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•t

OPUO.l!D O!.IaA!IO

Oliverio Girondo

S,Qre,row
& other ""omQliel
A Xenos DuaI-Language Edition
translated from the Spanish by

Gilbert AIter-Gilbert
with an anti-preface by Karl August K vitko

"XENOS

F300Kc:::5

Original texts © Herederos Sucesión Oliverio Girondo Contact: Susana. Lange de Maggi susyfjord@tutopia.com English translation © 2002 by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert All rights reserved This Xenos Books publication was made possible by a gift from the Sonia Raiziss-Giop Charitable Foundation. Front cover art: Alfredo Castañeda, "Cuando el espejo sueña con otra imagen" (1988), reproduced with permissionfrom The Bonino Gallery, New York, New York. Back cover: Oliverio Girando, Espanatapájaros (1932); photograph courtesy of El Museo de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires. Frontispiece: Portrait of Oliverio Girondo, drawing by Carlos Alonso (1970), reproduced witñ the permission 01 the artist. Book design by Karl Kvitko

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publieation

Data

Girondo, Oliverio, 1891-1967. [Seleetions, English & Spanish, 2002] Seareerow & other anomalies / Oliverio Girondo ; translated from the Spanish by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert with an anti-prefaee by Karl August Kvitko. p.em. "Xenos dual-language ed." Ineludes bibliographie referenees. ISBN 1-879378-21-3 (pbk.) 1. Girondo, Oliverio, 1891-1967--Translations into English. l. Title: Seareerow & other anomalies. 11. Alter-Gilbert, Gilbert_ 111. T i t le, PQ7797.G535 A23 2001 861~.62--de21 2001026983

Published by Xenos Books, P.O. Box 52152, Riverside, CA 92517. Tel. (909) 370-2229. Website: www.xenosbooks.com.Printed in USA by Van Volumes Ltd., Three Rivers, MA 01080

ESPANTAPAJAROS
(al alcance de todos)

,

SCARECROW
Accessible To Al!

Yo no sé nada Tú no sabes nada Ud. no sabe nada Él no sabe nada Ellos no saben nada Ellas no saben nada Uds. no saben nada Nosotros no sabemos nada. La desorientación de mi generación tiene su explicación en la dirección de nuestra educación, cuya idealización de la acción, era -¡sin discusión! - una mistificación, en contradicción con nuestra propensión a la meditación, a la contemplación y a la masturbación. (Gutural, lo más guturalmente que se pueda.) Creo que creo en lo que creo que no creo. y creo que no creo en lo que creo que creo. «Cantar de las ranas»

I know nothing You know nothing Thou knowest nothing He knows nothing Men know nothing Women know nothing You all know nothing None of us knows anything at all. The disorientation of my generation has its explanation in the direction of our education, whose idealization of action, was - without question! - a mystification, in distinction to our passion for meditation, contemplation and masturbation. (Guttural, as guttural as can be.) I believe 1 believe in that which I believe 1 do not believe. And 1 believe I don't believe in what 1 believe I believe. "Song of the froggies"

¡Y ¡Y ¿A¿A ¡Y ¡Y su ba llí llá su ba bo jo es es bo jo las las tá? tá? las las es es ¡A ¡A es es ea ea quí cá ea ea le le no no le le ras ras es es ras ras arri aba tá tá arri aba ba!. .. jo!. . . !.. . !. .. ba!... jo!. ..

A A A Is Is nd nd it it nd th thi a be be a ere bove low ther low bove the the ? the ? the It stair lad It lad stair ways ders is is ders ways n't cur n't climb cur climb ing ving hi he ving ing ther under re over under over neath! ! head! neath! ! head!

