viernes, 16 de abril de 2010

La literatura nazi en América

La literatura nazi en América (Seix Barral, 2008)
por Roberto Bolaño
España, 1996

SILVIO SALVÁTICO
Buenos Aires, 1901-Buenos Aires, 1994
Entre sus propuestas juveniles se cuenta la reinstauración de la Inquisición, los castigos corporales públicos, la guerra permanente ya sea contra los chilenos o contra los paraguayos o bolivianos como una forma de gimnasia nacional, la poligamia masculina, el exterminio de los indios para evitar una mayor contaminación de la raza argentina, el recorte de los derechos de los ciudadanos de origen judío, la emigración masiva procedente de los países escandinavios para aclarar progresivamente la epidermis nacional oscurecida después de años de promiscuidad hispano-indígena, la concesión de becas literarias a perpetuidad, la exención  impositiva a los artistas, la creación de la mayor fuerza aérea de Sudamérica, la colonización de la Antártida, la edificación de nuevas ciudades en la Patagonia.
Fue un jugador de fútbol y futurista.

ANDRÉS CEPEDA CEPEDA,
llamado el Doncel
Arequipa, 1940-Arequipa, 1986
Entre los adjetivos de sus críticos destaquemos los siguientes: paleonazi, tarado, abanderado de la burguesía, títere del capitalismo, agente del CIA, poetastro de intenciones cretinizantes, plagiario de Eguren, plagiario de Salazar, plagiario de Saint-John Perse (acusación esta sostenida por un jovencísimo poeta de san Marcos y que a su vez desató otra polémica entre seguidores y detractores en el ámbito universitario), esbirra de cloacas, profeta de baratillo, violador de la lengua española, versificador de intenciones satánicas, producto de la educación de provincia, rastacuero, cholo alucinado, etc., etc.
(La literatura nazi en América, 57 y 79-80)

Aunque tuve muchas dificultades en encontrarlo, ¡$50 después puedo decirles con toda certeza que La literatura nazi en América va a ser uno de los mejores libros de mi año!  Una "novela" rara en la tradición de las Vies imaginaires [Vidas imaginarias] (1896) de Marcel Schwob, la Historia universal de la infamia (1935) de Borges, y La sinagoga degli iconoclasti [La sinogaga de los iconoclastas] (1972) de J. Rodolfo Wilcock, esta jodidamente divertida obra se parece mucho a un diccionario biográfico dedicado a las vidas y obras de varios derechistas, locos, y derechistas locos de la América filo-nazi.  Sorprendemente, este tema sórdido y deprimente parece haber abierta la puerta a Bolaño para escribir el libro quizá lo más chistoso y lo más más cáustico de todos sus libros.  Si la idea de una novela escrita como una enciclopedia de monstruos y basura humana parece un poco rara, no te preocupes.  Bolaño llena sus páginas acá con un catálago de personajes inolvidables (por ejemplo, el haitiano Max Mirebalais, "alias Max Kasimir, Max von Hauptmann, Max le Gueule, Jacques Artibonito", el plagio en serie a veces conocido como "el Pessoa bizarro del Caribe" [140]) y con una variedad de obras (Diálago con Hermann Goering en el Infierno, del poeta venezolano Franz Zwickau), pensamientos ("El único sistema político en el que creo a ojos cerrados, dice [la mexicana Irma Carrasco: Puebla, México, 1910-México, D.F. 1966] en una entrevista a la revista Labores de Casa, es el teocrático, aunque el generalísimo Franco tampoco lo está haciendo tan mal") y editoriales (mi favorito: El Cuarto Reich Argentino) igualmente inolvidables.  Aunque todo el mundo que le gusta una parodia virulenta junto a su "criticismo literario" podría disfrutar del inventivo de la escritura, los hinchas de Bolaño van a encontrar placeres particulares acá.  Entre el elenco de personajes, por ejemplo, se destaca la presencia del general del ejército rumano, Eugenio Entrescu, "al que crucificaron sus propios soldados en 1944", y del chileno Carlos Ramírez Hoffman, el asesino multiple y pilota de poemas en el cielo de una obra bolañesca más sobria, de las novelas 2666 y Estrella distante.  Bolaño mismo aparece como un personaje en la última biografia de La literatura nazi en América, "Ramírez Hoffman, el Ínfame" (a casi 30 páginas, el capítulo más largo del libro pero en realidad una versión condensada de los eventos de la novela corta Estrella distante), en un momento en cual la intersección entre la literatura y la realidad en la novela llama la atención a las sombras de las dictaduras militares latinoamericanas del siglo pasado.  Si es imposible ignorar la sugerencia que los nazis de verdad caminan entre nosotros y entre los monstruos inocuos que solo identifican con los nazi, también es difícil explicar cómo un libro tan escalofriante en algunos respectos puede ser tan enormemente cómico a la vez.  Para mí, casi una obra perfecta.  Para ti, ¿quien sabe? ¡Espectacular!  (http://www.seix-barral.es/)
*
Nazi Literature in the Americas [La literatura nazi en América] (New Directions, 2009)
by Roberto Bolaño (translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews)
Spain, 1996

