jueves, 10 de febrero de 2011

Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí

Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí (Debolsillo, 2009)
por Javier Marías
España, 1994

"Nadie piensa nunca que pueda ir a encontrarse con una muerta entre los brazos y que ya no verá más su rostro cuyo nombre recuerda.  Nadie piensa nunca que nadie vaya a morir en el momento más inadecuado a pesar de que eso sucede todo el tiempo, y creemos que nadie que no esté previsto habrá de morir junto a nosotros" (15).  Así comienza Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí, una novela cuya meditación sobre el azar y las bifurcaciones metafísicas se centra en lo que pasa al escritor Víctor Francés después de la noche en que la casada Marta Téllez muere en los brazos del hombre justo antes de consumar el adulterio.  "Ay Dios, y el niño", Marta lamenta al final, dejando atrás el protagonista y el niño de dos años en la casa y el marido afuera del país en un viaje de negocios (46).   Aunque Marías toma este principio trágico y eventualmente se lo convierte en algo aún más devastador con respecto a la tensión psicológica, su estilo lento --cerca de Proust y Sebald en su énfasis sobre la interioridad, la digresión, y la intersección del tiempo y de la memoria y totalmente lleno de párrafos de cinco páginas y más-- a veces pide un poco de paciencia al lector.  Después de un rato, me encantó.  Como corresponde a una obra donde el narrador es un esritor profesional (la ironía: es un negro o un escritor fantasma), la escritura es pulida e hermosa.  Como corresponde a una obra en cual la relación entre los vivos y los muertos es un centro de atención, el narrador comparte no sólo sus propios monólogos interiores sino los de los otros personajes como imaginados por él.  Aunque el libro por cierto tiene sus momentos de humor, lo que más me impactó en sus páginas fue la capacidad de Marías para evocar almas en pena sin ser cursi en el proceso.  No habiendo leído nada del novelista desde El hombre sentimental hace años, supongo que ahora tendré que leer todos los tres tomos de su elogiado Tu rostro mañana antes del fin del año.  Mientras tanto, qué buen libro es éste y qué melancólico también.  "Y mientras tanto un día más, qué desventura, un día más, qué suerte.  Sólo entonces dejaré de ser el hilo de la continuidad, el hilo de seda sin guía, cuando mi voluntad se retire cansada y ya no quiera querer ni quiera nada, y no sea 'aún no, aún no' sino 'no puedo más' lo que prevalezca, cuando me interrumpa y transite sólo por el revés del tiempo, o por su negra espalda donde no habrá escrúpulo ni error ni esfuerzo" (305). (http://www.debolsillo.com/)

Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (New Directions, 2001)
by Javier Marías [translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa]
Spain, 1994

"No one ever expects that they might some day find themselves with a dead woman in their arms, a woman whose face they will never see again, but whose name they will remember.  No one ever expects anybody to die at the least opportune of moments, even though this happens all the time, nor does it ever occur to us that someone entirely unforeseen might die beside us" (3).  So begins Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, a novel whose meditation on chance and the metaphysical forks in the road of life commences with the events that befall writer Victor Francés on the night in which the married Marta Téllez dies in his arms right before the two were about to have sex.  "Oh God, the child" Marta laments as she expires, leaving the protagonist alone in the house with her two year old while her husband is out of the country on a business trip (32).  Although Marías eventually turns this tragic beginning into something even more sobering in terms of the psychological tension on display, his glacial style--replete with paragraphs five pages and more in length and somewhere between Proust and Sebald in terms of its emphasis on interiority, digression, and the intersection between time and memory--may initially demand some patience on the reader's part.  I grew to love it myself.  As befits a work where the narrator's a professional writer (irony: a ghostwriter at that), the writing is beautiful, polished, worked.  As befits a work in which the relationship of the living and the dead is one of the main focuses of attention, the narrator shares not only his own interior monologues but also those of the other characters as imagined by him.  Although the book does have its humorous moments, what most got to me here was Marías' capacity to evoke souls in pain without being cheesy about it in the process.  Not having read anything else by the novelist other than El hombre sentimental [The Man of Feeling] several years ago, I suppose I'll now have to read all three volumes of his heavily hyped Your Face Tomorrow before the end of the year.  In the meantime, what a fine, achingly beautiful effort this is.  "And meanwhile, another day, how dreadful, another day, how fortunate.  Only then will I cease to be the thread of continuity, the silken thread without a guide, when my weary will grows tired and withdraws and no longer wants to want or wants anything, and when what prevails is no longer 'not yet, not yet' but 'I can't take any more of this,' when I interrupt myself and I travel along the reverse side of time, or along its dark back where there will be no room for scruples or error or effort" (271).  (http://www.ndpublishing.com/)

Javier Marías

Tantas cosas suceden sin que nadie se entere ni las recuerde.  De casi nada hay registro, los pensamientos y movimientos fugaces, los planes y los deseos, la duda secreta, las ensoñaciones, la crueldad y el insulto, las palabras dichas y oídas y luego negadas o malentendidas o tergiversadas, las promesas hechas y no tenidas en cuenta, ni siquiera por aquellos a quienes se hicieron, todo se olvida o prescribe, cuanto se hace a solas y no se anota y también casi todo lo que no es solitario sino en compañía, cuán poco va quedando de cada individuo, de qué poco hay constancia, y de ese poco que queda tanto se calla, y de lo que no se calla se recuerda después tan sólo una mínima parte, y durante poco tiempo, la memoria individual no se transmite ni interesa al que la recibe, que forja y tiene la suya propio.
(Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí, 69-70)
*
So many things happen without anyone realizing or remembering.  There is almost no record of anything, fleeting thoughts and actions, plans and desires, secret doubts, fantasies, acts of cruelty and insults, words said and heard and later denied or misunderstood or distorted, promises made and then overlooked, even by those to whom they were made, everything is forgotten or invalidated, whatever is done alone or not written down, along with everything that is done not alone but in company, how little remains of each individual, how little trace remains of anything, and how much of that little is never talked about and, afterwards, one remembers only a tiny fraction of what was said, and then only briefly, the individual memory is not passed on and is, anyway, of no interest to the person receiving it, who is busy forging his or her own memories.
(Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me [translated by Margaret Jull Costa], 54)

