Mexican Short Stories / Cuentos mexicanos: A Dual-Language Book

Mexican Short Stories / Cuentos mexicanos: A Dual-Language Book

by Stanley Appelbaum

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Overview

Greatly influenced by Europe's nineteenth-century literary trends, Mexico's writers crafted some of the most phenomenal prose fiction in Spanish America. This collection offers a rich sampling of significant Mexican short stories published from 1843 to 1918. Nine different tales range from the realism of López Portillo's “Reloj sin dueño” and the modernismo saturating Gutiérrez Nájera's "La mañana de San Juan" to the historical accuracy of Riva Palacio's "Las mulas de Su Excelencia" and the vivid romanticism of "Amor secreto" by Manuel Payno, named the "father of Mexican short stories."
Each story appears in its original Spanish text with expert English translations on each facing page. This dual-language edition features a fascinating new introduction and ample footnotes. An easy-reading pleasure for lovers of fine Spanish-language literature, it is also a valuable educational aid for students and teachers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486121604
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 10/25/2012
Series: Dover Dual Language Spanish
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 980,186
File size: 1 MB

About the Author


Stanley Appelbaum served for decades as Dover's Editor in Chief until his retirement in 1996. He continues to work as a selector, compiler, editor, and translator of literature in a remarkable range of languages that includes Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Russian.

Read an Excerpt

Mexican Short Stories Cuentos mexicanos

A Dual-Language Book


By STANLEY APPELBAUM

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2008 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-12160-4



CHAPTER 1

MANUEL PAYNO

Amor secreto

Mucho tiempo hacía que Alfredo no me visitaba, hasta que el día menos pensado se presentó en mi cuarto. Su palidez, su largo cabello que caía en desorden sobre sus carrillos hundidos, sus ojos lánguidos y tristes y, por último, los marcados síntomas que le advertía de una grave enfermedad me alarmaron sobremanera, tanto, que no pude evitar el preguntarle la causa del mal, o mejor dicho, el mal que padecía.

—Es una tontería, un capricho, una quimera lo que me ha puesto en este estado; en una palabra, es un amor secreto.

—¿Es posible?

—Es una historia —prosiguió— insignificante para el común de la gente; pero quizá tú la comprenderás; historia, te repito, de ésas que dejan huellas tan profundas en la existencia del hombre, que ni el tiempo tiene poder para borrar.

El tono sentimental, a la vez que solemne y lúgubre de Alfredo, me conmovió al extremo; así es que le rogué me contase esa historia de su amor secreto, y él continuó:

—¿Conociste a Carolina?

—¡Carolina! ... ¿Aquella jovencita de rostro expresivo y tierno, de delgada cintura, pie breve ...?

—La misma.

—Pues en verdad la conocí y me interesó sobremanera ... pero ...

—A esa joven —prosiguió Alfredo— la amé con el amor tierno y sublime con que se ama a una madre, a un ángel; pero parece que la fatalidad se interpuso en mi camino y no permitió que nunca le revelara esta pasión ardiente, pura y santa, que habría hecho su felicidad y la mía.

"La primera noche que la vi fue en un baile; ligera, aérea y fantástica como las sílfides, con su hermoso y blanco rostro lleno de alegría y de entusiasmo. La amé en el mismo momento, y procuré abrirme paso entre la multitud para llegar cerca de esa mujer celestial, cuya existencia me pareció desde aquel momento que no pertenecía al mundo, sino a una región superior; me acerqué temblando, con la respiración trabajosa, la frente bañada de un sudor frío ... ¡Ah!, el amor, el amor verdadero es una enfermedad bien cruel. Decía, pues, que me acerqué y procuré articular algunas palabras, y yo no sé lo que dije; pero el caso es que ella, con una afabilidad indefinible, me invitó que me sentase a su lado; lo hice, y abriendo sus pequeños labios pronunció algunas palabras indiferentes sobre el calor, el viento, etcétera; pero a mí me pareció su voz musical, y esas palabras insignificantes sonaron de una manera tan mágica a mis oídos que aún las escucho en este momento. Si esa mujer en aquel acto me hubiera dicho: Yo te amo, Alfredo; si hubiera tomado mi mano helada entre sus pequeños dedos de alabastro y me la hubiera estrechado; si me hubiera sido permitido depositar un beso en su blanca frente ... ¡Oh! habría llorado de gratitud, me habría vuelto loco, me habría muerto tal vez de placer.

