The Philosopher and the «Avenger»

My friend: although I live far from the madding crowd, I keep learning from the newspapers about the most interesting public events, particularly those that concern contemporary literary life, which you know how much I am struck by the great social value that I attribute to its manifestations. Well then: I have read the monologue of Teresa, Sellés’ avenger , and I have seen that the public has not found it implausible that a woman of that class, from that life , knows how to speak so well and think so deeply. The good success of Teresa de Sellés encourages me to publish, through you, if you accept the commission, this kind of Heroidas in prose that you attach and which are, as you will see, a correspondence between a true avengerand this humble philosopher , according to you and other friends call me, perhaps to make fun of my hobbies. My avenger is wiser than Teresa, she is even pedantic and very fond of psychology, as recorded in those papers. I have kept these letters because, although it seems to me that they have a certain lite flavorStrange (and forgive the immodesty, as far as mine is concerned) I did not believe until now that the public could find plausible this class of ladies of the Camellias almost idealistic, twisted and twisted in spirit, but not repentant or perhaps in love. And that such a woman exists is evident: I have known, I have seen that one, of flesh and blood, and so that you may also know her, in spirit, I leave the word to her. Read, and if you like, publish.


The philosopher .
Sir … philosopher: first of all, forgive me for not calling you by name. Fernando has not wanted to tell me, either in your presence or alone: ​​you have not wanted to be less mysterious either; so I respect … the force, the incognito, and I call him by the nickname that his friends have given him. But let it be known that it is by force, not because I want to use with you a familiarity to which I have no right and to which you have certainly not given a pretext in the short period of time (as Mambrú says) that I have had the honor to treat you. Besides, for my pleasure, although I could legitimately speak to you, jokingly, in festive style(Mambrú), I would not do it today, and I confess that I would gladly call him my esteemed gift … Pepe, for example, or Pepe or Juan or whatever, just plain. I’m not in the mood for jokes. Also (and there are two), my pulse trembles when I write. For me the situation, or the moment, or however you say, it is solemn. I am writing, perhaps for the first time, to an honest man ; Well, I am inclined to believe that you are, in fact, not because of appearances alone, not because they call you a philosopher, and Fernando says that you have a lot of talent, but you do not live in reality ; These would, in any case, be indications of your honesty, but they are not enough: I believe you to be an honored man by other signs that I observed in the aforementioned period of Mambrú. “And what is an honest man ?” She believes that for the first time she is writing to an honest man, when so many letters … she will have written to Fernando … and to the Baron of X and to Paquito H and … etc., etc., etc., etc. !!! – Well, you know, Mr. Philosopher (for my pleasure your name was my dear Don Andrés, like my father) that neither Fernando nor the other lost men are honest men for me. What then is an honest man? The same as an honest woman. Dishonored men are those who have dealings with women … who have dealings with those men: no more, no less. Do ut des , as Mambrú says, although I don’t know if it is bareback. This does not mean that I think Fernando is bad , not that; but it’s not the same. Nor am I an honest woman and I consider myself good. You see that I am quite frank and that I do not play demi mondaine . Ah! No. Long live Spain! If I were a literary man, I would not speak like those suspicious ladies I have seen represent La Duse and La Tubau: I would speak like Celestina, which is a comedy, or novel in conversation, which Fernando read to me and I really liked … But let’s get to the point. You are an honest man , or I willpray, and this novelty instills in me a strange respect (at times, when I’m joking, crazy, if I remember you … laughter escapes me inside) and … if I have to be completely frank … They entered me, when I noticed the way you had of not looking at me , with a strong desire to make me look at me and admire … and desire. All this happened, it weighs on me, and that is why I am telling you (and forgive me so much winking ). You did not look into my eyes for more than a very small moment that must not deserve the name of a lapse . You must also remember. You are the only man who has entered this house, since I have lived with Fernando, whom I did not know or hint of intention to outwit his friend.and to take away, more or less completely, the quasi-conjugal fidelity of his Nila. But you did something else: you took the portrait on the console , as Trini says. Fernando, lying when necessary, and that is almost as thinker like you, swears he did not gave the little picture , and as I’m sure it was you who took him, that the picture disappeared when you he left home; how is it impossible that the thief wasA soul born not being you (I do not admit discussion about this) it turns out … that … that you have stolen the portrait of Miss Elena, the sister who died from Fernando. It is not probable that you would dare to take the painting without asking for it; but I do believe that Fernando did not offer it. It was you who, since you did not offend me by wishing for my infidelity , mistreated me without telling me, warning Fernando that the portrait of his sister seemed wrong in the house where we live together. (I’m sure you took it, because Fernando didn’t buy it. I searched you as soon as you left, and you couldn’t throw it out into the street, and at home I can attest that it isn’t there. You have it). He says that you were somewhat platonically in love with your sister Elena, and that is why …

