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Javier Marias

Javier Javier Marias Detail of R. Kipling’s hand on the cover of book “Written Lives”

“The Man Who Would be King” was the favorite book of both Faulkner and Proust, so we learned from Javier Marias.

28 snippets of writer’s lives are told according to this author with a mixture of affection and humor, except for three; Joyce, Mann and Mishima, who took themselves too seriously.

“The idea, then, was to treat these well-known literary figures as if they were fictional characters.”

Words and Meaning:

“Spanish writer Javier Marias’s parallel career as a translator taught him how to be a novelist, he tells Aida Edemariam.”

Marias has said that “in the intellectually mediocre country I grew up in, in which everyone thought Franco was eternal, people like me took shelter in the movies. The American pictures of the ’40s and ’50s were our stimulation”.

The summer he was 17, Marias saw 85 films in six weeks.

J. Marias described Laurence Sterne whose novel he has translated thus “He was a kindly, easy-going man, who once tried to “inherit” two children left behind by a poor widow on her death” ” He included a few pages speaking against slavery in the later volumes of Tristram Shandy.”

(Note: Tristram Shandy is now adapted into a film recently).

“As of Nobakov, he is a joker who prefers not to aknowledge this openly, which is why his expression is one of passion and discovery. ”

Djuna Barnes in Silence – “in her youth when she worked as a journalist, it was the activity to which she devoted most of her time – well, that and maintaining prolonged silences. Her silences were both written and verbal.

The rest of edited excerpts are found here.

“This habit of choosing is central to the kind of writer Marías has become, and explains much of what is unique about his work: he has made indecision—the space between two alternatives—the center of his stories. And this indecision is conveyed in the equivocations and qualifications of the narrative voice.” (A MAN WHO WASN’T THERE The clandestine greatness of Javier Marías. by WYATT MASON – from the New Yorker)

Two entire essays are online.
William Faulkner on Horseback

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampadusa in Class
Visconti adapted Lampadusa’s novel “The Leopard” starring Burt Lancaster as the Sicilian nobleman with Alain Delon and Claudio Cardinale.

  • Paris Review interview..

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