El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition)

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Iba hacia la medicina clandestina, espirituosa, de compromiso cerrado.

Editions of The Torture Garden by Octave Mirbeau

El pulpo secreto iba entrando en su frasco de alcohol. All the liverites said goodbye to each other happily, feeling that the meeting had rejuvenated their spongy liver tissues and Rudi bade farewell to them all. He wanted to find a liquor store still open. He found the store and took home two big clay jugs. Like those people who have to stifle their conscience, he had had to silence the voice of his censor. He felt like a curator in an anatomy museum who was exhibiting his own liver floating in a jar of alcohol.

He already felt free of his gallstones. Imagine a liver with so much gall! To hell with the gallbladder, that quarry of displeasures! But in the magnificent Humberto Primo Galleria pulsed the life and bustle of the great gallerias, sounding like vast crowds of people on a rickety, decrepit train platform—a train station without trains. As the people crossed back and forth, always animated and moving at a fevered pitch, they seemed sanguine as to the generosity of others, optimistic about the success of the stock market, the press, the theater season, and tourism, and brimming with faith in good fortune.

In a building that opened onto the main street of the city, the actors in a spontaneous human drama speculated about wealth and adventure, which are always found at the center of things. In contrast, the Principe di Napoli Galleria, at the end of Toledo Street, endured long, sad hours, peopled by old men from the catacombs who were asleep, one on top of the other, on its corner benches.

Nevertheless, like all great gallerias it had a noble spirit, and its dust and green color were an appropriate setting for its disheveled soul, conciliatory and seeking only peace and quiet. The dark recesses of the shops that adorned the galleria made it difficult to locate the shopkeepers within. Apart from the lights in the display windows everything else in the shops was dark and gloomy; even the prices were old. The bronzework in the art shops had taken on the shade of recently excavated bronze discolored by the acids of age.

The marbles, never touched, turned the color of old stained fountains and even smelled cadaverous. A large crystal and china shop displayed dusty glassware, dirtied only by Time, sucked dry by it. It offered at half price cloudy chandeliers and glasses soured by the patina of the years. A sphere and a map invited one to reflect that it was a shame that no discoverer had planned his explorations in the back room of an antiquarian bookstore, a perfect place for planning discoveries.

A funeral wreath shop was hidden in a corner, full of black wreaths with their curled rooster feathers crowing. The never-ending movies were shown from 11 A. It seemed that even the screen was changed just as sheets are often changed twice in the same day during the season at a popular hotel. Because the public of the movie house changed as frequently as that of the chapels where the forty hours of Christ in the tomb are observed, the flow of people through the galleria was hardly noticeable.

One by one people would enter through the porthole entrance of the theater and then leave when of all the thousands of flickering frames, precisely the same one appeared on the screen. Thus the lonely unnoticed souls left one by one, at different times, without creating the sense of a crowd. For that reason there was never a problem with crowds in the galleria.

Sometimes someone sat down, very tired, at the bar of the movie theater, vanquishing any doubts that might have been merited by the kinds of drinks sold in such bars, where the coffee and everything else is make-believe, a tasteless deceit, a flowing projection of a camera lens. At seven thirty, only the high lamps of the galleria remained lit and the movie house would try to recruit those potential viewers who had already decided to skip supper.

Vicente Blasco Ibáñez

The only live actress in the theater, the ticket-seller, was all dressed up in cretonne; she looked like a confessor for those thirsting for something, although the only thing they could get was a movie. The galleria was a great transparent ship living life to its fullest. A panoramic glance around its spacious nave was enough to make anyone realize that it had been baptized on a grand scale; someone had tried to create a flourishing cruise liner but it had gone aground and was now sad, collecting the dust of the days and in that dust what is truly the reality of every day.

The creator had treated the galleria as a favorite son, one blessed by fairy godmothers, embellished with busts and high reliefs depicting Architecture, Poetry, Industry, Geography, etc. Who would care about it if a passerby could cross it quickly from end to end glimpsing what was happening inside? The symbol of the galleria was a small man who wore a bowler hat and was characterized by a moustache and an Italian goatee. The Giovanni part of his name gave him a youthful air although the truth was that he was a more-than-once-dyed Giovanni.

Don Giovanni had been strolling through the galleria from five thirty to eight thirty P.

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Just for his trips to the galleria Don Giovanni got all dressed up; for those extravagant long journeys he dyed his hair and with the galleria in mind, he had some dark suits made to order from fabric remnants that were even cheaper because the color had faded as the result of their long exposure in the shop windows. His elegance, then, was exclusively an elegance destined for the galleria.

His bowler had developed a light crown that looked like the bubble of air floating in the liquid of a level. In spite of his regular visits to the galleria, Don Giovanni wanted to remain incognito and the truth was that nobody knew anything about him other than that he was a gentleman who went there every afternoon at sunset, playing with his black cane as he walked along. He knew the galleria, of which he was a voluntary prisoner, from top to bottom: the cats that defended it, the large cobwebs hanging like lace mantillas in its corners, the clouds framed in the glass eyes of the skylights.

The galleria had the soul of a submarine; it was a limbo on earth, the limbo of Naples. He talked only with his reflection in the shop windows, an always querulous reflection that never seemed satisfied. What he cared about was to be sheltered from the crowds that surged wildly through the open streets and at the same time to avoid the revealing light of day and the pain of deciding where to go. There in the Principe Galleria, he was the political personage, something like the person who presided over the events of every day, who had already worn out the objects displayed in the windows by having looked at them so much.

He wore the expression of a man who has hidden the remains of a pesty sister inside a trunk. In his attempt to trick death in its unpredictability, Don Giovanni covered his hypocrisy with clouds of cigar smoke.

