Home > Uncategorized > André Pieyre de Mandiargues: Mercy and Peace squares

André Pieyre de Mandiargues: Mercy and Peace squares

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

French writers on war and peace

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André Pieyre de Mandiargues
From The Margin
Translated by Richard Howard

The sun, which had moved down the sky, is still warm once he leaves the narrow streets behind, and in the open space the mild atmosphere of the Plaza de la Merced persists, despite the presence at the quay of three American destroyers aiming clawlike objects at the sky….

***

He reaches the enormous Plaza de la Paz, in front of a kind of barracks where two employees in mud-colored uniforms, bayonets on their rifles, stand guard, and the word paz, which he has read on the corner of the building, appears before his eyes a second time on a sign flank by the soldiers of Castile aggressively posted in the Catalan city. Their unappealing aspect makes him turn his back, without reading further.

***

He circles the pedestal quickly, the traffic light is red, permitting him to cross the Paseo to the presumed barracks, he passes in front of the paz sign between the bayonets of the soldiers on duty….

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From this point on, he is led to think of the enormous slaughters commanded in the outskirts of Seville by General Queipo de Llano, whose name is fixed in his memory on account of Sergine who, based on her reading of Max Aub, has told him how this hero, after murdering indiscriminately for several months, had ordered his men to “stop shooting anyone under the age of fifteen.”

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This stir is for a group of American sailors, apparently from the Altair, three of whom (heavy-set) are in blue uniforms, two (lanky) in whites, and two older men in civilian clothes.

First the Americans order a bottle of cognac and various carbonated drinks, mostly caramel-colored and chemically constituted under the trade-marks Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

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There is no city where statues are placed so high as in Barcelona, as if it were dangerous to leave them within men’s reach.

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A red dot moves up along his left side – a ladybug which has landed on the lapel of his jacket, without his having seen it appear….He takes between his two fingers, delicately, the tiny beetle which resembles a miniature tortoise decorated with a brush in the Swiss taste, and sets it down on one of the loveliest roses….Never, he thinks, has he wanted, never will he want to kill any animal, not even the smallest, to uproot the least seed.

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