A dark legend springs up around this man endowed with hellish powers that he himself refuses to take seriously. The same as he is eoua, seven years hence old man August the hatter will be wearing a rather long, slightly rumpled light-coloured coat with wide lapels, a waistcoat underneath, not very wide trousers, you might even say they are narrow, quite long in the leg, so that from his boots almost as far as the knee they are like a corrugated tube or a concertina or something of the sort. In the final zille weeks, the judge will live with old man August the hatter himself. The author gets caught up in the mechanisms of madness, random occurrence, and the fantastical. Without praying, I said: You have to help me. But while I was wasting away on my sickbed, while I was dying and could hear the weeping and the plaints of those around me, I said to myself was I praying?
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Search by: writer book. Excerpt from Critics about. In a provincial town, Antipa, a commuting functionary, is amusing himself with some friends. As a joke, he wagers at random on the life and death of some acquaintances. Are we dealing with a seer or a charlatan? A dark legend springs up around this man endowed with hellish powers that he himself refuses to take seriously.
The author gets caught up in the mechanisms of madness, random occurrence, and the fantastical. It is as if the world is built anew against the backdrop of a grey provincial town, the boundaries of life and death become blurred, and the virtues of formerly life-giving language are re-dimensioned. Seven years hence, Judge Viziru will arrive in Albala. He will be looking for old man August the hatter.
He will find him: in his hen-roost workshop, as he calls it. Will he be any older? Who can say? The other old man, Iacubovici, will have died four years previously, a man who had seen plenty in his life, but who had always done the same thing: making trousers. But who will remember old man Iacubovici the trousers maker? This will be downstairs, but upstairs, in the old attic made of planks, old man August the hatter will still be at work. There he will be, even if instead of coats on hangers there were a cobbler or a tailor and his apprentices or a watchmaker sharing a table with a man who repairs fountain pens and sunglasses.
Old man August will be there. Judge Viziru will climb the wooden stair. Perhaps he will count the steps. The fifth reinforced with an iron rod. Were any of his old acquaintances to see Judge Viziru, he would say that seven years truly have left their mark on him. Old man August the hatter will unplug his electric iron. After the death of old man Iacubovici, the hatter will, at last, work with an electric iron.
A broad-brimmed hat would be completely out of the question. It might also suit the comical sort of nonsense they wear nowadays, a beret or a flat cap, but in that case what he is doing here, upstairs with me, this man who has the air of having just alighted from a train? Judge Viziru will say: can I leave my bag here?
Certainly, the old man will say. An elderly man, he will totter forward, pick up the black travelling bag, which is chock-full and has thin metal handles, and place it on a chair behind his workbench. The same as he is today, seven years hence old man August the hatter will be wearing a rather long, slightly rumpled light-coloured coat with wide lapels, a waistcoat underneath, not very wide trousers, you might even say they are narrow, quite long in the leg, so that from his boots almost as far as the knee they are like a corrugated tube or a concertina or something of the sort.
Unless his frail body rests on the feet of a much larger person, perhaps those of the person who would have matched his huge, wily, gentle head. The colour of his trousers: never too dark, sometimes herringbone or checked. Sometimes he wears a loosely knotted scarf around his neck, the ends tucked into his waistcoat. But apart from that, the old man will be the same as ever.
Perhaps he has been fetched thither from a collection of garden gnomes. I have indeed come to ask you something, Judge Viziru will say. I shall ask. I read the newspapers, the old man will say, I can see for myself, it must be some kind of fashion, rather like boating before the First World War. I understand, old man August the hatter will say: the one man knows from the start who the guilty one is and the other man sets out in search of somebody innocent.
The one man knows for certain, the other man gropes in the dark, I understand. I was ill for a long time and, just when nobody was expecting that I would ever get up from my sickbed, I set off on my travels. I have to know. And I know that you know. Or there ought to be. Oho, your honour, you do have a way of putting things. I recall a nephew of mine, a teacher and author of school textbooks and stories for soldiers, if you will allow me.
Help me. I know you know. Not for me. Our old water heater has conked out. Although time scatters or gathers? What do you want to know? It all started from a joke. Many years ago. What I would like to know is how far you can you take a joke. When they are very ill, religious believers pray with humility and in return for their health, they undertake to make sacrifices, offerings, as they say nowadays, to God.
They keep their word. But while I was wasting away on my sickbed, while I was dying and could hear the weeping and the plaints of those around me, I said to myself was I praying? Without praying, I said: O Lord, help me to find out. Perhaps this was the only reason I got better. A hermit spent forty years in the wilderness meditating. When he returned to the city, all the people crowded around him and asked: tell us, you must have found out in all those forty years: what is life?
I found out, said the hermit, that life is a well. A well, murmured the crowd, a well. A well? They debated the question and the next day the most learned among them went to the hermit and said: we have thought about it long and hard, we have pondered all through the night, and we have reached the conclusion that life cannot be a well. How could it be a well? Very well then, replied the hermit calmly, life is not a well!
I want to know the boundary, how far can you take a joke, I want to know with my senses first of all, to be able to shout here, the same as when I stand at the edge of a river I know without a shadow of a doubt where the water ends and the land begins. Oh yes I will, Judge Viziru will shout. The boundary exists. It exists. It has terrified me without my ever seeing it. Now I am searching for it. I am not yet cured. I have to find out.
Perhaps you are too old to know it, mister hatter, you come from long ago. Our times have discovered the boundary. Once I know how far and how much I have to joke, then I shall be rid of the fear. And then I shall be free and healthy.
As if I were working under contract, to a deadline. Unbelievable as it might seem, it is as if had signed this contract with Antipa himself. And it is on his account that I have to get to the bottom of it all. You have to help me.
You may not be aware of it, but it was I who made the bet with Antipa. Afterwards, Anghel and the others got in on it. Afterwards, but not much later, the joke took a monstrous turn. This is the conversation that will take place between Judge Viziru and old man August the hatter seven years hence. As they talk, the tape recorder mechanism will whirr continuously, its green eye will gleam, its spools will slowly wind.
It will grow dark. Downstairs, they will shut up shop. They will shout upstairs: take care, old man August, fasten the padlock after you check the Yale lock. Yes, the old man will shout, and the tape recorder spool will conserve in its memory that meaningless word, takecareoldmanaugustfastenthepadlockafteryouchecktheyalelock. As much as is possible! In various situations, Antipa often used to use the same words: as much as is possible. Judge Viziru will remain in Albala a long time.
Investigating, listening, asking. Spools of tape and thin notebooks with yellowish densely written pages. In the final two weeks, the judge will live with old man August the hatter himself.
Search by: writer book. He graduated from the Philology Faculty of the A. Cuza University in Jassy in and subsequently worked as a draughtsman, supply teacher and P. From , he worked as an editor and later assistant editor-in-chief for Ateneu magazine, published in Bacau.