Is not that. You think that I shouldn’t have the portrait of that young lady in my house. I thought there was no sin or offense in it; that it was enough not to have believed prudent, why would they say, just because of that, that not a lint should enter the house, no memory of the poor deceased … of the other deceased. Be that as it may (Mambrú), I say, no, let it be what you want , I abide by your superior criteria ; but I think that if instead of meeting Christ, the Magdalene meets you, the Repentant women are left without a saint of their devotion. In short, if you want … return the portrait to us (unless you swear to have lovedto that lady). As you, although a philosopher, you do not know everything, you do not understand everything, you do not know, you do not understand the role that this little painting played in the house. It was the object of a kind of domestic cult, our Lares gods , our penates , or whatever you say: something like a cauldron with a good smell of honesty, dignified, noble privacy. Fernando and I, who are at times crazy, have insisted that love conquers everything (or the crow’s foot), and we come to imagine that we are … not husband and wife, that that is not necessary, and Fernando says that there is only one woman , but something that, without being a marriage, or wanting to imitate it, and without To stop being love is something else worthy in its own way, not honored , but something else, perhaps better, there, in high metaphysics. Anyway, Fernando will explain this to you, if they talk about it, better than I can. And that, do not believe, put to it, I could also analyze with the scalpel of criticism (pure Mambrú) these fussy of the soul in their relations with the environment . (I repeat that you dispense with the jokes: I do not master the style: he takes me to me and because of the habit of always speaking in joke I write this way … when I want to write to you as the devotional).

So, do you return the portrait to us? In case you refuse, I am sending you that package through Petra: it is a scapular of my mother that I have almost always brought with me. Now I realize that, if the portrait of Miss Elena is stained while standing on a console in the living room, this memory of my mother, blessed in addition, because it is touched to the Holy Christ of the Chains, is stained by exposing itself to rubbing of Fernando, who is as … as corrupt as this servant. Either turn the portrait and admit the sentimental and supersensible miquis of our arrangement , or both remain in the power of the honest man . And, more I will say(Mambrú), if you return the portrait to us … please … and for one I don’t know what , because that other is more serious, more … religious, more … of the soul, you stay, yes he wants, anyway, with the memory of my mother that I send him for Petra. Your affma. ss and aqbm, Nila. — The envelope goes without signs because I don’t know your name or where lives … (Petra knows … but she doesn’t say it; she was Fernando’s brood mistress; she’s sworn in … Little things of semi-married life. Fernando is like that. He says it’s a joke not to let me know who It’s you … Let me write to you … with this condition: that I will not see you again, nor will I know where you are, or what your name is). Petra also says it’s a joke and laughs out loud. Deep down I am flattered to be a bit imprisoned … and with spies. Fernando does not read my letters: he says it is enough for him to read what you tell me … if I allow him to. Petra can’t read. I can tell you what I want, following the joke; but you are sure to me that you will only tell me what you owe. It is fun like any other and that Fernando gives me, in exchange for the theater. The trouble is that you will soon tire of this comedy. But … don’t stop answering me, at least to this first portrait , as Sancho would say. (Eh? What a scholar!) – Okay.

