la persona de la muerte por ahogamiento. Eran, en consecuencia, muy preciadas por los marineros. En la edad media se las vendía por grandes sumas de dinero.
No todas las creencias culturales sobre el saco amniótico son positivas. En el folklore de Rumania, se cree que los bebes nacidos con una placenta en la cabeza serán vampiros al morir.

Meandering: meander: to proceed by or take a winding or indirect course.
The stream meandered through the valley.

Artículos relacionados
A Christmas Carol, some paragraphs in English.
Fuentes
David Copperfield, in English from Gutenberg.
Caul, from Wikipedia.
How to pronounce, a web to help with your English pronunciation.

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