In search of Klingsor by Jorge Volpi

in search of Klingsor

In search of Klingsor by Jorge Volpi

Mexican Fiction

Original title –  ‘En busca de Klingsor’

Translator – Kristina Cordero

Source – Personnel copy

The scientist only imposes two things, namely truth and sincerity, imposes them upon himself and upon other scientists.
Erwin Schrodinger Source

 

Now Volpi had long been on my list of writers I wanted to read this book is on most list of books to read from Spanish or the best books of the last twenty years .So when just before Spanish Lit month ,I did one of my regular visits to our local Oxfam ,I was pleased to find this and Lizard tales by Juan Marse both of which I brought .Jorge Volpi was born in Mexico ,studied law and literature ,starting a career as a Lawyer ,but still writing around this time with another of other Mexican writers he founded the Crack movement ,a style of writing moving Mexican and Latin american writing away from the Magic realism and Latin American boom .This book his best known so far is a perfect example of what they had in mind .

Let me give you a simple example .Lets take the Nazis and Britain :What is there common Objective ? The same pie Bacon :The Europe pie .Ever since Hitler took control of Germany in 1933 , all he has done is ask for pieces .First he wanted Austria ,then Czechoslovakia ,then Poland ,Belgium ,Holland ,France, Norway .Now he wants the whole pie .

Bacon talking with his professor before he went to Germany to find Klingsor

 

In search of Klingsor ,is the story of one man trying to find another man just after the second world war ,a young American Francis P Bacon is sent to the crumbling centre of Europe as the American want klingsor the codename for the top man in Hitler’s race to build an Atomic bomb .All Bacon knows is this could name and a few of the men involved ,Bacon Knows Einstein and is a pupil of him so he knows the names of the men to talk too first is a man who survived the bombing of Hitler  Links this then goes through an array of the best known scientist like Erwin Schrödinger and Niels Henrik David Bohr to find out whom was Klingsor ,but also along the way discovering how much the more or less the Germans knew than the american at the time ,many people could be Klingsor but Will Bacon ,get his Bacon so to speak .

“Klingsor ”

Francis P. Bacon read the word again and Again from a mineographed page of one of the Nuremburg trail transcripts .But it refused to reveal its hidden meaning .He had to be honest  with himself :He hadn’t  the foggiest notion of what he was looking for ,nor did he have any idea how he would go about finding it ,whatever it was .

Bacon is giving the task of finding Klingsor with the scantiest of details at hand .

 

Now this book is one of those books that doesn’t easily fit into the category of say historic fiction and it’s not slight enough to be compared to say Robert Harris it isn’t a pur historic thriller no this book is full of Ideas about Atomic theory ,Maths ,Philosophy ,Physics .No for me the two names I was left with after reading this was Umberto Eco and Thomas Pynchon ,the way the book unfolds reminds you some what of Eco that slow  bit by bit unravelling of what is going on and of course Pynchon one only has to think of Gravity’s rainbow and you can see the comparison the race to grab the best of the best that both the US forces and Russian forces did is seen here as we follow Bacon down the list of people it could be .Now this was written in 1999 ,Volpi is a professor and a well-known figure and has written a number of books since ,I want to try them but from what I’ve read he is yet to match this but I’m sure he will again this is a true masterpiece a book worthy to sit along side in the name of the rose and Gravity’s rainbow .

Have you read Volpi or any other member of the Crack movement writers ?

Antipodes by Ignacio Padilla

Source – library

Translator -Alistair Reid

 

Ignacio Padilla is a mexican writer ,he grew up liking Joyce and Stevenson as a child ,he studied communication and got a masters in english literature .Eventually end up teaching hispanic american literature at university of Salamanca in spain .He is also with Eloy Urroz and Jorge Volpi part of the crack movement ,a new movement of writing from mexico to move on from the latin american boom movement ,by using complex literature ,different structural writing .

So that in mind what did I learn from Antipodes about Ignacio and the crack movement well this book is structured round a collection of twelve very short stories all about five or six pages long .There all sort of boys own stories ,sometimes funny sometimes reminding me of a collection I had adventure stories for boys and also the tv series ripping yarns where the stories were all slightly tall tales but based on real types of characters .The characters on whole tend to be English or ex pats and a lot of locations are in the English speaking world  from India to Scotland.Included in the mad adventures include rebuilding a copy of Edinburgh in the desert ,a man the may have climb Everest this reminded me of the great true story of George Mallory ,who was born near were I grew up so heard his story as a kid .Another is the one I quote from about a famous gun and how there were a number of fakes made of it at the time and how you could tell they were fakes .

There is no denying that the craftsmen of Cappadocia were extremely accomplished ,but anyone with half an eye could recognize an authentic Hutchinson – van Neuvel among the many pirated copies that have shown up in the armies of europe over the last five years .For a start the butt of the Hutchinson almost always carved from Fijian red oak ,weights exactly 3 pounds ,25 ounces and measures 15.4 inches from  the stock to the firing pin .

the opening of the short story ballistics :some notes .

Well its hard to say much twelve very short stories I did like them the brought to mind Bolanos nazi literature ,small insights and maybe Borges a brief history of infamy style wise .I liked them a lot like I liked the Borges and Bolano ,maybe flippish and no real story but jumping almost leaping in and pout these places and times getting a taste like A Tapas of Padilla style well if these are nibbles I m hook .If you want something to pass a cheerful hour or two try these little nibbles of Ignacio Padilla .Reid did a good job on the translation keeping the sense of fun at times in these tales .

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