A

nd

[4}

[5}

Jamás se había oído el menor roce de cadenas. Las botellas no manifestaban ningún deseo de incorporarse. Al día siguiente de colocar un botón sobre una mesa, se le encontraba en el mismo sitio. El vino y los retratos envejecían con dignidad. Era posible afeitarse ante cualquier espejo, sin que se rasgara a la altura de la carótida; pero bastaba que un invitado tocase la campanilla y penetrara en el vestíbulo, para que cometiese los más grandes descuidos; alguna de esas distracciones imperdonables, que pueden conducirnos hasta el suicidio. En el acto de entregar su tarjeta, por ejemplo, los visitantes se sacaban los pantalones, y antes de ser introducidos en el salón se subían hasta el ombligo los faldones de la camisa. Al ir a saludar a la dueña de casa, una fuerza irresistible los obligaba a sonars~ las narices con los visillos, y al querer preguntarle por su mando, le preguntaban por sus dientes postizos. A pesar de un enorme esfuerzo de voluntad, nadie llegaba a dominar la tentación de repetir: "Cuernos de vaca", si alguien se refería a las señoritas de la casa, y cuando éstas ofrecían una taza de té, los invitados se colgaban de las arañas, para reprimir el deseo de morderles las pantorrillas. El mismo embajador de Inglaterra, un inglés reseco en el protocolo, con un bigote usado, como uno de esos cepillos de dientes que se utilizan para embetunar los botines, en vez de aceptar la copa de champagne que le brindaban, se arrodilló en medio del salón para olfatear las flores de la alfombra, y después de aproximarse a un pedestal, levantó la pata como un perro.

y ou couIdn't hear a sound, not even a faint rattling of chains.

The bottles stood still, showing no desire to move from the spot. The day after a button was put on the table you found it still in the same place. The wine and the portraits were gaining dignity with age. You couId shave in any mirror without fear of running a cut all the way to your carotid; but no sooner had the first guests rung the bell and stepped into the vestibule than they began to commit the most outlandish incivilities, each of these unpardonable disturbances driving us dangerously close to an unintended suicide. During the act of proffering their calling cards, for example, the visitors fumbled so clumsily that they al! but climbed out of their trousers, and they proceeded into the salon with their shirttails flapping around their navels. As they carnein to greet their hostess, some irresistible force compelled them to blow their noses on the curtains, and when they wanted to inquire about her husband, they asked about his false teeth instead. Even with the fiercest application of willpower, no one couId overcome the temptation to repeat "holy cow!" each time someone referred to the young ladies of the house; and when the latter offered them a cup of tea, the guests climbed up into the chandeliers to restrain their desire to bite at their calves. Even the British ambassador, an Englishman steeped in protocol and sporting a well-worn mustache, like one of those toothbrushes one uses to blacken one's boots, did not accept the bumper of champagne offered him, but instead knelt down in the middle of the salon in order to smell the flowers printed on the carpet; then, after sidling up alongside a pedestal, he lifted his hind leg like a dogo

[10]

[11]

4

Nunca he dejado de llevar la vida humilde que puede permitirse un modesto empleado de correos. ¡Pues! mi mujer - que tiene la manía de pensar en voz alta y de decir todo 10 que le pasa por la cabeza - se empeña en atribuirme los destinos más absurdos que pueden imaginarse. Ahora mismo, mientras leía los diarios de la tarde, me preguntó sin ninguna clase de preámbulos: "¿Por qué no abandonaste el gato yel hogar? ¡Ha de ser tan lindo embarcarse en una fragatal., Durante las noches de luna, los marineros se reúnen sobre cubierta. Algunos tocan el acordeón, otros acarician una mujer de goma. Tú fumas la pipa en compañía de un amigo. El mar te ha endurecido las pupilas. Has visto demasiados atardeceres. ¿Con qué puerto, con qué ciudad no te has acostado alguna noche? ¿Las velas serán capaces de brindarte un horizonte nuevo? Un día en que la calma ya es una maldición, bajas a tu cucheta, desanudas un pañuelo de seda, te ahorcas con una trenza de mujer." y no contenta con hacerme navegar por todo el mundo, cuando hace diez y seis años que estoy anclado en el correo: "¿Recuerdas las que tenía cuando me conociste?.. En ese tiempo me imaginaba que serías soldado y mis pezones se incendiaban al pensar que tendrías un pecho aspero, como un felpudo.

