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lunes, 14 de marzo de 2016

Los Papeles de Benjamín Benavides 

(The Papers of Benjamín Benavides)

 by Leonardo Castellani (1899 - 1981)

Absolutely, a must reading!

Book review by Rafael Castela Santos

Taken from http://casadesarto.blogspot.mx/2013/03/los-papeles-de-benjamin-benavides-de.html
Translated from the Portuguese by Roberto Hope

Homo Legens, the publisher which so relevant services has rendered to the Catholic culture in Spanish-speaking lands is elated with the publication of “Los Papeles de Benjamín Benavides” by Father Leonardo Castellani; work that appears for the first time in the neighboring nation and with the added attraction of supplementing this edition with a preface by Juan Manuel de Prada.

About Los Papeles de Benjamín Benavides I will just say that it is my favorite of the books authored by Castellani, to which I frequently return, and each time I do I discover new matters to ponder and reflect upon. Authentic opera prima, written with noteworthy erudition, without detriment to its great ease of reading, by this distinguished Argentinian priest, dealing with that which was his favorite topic of study throughout his entire life ― the Apocalypse of Saint John.

By means of a combination of dialogues in which the central character, Don Benya or Benjamín Benavides, an extravagant Spanish Catholic sage with Sephardi Jewish roots, Castellani upholds, in a more than convincing way, that the Apocalypse is simultaneously a retrospective and a prospective book, in which the entire History of the Church is narrated or foreseen until the end of times, the which will be consummated with the Second Coming of Christ to this Earth (de fide truth which has been forgotten these days by almost all who claim to be Catholic ― Et iterum venturus est cum gloria, says the Creed.)

A more than recommended reading; a must read!

***

To live in the future sense

By Juan Manuel de Prada
Translated from the Spanish by Roberto Hope

Five years ago, more or less, I published  in this same journal an article titled “Las Gafas de Castellani” (Castellani's Spectacles), in which I narrated with delight my discovery of an Argentinian writer, Leonardo Castellani (1899-1981), whose reading had left a deep impression on me. Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say, a deep wound: because Castellani did not only come forth as a very gifted writer, with a style somewhere between quixotic and untamed, like no other author I had read before but also transformed and upset entirely my way of looking at things, my way of living my own literary vocation and my religious faith. There are writers who, in certain situations in our life, widen our vital horizon; it so happened to me with Castellani, to whom the painful gift of looking deeper and beyond the appearance of things; and  who, while still living, was condemned to ostracism. “Men who live in the present tense ― he wrote on certain occasion ― instinctively banish into solitude him who lives in the future tense .”  Castellani lived in the midst of this rejection and solitude: rejection which on many occasions was an authentic Calvary and almost civil death.

That article which I published almost five years ago fell in the hands of a magnificent editor and one of the noblest persons I have known in my life, Carmelo López-Arias, who invited me to publish a book by Leonardo Castellani in the publishing house he works with, LibrosLibres. We titled it “Cómo sobrevivir intelectualmente al siglo XXI” (How to survive  the Twenty First Century intellectually) ; and surprisingly it sold better than well, which would later allow me to publish other works by the same author: “Pluma en Ristre” (Pen at the ready) ― another selection of articles; “El Evangelio de Jesucristo” (Jesus Christ's Gospel) ― very meaty comments on the Sunday readings of the Gospel, and “El Apokalypsis de San Juan” (The Apocalypse of Saint John) ― an exegesis of the last book of the New Testament. Throughout all these years, the rescue of Leonardo Castellani has been a very important motor in my life, something that not even those people closest to me have fully understood because, in my proselytizing stubbornness, there was something of an immolation. But there are things that one does, not because he just wants to but because he knows he has to do them; and also knows that if he does not do them he will some day have to give account of it.

I now conclude this rescue work, publishing "Los Papeles de Benjamín Benavides” (Homo Legens), perhaps the most representative work of the Castellanian genius, a kind of thesis novel which partakes of Platonic dialogue, satirization  of customs and even police intrigue, the main character of which, the Benjamín Benavides of the title, an evident likeness of the author himself, discusses the prophesies of the Apocalypse with a multifarious group of friends. Upon first sight, it looks like a work written haphazardly which intertwines, with an evident lack of academic unity, fabrications of an outlandish nature, but little by little from the reading emerges a captivating vision encompassing the history of humankind (and of its future life beyond this “vale of tears”). And, in moments as critical and somber as those in which we now live, especially elucidating and inspiring of hope.

In Los Papeles de Benjamín Benavides, Castellani speaks of matters around which the culture of our time has put seven padlocks; and which Christians themselves have ceased to “imagine”. But, as in some passage of the work its author notes, all true hope is supported on a pedestal which imagination provides: if we cannot conceive a concrete idea of what we expect, we tend to expel it from our mind. For quite a long time already, an effort ― silent but implacable ― is being made, consisting of withdrawing little by little all the braces on which popular imagination used to sustain its belief in a future life; and so, all outlets having been blocked, through which believers sought to conceive their ultimate destiny, hope has ended up being withered and deafened by a “swarm of prophetoids, of foretellers and praisers of progressivism and by the elation of the salvation of man by man”. But it is not necessary to look around to discover that all the promises of attaining paradise on earth, made to us by the “praisers of progressivism” have revealed themselves to be false and frustrating. In “Los Papeles de Benjamín Benavides”, Castellani, who lived in the future tense, with the sight always fixed on the eschatological horizon, gives back to us the true sense of Christian hope. Inevitably, they made him pay for it

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