Category Archives: Friday Quotes

Friday Quotes

This is my translation. El tunel, Ernesto Sabato (Seix Barral, 1948):

"My theory," he explained, "is as follows: in the 20th century, the political novel
represents what the chivalry novel did in Cervantes’s time. Moreover: I think
you could make something equivalent to Don Quixote: a satire of political novels.
Imagine an individual who has passed his life reading political novels and has become
crazy with the belief that the world functions like a novel by Nicholas Blake or Ellery Queen.
Imagine that at length this poor sap finally sets out to discover crimes and proceeds
through life as would a detective from one of these novels. I think
you could make something entertaining, tragic, symbolic, satirical, and beautiful."

The New Novel, Vivian Mercier (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971):

Simultaneity is another aspect of time by which Joyce was greatly fascinated. One remembers the
cloud that casts a chill over both Stephen and Bloom, who are separated by many miles of Dublin and many
pages of Ulysses, or Stephen’s being caught sight of from the mourners’ coach as he is leaving
Sandymount Strand, many pages after his seaside soliloquy is over. Above all, one remembers the
"Wandering Rocks" episode, in which the doings of people all over Dublin are coordinated in relation to
time. This was a dise of Joyce that Virginia Woolfe imitated meticulously in Mrs. Dalloway. . . .

But there is another kind of simultaneity, as Finnegans Wake reminds us. At every moment of that book,
past, present, and future are simultaneously "present" or at any rate implicit. Proust’s Marcel, in
his moments of involuntary memory, sees the present invaded or occupied by the past, but he can still distinguish
which is which; it is not so with the dreamer or the reader of Finnegans Wake.

Friday Quotes

From Jorge Luis Borges’s "Prologue" to The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares, trans. Ruth L.C. Simms (University of Texas Press, 1964; republished by NYRB Classics, 2003):

There are pages, there are chapters in Marcel Proust that are unacceptable as inventions, and we unwittingly resign ourselves to them as we resign ourselves to the insipidity and the emptiness of each day. The adventure story, on the other hand, does not propose to transcribe reality: it is an artificial object, no part of which lacks justification. It must have a rigid plot if it is not to succumb to the mere sequential variety of The Golden Ass, the Seven Voyages of Sinbad, or the Quixote. . . .

We hear sad murmurs that our century lacks the ability to devise interesting plots. But no one attempts to prove that if this century has any ascendancy over the preceding ones it lies in the quality of its plots. . . . I maintain that during no other era have there been novels with such admirable plots as The Turn of the Screw, The Trial, Voyage to the Center of the Earth, and the one you are about to read, which was written in Buenos Aires by Adolfo Bioy Casares.

Friday Quotes

Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance, (London, 1972), p. 173 as quoted in Wayne Booth, A Rhetoric of Irony, (Chicago, 1974) p. 13:

Perhaps it was our common sense of fun that first brought about our understanding. The real marriage of true minds is for any two people to possess a sense of humour or irony pitched in exactly the same key, so that their joint glances at any subject cross like interarching search-lights. I have had good friends between whom and myself that bond was lacking, but they were never really intimate friends; and in that sense Henry James was perhaps the most intimate friend I ever had, though in many ways we were so different.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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