The posthumous memoirs of Bras Cubas by Joaquim Maria Machado De Assis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The posthumous memoirs of Bras Cubas by Joaquim Maria Machado De Assis

Brazilian fiction

Original title – Memorias Posthumas de Braz Cubas

Translator – Gregory Rabassa

Source – personal copy

I always like adding depth to the blog some older writers from around the world.So here I review the second book on the blog from the Brazilain writer Machado De Assis He managed a successful career as a Bureaucrat as well as become a successful writer first with poetry then a series of novels it was when this book came out that he became a really well known in Lit circles in Brazil. The book followed the death of a friend that left him melancholic and thinking about death.

For some time I debated over whether I should start these memoirs at the beginning or at the end, that is, whether I shuld put my birth of my death in first place. Since common usage would call for beginning with birth, two considerations led me to adopt a different method: the first is that i am not exactly a write who is dead but a dead man who is a writer, for whom the grave was a second cradle, the second is that the writing be more distinctive and novel in that way. Moses, who also wrote about his death,didn’t place it at the opening but at the close: a radical differecne between this book and the Pentateuch.

The opening lines explain the choice of style for the book

 

This is a strange book as it is the memoirs of a dead man that he wrote after he died he tells us this early on in the book. As we follow Bra Cubas life as he tells us in a quirky style of short chapters that vignettes of his life from his childhood onwards. but he was a spoilt rich child maybe this explains why his life is never quite right. He also abused the slaves his family had at the time. He then goes on to study law. His wilder years before he settles   Sleeping and falling in love with a prostitute that all the boys loved at the time. He also deals with his mother’s death and ends up in Rio. This is where he starts to meet Virgilia a woman that is the love of his life they never quite get it there she marries someone else he decides to become involved in politics. But he is a man that always sees his world as half empty and his relationships and life all reflect this so when he re-meets Virgilia and they see each other things still don’t go his way. His political career grows but he then is out of favor and starts a pape as a  member of the opposition.

Virgilia ? But, then, was it the same lady who some year later ….? The very same. It was precisely the lady who was to be present during my last days in 1869 and who before, long before, had played a ample part in my most intimate sensations. At that time she was only fifteen or sixteen years old. She was possibly the most daring creatureof our race and, certainly, the most wilful.I shan’t say that she was already first in beauty, ahead of the other girls of the time, because this isn’t a novel, where the author gilds reality and close his eyes to feckles and pimles.

I liove this description of the love of his life .

This is an amazing book for the time it mixes the absurd style of a book like Lawrence Sterne’s Tristam Shandy another fictional biography. De Assis said he was influenced by this book and also the French masterpiece journey around my room by Zavier De Maistre which is another unusual and unique book in style.  But he also mixes realist lit of the day from the likes of Zola and Dickens which showed the world warts and all. We are given this view of the world  Bra Cubas gives of Brazil he grew up in. It captures the wide range of people in Brazil from those nameless slaves to Bra Cubas and those he sees go above him in his life in the upper reaches of Brazilian life. Bra Cubas is  a man that is a normal man, not a hero never really successful in fact in a lot of ways he is a man that things never quite pan out failed romances the sense that he is maybe marked for his younger days in later life. I liked this much more than the other book by De Assis I read a few years ago I see in this how well read he was it is said he read in five languages and you can see what an influence he was for the Latin American writers that followed him. Borges for example in the short choppy chapters that could each be like the small gems  of short stories  that Borges did so well. Have you read De Assis ?

Advertisements

62: A model Kit by Julio Cortazar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

62: A Model Kit by Julio Cortazar

Argentinean fiction

Original title –  62/Modelo para armar

Translator – Gregory Rabassa

Source – Personal copy

I said when I reviewed The boat in the evening, I had another book from 1968 to review. This is it the second book for this blog by Julio Cortazar. The novel was a spin-off from his earlier book Hopscotch. He states that this book like his earlier book. Could be read in any order as each passage could link in any way to any other passages. Julio Cortazar own life was rather like the book itself he spent time in France Paris is one of the man place mentioned in the book and also a number of the characters are from Argentina.

Then I’ll walk through my city and I’ll enter the hotel

Or from the hotel I’ll go out to the zone of toilets redolent with urine and excrement,

Or I’ll be with you, my love, because with you I’ve gone down to my city on occasion

and in the streetcar thick with alien, shapeless pssengers I understood

That the abomination was coming, that the Dog was going to happen and I tried

to hold you against me, protect you from fright, but so many bodies separeted us, and when forced you off in a confused movement

The barebones of story no names and no places at times but wonderfully written.

Now this book is probably one of the most difficult I have read but also compelling. The action surrounds a number of characters Juan an Argentinean is the main character, he is maybe a shadow version of Julio himself. Then two fellow Argentinean’s Polanco and Cala add a piece of comic relief Masarrat a sculptor and Nicole an illustrator add the artistic nature and student and an older woman mix it in this novel in the city now this is a city that may be Oslo, Paris or London. The characters meet in places but they describe the cities but it also could just be another unnamed city that reminds this rag tag bunch of characters as they meet and drink. Then we also have a Vampire subplot.

