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This book is a golden nettle.

Christian Science Monitor

Julio Cortázar

20th century Argentine novelist, poet, essayist, short-story writer and Surrealist

Julio Cortázar (1914–1984): An Argentine novelist, poet, essayist, and short-story writer, Cortázar was born in Brussels. After moving permanently to France in 1951, he gradually gained recognition as one of this century’s major experimental writers. His works reflect the influence of French surrealism, psychoanalysis, and his love of both photography and jazz, along with a strong commitment to revolutionary Latin American politics.


Literature Class

Nonfiction by Julio Cortázar

translated by Katherine Silver

“I want you to know that I’m not a critic or theorist, which means that in my work I look for solutions as problems arise.” So begins the first of eight classes that the great Argentine writer Julio Cortázar delivered at UC Berkeley in 1980. These “classes” are as much reflections on Cortázar’s own writing career as they are about literature and the historical moment in which he lived. Covering such topics as “the writer’s path” (“while my aesthetic world view made me admire writers like Borges, I was able to open my eyes to the language of street slang, lunfardo...”) and “the fantastic” (“unbeknownst to me, the fantastic had become as acceptable, as possible and real, as the fact of eating soup at eight o’clock in the evening”), Literature Class provides the warm and personal experience of sitting in a room with the great author. As Joaquin Marco stated in El Cultural, “exploring this course is to dive into Cortázar designing his own creations.... Essential for anyone reading or studying Cortázar, cronopio or not!”



Final Exam

Fiction by Julio Cortázar

translated by Alfred MacAdam

In its characters, themes, and preoccupations, Final Exam prefigures Cortazar’s later fictions, including Blow-Up, and his masterpiece, Hopscotch. Written in 1950 (just before the fall of Peron’s government), it is Cortazar’s allegorical, bitter, and melancholy farewell to an Argentina from which he was about to be permanently self-exiled. (Cortazar moved to Paris the following year.) The setting is an eerie Buenos Aires that the books characters explore while being followed by a mysterious figure. With its daring typeography, its shifts in rhythm as well as in the wildly veering directions of its characters’ thoughts and speech, Final Exam breaks new ground in the territory of stream-of-conciousness narrative techniques. It is considered one of Cortazar’s best works.



62: A Model Kit

Fiction by Julio Cortázar

translated by Gregory Rabassa

First published in English in 1972 and long out of print, 62: A Model Kit is Julio Cortázar’s brilliant, intricate blueprint for life in the so-called "City." As one of the main characters, the intellectual Juan, puts it: to one person the City might appear as Paris, to another it might be where one goes upon getting out of bed in Barcelona; to another it might appear as a beer hall in Oslo. This cityscape, as Carlos Fuentes describes it, "seems drawn up by the Marx Brothers with an assist from Bela Lugosi!" It is the setting where the usual restraints of traditional novelistic order are discarded and the reader is taken on a daring and exciting new experience of life itself, The New York Times described 62: A Model Kit as "deeply touching, enjoyable, beautifully written and fascinatingly mysterious." Library Journal said 62: A Model Kit is "a highly satisfying work by one of the most extraordinary writers of our time."


Available: April 01 2000


Cronopios and Famas

Fiction by Julio Cortázar


Long out of print and now reissued in paperback, Cronopios and Famas is one of the best-loved books by perhaps the greatest of Latin American novelists (author of Hopscotch and Blow Up and Other Stories). "The Instruction Manual," the first chapter, is an absurd assortment of tasks and items dissected in an instruction-manual format. "Unusual Occupations," the second chapter, describes the obsessions and predilections of the narrator’s family, including the lodging of a tiger — just one tiger — "for the sole purpose of seeing the mechanism at work in all its complexity." Finally, the "Cronopios and Famas" section delightfully presents, in the words of Carlos Fuentes, "those enemies of pomposity, academic rigor mortis and cardboard celebrity — a hand of literary Marx Brothers." As the Saturday Review remarked: "Each page of Cronopios and Famas sparkles with vivid satire that goes to the heart of human character and, in the best pieces, to the essence of the human condition.


Available: April 01 1999