The only life 1 had ever known was the humble one afforded me by my position as an employee of the post office. So my wife, who has a manía for thinking out loud and saying the first thing that pops into her head, took it upon herself to assign me fortunes more absurd than any you would ever lmagme.
I

Out of the blue, while reading the evening papers, she tumed to me and asked, without preliminaries: "Why didn't you give up the house and the cat? It would have been so niee to take a cruise on a frigate!... During the moonlit nights, the sailors gather on deck beneath the outspread sails. Some play the accordion, others fondle a rubber woman. You smoke your pipe with a mate. The sea has hardened your pupils. Y ou have seen it all, Is there any port, is there any city where you have not spent the night? Does there yet remain some undiscovered horizon towards which the sails may loft you? One day when the calm has become a curse, you will go down to your bunk, untie your silk kerchief and hang yourself with a woman's pigtail." And not content with having me circumnavigate the globe, even though I've been at anchor in the post office for more than seventeen years: "Do you remember the braids 1 had when you first met me? .. At that time 1 imagined that you would become a soldier, and my nipples caught fire at the thought that you would have a rugged, hairy chest, like a doormat.

,

., ..

[12]

[13]

"Eras fuerte. Escalaste los muros de un monasterio. Te acostaste con la abadesa. La dejaste preñada. ¿A qué tiempo, a qué nación pertenece tu historia? ... Te has jugado la vida tantas veces, que posees un olor a barajas usadas. ¡Con qué avidez, con qué ternura yo te besaba las heridas! Eras brutal. Eras taciturno. Te gustaban los quesos que saben a verija de sátiro... y la primera noche, al poseerme, me destrozaste el espi~azo en el respaldo de la cama." y como me dispusiera a demostrarle que lejos de cometer esas barbaridades, no he ambicionado, durante toda mi existencia, más que ingresar en el Club Social de Vélez Sársfield: "Ahora te veo arrodillado en una iglesia con olor a bodega. "Mírate las manos; sólo sirven para hojear misales. Tu humildad es tan grande que te avergüenzas de tu pureza, de tu sabiduría. Te hincas a cada instante para besar las hojas que se quejan y que suspiran. Cuando una mujer te mira, bajas los párpados y te sientes desnudo. Tu sudor es grato a las prostitutas y a los perros. Te gusta caminar, con fiebre, bajo la lluvia. Te gusta acostarte, en pleno campo, a mirar las estrellas ... "Una noche - en que te hallas con Dios - entras en un establo, sin que nadie te vea, y te estiras sobre la paja, para morir abrazado al pescuezo de alguna vaca..."

y ou were strong. You scaled the walls of the convento You
went to bed with the abbess. You left her pregnant. To what time, to what place, does a story like yours belong? ... You have played the game of life so many times that you have the smell of a worn deck of cards. With what eagerness, with what tenderness 1 kissed your wounds! You were savage! You were silent! You liked cheeses that tasted like a satyr's groin ... and the first night, when you possessed me, you broke my spine against the backboard of the bed." And before 1 could prove just how far 1 was from perpetrating these barbarities, that 1 aspired to nothing greater, during my entire lifetime, than gaining admission to the Vélez-Sársfield Country Club: "Now 1 see you kneeling in a church with the smell of a wine cellar. "Look at your hands; they are good for nothing but turning the pages of missals. Your meekness is so great that you are ashamed of your purity, of your prudence. You fall on your knees at every moment to kiss the pages that sigh and complain. When a woman looks at you, you lower your eyelids and feel naked and ashamed. Your sweat is pleasing to prostitutes and dogs. You like to walk feverish through the rain. you like to lie down in an open field and gaze up at the stars ... "One night - in which you come face to face with Godyou will enter a stable without being seen and stretch out on the straw, so as to die with your arms around the neck of sóme old cow ... "

.n

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11
Si .h~biera sospechado SUICIdo.

