Tag Archives: cyclops

Cyclops Reviewed in TNR

Cyclops by Ranko Marinković, the Yugoslavian response to Ulysses, and a book that made the 2011 BTBA longlist, though, alas, not the shortlist. Reviewed here.

Such cerebral imagery is typical of Marinković, whose narrative epic—set in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1940s—is based on Ulysses, which had appeared in Croatian a few years before Cyclops. The narrator’s compulsion to turn every experience into an intellectual exercise, partially as a response to the horror of World War II, puts Cyclops squarely in the genre that James Wood has called hysterical realism. Melkior, a theater critic who lives alone in a boardinghouse populated by eccentrics, seeks to escape his aimlessness—and his fear of the encroaching fascists—by endlessly perambulating the frenetic city of Zagreb and the insular world of his own thoughts. His mind is a “torture chamber” to which he willingly confines himself, believing that in the mental “labyrinths around which he raced blithely shouting, ‘I’ve disappeared, I’m not here,’ he would really and truly disappear from the sight of the absurdity that lay in wait for him.”

Incidentally, this is another strong translation by Yale’s Margellos World Republic of Letters series. A good space to watch for future translations.

And even more incidentally, we now know what is the Best Translated Book in 2010, at least by our standards.


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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