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The Short Story Writer

Jose's desk top
1974: Cine sin filosofías
1979: Siete relatos capitales
1985: Voltaire en Nueva York
1991: Mujeres al borde de la leyenda

The first short stories that Ferrater Mora wrote grew out of the movies he filmed. Cine sin filosofías, published in 1974, contained "descriptions" of ten movies that Ferrater Mora had made. He included the dialogue he had originally written for each movie, described the images he had filmed, and identified the music he had recorded. He also commented on each movie. Five years later, Ferrater Mora had transformed these movie "scripts" or "descriptions" into short stories that were published in a volume entitled Siete relatos capitales. The pun intended by the word 'capitales' is untranslatable, although something of the author's intention can be gathered if we recall that 'pecados capitales' is Spanish for 'deadly sins.' This is a book in which four of his "movie scripts" have been transformed to such an extent that they no longer bear any resemblance to scripts but are, as the title indicates, stories or tales of a literary character. In addition to these tales that originally appeared as modified movie scripts in Cine sin filosofias, he added three others: The Heartache and the Thousand Natural Shocks, which was filmed in 1977, and two stories that were never filmed, A Useless Passion and A Billion Dollar Movie, his only straightforward comedy.

Once started, Ferrater Mora continued to write short stories. Voltaire en Nueva York, published in 1985 includes the seven previously published stories plus two new stories: one from which the book takes its name and the other entitled Desde Capri.

Mujeres al borde de la leyenda (Women Verging on Legend), a book containing seven short stories about women, was published in 1991.

Mujeres al borde de la leyenda was not yet published when Ferrater Mora began to write a volume of short stories about men. Before he died, he had produced the title page of his book, Hombres al borde de la locura (Men on the Verge of Madness) and a Table of Contents listing the titles of the various stories to be included in this volume. Under 'Indice' were the following entries: La secreta aventura de Ulises Santamarina; La invención maravillosa de Dedé Kind; Sísifo, el infatigable; Morir antes llegar; Podía habérnoslo dicho antes; El collar de los sueños; Culebrones de antaño; Huang-Chi, o el poder de la Lenjanía; and Reivindicación de Babel. At the time of his death Ferrater Mora had written several pages corresponding to each of the short stories including some thirty pages of the first story, La secreta aventura de Ulises Santamarina and some ten or twelve pages of the last story, Reivindicacion de Babel.

One might suppose that a writer writes and completes one essay before starting a second one, but this "linear method" was certainly not true of Ferrater Mora. Not only did he read five or six books at one time, he also wrote several books at one time and even several chapters of the same book at one time, as can be seen by his comments in his letter about his book on language, Indagaciones sobre lenguaje. It is not surprising, then, that he left several pages corresponding to the short stories in Men on the Verge of Madness. These pages are not notes concerning the "plot" of the story—plots, or at least the vague outline of plots, were apparently retained without any problem in his head—but are, rather, the actual beginnings or first pages, of the story. As such, they tease rather than give any clear idea of what the story is about or how it will progress.