SILVIO SALVÁTICO
Buenos Aires, 1901-Buenos Aires, 1994
As a young man Salvático advocated, among other things, the re-establishment of the Inquisition; corporal punishment in public; a permanent war against the Chileans, the Paraguayans, or the Bolivians as a kind of gymnastics for the nation; polygamy; the extermination of the Indians to prevent further contamination of the Argentinean race; curtailing the rights of any citizen with Jewish blood; a massive influx of migrants from the Scandinavian countries in order to effect a progressive lightening of the national skin color, darkened  by years of promiscuity with the indigenous population; life-long writer's grants; the abolition of tax on artists' incomes; the creation of the largest Air Force in South America; the colonization of Antarctica; and the building of new cities in Patagonia.
He was a soccer player and a Futurist.

ANDRÉS CEPEDA CEPEDA,
known as The Page
Arequipa, 1940-Arequipa, 1986
Among the expressions employed [by his critics] were the following: prehistoric Nazi, moron, champion of the bourgeoisie, puppet of capitalism, CIA agent, poetaster intent on debasing public taste, plagiarist (he was accused of copying  Eguren, Salazar Bondy, and Saint-John Perse, in the last case by a very young poet from San Marcos, whose accusation sparked another polemic opposing academic followers and detractors of Saint-John Perse), gutter thug, cut-rate prophet, rapist of the Spanish language, satanically inspired versifier, product of a provincial education, upstart, delirious half-blood, etc., etc.
(Nazi Literature in the Americas [translated by Chris Andrews], 47 & 69-70)

