Tangled in Stories: May 2014

Posted December 19, 2017


"Pigeons cooed, weaver birds piaban and alcuadones sang ; the sun cast a golden square on the ground, and from the shadow came that well-known African morning overture: the whisper of a broom of twigs sweeping the road softly and rhythmically, sss !, sss !, like the rumor of the sea waves on the beach, interrupted with pauses, with the shuffling of feet and the melody of hopeful voices calling each other through laughter, because the night was over and the sun was rising. " / p>

That's it. I've closed my eyes and I'm already in Africa. It is a gift of the Muses, or of some superior being, of classic origin, almost certainly, to be able to live everyday reality in an absolutely sensitive way, and then be able to recreate it with this simplicity and efficiency. Elspeth Huxley has that gift, no doubt, and I, who am easy when it comes to literary travel, I see myself feeling the way and manner of the Huxley.

Travel Literature? or perhaps memories, perhaps novel, maybe poetry. In addition to thinking aloud, a very bad habit, I do not decide on how to designate the text that I have enjoyed lately. The publisher who publishes the work, Ediciones del Viento, (which I love, although I would appreciate the inclusion of a map of the place traveled in each of the periods) has a great weight in the publication of travel literature The texts published by them on the adventures of travelers or people who without intending to live a unique experience in distant places, never leave indifferent. Yes, travel literature.

In addition, it reads like a novel. It is not a succession of unconnected past moments, more or less close temporal jumps, but you slide through history with ease. For this it helps a handful of well-designed characters, narrative knots, tension in the events reported ... True, novel.

What about poetry? After reading the text that I have read as a beginning, can you say that there is no poetry? But there are more, many more. "The shadows of evening had already put out the bottom of the valley, but the rock preserved the heat of the day and the warmth of life as if it were the living flesh of the earth." / p>

There are two aspects that border Huxley: the contact with Nature and the contrast between parallel worlds that rub together but do not mix.

Nature is a leit motiv, in itself. All that surrounds the author is natural, grandiose, admirable and fearful, and his look is a complete discovery. Two characters talk about the convenience of planting a garden on the farm

"- You will regret leaving now that you have your own garden.

- But if the whole country is a garden; a garden that God has planted. Look at everything you have tried: streams to drink, trees with shade, fruits of the forest and honey, birds and animals to keep us company. How can any of your creatures improve the present? Is not it a waste of time to plant a flowerbed when the rain feeds a dozen different kinds of wildflowers? There is nothing better than strolling through virgin lands and returning with hands full of bright veld and forest jewels: timid vines, pink oleander, humble nameless flowers. "

Other "It was really like living in a world that coexisted with another, the two together but not scrambled. Sometimes when Tilly made a cake, she let me use the blender, which had a red handle. The two arms of the tool rotated independently and never touched each other, so perhaps one arm would never know the other was there; despite this they were still together, driven by the same crank, and the two mixed the ingredients of the cake in unison. I did not think of it at the time, but then it occurred to me that this was how our two worlds were twisting. "

A final tablet that condenses nature , culture, understanding, sensitivity.

"... I would not know how to describe this smell, nor compare it with any other, even if it was the smell of that time, to Africa: dry, sour, but also soft and intense, with a tinge of native body smeared with grease and red ocher that gives off that strong, somewhat stale aroma, repugnant to some Europeans when they perceive it for the first time and that I, for my part, I came to find it enjoyable. This is how the Kikuyu smelled, eminently vegetarian. On the other hand, the smell of the tribes from Lake Victoria Nyanza, cannibalistic and sometimes even cannibal, was quite different: much stronger and musky, almost acrid and, to me, much less grateful. We certainly smelled the Africans just as strong and weird, but we were in a clear minority, and more scattered. "