Another Wilcock Translation – The Reader


Here is another of my preliminary translations. Juan Rodolfo Wilcock’s short portrait of a literary consultant at a publishing house. Here it is:

A large hen occupies the apartment: she is so large that she has already demolished several doors in order to pass from one room to another. It is not as though she’s edgy. Nonetheless she is an intellectual hen and spends nearly all of her time reading. In actual fact, she is a consultant of the publishing house A. The publisher sends her all the novels that appear abroad and the hen reads them patiently with her right eye since she she can’t read them with both of her eyes at the same time: her left eye stays closed under her beautiful grey velvety eyelids. From time to time the hen mumbles something inaudible because the print is too small for her, or else she makes a clo-clo sound and flaps her wings, but no one can work out whether she is doing it out of joy or out of boredom. However, when she doesn’t like a book, the intellectual hen will eat it. Later, the publishing house sends an inspector to gather up the remaining titles that the hen has left strewn all over the house – and publishes them. This in the past gave rise to certain complications: some books had been found inside a wardrobe after they had already been published by another publishing house with a most regrettable success. In spite of these facts she is the most influential hen of the book trade.

We don’t how to do with her: apart from knocking down all the doors, she dirties all the rooms and the maid has threatened to leave if the hen doesn’t go. Yet she is such an intelligent animal, her judgements are so exact, her daily habits are so routine. At six in the evening she mounts the sofa and perches on it, shuts her eyes and falls asleep no longer disturbing anyone else. She doesn’t even move to exercise her bodily needs. In the morning we get up and find her in the dining room intent on reading the latest Russian writer fromSiberiaor the upcoming Latin American star. And she has never once laid an egg.

About afoniya

I am a translator, language teacher, independent film scholar who is interested in many aspects of culture. I have my own blog on Russian and Soviet cinema at and I have also written for journals such as Film Philosophy and Bright Lights as well as Ribbed magazine. Outside of film my interest runs to language, politics, literature and my world is centred around the Meditteranean, Russia, Southern Ukraine as well as the UK.

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