"A poco momento un elegante invitó a bailar a Carolina. El cruel arrebató de mi lado a mi querida, a mi tesoro, a mi ángel. El resto de la noche Carolina bailó, platicó con sus amigas, sonrió con los libertinos pisaverdes; y para mí, que la adoraba, no tuvo ya ni una sonrisa, ni una mirada ni una palabra. Me retiré cabizbajo, celoso, maldiciendo el baile. Cuando llegué a mi casa me arrojé en mi lecho y me puse a llorar de rabia.

"A la mañana siguiente, lo primero que hice fue indagar dónde vivía Carolina; pero mis pesquisas por algún tiempo fueron inútiles. Una noche la vi en el teatro, hermosa y engalanada como siempre, con su sonrisa de ángel en los labios, con sus ojos negros y brillantes de alegría. Carolina se rió unas veces con las gracias de los actores, y se enterneció otras con las escenas patéticas; en los entreactos paseaba su vista por todo el patio y palcos, examinaba las casacas de moda, las relumbrantes cadenas y fistoles de los elegantes, saludaba graciosamente con su abanico a sus conocidas, sonreía, platicaba ... y para mí, nada ... ni una sola vez dirigió la vista por donde estaba mi luneta, a pesar de que mis ojos ardientes y empapados en lágrimas seguían sus más insignificantes movimientos. También esa noche fue de insomnio, de delirio; noche de ésas en que el lecho quema, en que la fiebre hace latir fuertemente las arterias, en que una imagen fantástica está fija e inmóvil en la orilla de nuestro lecho.

"Era menester tomar una resolución. En efecto, supe por fin dónde vivía Carolina, quiénes componían su familia y el género de vida que tenía. Pero ¿cómo penetrar hasta esas casas opulentas de los ricos?

¿Cómo insinuarme en el corazón de una joven del alto tono, que dedicaba la mitad de su tiempo a descansar en las mullidas otomanas de seda, y la otra mitad en adornarse y concurrir en su espléndida carroza a los paseos y a los teatros?

¡Ah!, si las mujeres ricas y orgullosas conociesen cuánto vale ese amor ardiente y puro que se enciende en nuestros corazones; si miraran el interior de nuestra organización, toda ocupada, por decirlo así, en amar; si reflexionaran que para nosotros, pobres hombres a quienes la fortuna no prodigó riquezas, pero que la naturaleza nos dio un corazón franco y leal, las mujeres son un tesoro inestimable y las guardamos con el delicado esmero con que ellas conservan en un vaso de nácar las azucenas blancas y aromáticas, sin duda nos amarían mucho; pero ... las mujeres no son capaces de amar el alma jamás. Su carácter frívolo las inclina a prenderse más de un chaleco que de un honrado corazón; de una cadena de oro o de una corbata, que de un cerebro bien organizado.

"He aquí mi tormento. Seguir lánguido, triste y cabizbajo, devorado con mi pasión oculta, a una mujer que corría loca y descuidada entre el mágico y continuado festín de que goza la clase opulenta de México. Carolina iba a los teatros, allí la seguía yo; Carolina en su brillante carrera daba vueltas por las frondosas calles de árboles de la Alameda, también me hallaba yo sentado en el rincón oscuro de una banca. En todas partes estaba ella rebosando alegría y dicha, y yo, mustio, con el alma llena de acíbar y el corazón destilando sangre.

"Me resolví a escribirle. Di al lacayo una carta, y en la noche me fui al teatro lleno de esperanzas. Esa noche acaso me miraría Carolina, acaso fijaría su atención en mi rostro pálido y me tendría lástima ... era mucho esto: tras de la lástima vendría el amor y entonces sería yo el más feliz de los hombres. ¡Vana esperanza! En toda la noche no logré que Carolina fijase su atención en mi persona. Al cabo de ocho días me desengañé que el lacayo no le había entregado mi carta. Redoblé mis instancias y conseguí por fin que una amiga suya pusiese en sus manos un billete, escrito con todo el sentimentalismo y el candor de un hombre que ama de veras; pero, ¡Dios mío!, Carolina recibía diariamente tantos billetes iguales, escuchaba tantas declaraciones de amor, la prodigaban desde sus padres hasta los criados tantas lisonjas, que no se dignó abrir mi carta y la devolvió sin preguntar aun por curiosidad quién se la escribía.

"¿Has experimentado alguna vez el tormento atroz que se siente cuando nos desprecia una mujer a quien amamos con toda la fuerza de nuestra alma? ¿Comprendes el martirio horrible de correr día y noche loco, delirante de amor tras de una mujer que ríe, que no siente, que no ama, que ni aun conoce al que la adora?

