A Companion to Javier Marías

A Companion to Javier Marías

DAVID K. HERZBERGER
Series: Monografías A
Volume: 297
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.cttn3408
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  • Book Info
    A Companion to Javier Marías
    Book Description:

    This book provides the most comprehensive study to date of the full range of Marías' writing, including discussion and analysis of his literary and intellectual formation, his development as a novelist and short story writer, and his unique perspective offered in nearly twenty-five years of newspaper columns on topics ranging from religion to football. Above all, Marías is examined as a writer of fictions. As a translator of several canonical works from English to Spanish, Marías came to appreciate the preciseness of words as well as their ambiguity, their capacity to represent as well as their propensity to distort. The author examines Marías's constant awareness of how language can be used to construct stories as the foundation for engaging the world as well as for imagining it. The nature of Marías's storytelling, and the way in which he imagines, form the principal focus of this 'Companion'. David K. Herzberger is Professor and Chair of the Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of California, Riverside.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-990-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)

    During the course of preparing this book, in addition to the customary reading of professional criticism on the work of Javier Marías, I sought also to stay abreast of the extensive flow of information about him on various blogs and internet sites. In this way I was able to compile an array of information from many sources offered from diverse points of view. As might be expected, some of what I found was quite useful, providing a detail here or an insight there into Marías’s life and works. Marías is a popular figure among casual readers as well as academic...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    When Javier Marías was asked in an interview in 2006, “What is your natural state?” he responded with a single word: “Indecision.” But he quickly qualified his response, suggesting that another layer needed to be peeled away. “But that doesn’t mean I never make decisions,” he pointed out. “It means I take my time.”¹

    For readers with more than a passing familiarity with his writing and, in particular, with his novels, Marías’s observation that he takes his time will come as no surprise. Indeed, for the narrators who tell his stories, and for the readers who navigate the complicated path...

  5. 1 Writing in the Newspapers: Everything under the Sun
    (pp. 17-45)

    Although Marías published short essays in the Spanish press and wrote articles for newspapers as early as 1976,¹ it was not until December of 1994, when he agreed to undertake what he has called his “tareas dominicales” (“Sunday tasks”) for the magazine El Semanal‚ that he began to write a regular weekly column.² For Marías, who had drolly embraced writing as a way to avoid holding a regular job bound by a fixed work schedule, the commitment to meet a deadline, and to be paid for doing so, seemed somewhat odd as well as potentially treacherous. He noted in November...

  6. II Two Early Novels: Los dominios del lobo and Travesía del horizonte
    (pp. 46-70)

    When asked in 2006 about the relationship between his second novel, Travesía del horizonte (1972) (Voyage Along the Horizon, 2006), and the general tendencies in Spanish fiction at the time of its publication, Marías promptly linked it to his first novel, Los dominios del lobo (1971) (The Dominions of the Wolf), and then located both outside the narrative mainstream in Spain. Indeed, he placed his first two works in a context of difference from important works of Spanish fiction of the 1960s and early 1970s that were lauded for their combination of stylistic experimentation and political antagonism toward Francoism. As...

  7. III Two Transitional Novels: El siglo and El hombre sentimental
    (pp. 71-102)

    El siglo (1983) is an unabashedly stylized novel. Its narrative technique (alternating chapters told in the first and third persons), its complicated sentence structure (largely baroque-like), and the slow pacing of its plot stand in marked contrast to Marías’s earlier novels, Los dominios del lobo and Travesía del horizonte.¹ In the latter two works, as we have seen, Marías moves deftly but swiftly through multiple stories with sometimes tenuous connections. He rarely slows to allow for the development of complex characters, and he shapes the perspective of each novel largely through thirdperson narrators who may not possess sufficient information to...

  8. IV On Oxford, Redonda, and the Practice of Reading: Todas las almas and Negra espalda del tiempo
    (pp. 103-138)

    The two novels explored in this chapter, Todas las almas (1989) (All Souls‚ 1992) and Negra espalda del tiempo (1998) (Dark Back of Time, 2001), are two of the most intimately linked of all of Marías’s works of fiction.¹ This intimacy obtains on many levels, even though nine years passed between the publication of the two works, and despite the fact that Marías wrote two other novels in the intervening period, Corazón tan blanco (1992) (A Heart So White, 1995) and Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí (1994) (Tommorow in the Battle Think on Me, 1996). To a large...

  9. V Two Shakespearean Novels
    (pp. 139-178)

    In Corazón tan blanco (1992) (A Heart So White, 1995) and Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí (1994) (Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, 1996), Marías continues to emphasize two important aspects of his fiction: intertextual connections with other works of literature and film (most explicitly with Shakespeare in these two novels), and the way in which storytelling lies at the heart of how we construct our understanding of the world. Each of the novels begins with a sudden and unexpected death, and thus contains elements of a mystery novel which invite the reader to expect intrigue and...

  10. VI Tu rostro mañana
    (pp. 179-211)

    Tu rostro mañana is best understood as a three-volume novel rather than three novels sutured together to form a trilogy.¹ Published over a period of five years (2002–2007), it tells the story of Jaime Deza, who first appears as narrator and main character of Marías’s 1989 novel Todas las almas and who narrates each of the three volumes of Rostro. Deza thus provides the “thread of continuity” in the narrative that Marías envisions as a critical part of lives and stories, an idea first asserted by the narrator of Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí and echoed by...

  11. VII Other Writings
    (pp. 212-228)

    Vidas escritas (1992) (Written Lives, 2006) and Miramientos (Glimpses) (1999) have in common at least one authorial intention: Marías’s desire to write brief sketches about writers whom he finds intriguing. While on the face of it the two books share certain elements of composition (for example, photographic images of the writers in Miramientos; both photographs and drawings of authors in Vidas), the differences between the two texts are pronounced. Most notably, in Vidas Marías comments solely on non-Spanish writers who are deceased, using biographical and other information to form the content of his narrative, while in Miramientos he focuses exclusively...

  12. Suggested Further Reading
    (pp. 229-232)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-240)
  14. Index
    (pp. 241-244)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-245)