Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Horacio Quiroga / The Son

by Horacio Quiroga

Horacio Quiroga / El hijo (A short story in Spanish)

It is a powerful summer day in Misiones with all the sun, heat, and calm the season can offer. The wilderness, fully open, feels satisfied with itself.

Like the sun, the heat, and the calm of the environment, the father also opens his heart to the wilderness.

"Be careful, chiquito," he says to his son, abbreviating in this sentence all his observations, which his son understands perfectly.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Horacio Quiroga / The Feather Pillow

The Feather Pillow
By Horacio Quiroga

Horacio Quiroga / El almohadón de plumas (A short story in Spanish)
Horacio Quiroga / A almofada de penas (A shor story in Portuguese)

Alicia's entire honeymoon gave her hot and cold shivers. A blonde, angelic, and timid young girl, the childish fancies she had dreamed about being a bride had been chilled by her husband's rough character. She loved him very much, nonetheless, although sometimes she gave a light shudder when, as they returned home through the streets together at night, she cast a furtive glance at the impressive stature of her Jordan, who had been silent for an hour. He, for his part, loved her profoundly but never let it be seen.
For three months--they had been married in April--they lived in a special kind of bliss.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Horacio Quiroga / The Decapitated Chicken

Illustration by Alberto Breccia

The Decapitated Chicken
by Horacio Quiroga

Horacio Quiroga / La gallina degollada (A short story in Spanish)
Horacio Quiroga / A galinha degolada (A short story in Portuguese)

  All day long the four idiot sons of the couple Mazzini-Ferraz sat on a bench in the patio. Their tongues protruded from between their lips; their eyes were dull; their mouths hung open as they turned their heads.
     The patio had an earthen floor and was closed to the west by a brick wall. The bench was five feet from the wall, parallel to it, and there they sat, motionless, their gaze fastened on the bricks. As the sun went down, disappearing behind the wall, the idiots rejoiced. The blinding light was always what first gained their attention; little by little by little their eyes lighted up; finally, they would laugh uproariously, each infected by the same uneasy hilarity, staring at the sun with bestial joy, as if it were something to eat.

Horacio Quiroga / The Decapited Chicken and Other Stories / Review

by Horacio Quiroga

Uruguay author Horacio Quiroga’s fiction is quite tame compared to his tragic life. There are a number of differing variations between biographical sources, but since he led such an unusually active and tragic life, I felt it useful to piece together a brief and accurate account. (By "accurate" I mean that I have omitted the contradictory side-notes or or details.)

Horacio Quiroga
Born in 1878, Quiroga was just over two months old when his father, returning from a hunting trip, accidentally shot himself. The wound proved fatal and he died shortly thereafter. In 1901, the year that witnessed the publication of his first book, two of his brothers died of typhoid fever. Later that same year his best friend was preparing for a duel, and with the intention of helping him, Quiroga accidentally shot and killed him. He was arrested for the incident and imprisoned, but after investigators deemed the killing an accident, he was released and later exonerated. Quiroga married Ana Maria Cires, one of his teenage students, and they relocated to the jungle in 1908. The couple had two sons. Quiroga’s insistence on making their life in the wild environment led his wife into a deep depression, and in an attempt to take her life she consumed arsenic. She was violently ill for several days and finally died a painful death. A few years later Quiroga fell in love with seventeen year-old Ana Maria Palacio, but his insistent pursuits only forced the girl’s parents to take her away. He then fell in love with another teenager, Maria Elena Bravo, who married him in 1927 when he was forty-nine. Quiroga returned to the jungle with his new wife and they soon had a daughter, Quiroga’s third child. Shortly thereafter the writer’s position with the state was revoked and, unhappy in the jungle, his wife fled from home, taking their child with her. After many years living with acute pains, Quiroga was eventually diagnosed with prostate cancer and hospitalized. There he discovered that a highly deformed patient was kept locked away in the hospital’s basement, and urged that the man, Vicent Batistessa, be released and allowed to stay with him in his room. Batistessa was grateful and proved faithful to his saviour, and helped him to locate and consume some poisonto end his own life. (He used either arsenic or cyanide, depending on the source, though some cyanide compounds may contain arsenic.) Both of his sons, on separate occasions, later committed suicide as well. Quite the legacy. Amid all of this Quiroga worked many years as a state official, and produced a number of plays and short stories, as well as a few novels, mostly dealing with unrequited love.