My dear friend: it is my obligation, even if it weighs me, to break the charm of the mysterious novel, and in your picaresque way, that you had plotted and whose first chapter becomes the skillful letter to which I reply. If in comedies they understand everything to the last , I, so that there is no comedy, I declare that I have understood everything from the beginning. Most. Neither Fernando has kept my name from you, nor has he It is forbidden to know where I live, nor has Petra been a nurse, nor does he distrust us, me particularly, nor, much less, you, in the sense of believing that my prose can be gunpowder to seduce you, and Instead, my bodily presence could overcome it. This is what you wanted to understand … Understood; but there is no such thing: it is your ploy: the plot of your novel. It is undone. I warn you that Fernando does not know what you have written to me; He does not know that you wanted to compose a novel in collaboration with the philosopher . I have asked him what I needed to know to make sure that you were fantasizing , but in such a way that he could not suspect the secret end of my questions.

It is also my obligation to warn you that there is a kind of spiritual intimacy between Fernando and me that you cannot suspect where it ends. You are very clever, you know a lot (the apparent frivolity and distorted sloppiness of your letter do not deceive me either), you have read a lot of psychology … of novels and even some mystical literature. You see if I know. But, let me tell you: a woman, unless she is an extraordinary woman, a true monster, does not arrive in these matters where men arrive … when they arrive. I know that you are able to understand much moreof what might be induced to judge by your letter … in which you imitate certain gay ladies of novels and comedy … Indeed; I guess that if you write to me again, convinced that I have known the costume, you will wear a very different one, and perhaps she will present herself to me as a modern Hypatia. Well with all that, it is unlikely that you can understand what kind is the spiritual intimacy of Fernando and the undersigned. Be careful, therefore, with what you tell me. What you and Fernando can confess, communicate in the most sublime moments of that loving metaphysics that forgives everything, sanctifies everything, etc., etc., has no comparison in depth, solemnity and … goodness, with what in Another kind of expansions we call ourselves that lost , as you call him, and this honest man , who is, in fact, in the meaning you give to the word. Honored … up to a point. And so that you do not laugh at me again, in those moments when you are not mystical… in your own way, I’m going to tell you a story. There is a writer in Paris (friend and something like a co-religionist of MMB whom you both knows), which is a propagandist and director in a certain way of the neo-idealist, or neo-religious, or neo movement … whatever you want, that MMB will have talked to you so many times Well, that writer in a recent article He tells us that another friend of his (not MMB), who wanted to convert to the new school or trend, as well as idealistic and religious, told him somewhat alarmed: —But, let’s see, this about the new ideality, the future religiosity Does it mean … that one is not going to be able to look at beautiful women? “” The quasi-mystical philosopher encouraged him by telling him that it was not a question of vows of chastity, or of abstinence that, out of modesty, the priests were still left true , the career. Well then, my friend: I am from the school of your friend’s friend. I look at pretty women and I dedicate not a small part of my life to being in love in my own way. Love is not a sin or smallness when it is known to retain its greatest charm, which is illusion. Just as Gœthe, in the Faust , second part, that you read in Granada, in the Alhambra (am I aware?) Makes Manto say in the classic Walpurgis Den lieb ich, der Unmögliches begehrt [1] I think that impossible love it is lawful … who, for one reason or another, should not love as much as possible in a woman.

I, for reasons that are not the case, cannot lawfully love the women I meet there, if it is to be understood by loving to pretend to possess them . (A barbaric, rude word, although not so much, as the one that abounds in our classic poets: enjoy it ).

For this I consecrate my loving ideality, an inexorable, invincible force, which must be respected if the poetic representation , animating life , is not to be mutilated to the modest, unapproachable virgins, of whom I am sure they will not be mine. As soon as I see in them this moral impossibility that dignifies my illusion , I throw myself into it without fear, remorse or measure. I am not saying, my friend, that this is a moral perfection, far from it, nor do I propose myself as a paragon; I am only declaring what is the file that I have been able to reach I am to resolve, temporarily at least, this difficulty that engenders the opposition between certain social, customary laws, now indispensable, and some natural tendencies that constitute irreplaceable elements for harmonious aesthetic life. I speak of this, mainly, because you see that I do not lower my eyes in the presence of women, but on principle I fall in love, in my own way, exclusively with pure women, with whom they are not morally capable of loving, or show it, at least, to a man who cannot contract a just marriage . The impossible woman is my only love topic . You already know. So between us there is no flirtationpossible; And, furthermore, it is not possible to look at me as an escaped seminarian : I am as much a man of the world as anyone … who does not practice. Not a temptation for moments of diabolical mystique , not a ridiculous figure for moments of backsliding epicurism. I have real pleasure in writing all this, sure that you understand me. Which is not to say that you understand everything . No, certain ties that unite Fernando and me, and that he may have been forgotten for some time, you cannot see. His spiritual sight is subtle, but not quite. And now to something else. I don’t want to be a traitor. I know your story … to the extent that you have wanted Fernando to know it.

