Vestige of a Forgotten Kingdom

y name is Györgi Szabó.
I am an archivist at the Cortázar MNP on rue du Vieux-Colombier in Paris and I have worked there for many years. One morning a man wearing a heavy black raincoat and a hat of blue felt walked into my cellar office and said, I am here for the manuscript of Around the Day in Eighty Worlds. La Vuelta al Dia? I asked. Yes, he said, La Vuelta al Dia en Ochenta Mundos. His Spanish was slowly and poorly enunciated in an accent that seemed almost German. I’m afraid we do not have that here, I said, returning to the clerical matter before me. He cleared his throat and said, I am a relative of Cortázar’s, although my name is not Cortázar and has never been Cortázar, a name which is foreign to me everywhere but printed on paper: Hopscotch, by Julio Cortázar, 1967, etc., or in the memories which were often related to me by my mother, who died a long time ago. I looked to the papers which had in the previous weeks piled higher and higher upon my pockmarked desk, owing greatly to the anniversary of Cortázar’s death approaching fast but not suddenly: I lay upon the leftmost lane of the A3 and watched with solemn anticipation the lone car approach. I looked up at the stranger and said, We do not possess that manuscript. I told you this already. I do not care if you are Cortázar himself: it’s not here and it never was. I brought it here myself three years ago, the stranger said. I gave it to a woman upstairs who was about your age. She seemed happy to receive it and we had coffee in her office on the second floor. She told me of her love for Cortázar and Neruda and Borges and Casares and especially Donoso, whose bird, she said, had flown finally and irrevocably into her young heart. She told me of childhood summers washed away in the blue of Pehoe Lake under the eternal jagged of the Andes, and of lazy music on the black sands of Pichilemu’s beaches. Chile, she said, was literature, José Hernández be damned. The stranger met my eyes and I his: I have worked here for thirty-two years, I said, and I have not once seen the manuscript for La Vuelta al Dia, not once. And I do not know of any Chilean woman who works the archives——not upstairs, not down here, not anywhere. You are gravely mistaken, sir. And then the stranger sighed and said, I must insist that you check your records. I need this manuscript. Sir, I said, sir, it is not here. I will not waste any more of my time on this nonsense. And the stranger, who had been until that moment standing calmly in front of my desk, or rather in front of the bare counter before my desk, made briefly his hands into fists and then, letting his fingers fall to their natural state, said, I have been sent here by the estate of Cortázar in order to obtain the manuscript that three years ago I had turned over to your care. I began to protest, started to shout that no, it had not been my care into which anything of his had been entrusted, but he did not let me speak. The Cortázar estate, he said, will be disconsolate at this news. Saúl Alfonso Gutiérrez, who studied under the great Lamborghini himself, chairs the Cortázar estate. He sent me here with a typical Saúlian flourish: Get the papers, he said, or we face our imminent ruin. It is easy, clerk, to laugh now in the face of this Saúlian hyperbole, the easy exaggeration of the practiced artist, he who in his youth was the scourge of Cerro (after a split with Lamborghini), he who drove the young poet to tears and into a Buenos Aires hospital in frantic retreat, hands shaking, eyes bloodshot and his face as white as the blank pages of the books he would not live to write. But it is not, after all, hyperbole. Saúl Alfonso Gutiérrez is a serious man who is not inclined towards trivialities. So I implore you, clerk, look again through your catalog. I hope tomorrow I will return to more pleasing results. And then the stranger turned and left and I never saw him again.

A letter from Tristram Wharle-Knapp, pertaining to the madness of one William Falla

The following letter was transcribed and submitted to us by Felix Knapp, a descendant of the author. It contains, we believe, valuable biographical information pertaining to the late Zacharia Falla’s forebears.

To,— The Rt. Hon. Ebenezer KELLOGG
At London
30 Nov. 1763

Most Esteem’d Sir,—***

Your Letter of the favor’d 13th was in this Home well receiv’d,— and the Discourse upon the Stars, Sir, too terribly Illustrat’d for mine own Sight the Nature of Heav’nly Bodies, and flighing Objeckts, so that, in a momentary mental Cholick,— which, as you, Sir, may comprehend, has occasion to Afflict my fever’d Brain, whipp’d, as is its Wont, into an anguish’d Ferment,— the Eyes in my Head soon requir’d of me their Opticks, which came to me one Day cheaply, with profoundest Gratitude to the gen’rous Soul of Mr CAVENDISH, G-d bless his Familie.