Although I had a hard time finding a copy of it in Spanish, $50 later I can tell you with all certainty that the Spanish language version of Nazi Literature in the Americas is going to be one of my favorite books of the year!  A strange "novel" in the tradition of Marcel Schwob's 1896 Vies imaginaires [Imaginary Lives], Borges' 1935 Historia universal de la infamia [A Universal History of Iniquity], and J. Rodolfo Wilcock's 1972 La sinagoga degli iconoclasti [The Temple of Iconoclasts], this fucking amazingly entertaining work resembles nothing so much as a biographical encyclopedia devoted to the lives and works of various right-wingers, nutjobs, and right-wing nutjobs from the Nazi-loving fringes of the Americas.  Surprisingly, this sordid and depressing theme seems to have opened up the creative floodgates for Bolaño to write what might have been his funniest, most caustic book ever.  If the idea of a novel written as an encyclopedia of freaks and human flotsam and jetsam seems a little dubious to you, not to worry.  Bolaño has peopled his pages with a full supply of unforgettable characters here (for example, the Haitian Max Mirebalais, "alias Max Kasimir, Max von Hauptman, Max le Gueule, Jacques Artibonito," the serial plagiarizer sometimes known as "the Caribbean's bizarre answer to Pessoa" [127 & 130]), not to mention the variety of equally memorable titles of works (the Venezuelan poet Franz Zwickau's "A Dialogue with Hermann Goering in Hell"), stray thoughts ("'The only political system in which I have complete confidence,' [the Mexican Irma Carrasco: Puebla, Mexico, 1910-Mexico City, Mexico, 1966] told an interviewer for the women's magazine Housework, 'is theocracy, although Generalísimo Franco is doing a pretty good job too'") and publishing houses (my favorite: The Fourth Reich in Argentina) included.  Although the creativity of the writing should appeal to anyone who can appreciate a nice, vicious parody to enjoy alongside their "literary criticism," hardcore Bolaño fans will find a couple of particularly nice surprises in store.  Among the colorful cast of characters, for example, Romanian army general Eugenio Entrescu, "crucified by his own soldiers in 1944," and the Chilean Carlos Ramírez Hoffman, the serial killer and skywriting pilot villain of a much grimmer Bolaño work, will stand out to those familiar with their appearances in the novels 2666 and Distant Star.  Bolaño himself appears as a character in Nazi Literature in the Americas' final biographical entry, "The Infamous Ramírez Hoffman" (at nearly 30 pages, the longest chapter here by far but actually a condensed version of the events narrated in Distant Star), highlighting a tense moment in which the intersection between literature and reality in the novel suddenly shifts to recall the shadows of the Latin American military dictatorships of the last century.  If it's difficult to ignore the implication that the real Nazis live and breathe among us amidst the mostly harmless freaks who only identify with them, it's also sort of tough to explain how a work so chilling in some regards can be so enormously funny at one and the same time.  For me, almost a perfect work.  For you, who knows?  Killer.  (http://www.ndpublishing.com/)

16 comentarios:

  1. Oh man, sounds wicked. I can't wait to read it! :)

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  2. Oh yeah, sounds like a must-read! Onto the list of possible birthday buys it goes. I imagine it worked nicely with Perec as well, yes? Similar "entry"-like structure. He's such a genius at combining the dark and the funny.

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  3. I am going to admit that I gave up on The Savage Detectives after a 350 plus pages, but I do have a copy of this on my TBR stack. Sounds like something I'd enjoy, too. Excellent review. Thanks.

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  4. *Sarah: I'm kind of sorry that I backed out of proposing this for our reading group now because this is guaranteed to crack you up!

    *Emily: Yeah, a must read for sure, and yes, a perfect complement for Perec what with the zany entry style, mania for lists, and storytelling prowess in general! Perec and Patricia Highsmith are actually among the zillions of authors namechecked here, but I couldn't find a way to work all those little tidbits into my post. Drats!

    *C.B. James: Aw, you're the second person to "break my heart" about The Savage Detectives, one of my favorite novels ever, in the last week! Nazi Literature in the Americas is much shorter and therefore probably more focused (less expansive) than Detectives, so I hope you have better luck with it. The storytelling and black humor are quite priceless in my opinion. Anyway, thanks for the visit!

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  5. Shit, I just happened by the bookstore and happened to be browsing the French lit section, which is right next to the Spanish lit section, and happened to check out the Bolaños - and their paperback copy of La literatura nazi en América cost SEVENTY DOLLARS! Why is it so expensive??? That's insane - he's such a popular author. Is it because only rich people can handle reading a book with "nazi" in the title?

    In other news, if we do the Borges stories slowly I'm thinking about trying them in the original. I'm surprised good my Spanish reading comprehension has remained, unlike my ability to speak the language.

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  6. Emily, I'm not sure what the deal is with the Bolaño book. I used to see it online for $25 or so, but I paid just over $40 + accelerated shipping for it recently to get it from a store in Manhattan...because the online competition was selling it for over $100! Meanwhile, the local store I ordered it from 4-5 months ago finally got a copy in two days after I got my copy--and is selling it for $52.95 or something like that (more than I paid for 2666 if I'm not mistaken). Other books from that publisher usually sell in the $25-$35 range where I live so it's not just a case of high import taxes or anything like that, and other books from Bolaño from his other Spanish publisher can be had for about $15-$30 for the shorter novels and short story collections. So, yeah, the pricing is nuts on that book! Glad to hear about your Borges plan. A Spanish teacher once told the class I was in that what was difficult with Borges wasn't his language but his concepts--something I've always remembered because there's so much truth to what she said!