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  6. With the marble table top as his desk, he wrote to his family, worked over accounts that he feared he had done wrong, and prepared his budgets. He was becoming the guardian of the galleria and was acquiring the soul of a hat vendor.

    Much more than documents.

    The shopkeepers hated him and at the same time they appreciated him. They hated him because he never bought anything from them even though on his endless strolls he projected, thousands of times, the shadow of a potential customer into the darkness of their shops. But they valued him because he brought life to the galleria and on the days when it was empty, when all the passersby seemed to have gotten sick or died, he strolled imperturbably, examining his tie or his tongue in the windows, but at least visiting the sad galleria.

    Aquella insistencia hizo adelantar mucho las cosas. Don Giovanni started a flirtation in the galleria. A lacemaker caught his attention and began to exchange glances with him while he strolled back and forth through the aisles. Her persistency accelerated the relationship. After three or ten thousand perambulations through the great dome, Don Giovanni was able to think clearly and figured that, after all, it was a good way to remain in the galleria as if he were leasing without having to pay a rental fee. Finally, on one of his strolls, he stopped and began talking to the lacemaker.

    He exaggerated but after all he was the fixture of the Galleria. One of those ladies who intrudes into the conversation of shopkeepers who are talking in front of their stores and pulls them inside interrupted the couple until another day. Empedernido soltero, no le desagradaba aquella parienta, llena de encajes interiores y muy mudandera.

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    Era el hombre que quiere ser tendero consorte. Now he had something to do besides strolling: he could look at this woman who was like the amiable Fate that would lead him to a longer life, elaborating the thread of his existence into a thousand filigrees. Once in a while she would come to the door of the shop to rest her tired eyes and then she chatted awhile with the dyed Giovanni. Everybody in the galleria now found the justification for those invariable strolls of the man in the galleria, attributing them to a love affair with the fortyfive year old girl that everyone called la signorina Carlota Cossegli.

    The mystery was solved! After a few days, he just would say hello to the lace maker and continue his silent stroll. The woman who wanted to flee from the galleria and who would reveal herself, a day after the wedding, as the gallivanting creature he feared so much, horrified him. Feeling brave in the face of those wild animals of seduction, he used to peek at the photos outside the theater and smile.

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    The movie house had had a happy idea, an idea Giovanni could never praise enough: it had given music to the galleria, making the huge vibrant box resound so that from the outside, the harmony of the crystal citadel could be heard. The orchestra was an orchestra of blind men, a cheap orchestra, the kind that plays two pieces while others play one. The blind man also loved the galleria. The blind men had their friends who, when a piece was finished, approached the balustrade behind which the musicians were playing as if they were entering a visitors room in a prison or a monastery.

    His name was Humberto, and he had never seen.

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    And why bald? How strange! I would have sworn it… Who knows why the blind have these visions! Right to your brain. Don Giovanni became annoyed with the blind man who now followed him constantly. After the orchestra stopped playing in the hydraulic movie—the continuous showing of the movies had the effect of a water wheel with buckets of people and movies in a constant turnover—Humberto, the blind man, got used to life in the galleria. At night he played in a theater far away, but he devoted the afternoon to the galleria. Don Giovanni feared him. In his presence he felt trapped, as if under the spell of the strange and greedy monsters that blind men seem to harbor.

    The galleria turned dark for him; it lost its feeling of a theater of life and he felt alone in the catacombs. Don Giovanni came to fear him dreadfully and pretended not to see him, not greeting him when the blind man came along, letting him stroll by alone with that eternal gaze of his, searching the distance for someone.

    Humberto would recognize him nevertheless by the noise of his shoes, and, when Don Giovanni learned to tiptoe trying to pass unnoticed by his side, by the sound of his cane, and when all those clues were missing, by who knows what else. Don Giovanni bought a pair of rubber-soled shoes and put a cork tip on his cane. The blind man, with his words and sayings, darkened the day as if he were always asking: Do you think that this storm that hangs over us is about to explode?

    On his strolls with the blind man, Don Giovanni watched the black curtains being drawn, blocking the light from the Lucana lamps. So Don Giovanni accused Humberto at the district police station of soliciting in the galleria and since for the police just seeing a blind man with a yellow, worn-out straw hat is enough to consider him a beggar, they threw him out of the galleria without listening to his explanations, because after all, they were going to be the same ones used by any poor beggar caught in the act. Everybody had gotten used to that scream which shook the galleria every so often, and used to this crazy man who smiled at everyone, thinking he had misled them, as if nobody knew where the scream came from.

    Don Giovanni returned to the sameness of his days; he was the secret admirer, the only constant admirer, of the bat that acrobatically looped the loop in the high glass dome. He knew the people who used the galleria as a short cut, and watched those foreigners pass by who seemed to have fallen into a rat-trap and were in a hurry to get out.

    With more courage than the men, the lonely foreign women, in brightly colored dresses with large pockets, passed by like slow butterflies, bumping against the glass of the window displays. Don Giovanni was a chronicler of the galleria, a human dog parading his charms on unending strolls, without spending anything. If once in a great while he weighed himself on the public scale at the entrance, he did it to find out if he had gained any weight and with pity for the poor scale that was not only blind, but also deaf and dumb.

    The common days, ephemeral and ordinary, always take refuge in the gallerias and in the arcades.

    El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition) El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition)
    El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition) El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition)
    El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition) El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition)
    El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition) El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition)
    El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition) El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition)
    El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition) El Jardín de los Suplicios (Impedimenta) (Spanish Edition)

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