15 comentarios:

  1. This sounds very interesting and a reference to Sebald is intriguing anyway. I haven't read anything by Javier Marías yet. There was such a rave when the German trasnlations came out that it put me off. Time has passed and he isn't mentioned all that often anymore so the appeal comes back. I have Corazón tan blanco here and from what I remember (I read the first few pages) there is an equally violent death under mysterious circumstances at the beginning.

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  2. Those are just about perfect quotes you gave. I'm looking forward to this. I just breezed through 'A Heart So White' 2 weeks ago and it was quite beautifully written.

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  3. This sounds gorgeous and amazing. You know my weakness for five-page paragraphs and obsessions with interiority. The passages in the original are particularly magical, so maybe this is on the list for the fine day when my Spanish is back up to novel-reading par.

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  4. Beautiful and poetic, the last quote. Thanks for this wouldn't have know it without you.

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  5. *Caroline: Marías and Sebald were fans of each other if I have the story right, which makes sense because after finishing this novel I suddenly started wanting to read another Sebald novel again. Have heard nothing but good things about Corazón tan blanco, so I have a feeling you're in for a treat when you get around to it!

    *Rise: Marías is a very quotable chap, isn't he? I might read All Souls and A Heart So White before Your Face Tomorrow, but whatever the sequence ends up being, I'm looking forward to all of them right now. Will be on the lookout for your review in the meantime!

    *Emily: "Gorgeous" and "amazing" work for me, and as an added bonus for you Marías works in a few Shakespeare references throughout this novel. Regarding your point on the language, his sentence constructions in Spanish were a little difficult for me at times (at the very least, I had to read slowly and pay attention more than usual!) but so much more poetic and forceful than they are in translation--glad you were able to pick up on that with just a couple of examples, you close reader, you! :D

    *Nana: Glad you liked that quote--Marías is a wonderful writer, and I'm happy I could "introduce" you two to one another. Cheers!

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  6. Your Face Tomorrow is a group read I could definitely get behind. And this sounds wonderful. Like Emily, I go weak for five page paragraphs, and the quotes you offer here promise much.

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  7. Richard!
    Esta novela es alucinante. Me aburrió, me desesperó, me encantó. Completamente rendido a los pies de Javier Marías quedé.
    Espero que te guste un poco al menos...
    Saludos!

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  8. Richard:

    Javier Marias tiene libro muy buenos. Yo partí con los dominios del lobo , travesía del horizonte , todas las almas, corazón tan blanco todas las notables.

    Tù rostro mañana , la deje por la mitad.

    Mañana en la batalla piensa en mi , lo tengo en la lista de posibles lecturas.

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  9. *Frances: I thought you and Emily might go for Marías' well crafted, short story-length paragraphs--and so happy you and I are on for Your Face Tomorrow in June, July and August now. Cheers!

    *Ever: ¡Hola! Sí, la novela tiene un poco de todo, por cierto. Pero me encantan el lenguaje y la penetración psicología de Marías. De hecho, más libros suyos están en el tintero. ¡Saludos!

    *Leox: ¡Hola! Voy a leer Tu mostro mañana este verano a pesar de tu crítica del libro, pero también estoy pensando en dos o tres de las novelas que te gustaron. Qué bien saber que tú desfrutaste de tantos. ¡Saludos!

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  10. I ve his short stories near tipm of tbr ,I love join a your face tomorrow readalong had it from library the first part a while ago and never got to it before I had to take it back,all the best stu

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  11. I can do books that are one complete paragraph (even if said paragraph is 500 pages long) but for some reason, constantly having paragraphs of only a few pages kind of bugs me. Still, your description of this one as "fine, [and] achingly beautiful" gets my attention. No domineering patriarchs, right?

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  12. *Stu: It'd be awesome if you could join Frances and me (and hopefully others) for Your Face Tomorrow this summer! We're planning on reading a book a month June through August, but I'll post more details later on. Looking forward to what you make of Marias' short stories--I have yet to read any by him. Cheers!

    *E.L. Fay: I'm not sure Marías would be everybody's cup of tea, but what he does well he does exceedingly well. In other words, ha, no domineering patriarchs, no! Cheers!

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  13. I started and gave up on Your Face Tomorrow last fall. But I kept my copy, thinking this is one that I should try again. I'd love to join in a book read for at least the first book in the trilogy.

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  14. *C.B. James: Wonderful! I understand YFT isn't the easiest read in some ways, so I imagine a group read of it can only help not hurt for all concerned. Anyway, look forward to having you join us for Book I!

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  15. Finally I have read this book! I quote i.r. : "me aburrió, me desesperó, me encantó". I read it very slowly (I usually gobble books), savouring the words and even when I thought I was getting bored, Marias was able to regain by attention.

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