On the dangers of Juan Rodolfo Wilcock’s humour.


Juan Rodolfo Wilcock

I guess I have a little secret to confess. Every now and then I end up adding comments to newspaper articles. For me it’s something between a need to correct the patent misrepresentations that articles promote on subjects I have some inkling about (usually Russia and film) or, I must admit, an attempt to ‘promote’ new blogs and posts on my blog (while making sure that these posts are relevant to the article in question). I want people to read what I’m writing and because I only occasionally write for publications other than my blog a point or two with a link to my latest blog post might earn me a few more readers.

However, yesterday I discovered that I had been put in pre-moderation. A kind of purgatory for those who write unwanted posts (for spammers or trolls, or those who write offensive posts). Yet my “pre-moderation” penalty from the Guardian came about after having added two savagely hilarious translations of Juan Rodolfo Wilcock descriptions. One was his uproarious little piece on how literary awards could be bettered. Here it is:

The authors are each placed on their bed, on a slightly hard mattress with their head lightly raised and a small pillow under their pelvis, their legs akimbo and half bent, their shirts stretched down from their breastbone with the legs half-covered. The authors must breathe calmly, relax their muscles and let things happen while keeping their peace of mind. A bowl will be held between their legs.

After a break for a consultation the jury will take the well-oiled literary award and suddenly insert it in one of the writers, gently pushing it forward. The prize will usually move forward for about 10 to 12 centimetres without any difficulty. If it encounters any resistance then it should be withdrawn a little, be lightly shaken and then pushed back in delicately, applying to the writer a few rotatory movements until he has been totally awarded.
The other writers can in the meantime get dressed again. After the operation the literary prize will be washed with care, dried and put back on the shelf ready for further adventures.

The other was for his practical advice for eliminating literary critics (I altered it slightly to write about food writers):

One should carefully grease one’s body with hot tar before going to bed, making sure that one carries out the same procedure on member’s of one’s family (wife, sons and in-laws if they are still alive). Thus oiled the entire family- tenants or proprietors of the house- should roam the rooms, toilets and stairs of said home, preferably barefoot and in their underpants, chanting psalms, pounding saucepans and generally making as much noise as possible until all the food critics in the house come out of their hideaways and proceed to head to the kitchen. The stunned reviewers can then easily be caught with fine nylon nets expressly placed in a large bottle with at the bottom some very fine erucic acid for the journalists. Another system involves introducing a kilogram of small frogs set at a regular distance from each other in a long thread of resistant hemp, previously immersed in softened and marinated tar. The greedy critics will precipitate on the frogs attracted by the scent and will find themselves transfixed with a notable saving of time and of tar.

These two comments were enough to cause the wrath of Guardian moderators and place me in pre-moderation. It’s a good lesson for me because it is a genuine waste of time to comment on newspaper articles. Though as I said it does bring the odd reader to my blogs now and again. Yet it’s curious as to why the humour of a writer- a friend of (and highly rated by) Jorges Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Silvina Ocampo, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Roberto Bolaño, Vittorio Gassman, Roberto Calasso among many, many others – should be non grata for the Guardian. I’d better keep my translations of Saltykov-Shchedrin for my blogs alone.

By the way for more in the way of Wilcock, please read my blog on him: http://juanrodolfowilcock.blogspot.com/

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 http://giuvivrussianfilm.blogspot.com 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.

One response »

  1. Pingback: On the dangers of Juan Rodolfo Wilcock’s humour. | Research Material

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