Creole Democracy part 1

Creole Democracy part 1

Creole Democracy part 1

Venezuela

Rufino Blanco-Fombona (1874-1944)

Blanco-Fombona was born at Caracas, in Venezuela, in 1874. He came of an old and aristocratic family of Spanish descent. His extraordinary activities, not only as a writer, but as politician, revolutionary soldier, and government employee, together with his picturesque personal exploits, all contributed to make him one of the most interesting figures in Spanish-America. He travelled in many parts of the world. His writings include criticism, poetry, political essays, novels, and short stories, the first collection of which appeared in 1900. Of Creole Democracy, perhaps his finest short story, Dr. Goldberg has said that “not many tales that have come out of South America can match it.”

The present version, revised from an earlier version, is here printed by permission of the translator, Isaac Goldberg.

Creole Democracy

The hamlet of Camoruco stands at one of the gateways to the Pla

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Easter Torch Part 8

Easter Torch Part 8

The trap was ingeniously contrived: a long rope fastened round a block of wood; lengthwise, at the place where the sawn panel had disappeared, was a spring-ring which Leiba held open with his left hand, while at the same time his right hand held the other end taut. At the psychological moment he sprang the ring, and rapidly seizing the free end of the rope with both hands he pulled the whole arm inside by a supreme effort.

In a second the operation was complete. It was accompanied by two cries, one of despair, the other of triumph: the hand is “pinned to the spot.” Footsteps were heard retreating rapidly: Gheorghe’s companions were abandoning to Leiba the prey so cleverly caught.

The Jew hurried into the inn, took the lamp and with a decided movement turned up the wick as high as it would go: the light concealed by the metal receiver rose gay and victorious, restoring definite outlines to the nebulous forms around.

Zibal went into the passage with

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Easter Torch Part 7

Easter Torch Part 7

In a few moments, this same gimlet would cause the destruction of Leiba and his domestic hearth. The two executioners would hold the victim prostrate on the ground, and Gheorghe, with heel upon his body, would slowly bore the gimlet into the bone of the living breast as he had done into the dead wood, deeper and deeper, till it reached the heart, silencing its wild beatings and pinning it to the spot.

Leiba broke into a cold sweat; the man was overcome by his own imagination, and sank softly to his knees as though life were ebbing from him under the weight of this last horror, overwhelmed by the thought that he must abandon now all hope of saving himself.
“Yes! Pinned to the spot,” he said, despairingly. “Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

He stayed a moment, staring at the light by the window. For some moments he stood aghast, as though in some other world, then he repeated with quivering eyelids:

“Yes! Pinned to the spot.”

Prolonged

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Easter Torch Part 6

Easter Torch Part 6

His throat was parched. He was thirsty. He washed a small glass in a three-legged tub by the side of the bar and tried to pour some good brandy out of a decanter; but the mouth of the decanter began to clink loudly on the edge of the glass. This noise was still more irritating. A second attempt, in spite of his effort to conquer his weakness, met with no greater success.

Then, giving up the idea of the glass, he let it fall gently into the water, and drank several times out of the decanter. After that he pushed the decanter back into its place; as it touched the shelf it made an alarming clatter. For a moment he waited, appalled by such a catastrophe. Then he took the lamp, and placed it in the niche of the window which lighted the passage: the door, the pavement, and the wall which ran at right angles to the passage, were illuminated by almost imperceptible streaks of light.

He seated himself near the doorway and listened intently.

From the hill came t

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Easter Torch Part 5

Easter Torch Part 5

Then he had passed under the portico, and had listened at the top of the stone steps by the door which was secured with a bar of wood. He shook so that he could scarcely stand, but he would not rest. The most distressing thing of all was that he had answered Sura’s persistent questions sharply, and had sent her to bed, ordering her to put out the light at once. She had protested meanwhile, but the man had repeated the order curtly enough, and she had had unwillingly to submit, resigning herself to postponing to a later date any explanation of his conduct.

Sura had put out the lamp, had gone to bed, and now slept by the side of Strul.

The woman was right. Leiba was really ill.

Night had fallen. For a long time Leiba had been sitting, listening by the doorway which gave on to the passage.

What is that?