11
Jfl'd had the slightest inkling of what 1 was going to hear after eath, 1 would never have committed suicide. carcely has the bit of music that spoils our final moments begun to fade and we close our eyes to sleep for all eternity than the arguments and family scenes begin. What disregard for good form! What absolute lack of composure! What ignorance of what it means to die well! A tenement house full of ill-wed Calabrians in full conjugal catastrophe couldn'r give even an approximate notion of the hurly-burly produced every momento Wrule some neighbor kicks around inside rus casket, those next door trade insults like truck drivers, and at the same time that something moves and clatters, peals of laughter emerge from those who inhabit the tomb in front. Some cadaver considers it rus right to make known at the top of rus lungs desires that he had successfu11y rep~ess:d duri~g rus entire existence as a citizen, and, not content with informing us of rus every meanness and infamy, within five minutes of our being installed in our niche he makes us privy to the thoughts and opinions that all the other inhabitants of the cemetery have about uso It is useless to plug up your ears. The cornments, the sarcastic snickers the rubble that falls from who knows where so torment us' at every moment of the day and insomniac night that it's enough to make us want to commit suicide all over again.

10 que se oye después de muerto, no me

~p.enas se desvanece la musiquita que nos echó a perder los ultlI~oS mom~ntos y cerramos los ojos para dormir la etermdad, empIezan las discusiones y las escenas de familia. ¡Qué desconocimiento de las formas! ¡Qué carencia absoluta de compostura! ¡Qué ignorancia de lo que es bien morir! Ni un conventillo de calabreses malcasados, en plena catástrofe conyugal, daría una noción aproximada de las bataholas que se producen a cada instante. Mi~ntras algún vecino patalea dentro de su cajón, los de alIado se Insultan como carreros, y al mismo tiempo que resuena un estruendo a mudanza, se oyen las carcajadas de los que habitan en la tumba de enfrente. C~alquier cadáver se considera con el derecho de manifestar a gr~tos l~s deseos que había logrado reprimir durante toda su eXIsten:Ia de ciudadano, y no Contento con enteramos de sus :nezqumdades, de sus infamias, a los cinco minutos de hallarnos Instalados en nuestro nicho, .nos interioriza de lo que opinan sobre nosotros todos los habitanres del cementerio. I?~ na~a ,sir:veque nos tapemos las orejas. Los comentarios, las risrtas ironrcas, los cascotes que caen de no se sabe dónde, nos atormentan en tal forma los minutos del día y del insomnio que nos dan ganas de suicidarnos nueVamente. '

[381

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Aunque parezca mentira - esas humillaciones - ese continuo estruendo resulta mil veces preferible a los momentos de calma y de silencio. Por lo común, éstos sobrevienen con una brusquedad de síncope. De pronto, sin el menor indicio, caemos en el vacío. Imposible asirse a alguna cosa, encontrar una asperosidad a que aferrarse. La caída no tiene término. El silencio hace sonar su diapas6n. La atmósfera se rarifica cada vez más, y el menor ruidito: una uña, un cartílago que se cae, la falange de un dedo que se desprende, retumba, se amplifica, choca y rebota en los obstáculos que encuentra, se amalgama con todos los ecos que persisten; y cuando parece que ya se va a extinguir, y cerramos los ojos despacito para que no se oiga ni el roce de nuestros pár~ados, resuena un nuevo ruido que nos espanta el sueño para SIempre. ¡Ah, si yo hubiera sabido que la muerte es un país donde no se puede vivir!

Although it may be hard to believe - these humiliations this continual clatter proves to be a thousand times more preferable to the moments of silence and calmo Usually they occur with the suddenness of a swoon. All at once, without the slightest warning, we tumble into the void. It's impossible to latch onto anything, to find anything rough or protruding to grabo The fall has no end. Silence lets its amplitude sound. The atmosphere gets more rarefied moment by moment, and the least noise - a fingernail, a bit of sloughed cartilage, a phalange that comes loose from a finger resounds, is amplified, bumps and rebounds as it encounters obstacles on its way, and is amalgamated with all the other persisting echoes; and when it seems that finally it is going to fade out, and we close our eyes gently to avoid hearing the frietion of our eye1ids, there arises a new noise to scare us out of our sleep forever. Ah, if only l' d known that death is a country can live! where no one