"Cinco meses duraron estas penas y yo, constante, resignado, no cesaba de seguir sus pasos y observar sus acciones. El contraste era siempre el mismo: ella loca, llena de contento, reía y miraba el drama que se llama mundo a través de un prisma de ilusiones; y yo triste, desesperado con un amor secreto que nadie podía comprender, miraba a toda la gente tras la media luz de un velo infernal.

"Pasaban ante mi vista mil mujeres; las unas de rostro pálido e interesante, las otras llenas de robustez y brotándoles el nácar por sus redondas mejillas. Veía unas de cuerpo flexible, cintura breve y pie pequeño; otras robustas de formas atléticas; aquellas de semblante tétrico y romántico; las otras con una cara de risa y alegría clásica; y ninguna, ninguna de estas flores que se deslizaban ante mis ojos, cuyo aroma percibía, cuya belleza palpaba, hacía latir mi corazón, ni brotar en mi mente una sola idea de felicidad. Todas me eran absolutamente indiferentes; sólo amaba a Carolina, y Carolina ... ¡Ah!, el corazón de las mujeres se enternece, como dice Antony, cuando ven un mendigo o un herido; pero son insensibles cuando un hombre les dice: 'Te amo, te adoro, y tu amor es tan necesario a mi existencia como el sol a las flores, como el viento a las aves, como el agua a los peces'. ¡Qué locura! Carolina ignoraba mi amor, como te he repetido, y esto era peor para mí que si me hubiese aborrecido.


MANUEL PAYNO

Secret Love

Alfredo hadn't visited me for some time; then, when I least expected him, he showed up in my room. His pallor, his long hair falling in disarray onto his sunken cheeks, his languid, sad eyes, and lastly the marked signs of a serious illness that I observed in him alarmed me excessively, to the extent that I was unable to keep from asking him the cause of his illness or, rather, what illness he was suffering from.

"It's a folly, a caprice, a daydream that has put me in this state: in one word, it's a secret love."

"Is it possible?"

"It's a story," he continued, "without significance for the general run of people, but maybe you will understand it; one of those stories, I repeat, which leave such deep marks on a man's existence that not even time has the power to erase them."

Alfredo's tone, heartfelt while also solemn and funereal, touched me profoundly, and so I begged him to tell me that story of his secret love, and he went on:

"Did you ever meet Carolina?"

"Carolina! ... That young woman with an expressive face, a narrow waist, tiny feet ...?"

She's the one."

"Then, yes, I did meet her and she made a great impression on me ... but ..."

"That young woman," Alfredo continued, "I loved with the tender, sublime love with which one loves one's mother or an angel; but it seems that fate blocked my path and never allowed me to reveal to her this ardent, pure, and holy passion which would have made both her and me happy.

"The first night I saw her was at a dance, as light on her feet, made of air, and fantastic as a sylph, with her beautiful white face full of merriment and excitement. I fell in love with her on the spot, and I tried to cut my way through the crowd to get near that heavenly woman, whose existence seemed to me from that moment on not to belong to this world but to a higher region; I approached her trembling, breathing heavily, my brow bathed in cold sweat ... Ah, love, true love is a really cruel illness. Well, as I was saying, I came up to her and tried to utter a few words—I don't know what I said—but the fact is that, with an undefinable affability, she invited me to sit next to her; I did, and, opening her little lips, she made a few indifferent remarks about the heat, the wind, and such things; but to me her voice sounded like music, and those insignificant words echoed so magically in my ears that I can still hear them at this moment. If that woman had said to me right then, 'I love you, Alfredo,' if she had taken my icy hand in her small alabaster fingers and pressed it; if I had been allowed to plant a kiss on her white forehead ... oh, I would have wept with gratitude, I would have gone crazy, maybe I'd have died of pleasure.

"Very soon a man of fashion invited Carolina to dance. The cruel man snatched from my side my beloved, my treasure, my angel. The rest of the night Carolina danced, chatted with her girlfriends, smiled at the dandified rakes; but for me, who adored her, she had not one smile, not one glance or one word. I withdrew dejected, jealous, cursing the dance. When I got home I flung myself onto my bed and started to weep with rage.

"The next morning, the first thing I did was to inquire where Carolina lived, but for some time my search was in vain. One night I saw her at the theater, beautiful and well dressed as always, with her angelic smile on her lips, her dark eyes shining with merriment. At times Carolina laughed at the actors' jokes; at others, she was touched when the scene was sad; during the intermissions she cast her eyes all over the orchestra and the boxes, studying the fashionable dress coats and gleaming chains and tiepins of the elegant gentlemen, waving gracefully with her fan to women she knew, smiling, conversing ... but for me, nothing ... not once did she turn her gaze in the direction of my seat, even though my burning, tear-soaked eyes were following her slightest movements. That night, too, was one of insomnia, of delirium, one of those nights when your bed is on fire, when fever makes your arteries beat loudly, when a fantastic image is rigid and motionless at the edge of your bed.

