martes, 11 de octubre de 2011

Bioy Casares and Borges on Eça de Queirós

In a nod to Tom (né Amateur Reader) and his current Portuguese Literature Challenge being held over at Wuthering Expectations and the fact that I'll soon finally be reading Eça de Queirós' The Crime of Father Amaro as a result of said challenge's call to reading arms, here's a snippet of Adolfo Bioy Casares and Jorge Luis Borges on the high-strung Eça de Queirós lifted from Bioy Casares' smashing Borges diary pictured above:

Martes, 14 de junio [1955]
Hablamos de Eça de Queiroz; decimos que desearíamos que hubiera más libros de Eça; que todo lo que escribía era agradable; que era muy superior a sus maestros, a Anatole France y aun a Flaubert.  Borges tiene un instante de duda, cuando menciono a Flaubert; luego dice que Madame Bovary es un libro mucho más pobre que El primo Basilio.  Hablamos de Proust...

[We talked about Eça de Queirós; we said that we wished there were more of Eça's books; that everything he wrote was enjoyable; that he was far superior to his "masters," superior to Anatole France and superior even to Flaubert.  Borges has a moment of doubt when I mention Flaubert; then he says that Madame Bovary is a much lesser work than Cousin Basilio.  We talked about Proust...]
(Adolfo Bioy Casares, Borges, Barcelona: Ediciones Destino, 2006, 133) 
Proust not being Portuguese, the follow-up anecdote in the sequence had to be pruned from this post.  Tsk, tsk.  However, even with something like 1,500 pages still to go, I can still assure you that Bioy Casares' diary is filled with juicy literary goodness of this nature as well as the delicious personal dirt that I was hoping to find--as in the story about the crazy ex-flame of Borges' who used to boast of being a big Don Quixote fan but would then qualify it with comments like "pero el verdadero, no el que todos leen" ["but the real one--not the one that everybody reads"] (55)!

7 comentarios:

  1. That is a juicy Menard-related anecdote! It's funny that Casares's diaries are so voluminous, since my main association with him is the super-slim Invention of Morel, which I keep meaning to purchase in that Louise Brooks-covered NYRB edition.

  2. *Emily: Even though I thought that "the real Don Quixote" thing was a crack-up, I'd somehow totally forgotten about all the "Pierre Menard" parallels when I was reading about it. LOL! The NYRB edition of The Invention of Morel IS way better-looking than my generic, ugly yellow Argentine one (thank you, Louise Brooks), and it actually feels about 1/25th the size of Bioy Casares' diary when held in your hands (funny you spotted that since that's a comparison I've been thinking about a lot, too!).

  3. I love the Eca de Quieros commentary (after having read and loved "The Maias," it feels like a sort of vindication). In any case, it sounds like you have quite a lot of enjoyment ahead of you in that Casares diary.

  4. Although I just put up a post expressing suspicion of enjoyment, my 4 book sample suggests that BC & B are right about EdeQ.

    The Cousin Basilio vs Madame Bovary argument is more complex, but it is nice to here that the book chat of these two giants is as casual as my own.

    Love the excerpts. more please, thanks.

  5. *Scott: I've only read about 50 pages of Eça de Queirós to date, but I'm encouraged by all the enthusiasm he seems to generate in trusted book-blogging others. And since the Bioy Casares diary is just about everything I'd hoped it'd be so far, yeah, it's great that it's such a big giant monstrosity of a tome!

    *Tom: Glad you liked these excerpts and will try to keep them coming on a semi-regular basis since there's so much fun stuff to pillage from. Also, the funny thing about this Eça/Flaubert comparison is that it seems to pre-date Borges' and Bioy Casares' reading of The Maias (the text isn't totally clear about that, but in a passage I read last night that comes a little later in the year than the one I posted on, BC makes a point of mentioning a bookstore visit he and Borges made just to go buy The Maias). Anyway, if it makes you feel any better, the word I translated as "enjoyable" could easily be replaced with "agreeable." Does that work out any better? Cheers!

  6. This is so awesome. I wish this diary would be translated into Portuguese. I'm a huge fan of ABC and JLB; to read them discuss one of my favourite novelists makes me giddy.

    Also thanks for putting me on your blog list!

    1. Miguel, belated thanks for your comment and apologies for the delay in responding (it is a pleasure to have you on the blogroll!). I have the book back out from the library again, so I hope to post on it again before too long. Cheers!