Die of scholarship

It was on December 27, 1959 when Alfonso Reyes said goodbye to the world. Because he was a poet, ambassador, storyteller, playwright, and essayist, he inspired or intimidated all twentieth-century Mexican writers, creators from other latitudes, and world thinkers. whole. (You just look at the verses that Jorge Luis Borges wrote: “Reyes, the indecipherable providence / Who administers the prodigal and the sparse, / He gave us the sector or the arch, / But to you the total circumference”) .

It is difficult to approach Reyes through the long journey of his Complete Works, complicated when only one of his compositions assaults us and apprehends us to leave us hopelessly captive. Impossible to cover his entire sphere, visit his library or read every line from his pen. It is overwhelming and absurd to turn it into a marble monument to revere when we think that he formed the Athenaeum of Youth, was a wise man and a teacher of excellence and that it is because of him that El Colegio de México exists. Complicated, but to get to Alfonso Reyes there are a thousand roads.

Born in Monterrey in 1889, Alfonso was the son of General Bernardo Reyes, a hero of the French Intervention, assassinated at the beginning of the Revolution and an adherent, like almost no one in the North, to General Porfirio Díaz. Alfonso, since he was a child, showed inclinations and skills very different from those of his father and art and the military lived in peace, under the same roof and each one in his own corner. Alfonso realized very early on that talent was largely insistence and will. “The art of expression, Reyes wrote, did not appear to me as a rhetorical craft, independent of conduct, but as a means to fully realize the human sense.” And for this reason, the question of sculpting the best of oneself through education and knowledge was paramount in all his actions. When everything seemed simple about his job. “I write: that’s all. I write as I live. I write as part of my natural economy. Afterwards, the pages are classified into books, imposing an objective, impersonal, artistic, or artificial order on them. But the work flows from me in an undifferentiated and continuous flow ”.

Reyes obtained the professional title of Law at the age of 23, was secretary of the National School of Higher Studies and there he founded the chair of History of Spanish language and literature. His academic interests and his life stopped for a horrible moment: the day of the death of his father, assassinated on the very first day of the Tragic Ten. The date of the shooting gave the title to one of his few posthumous works, Prayer of February 9, a painful journey through the open wound.

However, even that much pain did not kill his temper. Poetry, short stories, essays, anthologies, studies, articles, notes, bits and even a kitchen minute book, would be multiplied in paragraphs and pages and book after book. Thus, Alfonso Reyes was the hinge between a Mexico of old rebellions and nations that were getting rid of modernity. Although Spanish was her mother tongue, she had to acquire the habit of others. (“Sometimes I regret speaking in Spanish – he would say, referring to English speakers – because, heard from the other shore, it must be something incomparable, full of clicks and lashes, a terrible cavalry charge of open vowels, through a field bristling with consonants driven like stakes). However, during his days in exile, he transformed nostalgia into a weapon and went so far as to affirm that wisdom gave more joys than the homeland and his books were like his family or the universe itself.

Don Alfonso always enjoyed good food, good wine, social gatherings, friends and endless conversations. He assured that sometimes life is so bitter that it opens the desire to eat, and between sarcastic and melancholic he recounted all the dishes he had eaten while traveling and living in Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Germany and the whole world. “We desperately need stories to tell us. As much as commerce – I thought – because they help us organize reality and illuminate any chaos that may arise. Literature, food, and any act of eating require time, planning, strategy, and cooking. And man is nourished not only to ensure his growth and development but also for pleasure. Much more enjoyable if the food is of high taste quality, fresh, beautiful color, perfect texture, right for the moment and beautifully presented ”Exactly like this – delicious and seasoned he wrote about the holidays we are trapped in right now . Referring to the New Year, for example, is his wonderful story “Dinner” where the main character begins at the end and runs, fleeing in terror from a meeting that is as enigmatic as it is terrifying.

However, it is in his Diary, the notebook that he wrote until the end of days, where on the final pages, he writes the key question: “Will I die of scholarship?” And in the last line nothing more than the following: “They killed me.”


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