"It was necessary to make a decision. In fact, I finally learned where Carolina lived, who were the members of her family, and what sort of life she led. But how could I enter those luxurious homes of the rich?

How could I work myself into the heart of a young woman of high society who devoted half her time to reposing on downy silk sofas and the other half to adorning herself and riding in her magnificent carriage to promenades and theaters? Ah, if rich, proud women only knew the worth of that ardent, pure love which is kindled in our hearts; if they could see inside our persons, which are totally occupied with loving, so to speak; if they stopped to think that to us, poor men on whom fortune has lavished no wealth, but whom nature has given a candid, faithful heart, women are an inestimable treasure, and that we keep them with the same delicate care with which they maintain white, fragrant lilies in a mother-of-pearl vase, no doubt they would love us tenderly; but ... women are never able to love the soul. Their frivolous character disposes them to fall in love with a waistcoat sooner than with an honest heart; with a gold chain or a necktie sooner than with a well-organized mind.

"Such is my torment. To follow languidly, sadly, and dejectedly, devoured by my hidden passion, a woman who dashed about, mad and carefree, amid the continual magic banquet enjoyed by the wealthy class of Mexico City. Carolina went to theaters: I followed her there. In her brilliant course Carolina strolled down the leafy avenues of trees in the Alameda: I, too, was there, seated on the dark corner of a bench. Everywhere she exuded happiness and good fortune, while I was gloomy, my soul full of bitterness and my heart dripping blood.

"I determined to write to her. I handed her footman a letter, and that night I went to the theater full of hope. Perhaps that night Carolina would look at me, perhaps she'd pay attention to my pallid face and feel pity for me ... this meant a lot: after the pity would come love, and then I'd be the happiest of men. Vain hopes! All night long I was unable to get Carolina's eyes to rest on me. After a week I saw the light: the footman hadn't given her my letter. I doubled my persistence and finally succeeded in getting a girlfriend of hers to place in her hands a note written with all the tenderness and candor of a man who is truly in love. But, my God, Carolina received so many notes of that kind every day, she listened to so many declarations of love, she heard herself so praised by everyone from her parents to her servants, that she didn't deign to open my letter but handed it back without asking, even out of curiosity, who was writing to her.

"Have you sometimes experienced the dreadful torture we feel when we're scorned by a woman whom we love with all the might of our soul? Do you understand the terrible martyrdom of running madly day and night, delirious with love, after a woman who laughs, who doesn't feel, who doesn't love, who isn't even acquainted with the man who adores her?

"That suffering lasted five months and I, constant, resigned, didn't cease following her steps and observing her activities. The contrast was always the same: she was a madcap, full of contentment, laughing and looking at the drama we call the world through a prism of illusions; and I, sad, desperate with a secret love that no one could understand, observed all people in the semidarkness cast by a devilish veil.

"A thousand women passed before my eyes, some with a pallid, fascinating face, others full of vigor, with mother-of-pearl shining on their round cheeks. I saw some with a supple body, slim waist, and small feet; others hardy, of athletic build; those of a somber, romantic countenance; others with a laughing face of classic joy; but not one, not one of those flowers gliding by before my eyes, though I sensed their fragrance and touched their beauty, made my heart pound or a single notion of felicity germinate in my mind. They were all totally indifferent to me; I loved only Carolina, whereas Carolina ... Ah, women's hearts are touched, as Antony says, when they see a beggar or a wounded man, but they have no feelings when a man tells them: 'I love you, I adore you, and your love is as necessary to my existence as the sun is to flowers, the breeze to birds, the water to fish.' What madness! Carolina was unaware of my love, as I've told you repeatedly, and that was worse for me than if she had hated me.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Mexican Short Stories Cuentos mexicanos by STANLEY APPELBAUM. Copyright © 2008 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction
Manuel Payno
Amor secreto / Secret Love
José María Roa Bárcena
Lanchitas / Lanchitas
Vincente Riva Palacio
Las mulas de Su Excelencia / His Excellency’s Mules
Ignacio M. Altamirano
Antonia / Antonia
José López Portillo y Rojas
Reloj sin dueño / Unclaimed Watch
Rafael Delgado
El asesinato de Palma Sola / The Murder at Palma Sola
Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera
La mañana de San Juan / The Morning of Saint John's Day
Juan el Organista / Juan the Organist
Ángel de Campo
El fusilado / A Public Executiona

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