Mr. Cotta’s Tale 5 | The Weekly Country

This criminoid scheme proved to be a disaster for Cotta. He lost his connection with the sworn enemy, because Iris Vallarín did not want to know more about him. And since the young woman decided that she was done with adventures with middle-aged individuals, she also abandoned the columnist, who was also addicted to strange sexual practices. “Let them find transvestites for their sluts,” she thought, and picked up a young boyfriend she had left behind. Without the intermediary of Vallarín, who conveyed to both of them the wickedness of each towards the other, Pírfano calmed down and went several months without mentioning or alluding to Cotta. Moreover, he had already created many opponents and was almost unable to face his attacks. Amatrian, the director of The special onedemanded that he moderate himself, and what is more, that he refrain from attacking writers that few people knew, because the readers were bored, however ingenious and malevolent they were.

Cotta, for his part, who considered his work to be exquisite, revolutionary and on a par with Proust, cooked it over very low heat. He didn’t devote too much time to it either, and, as he enjoyed a large economic cushion (Juan Díaz, who negotiated the purchase of his publishing house, lowered morale but he was not greedy either, a just man), he was a victim of apathy. He was friendly, hyperactive and flattering, and his continuous attendance at social events and specialist clubs until dawn was not enough in his hours of apathy. He needed to plot, plot, conspire, always for his ultimate advantage, or his popularity or his prestige. He still wanted everything: on the one hand, big hits and sales; on the other, a growing appreciation from critics and connoisseurs who, after twenty years, have brought him to the ceremonies of Stockholm. He didn’t give up. In the second area, he understood that it had to be translated into as many languages ​​as possible, but especially into English, French, German and Swedish. He employs his literary agent, Neus Klossowski (he chose her because of her distinguished name), but he receives refusals from foreign houses. He kindly asked for help from a couple of colleagues who had done better with their international careers. He was denied it and he swore eternal hatred to her. The other, by dint of giving the tabarra, succeeded in having his Portuguese publisher rent a title by Cotta. This one complained to him, because everything seemed to him little. “I’m sorry,” replied the good colleague, “but in other countries there is no place for your hermetic literary delights.”

Cotta was quick to ignore what wasn’t going according to his wishes, so he parked that facet and considered alternatives. Once he crossed the line and was ready to commit a senseless, delayed murder, he thought how he could finish off Orphan and get away with it. Two ideas came to him, but they were difficult to realize. And suddenly the light fell on him: he would become friends with him. Ever optimistic, he downplayed his contempt for an interposed lover: this was reversible as the chronicler was a conceited and originally self-aware character. He knew that perfectly well because, with nuances, he was that type of character, and if someone flattered him, he was so happy that immediately—for a moment—he forgave past grievances.

Cotta, who was trying to hit all the keys, had acquired a bi-weekly column in a minority, educated newspaper, which did not yet have many readers, but a few were enough to spread the word. From his hidden section, he began to pet Orphan. As the latter in fact plagiarized and introduced into his articles silent quotations from Rubén Darío and a hundred others, Cotta praised him for his Valleinclanesco handling of the language, the worthy occurrences of Gómez de la Serna, the imagery of Rubén and the power of the Quevedesque style. He did not let out his flattery all at once; he dosed them; he raised his voice; and concluded with a pithy sentence: “The unclassifiable pieces of Maestro Pírfano de Lerma oblige us to affirm that the best current literature is written in the newspapers. There is verve and brilliance, there is invective and poetry, emotion and lamentation and elegy”. These words were greeted with joy by the country’s thousand chroniclers, immediately convinced of their veracity. And although the loa concentrated on Pírfano, they repeated until nausea the last part of the sentence, which ended up becoming a commonplace and idiotic of the time. And sure enough, it reached Lerma’s ears; in fact, Cotta’s previous praise had already reached him, which intrigued him greatly at first. Then he wanted to believe that this bitter enemy not only did not hold it against him, but that, enlightened man that he no doubt was, he had changed his mind and surrendered to his greatness. Gertrude Stein was right when she said that a writer only needs three things: praise, praise, and praise. Of course, since her death, it’s not that she has received too much. That’s how it pays to be feared in life.

Pírfano inquired with his many friends and expressed his desire to meet Sánchez Cota in person. “This half-fag didn’t make it,” he said, “but he has literary talents.”

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