Eduard Màrquez

Illustration by Leif Engström


The apartment had been dark for years. The threads of creeping rust showed the neglect of time. A few weeks ago, however, a not very convincing light betrayed someone's presence. No noise, no smell coming from the air shaft, no sign of domestic life, only the light every evening, punctual as a beacon in a lighthouse. Bercari Sampsor, driven by nosiness, dropped an article of clothing down the shaft and, under the pretext of retrieving it, pressed the doorbell. The peephole darkened without the prelude of any sound. Only the click of the lock preceded the appearance of a placid-looking old woman who invited him to enter with a welcoming smile. The apartment still seemed uninhabited: a layer of dust covered the furniture and the other inanimate objects. Bercari Sampsor and the placid-looking old woman, as if they knew one another their entire lives, shared the richness and the emptiness of their disproportionate existences. And little by little, with a temperament like melted wax, Bercari Sampsor allowed himself to be captivated by the old woman's eyes. To the point of embracing and disrobing. Attracted by an indecipherable force, young hands caressed rough skin furrowed by crevices like a century-old wall. With the first kiss, the old woman began to rejuvenate. After the last orgasmic shudder, before closing his eyes forever, Bercari Sampsor saw a naked young woman with an ivory body leave the room. At mid-morning, a real estate agent showing the apartment found the corpse of an old man lying on top of an unmade bed.


The closing lecture of the conference took a while to begin. In the library auditorium, the stuffy atmosphere of grand academic rituals allowed itself a breath. The sporadic flutter of eyelids still resisting sleep tempered the loneliness of the illustrious men in marble. At the presidential table, two dignitaries of Minerva's presumptuous kingdom were weighing figs on both sides of the foreign speaker, impatient to end the boredom and proceed to drinks and snacks. Inside the glass booth, the simultaneous interpreter was struggling to bring that confused presentation to the few still-attentive ears.

Prenant comme base les principes d'Ezio Ornato pour la formalisation d'un code de transcription (univoque, économique et dinamique), nous sommes arrivés au protocole suivant.
Taking as our foundation Ezio Ornato's principles for the formalization of a transcription code (univocal, economical, and dynamic), we have arrived at the following protocol.
In the twenty-seventh row, opposite the interpreter's booth, a dark-haired girl was trying to pay attention to the confusion. The earphones, like a crown, gathered back her hair and bared her expectant face.

Chaque poème est précédé du relevé génétique des documents (manuscrits et imprimés) qui le concernent, décrits et numérotés dans l'ordre de redaction.
Each poem is preceded by the genetic list of documents (manuscripts and printed materials) which pertain to it, described and numbered in the order of composition.
Someone was snoring noisily in the thirty-second row. The dark-haired girl crumpled a scribbled sheet of paper and, settling herself in her seat, let her eyes run across the polychrome ceiling. The interpreter's gaze followed the profile of her face, shoulders, arms, breasts, out-stretched legs. And then he let his imagination carry him away.

La structure du texte est marquée par sa présentation stratigraphique interlinéaire.
The structure of the text is marked by its stratigraphic interlinear presentation.
Sleep spread out like a huge plastic greenhouse, almost covering the entire auditorium. The dark-haired girl yawned and, while looking all around, pinched the erect tip of her left nipple. At the same time, the goosebumps on her bare arms seduced the interpreter.

La ordre génétique des interventions dans une même strate est reproduit par la succession linéaire des variations.
I like how the air conditioning makes your nipples stiff. I can imagine them rising between my lips.
Without removing her hand from her breast, the dark-haired girl slowly turned to look at him, her eyes like calm streams. A lascivious smile, blazing like a banner, favored the fantasy.

La zone appareil A présente les variations de ponctuation et la zone appareil B est réservée aux notes.
I imagine your naked body, graceful as foam, and I can't stop touching myself. The imperceptible transformation of armpit into breast, the torrid swish of shadowy pubis, buttocks smooth as pebbles. And my cock stroking the inflamed lips of your moist sex.
Without taking her eyes off the interpreter, the dark-haired girl slipped her hand inside her loose trousers and started to masturbate.

Pour les textes inédits, on suit le même système, mais seulement avec un subappareil génétique.
I would love to abandon myself to your domination so that your hands might send sparks all over my body, taut as a steel cable.
The orgasms, transmitted by the gaze, arrived in unison, as unanimous as a flock of exotic birds. And the interpreter's last moans resonated like a soulful viola in the ears of the unnoticed sleepers.

L'édition génétique obtenue doit nous mettre en condition d'affronter ce fait si simple mais si souvent oublié qu'après tout la creation littéraire est aussi une activité humaine.
The speaker's concluding remarks went untranslated, although the sense was clear enough.

The genetic edition obtained should prepare us to confront the fact—so simple yet so often forgotten—that, after all, literary creation is also a human activity.
When the dark-haired girl and the simultaneous interpreter left the library auditorium, followed by the speaker's soporific voice, a promising department assistant irritably removed the silenced earphones from their ears.

The Predominance of Chance

When Cerauni Vilaür, a man fearful of inscrutable phenomena, received the photocopied letter, he did not question the verisimilitude of its content. In order to avoid releasing the blind forces of the inexplicable, a risk that he was not willing to run, he prepared six copies. Yet the spiritual tranquillity that emanates from prevention lasted only a short while because Cerauni Vilaür was forced to assume, with increasing stupefaction, the misfortunes of his six addressees. His brother suffered a stroke. His best friend lost both legs in a car accident. His neighbor was financially ruined during the summer. His office mate was left blind by glaucoma. His ex-wife was impregnated during a one-night stand. His unemployed cousin lost the winning ticket in a millionaire lottery. Weighed down by the burden of guilt, ponderous as a methane bubble about to explode, Cerauni Vilaür divided his possessions into six equal parts, and once the pertinent instructions had been delegated, he hurled himself into the darkness from his bedroom window. A few days after the burial, somebody found in the inside pocket of one of the deceased's blazers six unmailed letters bound by a rubber band.


The detective took down my name and the address of my hotel on one of those yellow papers with an adhesive strip on the back, reusable till they're filled with lint, tobacco crumbs, orphaned eyelashes. During the car ride, I felt as if a polymer placenta was stopping me from putting some distance between myself and my feelings, spurred as they were by the confirmation of my suspicions. Ever since I met Dula Surp, the seeds of distrust had taken root in a corner of my amorous euphoria, and they were striving to gain ground, quickened by all the times she was late or failed to show up without offering any explanation. When I spotted the hotel sign, the lone eye winking on its façade, a twinge of anguish proved meticulous as a cathode ray, making me misty. The man who sat behind the reception desk, exhausted, made no bones about accepting the bribe. The room was at the far end of a dimly lit corridor with a threadbare carpet. The master key opened the lock with an imperceptible click. A soft light filled the walls with misshapen shadows. Kneeling before the bed, with a fervor of which I would never have thought her capable, Dula Surp was copulating with her chief of staff (a narrative entitled Internal Promotion), or with the detective that favored yellow sticky notes (title: Double Bind), or with a mannequin from a shop window (title: Fetishistic Plagiarism), or with a dog of unknown origin (title: Even Educated Fleas Do It), or with a satyr (title: Dionysian Mysteries), or with a werewolf (title: Howler), et cetera.

translated from the Catalan by Lawrence Venuti

Click here to read the translator's essay, "Eduard Marquez's Zugzwang: Cosmpolitanism, Minority, Translation," in World Literature Today.