When Julio Cortázar died in 1984, he left behind an unpublished story, a manuscript with not so much a title as a heading: “Bix Beiderbecke.” In 2003, it was collected in the novelist’s complete works in Spanish, but to my knowledge it has not yet been translated into English. [That knowledge, it’s worth emphasizing, is slim. – Ed.] A Portuguese version appears in the current issue of the Brazilian magazine The Storm, while the original, in Spanish, can be found here.
Still, I don’t properly speak either of those languages. (An abiding love of Mariza does not count, apparently.) What is left but Babelfish? Keeping in mind that translation is a tricky business, the Portuguese version begins something like this:
I am Panamanian and has times alive with Bix. Escrevo and step for the following line: nobody will go to believe, if they believed, they would be as I and do not know nobody thus. Not accurately I, but to little as I. What it is an advantage because in this way I can write without that it imports me that they read or not, that to the end burns this with the last match of the last cigarette, or that leaves it abandoned in the street, or that gives for any one to it, so that makes what to give in the roofing tile; everything will be distant, so distant of me and Bix. I write because it does not have more what to make and because it is certain or it will seem certain for that am as I.
In Spanish, however, the story has a slightly different vibe:
I am Panamanian and does short while that alive with Bix. I write it and passage to the other line, nobody is going to believe it, if they believed it would be like I and I do not know of whom I am like. Not exactly I, but at least like I. Perhaps it is an advantage because I can write it without it matters to me that they read it or no, that in the end burns this with last phosphorus of the last cigarette. Or it leaves it left in the street, or occurs it to anyone so that it does what it gives the desire him; everything will be or behind, so behind me and of Bix. I write It because I do not have another thing that to do and because is certain or it will seem certain to him to which is like I.
And so the real “Bix Beiderbecke” shall, for the time being, remain as elusive as the real Bix Beiderbecke, so distant of me, so behind me and of Bix . . .
[August 8, 2006]