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2.0
Con frecuencia voy a visitar a un pariente que vive en los alrededores, :Al pasar por alguna de las estaciones - ¡no falla ID por casualídad! el tren salta sobre el andén, arrasa los equipajes, derrumba boletería, el comedor. Los vagones se trepan los unos sobre los otros. El furgón se acopla con la locom~tora. ~o hay más que piernas y brazos por todas partes: bajo los asientos, entre los durmientes de la vía, sobre las redes donde se colocan las valijas. De mi compartimento sólo queda un pedazo de puerta. Echo a un lado los cadáveres que me rodean. Rectifico la latitud de mi corbata, y salgo, 10 más campante, sin una arruga en el pantalón o en la sonrisa. Aunque preveo lo que sucederá, otras veces me embarco, con la esperanza de que mis presentimientos resulten inexactos. Los pasajeros son los mismos de siempre. Está el marido adúlt~ro, con ~ sonrisa de padrillo. Está la señorita cuyos atraetrvos se conzan en proporción directa al alejamiento de la costa. Está la señora foca, la señora tonina; el fabricante de artículos de goma, que apoyado sobre la borda contempla la inmensidad del mar y 10 único que se le ocurre es escupirlo. Al tercer día de navegar se oye estruendo metálico, intestinal. ¡Mujeres semidesnudas! ¡Plegarias! ¡Gritos!... . ¡Hombres ¡en plena noche! _ un

2.0
Often 1 go to visit a relative who lives ou~de of ~own. .While passing through one of the stations - u certainly did not happen by chance! - the train jump~d over ~he platform, demolished the baggage, wiped out the ticket offIce and the snack The sh op. The cars stacked up one on top of the other. dI boxear coupled onto the locomotive. There were ~ an egs everywhere: under the seats, along the tracks, up ID the nets for the luggage. Of my compartment all that remains is a splinter from the door. 1 shove to one side the cadavers that surround me. 1 straighten my tie and step outside, ~ cheerful. as you please, without a wrinkle in my trousers or ID my smile. Although 1 foresee everything that will happen, 1 have embarked on more than one such journey in the hope that my premonitions will prove mistaken ... The passengers were the same as alwa~s ', Ther~ was the adulterous husband with his pious, patromzing smile. There ~as the young lady whose charms are priced in direct proportion to your distance from the coast. There was the seal w?man, the tuna woman; the manufacturer of rubber ~oods leaning on the guard rail and contemplating th~ immensity of the o~e~, which seems to inspire him only with the thought of spitnng on rt, On the third day of the voyage there was heard middle of the night! - a metallic, intestinal screech. Half-naked women! Men in their nightshirts! Screams! in the

en camiseta!·

[Llantos!

Tears! Prayers!

166] [67]

Mientras los pasajeros se estrangulan al asaltar los botes de salvamento, yo aprovecho un bandazo para zambullirme desde la cubierta, y ya en el mar, contemplo - con impasibilidad de corcho - el espectáculo. ¡Horror! sumerge. El buque cabecea, tiembla, hunde la proa y se

As the passengers strangled one another clawing their way to the lifeboats, 1 managed to reach an inflatable raft, dove under its tarpaulin cover and, already in the sea, surveyed - with the impassiveness of a cork - the unfolding spectacle. It was a horrible sight! The ship pitched, shuddered, nosed under at the prow and slipped beneath the waves. Did 1 have to convince myself one more time that 1 was the only survivor? So as to be sure, 1 inspected the site of the shipwreck. Here was a lifesaver, a wicker chair... there a school of sharks, a bobbing cadaver... 1 calculated the distance, set a course and, after beating a11 world records, entered, on the eighth day, the port of disembarkation. My friends, those who knew how many similar debacles 1 had been spared before, surmised at first that what had happened was a simple accident, but, having to admit that these accidents happened so often, to the point of seeming routine, fina11y had to treat it as a case of authentic predestination. Just as there are men ,:hose pres.ence exerts .an un~rring abortive efficacy, my special faculty is for provoking accidents at every turn, for helping along unforeseen calamity and upsening the unstable equilibrium on which all existence depends. With what anguish, with what anxiety did 1 confront, in those first days, this propensity for cataclysm!... Life gets complicated when it trips over wreckage at every step!". But the force of habit is invincible... Without noticing, one eventually becomes accustomed to living among disintegrating cadavers and