And a little further on, due to certain calculations of psychological trigonometry that we did between Fernando and me, and then by myself, Fernando has not played any mountain games for you, when he told me his confidences. You cannot imagine where the intimacy of two true friends goes; What secrets are told when, almost materially drunk by mutual confessions of idealities, poetic, vaporous adventures, hours and hours pass by, for example, strolling at midnight, in spring, collecting the perfumed emanations from the gardens of the rich (of the rich who do not enjoy this wealth of theirs, because they either sleep or watch over miserable cares far from their own flowers), enjoying those flying aromas that mock the right of property and go to flatter the senses and the spirit of their true owners, the dreamers who walk at midnight telling each other pure ideals, scrutinizing a duo of arcana saints of life … And one says: “I’m going to take you home.” And when they arrive, the other says: “I’m not sleepy, I need to walk further: I am going to take you. “And they arrive at the house of the one they accompanied first, who does not want to go to bed yet either. And so they come and go, and they are surprised by the song of the lark, even though there are no larks, but the dawn surprises them and the memory of Shakespeare’s lark and that of Romeo who watches, and that, Juliet absent, but present the friend , with him is deliriously compared that, if it is not comparable to the amorous one, has an austere ineffable poetry … that you women do not understand well, however exquisite they may be in theirpsychologies , and even if they have accompanied a decadent poet on a journey, a quasi-pilgrimage through the country of mystics.

Yes, Nila, I know everything: I know your story about you …ta where Fernando knows it. Why tell it to you? Out with impertinence. In order to tell you about other things, about the portrait that I took with me and the scapular that you sent me for Petra, I need, if I have to be honest, to get to know you more, to be sure not to profane, by talking to you about them, such serious things. and respectable such as the portrait of Fernando’s sister and the scapular of your mother, your mother. Your affmo. friend, qbsp,

The philosopher.
Friend … philosopher (I repeat that I do not know your name; Fernando has deceived you): I observe with a certain vanity that you are much more diffuse and disorderly than I when writing: you start a matter … you get lost in details, and goodbye speech line ! Besides, you are also less … delicate … How few gallantry you tell me! … To speak like that to a lady is to show your nails … before cleaning them. It does not matter. I like philosophers like that. Lovers, no. Note that I did not speak directly about our impossible flirtation , and you … hardly speak about anything else, even if it is to deny its possibility. But let’s go to another matter. To what todayit matters to me. I say today because another day, that I am more unoccupied, we will talk about something else. I will leave for later his love for you in German , his naive women , his fondness for baby animals (a sign of old age). (Now I’m the rude one, right?) Ignore you. I understand you … a little (as far as a non-extraordinary woman can understand ) because …, auch ich war in Arcadien geboren : ( I was also born in Arcadia ) (Schiller), and I also know German and knew how to love in German . I was also, if not a philosopher or close friend , a pure woman, an impossible virgin (And yet, there were those who could). But that’s where we were going, before the parenthesis. We were going to my story. So do you know it? Are you sure? You will know the one that Fernando told you; but is that my story? This is the question. The first thing I demand is that you tell me … Because … it may very well happen that I don’t know. Or because Fernando has not told you the same story that I told him … or because I have forgotten the story I told Fernando. Let’s see. Come on that one, the one you know, and then I’ll get the real story out … if it suits me. Say what you know, child. Her friend and colleague in pedantry, Nila . Today there is no postscript: you do not deserve it.