Adventures of the Gentleman with the Shrunken Limb

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

HAVANA TIMES — Nosing through a friend’s bookshelf, I found a work titled Aventuras del caballero del miembro encogido (Adventures of the Gentleman with the Shrunken Limb), which was written by the Cuban comedy group “Nos y Otros” (1982-1997).

Since I was already somewhat familiar with the work of these comedians (Eduardo del Llano, Aldo Busto, Luis Felipe Calvo and Jose Leon) — having had the opportunity to read their other book Basura y otros desperdicios (Trash and Other Debris) — I took advantage of this chance to borrow this copy.

Reading it was hilarious and entertaining, since the authors effectively assembled a story that plays with the distinctive elements of novels based on chivalry, such as the constant search for adventure by its protagonist, the fierce loyalty this character displays to a certain king and queen; the recurrent appearance of dragons, wizards, monsters, improbable creatures… (the list goes on).

But what makes this book truly unique is its use of deep irony, black humor, parody and satire, which are presented throughout the narrative.

The central character of this novel is Sir Joseph Romualdo, better known as “the gentleman with the shrunken limb” (having suffered the paralysis of his left arm), while his exploits are recounted by Holo el Casto, the copyist of the Saint Epiphanne Monastery in Nanterre.

Very close to Sir Romualdo’s character is Petalo de Jasmine, his faithful horse that accompanies the gentleman in his adventures and gets him out of trouble countless times, thanks to the suspicion and intelligence granted to the creature by its creators.

The animal is unlike its owner – who’s a bit slow, clumsy and inept at solving problems in certain situations.

This book (put out by the Abril publishing house in 1992, and illustrated by Pedro Hernandez Dopico), enables us to explore some of the concerns of Cuban comedians the 1980s, but it also looks at the peculiarities of the time, because the open criticism of society that existed at that time vibrates lucidly in this work.

Perhaps, in a possible reissue of Aventuras del caballero del miembro encogido and other writings of equal value, could breathe some need oxygen into the nation’s humor scene.