Of course, the argument have absolutely nothing to do with swallows, as anyone who understands the language of the two Tartars can testify.

“Of all the people I know, you’re the biggest Cronk,” Calac says.

“And you’re the biggest pettifor,” Polanco says.”you call me a cronk, sir, but it ‘s obvious that you’ve never boneyed your face in a mirror.”

“What you’re trying to do is start a fight with me, mister,” Calac says.

The two argetineans are also reffered to as Tartars at times they fall oout in a slapstick manor at times.

How do you describe the avant-garde fiction this is a muddled book at times but with the real beauty in his writing. Like his fellow Argentinean Borges this is a book of Mirrors on the prose sometimes you feel you’ve read something before but it is slightly different.Then the book is also lime the famous Mazes the Borges also liked. Julio Cortazar he stated the book could be read in a  jumbled up order.Like BS Johnson’s masterpiece The unfortunates which went a step further than this book and had all the prose piece in separate small pamphlets for the reader to order as we wanted. So what we never know fully is where when and how the characters are connected just that they are this is, of course, an Oulipo novel so like the other books by writers from that group I have read it is the prose that matter, not a narrative timeline or order. Calvino with his playing card inspired piece the castle of crossed destinies. Then we also have two other books Dear reader and The flight of Icarus both that play with narrative style. Icarus using two interlocking storylines and Dear reader looks at what is the future of the book itself. This was a challenge and thanks for the 968 club for getting me to buy it for the challenge.

Marks of Identity by Juan Goytisolo

 

Marks of Identity by Juan Goytisolo

Spanish fiction

Original title – Sensa de Identitad

Translator – Gregory Rabassa

Source – personnel copy

 

“Paper Planes”

[x2]
I fly like paper, get high like planes
If you catch me at the border I got visas in my name
If you come around here, I make ’em all day
I get one down in a second if you wait

[x2]
Sometimes I think sitting on trains
Every stop I get to I’m clocking that game
Everyone’s a winner, we’re making our fame
Bona fide hustler making my name

[x4]
All I wanna do is (BANG BANG BANG BANG!)
And (KKKAAAA CHING!)
And take your money

Paper planes by Mia a song about escaping and becoming and Exile was perfect choice for this book .

Well on to book three for spanish lit month and I feel its time to throw a classic into the mix and the second book on this blog by Juan Goytisolo .He is often mentioned as a future Nobel winner , even thou he is quite controversal figure in Spain  as a writer .This is the first in a trilogy of books about exile , Spain and being  Spanish , the other two books Count Julian and Juan the landless I think will be review in the next two Spanish lit months next year and the year after . He is married to Proust cousin and lives in Marrakech , both his siblings are writers as well .

Established in Paris comfortably established in Paris more years of residence in France than in Spain with more french habits than Spanish ones including even the classic on of living with the daughter of a well-known exile a regular resident of the Ville Lumiere  and episodic visitor to his homeland in order to bear parisan witness to aspects of Spanish life …

The opening lines a man who is more French now than Spanish , but Spanish in his heart

Marks of Identity is the story of Alvaro Mendiola . The basic story is he is return in the early 1960’s after spending the years following the Spanish civil war in Exile in France , switzerland and round europe with his wife . He returns to see the world he left behind change , this is the start of the package holiday era and Alvaro see a changed landscape . In which he remembers his past the childhood year before the civil war , his student days what made him and what became his identity is in the roots of his youth .Add to this a number of piece about the history of the time .

While you were passing through the residential and aristocratic section – “modern” or Gaudi mausoleums; the hybrid cross between tomb and a summerhouse – you cast your eyes around for the tomb of the Mendiolas – an exact and prim copy , you remembered , of the pretentious Dumo of Milan .

Alvaro remember in his present , the  places he saw in exile (also it mentions Gaudi as I referenced his build in my review )

Well it all sounds straight forward doesn’t it . But no this  novel is maybe is like that great Spanish church Sagrada familia in Barcelona in fact the city Alvaro is returning to , this book is a mix of styles and even the narrative isn’t straight but more a mosaic of a man’s life-like those great mosaics in the Sagrada . Alvaro’s story has been broken up and is feed to us piece by piece as we build a picture of this man’s life and youth those young years that make the man  and why he choose exile  rather than staying .This is a book about place and the deeper questions that brings to us  , why are we here , where do we belong ? what is our home ? and does time change how we feel about our homeland ? Given that Juan Goytisolo himself has spent most of his life in exile from Spain in Paris , which is the main place Alvaro spends his exile .

Have you a favourite book about exiles ?

 

July 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
%d bloggers like this: