Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book Review: "El Jardín de las Delicias: Mitos Eróticos" by Marco Denevi

Marco Denevi (1922-1998 )
El Jardín de las Delicias: Mitos Eróticos (1992)
    (The Garden of Delights: Erotic Myths)

77 pages

Los amores digitales

Después de haber sido rescatada, Helena la de Troya le aconsejaba a Menelao, su marido: «Si quieres castigar a Paris por haberme raptado, está bien, cástralo. Se lo merece. Pero ojo: si vas a castrarlo, no te equivoques y córtale los dedos de las manos. Yo sé por qué te lo digo. »

Digital loves

After having been rescued, Helen of Troy advised Menelaus, her husband: "If you want to punish Paris for having me abducted, that's fine, castrate him. He deserves it. But look: if you are going to castrate him, don't make the mistake of not also cutting off his fingers. I know what I’m talking about."

Los amores digitales (Digital loves) is one example of the several dozen 'delights' in Argentinean author Marco Denevi's 'garden' of vignettes presented in this book. Most are less than a page, with the longer ones generally only 2 or 3 pages. All are based on ancient myths involving love and sensuality, with Denevi adding, as he explains in the Forward, «una vuelta de tuerca, ... un estrambote irreverente, alguna salsa un poco picante» ("a turn of the screw, ... an extravagant irreverence, some sauce that's a little spicy.")

Excesos del pudor

Orgulloso de la belleza de su mujer, el rey Candaulo hizo entrar en la alcoba matrimonial a Giges, su favorito, para que viese a la reina desnuda y lo envidiase.  Giges la vio y, en efecto, la envidia le nubló los ojos. La reina, sin perder su aire altivo (cosa nada fácil cuando se está sin ropa), se plantó frente a Giges y le arrojó a la cara esta verdad: «Una mujer decente sólo se muestra desnuda delante de su marido.» Entonces Giges mató a Candaulo, se casó con la reina y ocupó el trono.

The excesses of modesty

Proud of the beauty of his wife, King Candaules invited Gyges, his favorite, to enter the royal bedroom so that he would see the queen naked and become envious. Gyges saw her and, indeed, became envious. The queen, without losing her superior air (not an easy thing given that she had no clothes on), planted herself in front of Gyges and flung in his face this truth: "A respectable woman only appears naked in front of her husband." Gyges then killed Candaules, married the queen, and occupied the throne.

Some of the myths that form the background of these vignettes are familiar while others are less so, but even without knowing the background each of these 'delights' is enjoyable to read. The language that Denevi uses is colorful, filled with metaphors and double meanings.

Mote justo

A cierta Herminia la apodaban «Democracia» porque, según decían los vecinos, en su vientre se juntaba todo el pueblo.

The fitting moniker

A certain Herminia they nicknamed "Democracy" because, according to her neighbors, the whole town came together in her womb.

I have not found that there is an English translation of this book, but if you know Spanish, or a little Spanish and are willing to attack these with a dictionary (and a little imagination to work through the double meanings), they are well worth the effort.

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