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Javier Marias' s singular new production Dark Back of Time begins with the tale of the odd effects of publishing All Souls, his 1989 Oxford novel. All Souls, narrated by a visiting Spanish lecturer, is a book he swears to be fiction, but which its "characters" -- the real-life dons and professors and bookshop owners who have "recognized" "themselves" -- fiercely maintain to be a roman a clef. They claim certain roles for their own, and for others: the narrator's invented mistress has been firmly identified as one of the professors' wives. Marias views with astonishment a world that seemed nearly asleep set into fretful motion by a world that never "existed". Yet this backwash of All Souls only begins an odyssey into the nature of identity ("We do not know anyone entirely, not even ourselves"), and of time ("which is not yet past nor lost and maybe isn't even time at all"). With the flair of Sterne, his "false" novel manipulates time, weaving in autobiography, a legendary kingdom, strange ghostly literary figures, halls of mirrors, a one-eyed WWI veteran, a curse in Havana and a bullet lost in Mexico. Dark Back of Time becomes a brilliant ironic puzzle about the powers of art and of memories, which become only more mysterious the more Marias remembers.
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Javier Marias is an award-winning Spanish novelist. He is also a translator and columnist, as well as the current king of Redonda. He was born in Madrid in 1951 and published his first novel at the age of nineteen. He has held academic posts in Spain, the US (he was a visiting professor at Wellesley College) and Britain, as a lecturer in Spanish Literature at Oxford University. He has been translated into 34 languages, and more than six million copies of his books have been sold worldwide. In 1997 he won the Nelly Sachs Award; the Comunidad de Madrid award in 1998; in 2000 the Grinzane Cavour Award, the Alberto Moravia Prize, and the Dublin IMPAC Award. He also won the Spanish National Translation Award in 1979 for his translation of Tristram Shandy in 1979. He was a professor at Oxford University and the Complutense of Madrid. He currently lives in Madrid.From Publishers Weekly:
The Spanish novelist Javier Mar¡as has the ability, which he shares with Italo Calvino, to turn a metaphysical insight into a novelistic adventure. In his latest book, Mar¡as employs the old gambit of a novel within a novel, but the radical twist is that the novel on the inside is one of Mar¡as's real, previous novels All Souls. All Souls revolved around various fictitious and nonfictitious Oxford personalities, and was inspired by Mar¡as's temporary teaching position at the university in the early '80s. In the present novel, Mar¡as learns, to his dismay, that various factual Oxford personages upon whom various fictional personages were based are taking over his novel, in effect, by extrapolating fictitious facts from partial facts that were embedded in the original fiction. For instance, the fictitious narrator of All Souls has an affair with a married woman, Clare Bayes. This is translated, in the Oxford community, as proof that the real Mar¡as had a real affair with a woman at Oxford, who is variously identified. Other misidentifications and misreadings follow. In one of the funniest scenes, Mar¡as returns to an antiquarian bookstore in Oxford and finds that the couple who own it, the Stones, not only identify with the bookstore-owning Alabasters in his novel, but want to play them in the film version of the book. Meanwhile, the film, in a final turn of the screw, turns out to be a complete distortion of the novel. The second half of this novel is a virtuoso digression on the seedily adventurous circle around a minor British poet and Oxford figure, Gawsworth. Mar¡as has an antiquarian's taste for history's minor characters, in whose lives fact flows easily into fiction and back again.
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Book Description New Directions, 2001. Hardcover. Condition: New. First. Seller Inventory # DADAX0811214664