Friday, April 25, 2014

García Márquez / Five must reads

Gabriel García Márquea by David Levine

Gabriel García Márquez: five must-reads

The Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez found his voice with his 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. We round up the key texts from the master of magic realism

The Guardian, Friday 18 April 2014One Hundred Years of Solitude 1967
One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles seven generations of the Buendía family in the fictional village of Macondo. This tale of prophetic gypsies and incestuous lovers was an instant bestseller, launching García Márquez into worldwide fame and igniting a global boom in Latin American literature.

The Autumn of the Patriarch 1975
García Márquez spent ten years researching dictatorships from Pinilla to Trujillo and from Franco to Perón – and then tried to forget everything he had heard and read to invent this story of a self-styled "General of the Universe". The novel opens with the discovery of the tyrant dead on the floor of the presidential palace, "older than all old men and all old animals on land or sea", before exploring moral decay and political paralysis in what the author called a "poem on the solitude of power".

Love in the Time of Cholera 1985
Inspired by the extended courtship of his own parents, Love in the Time of Cholera tells how the love between Florentino Arizo and Fermina Daza is thwarted by Fermina's marriage to a doctor trying to eradicate cholera, only to be rekindled more than 60 years later.

The General in his Labyrinth 1989
This acount of the final months in the life of Simón Bolívar, who liberated Colombia from Spanish rule in the early 19th century, caused a storm in South America when it was first published. Charting the revolutionary leader's journey from Bogotá to the Colombian coast, García Márquez paints a portrait of a man who is physically and mentally exhausted, reflecting on his memories of conflict and struggle.

News of a Kidnpapping 1996
García Márquez always continued working as a journalist, arguing that it kept him "in contact with the real world". Here he examines a spate of kidnappings organised by the Colombian drug dealer Pablo Escobar's Medellín Cartel in the 1990s.

Latin America reacts to death of literary colossus Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez
by Rufino Luque

Latin America reacts to death of literary colossus Gabriel García Márquez

Singer Shakira joins presidents of Colombia and Mexico, as well as Bill Clinton, in paying tribute to Nobel prize-winner

Jo Tuckman in Mexico City
The Guardian, Friday 18 April 2014

The death of Latin American literary giant Gabriel García Márquez prompted immediate reaction from across the continent and beyond, almost as soon as the first rumours hit the internet early on Thursday afternoon.
Politicians weighed in quickly with Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, tweeting: "A thousand years of solitude and sadness after the death of the greatest Colombian of all time," referring to the author's masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude.
The novel has reputedly sold 30 million copies since its publication in 1967.

Gabriel García Márquez tributes celebrate life and work of literary giant

Gabriel García Márquez tributes celebrate life and work of literary giant

From Bill Clinton to Isabel Allende, people pay their respects to Colombian Nobel laureate who died in Mexico City on Thursday
  • The Guardian, 
World leaders, fellow writers and Hollywood stars have paid tribute to the Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, following his death on Thursday at 87.
Figures from Bill Clinton to Mia Farrow and Ian McEwan expressed sorrow at the passing of the Nobel laureate, who was widely acknowledged to have been one of the greatest Latin American novelists.

My hero / William Shakespeare by Susan Cooper

William Shakespeare

My hero: William Shakespeare by Susan Cooper

Shakespeare was one of those astounding happy accidents that redeem our imperfect race

Susan Cooper

orm 1 at Slough High School for Girls. In English that year we did Julius Caesar, and the next year it was A Midsummer Night's Dream, and every subsequent year another Shakespeare play. Being a shy child who mumbled, I had very small parts in the class read‑throughs (I think I was Wall in The Dream) but I fell in love for life with the characters and the words. And with their author.

