The slow agony of Philip II

‘In Buenos Aires, Ramón (Gómez de la Serna) was delivering a speech on the life of Philip II and the time of the construction of El Escorial; the speech was nearly finished and he was talking about the last illness and the slow agony of Philip II. At that moment, he saw someone come in dripping wet and with their umbrella open, and he realised that it was pouring it down outside. He then interrupted his lecture, turned to the audience, and said: “Well, considering it is raining so much and we do not want to get wet when we go out, I will prolong Philip’s slow agony by fifteen minutes”. He went on speaking and adding details and it was wonderful because by the time we left the lecture it was not raining anymore, so the audience was very grateful.’

Julio Cortázar
Clases de literatura. Berkeley, 1980
Punto de lectura, Alfaguara, Madrid, 2014

Illustration: drawing by Alfredo, from the book Six Beard of Sea Bream and Other Whims (Media Vaca, 2007).