The sublime and the ridiculous

The sublime… Martin Fierro is probably the most famous piece of Argentinian literature. Written by Jose Hernandez, in 1872, it is the tale in verse of a Gaucho sent to the frontier against the indigenous, under the presidency of Sarmiento. The language captures the dialect and culture of the Gaucho at the time, and it is rich with imagery, metaphor and social commentary. I was challenged to read it, which is probably a bit like a foreigner to England reading Shakespeare. A challenge it surely is, but also a privilege to experience this work that is so embedded in the culture and history of Argentina.
The ridiculous…. Trying to buy more sheets for the spare beds. Went to the usual shop in town. They have clothes downstairs, and sheets and towels upstairs. Except that the stairs were taped off. So I went to find a shop assistant…

Me: Are you still selling sheets?
SA: Yes
Me: Where are they?
SA: They’re upstairs
Me: How do I go upstairs?
SA: No you can’t, it’s been closed off
Me: So how can I buy sheets?
SA: No, it’s not possible
Me: So actually you’re not selling sheets.
SA: No, we are still selling sheets
Me: (very slowly, as speaking to a foreigner…) Let’s do this again… you are still selling sheets?
SA: Yes
Me: But it’s not possible to buy any?
SA: That’s right
Me: (therapeutically, while backing slowly towards the door…) oooooo…kaaaaay…

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