Indistinct sounds came from the distance—horses trotting, the noise of heavy blows, mysterious and agitated conversations. The effo

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Easter Torch Part 4

Easter Torch Part 4

What followed must have undoubtedly filled the driver with respect. The young passengers were two students, one of philosophy, the other of medicine; they were returning to amuse themselves in their native town. They embarked upon a violent academic discussion upon crime and its causes, and, to give him his due, the medical student was better informed than the philosopher.

Atavism; alcoholism and its pathological consequences; defective birth; deformity; Paludism; then nervous disorders! Such and such conquest of modern science—but the case of reversion to type! Darwin, Hackel, Lombroso. At the case of reversion to type, the driver opened wide his eyes in which shone a profound admiration for the conquests of modern science.

Criminal proper

“It is obvious,” added the medical student. “The so-called criminal proper, taken as a type, has unusually long arms, and very short feet, a flat and narrow forehead, and a much developed occiput. To the e

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Easter Torch Part 3

Easter Torch Part 3

On the main road there was a good deal of traffic, an unceasing noise of wheels accompanied by -the rhythmic sound of horses’ hoofs trotting upon the smooth asphalt.

But suddenly the traffic stopped, and from Copou a group of people could be seen approaching, gesticulating and shouting excitedly.

The crowd appeared to be escorting somebody: soldiers, a guard and various members of the public. Curious onlookers appeared at every door of the inn.

“Ah,” thought Leiba, “they have laid hands on a thief.”

The procession drew nearer. Sura detached herself from the others, and joined Leiba on the steps of the inn.

“What is it, Sura?” he asked.

“A madman escaped from Golia.”

“Let us close the inn so that he cannot get at us.”

“He is bound now, but a while ago he escaped. He fought with all the soldiers. A rough Gentile in the crowd pushed a Jew against the madman and he bit him on the chee

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Easter Torch Part 2

Easter Torch Part 2

Leiba went to the town hall, then to the sub-prefecture to denounce the threatener, begging that he might be watched. The sub-prefect was a lively young man; he first accepted Leiba’s humble offering, then he began to laugh at the timid Jew, and make fun of him. Leiba tried hard to make him realize the gravity of the situation and pointed out how isolated the house stood from the village, and even from the high road. But the sub-prefect, with a more serious air, advised him to be prudent; he must not mention such things, for, truly, it would arouse the desire to do them in a village where men were rough and poor, ready to break the law.

A few days later an official with two riders came to see him about Gheorghe; he was “wanted” for some crime.

If only Leiba had been able to put up with him until the arrival of these men! In the meanwhile, no one knew the whereabouts of Gheorghe. Although this had happened some time ago, Gheorghe’s appearance, the movement

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Easter Torch Part 1

Easter Torch Part 1

Ion Luca Caragiale (1852 —1912)

Caragiale first came to the attention of his country’s readers through the pages of Convorbiri Literare, a] literary periodical to which he contributed several short stories. Maiorescu, Roumania’s most distinguished critic, became at once interested in this new author, and under his influence, Caragiale quickly assumed a place of importance among the writers of his country. Prof. S. Mehedintzi, in a preface to Roumanian Stories, writes: “Caragiale, our most noted dramatic author, is … a man of culture, literary and artistic in the highest sense of the word. The Easter Torch ranks him high among the great short-story writers.”
This story, translated by Lucy Byng, appeared in Roumanian Stories, published in 1921 by John Lane, by whose permission, and that of the translator, it is here reprinted.

The Easter Torch

Leiba Zibal, mine host of Podeni, was sitting, lost in thought, fey a table placed in the sha

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Easter Torch Part 1

Easter Torch Part 1

Ion Luca Caragiale (1852 —1912)

Caragiale first came to the attention of his country’s readers through the pages of Convorbiri Literare, a] literary periodical to which he contributed several short stories. Maiorescu, Roumania’s most distinguished critic, became at once interested in this new author, and under his influence, Caragiale quickly assumed a place of importance among the writers of his country. Prof. S. Mehedintzi, in a preface to Roumanian Stories, writes: “Caragiale, our most noted dramatic author, is … a man of culture, literary and artistic in the highest sense of the word. The Easter Torch ranks him high among the great short-story writers.”
This story, translated by Lucy Byng, appeared in Roumanian Stories, published in 1921 by John Lane, by whose permission, and that of the translator, it is here reprinted.

The Easter Torch

Leiba Zibal, mine host of Podeni, was sitting, lost in thought, fey a table placed in the sha

Continue Reading