The cosmos speaks incessantly to the inquisitive mind.
This week, through my brief inquiry into the Cordel literature traditions of Brazil, I encountered a startling gem of inspiration for the automata artist. As it happens, the indisputably most popular folheto ever published is O Pavao Misterioso or The Mysterious Peacock and the story goes like this:
A young man named Evangelista falls in love with the jealously-guarded and radiantly beautiful daughter of a Greek nobleman. In order to visit his love he acquires an aluminum-framed mechanical flying peacock from the great artist-engineer Edmundo. In due course the maiden and Evangelista escape her father and elope on the back of the peacock. Shortly after setting up house in Turkey they are reconciled with the bride’s mother (the father having died of extreme vexation) and receive her full inheritance.
Happy endings thanks to a wondrous automaton. My kind of story. Shades of Hugo anyone?
In her splendid book, Stories on a String, Candice Slater reports that this tale is so intoxicating to some readers of Cordel that they believe the mechanical peacock actually existed and continues to exist today. It is as though this fictional automata is a saint!