Table of Contents
"Julio Cortázar was born in Brussels of Argentine parents in 1914. After World War I his family returned to Argentina where he received a literature degree from the teachers college in Buenos Aires in 1935. From 1935 to 1945 he taught in secondary schools in several Argentine towns. From 1945 to 1951 he worked as a literary translator for Argentine publishing houses, translating the complete prose works of Edgar Allan Poe, as well as works by André Gide, Walter de la Mare, G.K. Chesterton, Daniel Defoe, and Jean Giono. He refused a chair at the University of Buenos Aires because of his opposition to the Perón regime. In 1951 he moved to France, where he lived until his death in 1984, dividing his time between Paris and the Provençal town of Saignon. He accepted President Mitterand's offer of French citizenship in 1981, while insisting that he had not relinquished his Argentine citizenship. Active in Latin American politics, he visited Cuba in 1961 and Nicaragua in 1983; he donated his Prix Médicis prize money for Libro de Manuel (1973, translated by Gregory Rabassa as A manual for Manuel, 1978) to the United Chilean Front. During most of his years in France he worked for four months as a translator from French and English into Spanish for UNESCO and devoted the rest of the year to his writing and other loves such as the jazz trumpet. He published poems and plays in the thirties and forties but achieved his first major success with a book of stories, Bestiario, in 1951 (selections appear in The End of the Game and Other Stories, translated by Paul Blackburn, 1967). His novel Rayuela (1963; translated by Gregory Rabassa as Hopscotch, 1966) was widely praised and won Cortázar an enthusiastic international following. AROUND THE DAY IN EIGHTY WORLDS is his eleventh major work to be translated into English."
From the biographical note to "Around the Day in Eighty Worlds"; North Point Press, San Francisco.
Cortázar's diverse interests included surrealist painting/art and the politics of the world. Perhaps Cortázar himself says it best:
Much of what I have written falls into the category of eccentricity, because I have never admitted a clear distinction between living and writing; if in my life I have managed to disguise an only partial participation in my circumstances, I still cannot deny that eccentricity in what I write, since I write precisely because I am only half there or not there at all. I write by default and dislocation, and since I write out of an interstice I always invite others to discover one of their own and to see for themselves the garden where the trees bear fruits that turn out to be precious stones. The monster remains the same.From "On feeling not all there", Around the day in 80 worlds.
Cortázar is acutely aware of the position of the reader in relation to the text and appears (to me) to attempt to create a play-pen where the reader can move about without constrictions. The construction of the playpen gives the author similar freedoms. With this idea in mind, perhaps, Cortázar wrote disjointed (or many jointed) texts that he called "collage books". Apart from the obvious hyper-textuality of Rayuela, there is the lack of a progressive narrative in a number of books that are considered collections of short stories, but are not quite that. In these conceits (perhaps closest to a sonnet sequence or Barthesian prose) Cortázar can present alternate scenarios, both fantastic and "real". Cortázar is perhaps searching for a literalization of Borges' Book of Sand, a book which "has only one spine, but a hundred faces" (Jorge Luis Borges, On the sense of the fantastic). As a result of the technique, we find that Cortázar's characters are themselves open-ended, in response as well as determination. Cortázar's books can be read in many ways, most of them were not anticipated by the author, but what he did anticipate was that they would open an infinite series of forking paths, and we must make the maps ourselves.
Twelve of Cortázar's books have been translated into English.
I have attempted to collect information on as many editions as I can.
If one does not appear here, please do not hesitate to send me a note.
The works are ordered chronologically by date of copyright.
ORIGINAL TITLE: Los Premios
ORIGINAL TITLE: Sesenta y dos: modelo para armar
ORIGINAL TITLE: Todos los fuegas el fuego
ORIGINAL TITLE: Libros de Manuel
ORIGINAL TITLE: Un tal Lucas
ORIGINAL TITLE: Nicaragua tan violentamente dulce
ORIGINAL TITLE: Deshoras
TRANSLATED BY: Stephen Kessler, © 1997
ORIGINAL TITLE: Ultimo Round
Considering the scope of Rayuela I believe there is little on the Web that is not related to Cortázar in some way. Yet the truly esoteric is left to Lycos and I'm only going to attempt to list those sites that are directly related to Cortázar or his work in some way.