A New Journal of the Plague Year Three Centuries Later: The Pandemic, the Commercial Break, & the Lost Identity

A New Journal of the Plague Year Three Centuries Later: The Pandemic, the Commercial Break, & the Lost Identity Guest Essay by Fernando Andacht via Margaret Anna Alice – Substack


by Margaret Anna Alice

I am honored to publish this guest piece by Fernando Andacht, semiotician, eXtramuros Magazine essayist, and professor in the Theory Department of the Facultad de Información & Comunicación at Universidad de la República in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Over the past couple of months, I have developed a profound connection with my cherished compadres at eXtramuros, which has published Spanish translations of Letter to a Covidian (Carta a un Covidiano: Un Experimento de Viaje en el Tiempo) and Letter to a Scientifically-Minded Friend (Carta a un Amigo con Mentalidad Científica). Translation of my subsequent letters is already completed or underway for future issues of eXtramuros.

This relationship began with my discovery of Fernando’s exquisite essay Un Nuevo Diario del Año de la Plaga Tres Siglos Después: La Peste, la Tanda, y la Identidad Perdida through an eloquent Facebook post by Andrea Grillo, who describes Fernando as taking “a walk with Margaret Anna Alice in an imaginary encounter” and closing his essay with “‘a hope that endures’ … leaving the door open to the capacity of wonder.”

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I was so intrigued by Andrea’s description, I immediately sought out Fernando’s article. Even in its clumsy Google translation, it exuded a rare combination of piercing intelligence, sardonic wit, warmth of spirit, and poetic beauty.

I expressed my appreciation at his post about the essay and asked Fernando if he would be willing to translate it into English, to which responded:

“Margaret Anna Alice what a wonderful surprise to be read by one of the sources of inspiration for my essay in eXtramuros. And to meet her here, in this not always welcoming medium! The moment I shared your Letter to a Covidian with the other members of the editorial board of our on line publication, eXtramuros, the reaction was immediate & unanimous: it had to be translated right away! And so it was, it is part of our new issue.… But now I’d very much like to translate my essay into English, so that we can continue with this unexpected but delightful dialogue.…”

After I published Letter to a Scientifically-Minded FriendFernando wrote:

“Just a great writer, who values the fine irony, literary creativity but doesn’t leave aside the best available data about cheap therapy … unmissable & urgent.”

When I thanked him for his compelling introduction, he wrote:

“The enthusiam of reading your new essay made us feel you are part of the group of the eXtramuros magazine. We loved your text and we felt it had to be read by those who do not read English. It was a very enjoyable work to do our best not to lose the richness of your language and to do justice to the many fine and most timely ideas. There are so few of us on this side of the sad and tragic rift that has taken over the world that when we find somebody who shares our ideas and writes as beautifully as you do, it’s a sort of ethical imperative to make your work known to those for whom English is a formidable linguistic barrier.… [Translating my essay] would be a great way to exchange signs on what most matters right now, namely, resist as much as possible this vast alienating narrative that is spread on so many channels and at every minute of the day.…”

Narendra Casandra was kind enough to translate that letter, which appeared in the October 24, 2021, edition of eXtramuros.

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