“I realized that searching was my symbol, the emblem of those who go out at night with nothing in mind, the motives of a destroyer of compasses.”
"But what is memory if not the language of feeling, a dictionary of faces and days and smells which repeat themselves like the verbs and adjectives in a speech, sneaking in behind the thing itself,into the pure present, making us sad or teaching us vicariously.."
— Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch
Julio Cortázar (1914-1984) is an Argentinian writer, famous for being one of the founders of the Latin American Boom. Actually, though he was from Argentina, he spent most of his time outside the country, first because his family lived in Europe (he was born in a Belgium embassy during the German occupation
) and later in a self-imposed exile in France because of his dislike of the Peron’s administration. He became a supporter of leftism (including the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua) and critic of the human right violations in Latin America. He died in 1984 of leukemia.
His work is amply revered by the Latin American critics and writers, full of Mind Screws
around every corner, modernism worthy of James Joyce
, wordplay, tracts of stream of consciousness everywhere and bend or just break any convention of literature itself. Some of his most famous works are Rayuela
, 1963), 62, modelo para armar
(62: A Model Kit
, 1968), Bestiario
(1951) and Final del Juego
Some of his writings (particularly his short stories) have influenced movies, like Weekend
of Jean-Luc Godard or Blow Up
of Michelangelo Antonioni.
Tropes about him and his worknote :
- All Just a Dream: Played with in "The Night Face Up".
- Author Appeal: France and jazz appear in a lot of stories.
- Bilingual Bonus: Present in all his writings.
- Bury Your Gays: Hélčne in 62: A Model Kit
- Closed Circle: "South Highway" uses a long traffic jam... a very long traffic jam. The Winners uses a ship in the sea.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: A lot of characters in a lot of works. Arguably, Cortázar himself.
- Contemplate Our Navels
- Downer Ending
- Dramatic Slip: One of the drabbles in "Unusual Occupations" (from the book Cronopios and Famas).
- Grand Theft Me: "Axolotl".
- Gratuitous English
- Gratuitous French
- Haunted House: "House Taken Over"... possibly.
- Human Sacrifice: “The Night Face Up”.
- Incompatible Orientation: A key plot point in 62: A Model Kit is this dynamic between Juan and Hélčne. Maybe.
- Losing Your Head: One of the drabbles in "Unstable Stuff" (from the book Cronopios and Famas).
- Magic Realism
- Maintain The Lie: In "The Health of the Sick", to not give a woman a shock, her family has to pretend that her son is still alive.
- Mayincatec: Curiously averted in "The Night Face Up". You don’t hear about the Olmecs in your average short story.
- Mind Screw
- No Name Given: The characters in "South Highway" are only referred by the cars they drive.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Whatever the presence in "House Taken Over" is, it's never described, and that is very, very unsettling.
- Old Shame: A book of sonnets under the pseudonym Julio Denis.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: 'Cronopio' is the most famous word invented by Cortázar. Supposedly it refers to someone who is naive and idealistic, disorganized, unconventional and sensitive (he even refers to them as 'creatures').
- Pun-Based Title: Around the Day in Eighty Worlds, A Manual for Manuel, etc. They work better on Spanish, obviously.
- Pungeon Master: Cortázar himself.
- Riddle for the Ages: Who or what occupied the house in "House Taken Over"?
- Schrödinger's Butterfly: Mercilessly used in "The Night Face Up".
- Smoking Is Cool: Cortázar always had a cigarette at hand.
- Spiritual Successor: 62: A Model Kit was born as an extension of an idea Cortázar had when writing the chapter 62 of Hopscotch (hence the title).
- Stream Of Consciousness
- Switching P.O.V.: "Axolotl" does in smoothly right in the middle; "Miss Cora", on the other hand, does it every 100-200 words.
- Verbal Tic: Cronopios sure like to say 'cronopio' a lot.
- Word Salad Title