He was also successful in other genres: novel, essay, theater, diary and aphorism. His work has been translated into numerous languages , including English. The characters in his stories, often autobiographical and usually written in simple but ironic language, tend to end up with their hopes cruelly dashed. But despite its apparent pessimism , Ribeyro's work is often comic, its humor springing from both the author's sense of irony and the accidents that befall his protagonists. A collection was published under the title La palabra del mudo The Word of the Mute.
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For over two months of anticipation, Don Fernando Pasamano had been preparing the fine details for this illustrious event. Firstly, his residence had to undergo a general renovation. And as it was an old manor house it was necessary to knock out some walls, enlarge the windows, put down some new floorboards, and paint the walls. Then the rugs, the lamps, and the curtains and paintings for the larger walls.
Lastly, there was to be a concert planned to take place in the garden, so naturally a garden had to be planted. In fifteen days a crew of Japanese gardeners planted, in what used to be a lawn of overgrown weeds and vines, a wonderful rococo garden with sculpted cypresses, meandering paths, a koi pond, a grotto adorned with altars to various deities, and a rustic wooden bridge that crossed an imagined stream.
However, the biggest issue was the menu. Don Fernando and his wife like most people from the interior had only attended provincial feasts, where they watered down whisky with chicho and ended up devouring roasted guinea pigs with their bare hands. For this reason his ideas were confused about what to serve to the president.
The family had been summoned to a special council once, but this only furthered their bewilderment. In the end, Don Fernando decided to survey the popular hotels and restaurants in the city to find and fly in delicacies and fine wines that were suitable for a presidential audience. When all of these details were taken care of, Don Fernando found with great anguish that this banquet — which would be attended by one hundred and fifty guests, forty waiters, two orchestras, a ballet troupe, and one projectionist — had cost him his entire fortune.
But in the end, every expense was dwarfed by the enormous benefits to be gained. I am a modest man. However, Don Fernando was assured he would accept as they were related — by one of those serrano kinships that are as vague as they are unprovable. Nevertheless, for extra assurance, he took advantage of his first visit to the palace to corner the president for a moment and present his idea to him. But at the moment I am quite busy.
And to quell his impatience he arranged further decorations to the manor in order to give it the aspect of some solemn masquerade, the likes of which are held at dilapidated palaces. His final idea was organising a large portrait of the president that a painter copied from a photograph which he hung on the most visible wall of the lounge room. After four weeks, the confirmation came. And Don Fernando, who was beginning to seriously worry about the delay, experienced at that moment the greatest joy of his life.
That was a day of celebration, he stepped out onto the terrace with his wife and looked out at his illuminated garden in contemplation, finally to retire to bed and close that happy day with passing pastoral dreams.
In these dreams the countryside seemed to have lost its sensible qualities so that Don Fernando could never place his sight on any one feature without inadvertently reflecting his focus back onto himself, how he stood in this strange scene, dressed in a tuxedo, trapped within a jar, smoking his pipe while surrounded by a gaudy background in which as in certain tourist souvenier posters the monuments of the four most important cities of Europe were confused and misplaced.
Farther on, looking upon another angle of his chimaera, he saw a train returning from the forest with its wagons loaded with gold. The hour of the banquet descended, and the first to arrive were the informants and spies. Then the cars began to arrive. Out of them exited ministers, diplomats, capitalists — men of vast power, and men of vast intelligence. A doorman opened the gate, an usher announced the guests, a valet took their coats and Don Fernando, standing in the middle of the hall, shook hands and murmured polite and sincere words in greeting.
When all the bourgeoisie had gathered in front of the manor and the surrounding neighbours had begun to peek from behind their curtains at this unexpected commotion, the president arrived. Escorted by his entourage, he entered the house and Don Fernando — forgetting all rules of etiquette and moved by an impulse of brotherly friendship, threw up his arms around the president with such joy that he damaged one of his epaulettes.
The guests spread out across the lounge, the corridors, the terrace and the garden as they drank discreetly, in between jokes and quips, of the forty cases of whisky. Then they settled into the tables reserved for them the largest table decorated with orchids was reserved for the president and other exemplary men and began to eat and talk loudly while the orchestra tried uselessly to impose a Viennese air to the evening.
Halfway through the banquet, after the white wines of the Rhine had been enjoyed and the Mediterranean reds had begun to fill the cups, a round of speeches began.
Don Fernando meanwhile looked on with anxiety, being unable yet to take the president into his confidence — though the party was already in full swing. To make matters worse, the food service had finished and diners had begun to form drowsy wandering groups, causing him as host to rush from group to group reviving their spirits with mints, cigars, conversation, and conundrums.
Finally around midnight, after the minister for defense had made a drunken spectacle and collapsed asleep in a replica Louis XV armchair, Don Fernando managed to pull the president aside and sit him down in one of those canapes, which would have served at the court of Versaille to present a princess or seat a separatist before his sentence, and slipped his modest idea into his ear. Tomorrow at the ministerial meeting, I will propose your appointment, that is, I will impose it.
And as far as the alpine railway is concerned, I know that there has been a committee who have been discussing that project for months. The day after tomorrow I will summon them and you to my office so you can resolve the matter in the most convenient way. An hour later the president left after having reiterated his promises.
The ministers followed him, then the congressmen, etc. Only at three in the morning were Don Fernando and his wife alone.
Exchanging the accounts of their night, planning auspicious projects, they remained until dawn among the spoils of the night.
Finally, they both went to sleep with the conviction that never a gentleman from Lima had thrown his estate out the window with more glory, or had risked his fortune with such sagacity. At noon, Don Fernando was woken up by the screams of his wife.
Opening his eyes at once he saw her enter with a newspaper open in her hands. Snatching it, he read the headlines and without uttering a word, fainted onto the bed.
View all posts by Conor. Like an image or eikon or visage or mask? Possibly yes. I seem to see behind this guise a man, Philip of Opus. This website has the identical name, wanting to summon him forward. I was unaware of a man named Philip of Opus. I am aware of prosrEma, at least its nature, I make my living as a waiter and wear an image every night. Yes, lightly disguised. Like Conor? I think so. You are commenting using your WordPress.
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Julio Ramón Ribeyro
El banquete – Julio Ramón Ribeyro (English translation)