The publisher that makes the most beautiful books in Spain, a true flower of a stamp, the paradise of good tone, the best experience of letter and image, generous margins and typeface close to orgasm for the cultured gourmet, is Jesús Egido. Kingdom of Cordelia and King Lear, where Luis Alberto de Cuenca works as a secret magician for so long, are the paradise of good homeland illustration. Jesús Egido, with his open trucker shirts and no buttons on the neck, one eye looking at Cuenca and the other at his native León from the heart of Madrid, the belly of Buddha and the hand of all miracles, helps to live well and much best.
Absolute first: Reino de Cordelia publishes El Buscón de Vierge, for the first time in current Spanish, cleanly and forever. Daniel Urrabieta Vierge was born in Madrid (1851) and died in Paris (1904). He was the head illustrator for Victor Hugo; he also makes beautiful drawings of Zola (with Renoir), Poe and Cervantes. France and England raffle it, at vintage prices, while in their country (Spain), as often happens, they didn’t even know about it. A hemiplegia deprives him of a hand, of speech and paralyzes or buries half of his body, but this does not prevent his great epic: he illustrates E l Buscón de Quevedo, who would form a diptych with Cervantes’s Don Quixote, in a state of abduction and hallucination both, without the slightest respite, as only the sick and the mad are capable, now and always, of speaking of the spirit. A brilliant feat.
Before the cardiovascular accident, he had already begun, between cramps, groping and fondling El Buscón. Without a right hand, with his left hand as such, he does not allow himself to be overcome by paralysis: 120 bright and iridescent drawings of Hispanic fury. He publishes the first edition in London (1892), the publishing cradle of the world, the blue challenge attracts the most luxurious public, the book is a party and Vierge a prophet. Wounded at the age of 30 by misfortune, he is quoted by newspapers of the stature of The Illustrated World. All Vierge is magic, chills, black handwriting veiled by strangeness.
Madrazo and Borglini were his teachers at the Madrid School of Fine Arts (1864) and it shows on the cloth. Jesús Egido, magician disheveled of himself, letter-wounded saint, curator editor, could not say it better as an acid front: “The Spanish obsession for looking outside the doors before attending to what is at home has allowed one of the great 19th century illustrators, Daniel Urrabieta Vierge, is practically unknown to the general public. And that despite the fact that most of his production was made for France and England, including his two most ambitious projects, The Quijote and The Buscón”. Spain, as always, so many times stepmother and cannibal of her best children. That eternal palletism that the gold, in jets, comes from outside.
Years passed until the left-handed man did the right-handed work, and the many walks taken with Gustave Dumontier by Meudon, helped the gods in their work. He recovers his speech (1884) but follows the black dog of misfortune biting the leg and bottom of the strict present: his companion Clara, caretaker in illness, lover in joy, breastplate and back under all fortune dies. He gets a friend named Marie Boucher (1885), married with a son, who is soon a widow and soon marry him. He resumes his activity as an illustrator, travels to London, returns to Spain, then receives the visit of two obsessed men, the American artist Joseph Pennell together with the British editor Thomas Fisher Unwin, whose interest is to complete the illustrations of El Buscón, of which the Bonhoure edition. Everything is sold today by Egido, just over twenty euros, in an identical billet for which he received the Gold Medal of the Universal Exposition of Paris (1889) in the shadow of the recently raised (like the stiff cock of Jesús Egido and the Mio Cid) Eiffel Tower. Successive editions in London (1892) and money that arrives as a whole curate of the soul.
Is it necessary to clean Quevedo’s language? Of course, many archaisms are updated, the subjunctives of that are a stumbling block for the modern reader, as well as pronouns, zeugmas, gerunds, complex parataxes that are not hypotaxis. There are thousands of examples: “guest” in the Golden Age points to both the host and the guest, “to run” is “to be ashamed” or “to be outraged” and not what we imagine today, the Quevedian concept includes mental and venerable games, with purposes comedians, whose variegation and amazement must be clarified as old silver is cleaned or the sun is renewed after the rain. Quevedo stands out in metaphor and comparison, but not in today’s way, his associations and dialogues are different, his extravagances in hyperbole deserve a map, his funny allusions or grotesque animalizations are better with some compass, similes and metaphors, allusions satirical, require decoding. When he talks about “cat”, for example, he means “thief”, and for that we need someone to clarify it now, at the minute.
El Buscón de Vierge, and Egido, makes our hair stand on end, wakes us up like shaved fear, electrifies and crucifies us, because this work deserved a life and it was that life defending itself to the edge of the precipice (as defined by García Márquez or Pavese all literature) who saved the work. Thank you, Egido, Spaniard who looks to your country to dedicate these songs to him, for this unexpected treasure with a touch of sleep.