He was one of those astounding happy accidents that redeem our imperfect race. He was born 450 years ago; today, his speed and inventiveness, and his brilliance at adapting other people's plots, would have seen him gobbled up by television, and we'd never have had The Tempest or As You Like It or King Lear. And I'd never have seen Olivier's Henry V or Gielgud's Benedick or Scofield's Richard II or, or …
He was a working dramatist within a community of actors, and by the time he died at the age of 53 he had written more than 35 plays, many of which are masterpieces still performed all over the world. Whatever people do to them, they work beautifully on stage. We know remarkably little about his life, which leads some into the folly of claiming he was actually Francis Bacon or the Earl of Oxford, but its emotions blaze out of his characters and his 154 sonnets.
Above all he was a man in love with the English language, so how can he not be the hero of an English writer? Shakespeare delighted in playing with the sense and the music of words; he was a creative lover of words, and unwittingly we quote him every day as we speak the ever-evolving English he helped to score. I wonder if he knew quite how extraordinary he was. Perhaps he guessed at it, now and again:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


Gabriel García Márquez / The greatest Colombian who ever lived

-Gabriel García Márquez: 'The greatest Colombian who ever lived'

He was known for magical realism, but the genius of 'Gabo' was that his work defied genre

Ed Vullmiamy
The Observer, Saturday 19 April 2014
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Gabriel García Márquez in Mexico City in 2010. Photograph: Miguel Tovar/AP
Not many pillars of literature who held the century past upon their shoulders lived this far into the 21st. Seamus Heaney, Carlos Fuentes and Gabriel García Márquez were among the very few in their league to remain among us until recently, and now the last of that triad has departed — arguably the last epic novelist of his generation; the inspiration for the Latin American renaissance of the 1960s and "the greatest Colombian who ever lived", according to the tribute from that country's president, Juan Manuel Santos.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez in quotes

Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez in quotes

A selection of quotes from the Colombian author, who has died at the age of 87

Emma Welton / The Guardian, Friday 18 2014

Gabriel García Márquez 1975
Gabriel García Márquez with a copy of his book One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1975. Photograph: Isabel Steva Hernandez (Colita)/Copyright Corbis
It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there's not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination."
From The Paris Review Interviews, Gabriel García Márquez, The Art of Fiction No. 69
All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.”
Gabriel García Márquez: a Life
Fiction was invented the day Jonah arrived home and told his wife that he was three days late because he had been swallowed by a whale."

Gabriel García Márquez in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2003.
García Márquez in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2003. Photograph: Andres Reyes/AP

The problem with marriage is that it ends every night after making love, and it must be rebuilt every morning before breakfast."
Love in the Time of Cholera
I would not have traded the delights of my suffering for anything in the world."
Memories of My Melancholy Whores
The secret of good old-age is none other than an honest pact with solitude."
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Sex is the consolation you have when you can't have love."
Memories of My Melancholy Whores
It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams."

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mexico City, 2010
García Márquez in Mexico City in 2010. Photograph: Miguel Tovar/AP

He recognised her despite the uproar, through his tears of unrepeatable sorrow at dying without her, and he looked at her for the last and final time with eyes more luminous, more grief-stricken, more grateful than she had ever seen them in half a century of a shared life, and he managed to say to her with his last breath: 'Only God knows how much I loved you.'"
Love in the Time of Cholera
Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom. Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself."
Love in the Time of Cholera
I became aware that the invincible power that has moved the world is unrequited, not happy, love.”
Memories of My Melancholy Whores
Nothing resembles a person as much as the way he dies."
Love in the Time of Cholera
My heart has more rooms in it than a whore house.”
Love in the Time of Cholera
But when a woman decides to sleep with a man, there is no wall she will not scale, no fortress she will not destroy, no moral consideration she will not ignore at its very root: there is no God worth worrying about."
Love in the Time of Cholera
The problem in public life is learning to overcome terror; the problem in married life is learning to overcome boredom."
Love in the Time of Cholera
I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of Him."
Love in the Time of Cholera
He soon acquired the forlorn look that one sees in vegetarians."
One Hundred Years of Solitude
If I knew that today would be the last time I’d see you, I would hug you tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this would be the last time you pass through this door, I’d embrace you, kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be the last time I would hear your voice, I’d take hold of each word to be able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I see you, I’d tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly you know it already."


García Márquez / Quotes / One single fact

Gabriel García Márquez

by Gabriel García Márquez

In journalism just one fact that is false prejudices the entire work. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work. That’s the only difference, and it lies in the commitment of the writer. A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.

García Márquez / Quotes / Literature

by Gabriel García Márquez

Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood.

García Márquez / Quotes / Fiction

by Gabriel García Márquez

Fiction was invented the day Jonas arrived home and told his wife that he was three days late because he had been swallowed by a whale.

