Young Marias in the 21st century

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from Death of Javier Marías A great novelist of the Spanish 20th century disappeared, but not as foolishly as we say today that with the death of the British queen the 20th century ended – and again – endless.

To clarify: the claim that Javier Marías is a novelist of the 20th century is not an aversion to “old age” or anachronism, because literature does not have deadlines and expiration dates in other fields, and the newest does not have a high price. No one dismisses Cervantes as having too much of a golden age, or considers him a nineteenth-century Galdos, for both were essentially modern in their time. It’s quite another to be a nineteenth-century writer in mid-2022.. Likewise, knowing Marías as a 20th-century writer does not devalue him, on the contrary: being a 20th-century writer has many merits and national and international recognition, numerous readers, critical consensus and awards, which. It continues to receive. And his descendants have earned well.

If I say that Marías is the novelist of the 20th century, it is not because of the clearest, most anecdotal side of his personality, remembered by his sympathy for death: his proud fight for equality. Its legendary typewriter and its no less legendary fax machineMarias’s character in the press column is irritable A generation gap that is still widening with the political, social and cultural changes of recent years.; His nostalgia for the alleged loss of moral and aesthetic values, his insistence on placing his novels in the last century, as if he had no interest in our time; His admitted bedside reading, in which his contemporaries rarely participated, least of all his Spanish contemporaries; or your public image From another time, always pictured with a cigarette and in an attractive library.

And not because Marías represents the type of writer today on the verge of extinction: social importance and unanimous recognition, an influential tribune in the major media, institutional prestige. that he shook himself by refusing some reward, completely untouched by academics, critics. Everything is very 20th century.

Marías was already a great Spanish writer before the end of the last century. His best works for me, written in the last decade of the 20th century, are: Heart very white, Think of me in tomorrow’s battle D Black donkey time They appear for six years and only for these three titles, she is already worthy of reading in all the history of literature and of course today. His latest novels, which, I admit, despite their uncompromising nature, I’m not as enthusiastic about as the thematic and formal twists of his earlier novels.

I suspect that today’s readers of Marías are mostly children of the 20th century, and perhaps children, perhaps because of the caricature of the “despicable Marías,” can recall the young Marías, one of our greatest novelists.

What we can learn today is his personal style, his obsession with habit, his Anglo-Saxon bias and detachment from the Spanish tradition, his narrative thinking, his digressions and endless digressions, his complexity and density compatible with easy reading, his literary territory. And the morality, his humor, and his games were known thirty years ago, when he was still “young Marias,” as Bennett called him. And it was then that they made an impact that is perhaps not as appreciated today as they have lost their pioneering status. Even in today’s jaded autofiction, Marías was the first to skillfully play with the confusion between narrator and author.

Few writers can boast of having so many readers remember the beginning of a novel like that unforgettable novel. Heart very white, irresistible (“I didn’t want to know, but I knew…”). And even fewer authors reject “blind taste”: opening any of their books and recognizing it by its unique style, without knowing the author’s name. In Marías’s case, this way of storytelling, coming and going, shortening and expanding the syntax through repetitions, parallelisms, choruses and those long instrumental phrases, always leads the reader to lose the thread, but it doesn’t. able to leave.

After his death, the best memory of an author is always his reading, and the best compliment is a recommendation to read it. I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect that today’s readers of Marias are also mostly children of the 20th century, and young people may be put off by the caricature of “angry Marias” and completely oblivious to the type of author and the style and themes he presents. Perhaps they are still young Marias, one of our greatest novelists. Non-essential, the largest without acquaintances.

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