I write this Day to inform you, in the fêt’d Fervour of this anniversary Celebration, as to the Facts of my Neighbour three Houses o’er the Line, nam’d William FALLA,— a most un-assuming Chap, predispos’d, like a Childe, to Blobber-lipp’d Talk of Pea-gooses, and of Rancid and encumber’d Religion,— viz. th’ Catholick type, in all its adorn’d Popery,— (how the Poet in his Monument turns! how he Rages!),— and also, Sir, a Tipler, for whom ev’ry Evening a Bracer is thrice swallow’d. Armour, Sir, comes bottl’d for th’ Grumbletonian Clan ‘midst our fine City, embroider’d in the finest Fashion.

This is not, Sir, a Cavil deposit’d ‘pon your Door-Step,— nay, nothing of the Sort is to be found within the stately Confines of my œuvre,— my practic’d Hand, daub’d in Ink, grips the Pen with the Strength of an Iron-Monger, or   some other Occ. unsuit’d to the fantom Tribulations of Clerk-Ship, though my Mind be twice steel’d against Barbarism, and Fallacy. For it came that my Tabitha, 3. days ago this Minute, witness’d Mr FALLA, in a state of advanc’d Addle, nearly bath’d in his own Fluids, a fellow for th’ like of RABELAIS. Recall to your Mind, sir, th’ Alcofribasian Sickness, which thiev’d your Yrs. of its most Deckt-Out (in Clergy) Gentlemen. A glory’d Tribute, Sir, though no less distinguish’d thro’ the passing of Time, to the deprav’d Anglers amongst us,— and so too Mr FALLA! As I was prepar’d to elaborate, ere my anger at base Anticks was rais’d, Mr FALLA did 3. Days prior accost, by Fact of his Presence, my Wife, who later inform’d me o’er pickl’d Onions and our daily Bread, that Mr FALLA did assault her with his Odour, and at great length discours’d ‘pon the Malfwaddle, and the  Jinkstrother, and the Pollyprozzler, which came to him, said he, in the Wood o’er the Hill 12m. distant. Tabitha, whose Spirit, since th’ Assault, has crack’d and suffer’d of an In-Borne Quietus, report’d to me that Mr FALLA,— who, I state again for observ’t. Posterity, smell’d as though he had lately emerg’d from a Tub of rank Tip, or from a Manure-Heap adj. the Sows of Lord PONSONBY, did offer in his fresh-colour’d Palms, an un-disclos’d volm. of OLD NICK’s Tinckture, to be had for Rabbet-Sucker’s Prices,— ’tis too dearly Borne, Sir, a Slate or three, to Part.

Sir! cherish’d Sir! I beg of you the Security of my Familie,— my Wife, Tabitha,— or Hemera, for her Disposition is such that blackest Night will not Suffer to stand in her Foot-Prints, nor ‘twixt her out-spread Arms,— recoils at th’ first visage of Thought of Mr FALLA, who wholly lacks Shame or Decency, and who clothes himself in the odious Fabrick of the Beggar,— a Railleur Shab’d-off with the Laudanum, and Romboyl’d ‘cross the Country-Side on a cranksided Prosthesis, shouting all the while, ‘A frubbytendal! a frubbytendal! An Half-Crown to the Lot o’ ye who brings ‘ere a frubbytendal!’ ’tis not too late, Sir, to un-leash the Dogs ‘pon this frantick Supernumerarie, and to send him where he ought! Gainfully imprison’d, as the Spungers say, lest his Children grow feather’d Wings and call to the Moon as a Duck, or a Pigeon.

Give to your Familie my warmest Tidings,— spars’d Feeling, lately, under the terrors of Mr FALLA, in this the life of

e’er your Humble & obdt. Svt.,

Tristram Wharle-Knapp