Cortazar, Julio. Hopscotch. New York. 1966. Pantheon Books. Translated from the Spanish by Gregory Rabassa. 564 pages. hardcover. Cover: George Salter.




By any measure, this is an extraordinary novel. In Hopscotch, one man's exasperated search for what his life is about takes the reader on a series of adventures so extravagant, yet so immediate, that the line between literature and the daily realities of life itself seems often to disappear. Such a response is intended; it is partly what Julio Cortázar's novel is about. Opening in Paris, with a love affair that never really ends throughout its almost six hundred pages, the novel moves gradually to Buenos Aires, where Oliveira is employed first as a salesman, then as the keeper of a calculating circus cat which can truly count, and finally as an attendant in a mental asylum owned by his friends. But the episodes that lie between these shifts of scene are the heart of Hopscotch. They range from. bizarre sexual encounters to absurdly long intellectual discussions of life and art, or the death of a child recounted with a brutal reality, all the more poignant for its unrelenting lack of compassion. All are blocks torn from the enormous structure that Oliveira is systematically demolishing behind him as he moves toward its original blueprint. What emerges is a book that will be compared to the classics of our time - books that shocked, amused, provoked, and opened new horizons.



Cortazar JulioAUTHOR BIOGRAPHY - Julio Cortázar (August 26, 1914 - February 12, 1984) was a Belgian-born Argentine intellectual and author of experimental novels and short stories. He was married three times, to Aurora Bernárdez, UgnE Karvelis and Carol Dunlop. Most of his work was written in Paris, France from 1951 until his demise. Hopscotch is Julio's magnum opus. Julio Cortázar was born to Argentine parents on August 26, 1914, in Brussels, Belgium, where his father was involved in a commercial venture as part of Argentina's diplomatic presence. Many years later, Cortázar would say ‘my birth was a product of tourism and diplomacy.' Because the Cortázar family were nationals of a neutral country not involved in World War I, they were able to pass through Switzerland and later reach Barcelona, where they lived for a year and a half. Cortázar regularly played at the Park Güell and its colourful ceramics would remain vivid in his memory for many years. When Cortázar was four years old, his family returned to Argentina. He spent the rest of his childhood in Banfield, near Buenos Aires, together with his mother and his only sister, who was one year his junior. During his childhood, Cortázar's father abandoned the family; Cortázar would never see him again. In Banfield Cortázar lived in a house with a yard out back from which he obtained inspiration for future stories. His time in Banfield, however, was not happy; he would later describe it, in a letter to Graciela M. de Solá (December 4, 1963) as ‘full of servitude, excessive touchiness, terrible and frequent sadness.' Cortázar was a sickly child and spent much of his childhood in bed reading. His mother selected the books for him to read, introducing her son most notably to the works of Jules Verne, whom Cortázar admired for the rest of his life. He was to say later, in the magazine Plural (issue 44, Mexico City, 5/1975) ‘I spent my childhood in a haze full of goblins and elfs, with a sense of space and time that was different to everybody else's.' Although he never completed his studies at the University of Buenos Aires where he studied Philosophy and Languages, he taught in several provincial secondary schools. In 1938 he published a volume of sonnets under the pseudonym Julio Denis. He would later disparage this volume. In 1944, he became professor of French literature at the National University of Cuyo. In 1949, he published a play, Los Reyes (The Kings), based on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. In 1951, in opposition to the government of Juan Domingo Peron, Cortázar emigrated to France, where he lived and worked until his demise. From 1952, he worked for UNESCO as a translator. His translation projects included Spanish renderings of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Marguerite Yourcenar's MEmoires d'Hadrien and the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Alfred Jarry and Comte de LautrEamont were other decisive influences. Julio Cortázar wrote most of his major works in Paris. In later years he underwent a political transformation, becoming actively engaged with human rights causes in Latin America and openly supporting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. He died reportedly of leukemia in Paris in 1984 and was interred there in the Cimetière de Montparnasse with Carol Dunlop. Some people have stated that he died from AIDS contracted via a blood transfusion; sources close to Cortázar have denied this. He did suffer from melomania. Julio Cortázar is highly regarded as a master of short story narrations. Collections like Bestiario (1951), Final del juego (1956) and Las armas secretas (1959) contain many of the best examples of surrealist writing in postmodern literature. Selections from those volumes were published in 1967 in English translations by Paul Blackburn under the title Blow-Up and Other Stories in deference to the English title of Michelangelo Antonioni's celebrated film noir of 1966 (Blowup) inspired by Julio Cortázar's story Las Babas del Diablo. Cortázar also influenced Jean-Luc Godard to write Week End with La Autopista del Sur. One of his most notable short fictions is El Perseguidor (The Pursuer), based on the life of jazz musician Charlie Parker. He also published several novels, including Los Premios (The Winners - 1960), Hopscotch (Rayuela -1963), 62: A Model Kit (62 Modelo para Armar - 1968) and Libro de Manuel (A Manual for Manuel - 1973). They were later translated by Gregory Rabassa. Julio Cortázar's masterpiece, Hopscotch, has been praised by other Latin American writers including JosE Lezama Lima, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. The novel has an open-ended structure that invites the reader to choose between a linear and a non-linear mode of reading. Cortázar's employment of interior monologue and stream of consciousness is reminiscent of modernists like James Joyce, but his main influences were Surrealism, the French Nouveau roman and the improvisatory aesthetic of jazz. He also published poetry, drama and various works of non-fiction. One of his last works was a collaboration with his third wife, Carol Dunlop, entitled The Autonauts of the Cosmoroute; it related, partly in mock-heroic style, the couple's extended expedition along the autoroute from Paris to Marseille in a Volkswagen camper nicknamed Fafner.








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