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  7. I liked this book so much that I don't trust my judgment about it. I wrote about the book early last year, one post as a sort of overview, and one about the hilarious use of Poe, most of which is plagiarized.

    But, on the other hand, to be sure: Imagine the reader with little interest in Modernist poetry. Is there much for him in Nazi Literature?

    Just as an example, there's the kid who falls under the spell of the poetics of Charles Olson, until he actually reads Olson, when he discovers that Olson's poems make him physically ill. Do you need to know anything about Olson to enjoy this? Maybe not, maybe the reader can just treat Olson as one more invented writer.

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  8. Okay, my next Bolano after I finish The Savage Detectives. Great review, Richard!

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  9. *Amateur Reader: Thanks for the info on your two posts--read them last night and got a big kick out of them! As to whether you really need to know anything about the authors referenced, I think that depends: the story about the white North American poet who gets hit on by Ginsberg and a black guy doesn't require any previous knowledge of Howl, for example, but I think people who know about the Argentinean writer Roberto Arlt may get an extra laugh out of hearing about the far-right Schiaffino who admired him in spite of his (leftist) political convictions. Some of the jokes and/or in-jokes are more obvious than others, of course, but I think there are enough laughs to go around whatever your interest in modernism or poetry. Bolaño's sort of ecumenical that way!

    *Gavin: Are you reading The Savage Detectives now? What a lucky pup! Nazi Literature... will be quite a change of pace for you after the traumatizing experience of 2666, so I look forward to hearing what you think about the two Bolaños!

    *E.L. Fay: I predict you and Gavin will be delighted and maybe even astonished by this piece of writing. It's really, really superb!

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  10. ¡Hola Richard!

    Este libro es una maravilla. Qué bueno que no esperaste mucho hasta conseguirlo.
    De su lectura recuerdo que cada tanto soltaba una carcajada (especialmente cuando leía la biografía apócrifa del arequipeño) pero no podía sacarme de la cabeza que aquizá tenía como vecino a algún tipo o tipa de esos.
    Jorge Herralde en su libro homenaje Para Roberto Bolaño cuenta que a raíz de la no publicación de la Literatura nazi en América (que fue rechazada por varias editoriales,sacada del concurso de Anagrama y publicada por Seix Barral porque el chileno pasaba apremios económicos, aunque después gran parte de los ejemplares fueran guillotinados) empezó su relación con Bolaño con la edición de Estrella distante. Un librito a tener en cuenta.

    Saludos,
    R.

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  11. ¡Hola R.! Leí Para Roberto Bolaño, de Herralde, hace medio año, pero ya había olvidado de la anécdota que compartes. Gracias por acordármela. Tengo La pista de hielo, El Tercer Reich, y Putas asesinas en el tintero, pero ahora tengo ganas de releer unas novelas de Bolaño también (Estrella distante incluida, por supuesto). ¿Has leído La Vida instrucciones de uso, de Georges Perec? Estoy leyendolo ahora, y pienso que el libro de Perec y La literatura nazi en América se complementan perfectamente. Un mes estupendo en cuanto a las lecturas. ¡Saludos!

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  12. Sounds wonderful, Richard! Good to know it was well worth the 50 bucks at least!

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  13. Claire, it was spectacular and well worth the $50 even though I know that's a ridiculous sum to pay for a paperback! Now back to the bread and water diet for a week, ha ha...

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  14. Adored this book and Distant star and would heartily recommend it to anyone.
    enjoyed your write up of it,
    Thanks parrish.

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  15. *Parrish: Thanks for the visit and the comment--have to say that I'm ready to read this book again after reliving my excitement through this comments thread! P.S. I think I've visited your blog before "stealthily," so I'll try and pay it a proper visit this weekend. Cheers!

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