Julio Cortázar  

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"Sweltering motorists do not seem to have a history . . . As a reality a traffic jam is impressive, but it doesn't say much." —"La autopista del sur" (1966) by Julio Cortázar

Bookshop display of Julio Cortázar books
Bookshop display of Julio Cortázar books

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Julio Cortázar (1914 – 1984), was an Argentine writer known for such stories as "Letter to a Young Lady in Paris" and "Casa tomada".

One of the founders of the Latin American Boom, Cortázar influenced an entire generation of Spanish-speaking readers and writers in the Americas and Europe. He is noted for his short stories and his experimental novel Hopscotch.

Michelangelo Antonioni's film Blowup (1967) was inspired by Cortázar's story "The Droolings of the Devil".

Work and legacy

Cortázar wrote numerous short stories, collected in such volumes as Bestiario (1951), Final del juego (1956), and Las armas secretas (1959). English translations by Paul Blackburn of stories selected from these volumes were published as Blow-up and Other Stories by Pantheon Books (1967). The title of this collection refers to Michelangelo Antonioni's film Blowup (1967), which was inspired by Cortázar's story Las Babas del Diablo (literally, "The Droolings of the Devil", an Argentine expression for the long threads some spiders and insects leave hanging between the trees). Puerto Rican novelist Giannina Braschi used Cortázar's story as a springboard for the chapter called "Blow-up" in her bilingual novel "Yo-Yo Boing!" (1998) that features scenes with Cortázar's characters La Maga and Rocamadour. Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño claimed Cortázar as a key influence on his novel The Savage Detectives: "To say that I'm permanently indebted to the work of Borges and Cortázar is obvious". Cortázar's story "La Autopista del Sur" ("The Southern Thruway") influenced another film of the 1960s, Jean-Luc Godard's Week End (1967).

Cortázar also published several novels, including Los premios (The Winners, 1960), Hopscotch (Rayuela, 1963), 62: A Model Kit (62 Modelo para Armar, 1968), and Libro de Manuel (A Manual for Manuel, 1973). Except for Los premios, which was translated by Elaine Kerrigan, the novels have been translated into English by Gregory Rabassa. The open-ended structure of Hopscotch, which invites the reader to choose between a linear and a non-linear mode of reading, has been praised by other Latin American writers, including José Lezama Lima, Giannina Braschi, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, and Mario Vargas Llosa. Cortázar's use of interior monologue and stream of consciousness owes much to James Joyce and other modernists, but his main influences were Surrealism, the French Nouveau roman and the improvisatory aesthetic of jazz. This last interest is reflected in the notable story, "El perseguidor" ("The Pursuer"), which Cortázar based on the life of the bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker. Cortázar also mentions Lawrence Durrell's The Alexandria Quartet several times in Hopscotch. His first wife, Aurora Bernárdez, translated Durrell into Spanish while Cortázar was writing the novel.

Cortázar also published poetry, drama, and various works of non-fiction. He also translated Edgar Allan Poe's 1838 novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket into Spanish as Narracion de Arthur Gordon Pym. One of his last works was a collaboration with his third wife, Carol Dunlop, The Autonauts of the Cosmoroute, which relates, partly in mock-heroic style, the couple's extended expedition along the autoroute from Paris to Marseille in a Volkswagen camper nicknamed Fafner.

In Buenos Aires, a school, a public library, and a square in the neighbourhood of Palermo carry his name. The square is particularly well-known as a centre of a trendy and bohemian area with an important nightlife (sometimes referred to as "Plaza Serrano" or "Palermo Soho")

Duke University Press published a literary journal called "Hopscotch: A Cultural Review", named after Cortázar's novel.

Mentioned and spoken highly of in Rabih Alameddine's novel, 'Koolaids: The Art of War', which was published in 1998.

Notable works

Originally published in Spanish as "Ceremonias" (Barcelona, Seix Barral), title by which is widely known in Spanish literary circles, and in English (translated by Paul Blackburn) as End of the Game and Other Stories
A compilation of stories translated into English from the books Final del juego and Las armas secretas

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Julio Cortázar" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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