Martín Caparrós, La Historia [History], 2017 (Spain; Argentina: 1999), 1,022 p.
According to the author himself, “La Historia is a folly and is, at the same time, my most important book: in some way, my only book. I published it for the first time in Argentina in 1999…”. And it was time to recuperate with all honors this excessive and dazzling novel that over time has become an authentic cult work.
An unknown Argentine historian discovers in a French library a mysterious book that might contain the fundational myth of his country. The historian decides to dedicate his life to the study and annotation of this text, that tells everything about a hardly known civilization whose influence nevertheless can be traced in the thinking of the Enlightenment and the modern revolutions.
This chronicle entitled La Historia and the notes of its exegete present in detail the life of this imaginary civilization: its sexual practices, its gastronomy, its funeral rites, its commerce, its forms of war, its literature, its architecture, its loves, its diseases, its industry, its theology, its court intrigues, its end… A compendium of modern knowledge, crucible of false -or true?- quotations by Voltaire, Kyriakov, Sarmiento, Quevedo, Nietzsche or Bakunin, La Historia is a stimulating challenge for the reader, a monumental novel that works like a mirror that returns to us, in a distorted manner, our own time, its prejudices and acquired truths, its false tinsels and its just glories.
The result is a splurge of imagination, an exuberant text that could have been dreamt by Borges: one thousand mad, labyrinthine and necessary pages that mark a milestone in Latin American literature.
“A fictional monument that one reads with surprising pleasure and fluency. More than a novel, more than history, it is an encyclopedia of reading, whose decoding requires an internal map, catalogue, glossary and dictionary.” (Julio Ortega)
“A rich work, a risky undertaking that should be known.” (Juan Goytisolo).
“The most ambitious novel written on the continent since Terra Nostra by Carlos Fuentes.” (Héctor Aguilar Camín)
“Unusual because of this alliance of bookish skills and despotic fantasy, exercised without fear of exaggeration or extravagance.” (Beatriz Sarlo).
“Martín Caparrós proposal seems to have been to offer a foundational myth to his country, Argentine.” (Alberto Manguel).
“Something so disconcerting like the novel that Borges never wrote, a book endowed with everything that Borges apprehended in the ‘novel’ genre: a true monster of literary ambition and will.” (Alan Pauls)
“Caparrós invents, with great skill, a novel syntax. Its a beautiful Spanish, high-flying lyrical, that doesn’t correspond to any determined place nor epoch.” (La Nación)
“A mythical work.” (Clarín)
“A work of art.” (Los Inrockuptibles)
Publisher’s author information:
Martín Caparrós (Buenos Aires, 1957) got a degree in History in Paris, lived in Madrid and New York, directed book and cooking magazines, travelled half the world, translated Voltaire, Shakespeare and Quevedo, received the Premio Planeta Latinoamérica [Planeta Prize for Latinamerica], the premio Rey de España [King of Spain prize] and a Guggenheim fellowship. In Anagrama there have been published the novels A quien corresponda [To Whom It May Concern], Los Living [The Living] (Herralde Novel Prize 2011), Comí [I ate], and Echeverría; the chronicles Una luna [One Moon] and Contra el cambio. Un hiperviaje al apocalipsis climático [Against the change. A hypervoyage to the climate apocalypse]; and the essay El Hambre [Hunger].
Amazon.com offers in English Caparrós’ The Vanishing of the Mona Lisa: a Novel (2008; Valfierno 2004)
To this blogger Caparrós appears interesting due to his work on current affairs, and because a reviewer compared his monumental novel to those by David Foster Wallace, whose work your blogger appreciates a lot.
SOURCE: Anagrama (publisher)