¿Tendré que convencerme una vez más que soy el único sobreviviente? Con la intención de comprobarlo, inspecciono el sitio del naufragio. Aquí un salvavidas, una silla de mimbre... Allá un cardumen de tiburones, un cadáver flotante... Calculo el rumbo, la distancia, y después de batir todos los récores del mundo, entro, el octavo día, en el puerto de desembarque. Mis amigos, la gente que me conoce, las personas que saben de cuántas catástrofes me he librado, supusieron, en el primer momento, que era una simple casualidad, pero al comprobar que la casualidad se repetía demasiado, terminaron por considerarla una costumbre, sin darse cuenta que se trata de una verdadera predestinación. Así como hay hombres cuya sola presencia resulta de una eficacia abortiva indiscutible, la mía provoca accidentes a cada paso, ayuda al azar y rompe el equilibrio inestable de que depende la existencia. ¡Con qué angustia, con qué ansiedad comprobé, durante los primeros tiempos, está propensión al cataclismo!... ¡La vida se complica cuando se hallan escombros a cada paso!... [Pero es tal la fuerza de la costumbre!'" Insensiblemente uno se habitúa a vivir entre cadáveres desmenuzados y entre vidrios rotos, hasta

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que se descubre el encanto de las inundaciones, de los derrumbamientos, y se ve que la vida solo adquiere color en medio de la desolación y del desastre. ¡Saber que basta nuestra presencia para que las cariátides se cansen de sosten~r los edificios públicos y fallezcan - entre sus capiteles, entre sus expedientes - centenares de prestamistas, que se alimentaban de empleados ... ¡públicos!... y de garbanzos! ¡Saborear - como si fuese mazamorra - los temblores que provoca nuestra mirada; esos terremotos en los que las bañaderas se arrojan desde el octavo piso, mientras perecen enjauladas en los ascensores, docenas de vendedoras rubias, y que sin embargo se llamaban Esther! ¿Verdad que ante la magnificencia de tales espectáculos, pierden todo atractivo hasta los paisajes de montañas, mucho mejor formadas que las nalgas de la Venus de Milo? El exotismo de las mariposas o de los mastodontes, los ritos de la masonería o de la masticación - al menos en 10 que a mí se refieren - no consiguen interesarme. Necesito esqueletos pulverizados, decapitaciones ferroviarias, descuartizamientos inidentificables, y es tan grande mi amor por 10 espectacular, que el día en que no provoco ningún cortocircuito, sufro una verdadera desilusión. En estas c~ndiciones, mi compañía resultará lo intranquilizadora que se qUiera. ¿Tengo yo alguna culpa en preferir las quemaduras a las colegialas de tercer grado?

shattered glass, even to the point of discovering the enchantments of floods, the delights of structural collapses, and soon one feels that life acquires color only in the midst of desolation and disaster. Note that our mere appearance on the scene is enough to cause caryatids to weary of holding up public edifices and thus to cause the downfall - among their crumbling columns of figures, among their portfolios - of hundreds of moneylenders, who feed on the body politic ... and on garbanzo beans! Learn to relish - as if they were delicious plates of boiled maize - the temblors that fill us with awe, earthquakes in which bathtubs sprink1e from the eighth floor while dozens of salesgirls are trapped and perish in the e1evators, and though blonde are still called Estherl Who can deny that before the magnificence of such spectacles mountain landscapes lose a1ltheir appeal, even if they are better shaped than the buttocks of the Venus de Milo? The exoticism of moths or mastodons, the rites of masonry or mastication - at least as far as I'm concemed ;- hold not the slightest interest. 1need pulverized skeletons, railroad decapitations, unidentifiable corpses drawn-and-quartered, and so great is my love for the spectacular that the day on which it doesn't produce in me a short circuit, 1 will expire from sheer disillusionment. Under such conditions, my company would be as uncertain as uncertain can be. Am 1 to blame if 1 prefer conflagrations to third-grade schoolgirls?