García Marquez / Quotes / Life

by Gabriel García Márquez

What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Obituaries / Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez obituary

Colombian Nobel laureate who helped to launch boom in Latin American literature with novel One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Nick Caistor and Katharine Viner

Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez in 1984. Photograph: Ben Martin/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
Few writers have produced novels that are acknowledged as masterpieces not only in their own countries but all around the world. Fewer still can be said to have written books that have changed the whole course of literature in their language. But the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, who has died at the age of 87 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease achieved just that, especially thanks to his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.

García Márquez / Strange Pilgrims / Review by Michiko Kakutani

Books of The Times; 

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Short Form

Published: October 15, 1993
Strange Pilgrims Twelve Stories 
By Gabriel Garcia Marquez Translated 
by Edith Grossman 
188 pages. Alfred A. Knopf, $21.

There are moments in these 12 stories that are instantly, incontestably recognizable as the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In "Maria dos Prazeres," an aging prostitute picks out her own cemetery plot and teaches her little dog to cry at her grave. In "I Sell My Dreams," a Colombian woman finds permanent employment as the interpreter of dreams for a wealthy family. In "Light Is Like Water," an entire fourth-grade class drowns in an apartment flooded with light.
Such bizarre, hallucinatory scenes in "Strange Pilgrims" will remind the reader of the plague of insomnia and the rain of yellow blossoms in "One Hundred Years of Solitude," the 1970 masterpiece that first made Americans aware of the astonishing magic acts Mr. Garcia Marquez could perform. The fact remains, however, that that novel -- like such later ones as "The Autumn of the Patriarch" (1976), "Love in the Time of Cholera" (1988) and "The General in His Labyrinth" (1990) -- grounded its more spectacular acts of sleight of hand in a Faulknerian sense of the past. In these commodious novels, Mr. Garcia Marquez mapped out the spiritual geography of a fictional Latin America, creating history out of the tangled, overlapping stories of his characters' lives, and conjuring myths out of their troubled dreams.
As "Strange Pilgrims" unfortunately demonstrates, the shorter form of the story does not lend itself to such huge, looping narratives. What's more, the tales in this volume are all set in Europe -- they more or less concern Latin Americans traveling or living abroad -- and most of them lack the fierce, visionary senses of time and place that distinguish Mr. Garcia Marquez's strongest fiction. Indeed, these stories tend to feel like disembodied fairy tales: flimsy, oddly generic tales that for all their charm fail to impress themselves upon the reader's imagination.

Gabriel García Márquez

In a prologue to the book, Mr. Garcia Marquez points out that the stories were written intermittently over a period of 18 years: some began as journalistic notes, some as screenplays, and one as a television serial. They were written and rewritten in starts and stops: some were lost or temporarily abandoned before being reconstructed; all were revised after the author revisited several European cities last year.
This peripatetic history perhaps explains why these stories are so uneven. "Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane" -- which concerns a traveler's crush on the beautiful woman he's sitting next to on a plane -- is a silly sketch that belongs in a notebook, not a published book. And "The Ghosts of August," which concerns a family's encounter with a haunted house, reads like a mediocre parody of Edgar Allan Poe. As for "I Only Came to Use the Phone" and "The Trail of Your Blood in the Snow," both are highly contrived O. Henry-like stories that pivot around the same device: a woman's mysterious disappearance into the bureaucratic clutches of an institution -- in the first case, an asylum; in the second, a hospital.
The more persuasive stories in "Strange Pilgrims" unfold delicately, like complicated origami constructions, to delineate a character's entire life. Each of these tales is written from the vantage point of old age, and each of them possesses a tone of melancholy wisdom reminiscent of "Love in the Time of Cholera."
"Bon Voyage, Mr. President" movingly depicts the shabby exile of a former Latin American ruler in Switzerland, and his incongruous friendship with an ambulance driver who had hoped to exploit his nonexistent riches. "The Saint" recounts the story of a persistent pilgrim from Colombia, who has come to Rome with the eerily preserved body of his late daughter, hoping to persuade the Pope to make her a saint. And "Maria dos Prazeres" relates the story of a whore who has spent decades trying to transform herself into a respectable Barcelona lady.
These tales knit together Mr. Garcia Marquez's natural storytelling talents with his highly tuned radar for images that bridge the world of reality and the world of dreams. Gracefully written as these stories are, they lack the emotional depth of field found in Mr. Garcia Marquez's novels. They leave the reader beguiled, but hungry for something more.