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Aunque la mayoría de los hombres se satisfaga con rumiar el sueño y la vigilia con una impasibilidad de cornudo, quien haya pernoctado entre cadáveres vagabundos comprenderá que el resto me parezca melaza, nada más que melaza. Yo soy - ¡qué le vamos a hacer! - un hombre catastrófico y asr como no puedo dOI1DJ.rantes que se derrumben, sobre mi cama, los bienes y los cuerpos de los que habitan en los pisos de arriba, no logro interesarme por ninguna mujer, si no me consta, que al estrecharla entre mis brazos, ha de declararse un incendio en el que perezca carbonizada... ¡la pobrecita!
I • ,

Although most men satisfy themselves with musing on their dreams and waking with the submissiveness of a cuckold, he who has pernoctated among vagabond cadavers will comprehend that the rest seems so much molasses, nothing but molasses.

1am - and what can 1do? - a catastrophic man, and 1cannot sleep unless 1 can hear the rumblings above my bed of the
bodies and the belongings of those living on the floors above, and I'm not interested in any woman, if 1haven't already made this clear, unless, as she lies outstretched in my arms, she sets herself on fire in a blazing conflagration in which she is carbonized to ash ... poor thingl

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OLIVERIO GIRONDO (189i-1967) was bom into a wealthy family in Buenos Aires. He studied for law, but did not practice it, preferring to experiment in literature. His chief publications are Veinte poemas para ser leídos en la tranvía (Twenty Poems To Be Read on the Streetcar, 1922), Calcomanías (Decals, 1925), Espanatapájaros (Scarecrow, 1932), Interlunio (Lunarlude, 1937), Persuación de los días (persuasion of the Days, 1942) and Campo nuestro (Our Countryside, 1946), the last two being collections of poetry. This iconoclastic body of work is well represented in the present translation. His last book is the untranslatable En la másmedula (Into the Moremarrow, 1954), poetry at the far reaches of the mind. Girondo travelled widely and associated with avant-garde writers in Europe and Latin America. He founded the journal Martín Fierro in 1923, which ran for twenty-six years. At its close, he established the Martín Fierro Award to support young writers. He and wife Norah Lange hosted a literary salon in the capital and presided as patrons of Argentine arts and letters unti11964, when he was injured in a car accident. A generous man, Oliverio Girondo greatly benefitted the cause of imaginative literature in Argentina. Citation of bis works in the film The Dark Side o/ the Heart (1994) created a sensation in Argentina and brought him belated world fame.

GILBERT ALTER-GILBERT is a translator, critic and literary explorer. Among his translations are Tbe Mirror o/ Lida Sal: Tales Based on Mayan Myths & Guatemalan Legends by Miguel Angel Asturias (Latin American Literary Review Press, 1997); Manifestos Manifest, from the French, by Vicente Huidobro (Sun & Moon Press, 1999); and Strange Forces: Tbe Fantastic Tales o/ Leopoldo Lugones (Latin American Literary Review, 2001). He is the editor of Life and Limb: Selected Tales o/ Peril, Predicament and Dire Distress (Hi Jinx Press, 1996) and has several other anthologies in the offmg. He writes art criticism and essays in literary esoterica, and serves as a consultant for Xenos Books. His next translation with Xenos will be On a Locomotive & other runaway stories by Massimo Bontempelli. California bom and bred, Alter-Gilbert ventures far and wide, usually in a foreign automobile, but continues to reside in the Golden State, where he maintains one of the most distinctive private collections of literary memorabilia on the Pacific Coast. A master of disguises, he delights in making unexpected appearances and unnoticed disappearances, leaving behind magnetic mummies and historie illustrations of the seven vices. KARL KVITK.O was bom in an area of the Blue Ridge Mountains to a woman of Ukrainian or Irish descent. His Germanic father, a zookeeper, disappeared on an extended expedition in very wet terrain. Kvitko, raised in an orphanage, first took an interest in snakes, then languages and literatures. Eventually he studied Russian and specialized in espionage. Most of his works appear in another language under an official cryptonym. In 1985, convinced that the big publishers hated real literature, written, as Yevgeny Zamyatin observed, "not by efficient and trustworthy clerks, but by madmen, hermits, heretics, dreamers, rebels, skeptics," he founded Xenos Books, taking for its name the Greek word that means both "stranger" and "guest." Everyone involved with the press matches at least one of Zamyatin' s specifications.

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