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Koorts en lans roman by Javier Marías
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Koorts en lans roman (original 2002; edition 2005)

by Javier Marías, Aline Glastra van Loon

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5301819,020 (3.96)21
Member:deklerk
Title:Koorts en lans roman
Authors:Javier Marías
Other authors:Aline Glastra van Loon
Info:Amsterdam Meulenhoff cop. 2005
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Literatuur, Spaanse lit.

Work details

Your Face Tomorrow, Volume 1: Fever and Spear by Javier Marías (2002)

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English (10)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  French (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
I read a review of this years ago, and vaguely thought about reading it, then opted not to. When I read a review of the third volume I finally caved in and decided to buy it. I only got round to reading it when Philip Roth had made me so disgusted with writers of English that I felt the need to clean out my brain.

I originally thought I wouldn't read it because people said it was like Sebald. Well yes, inasmuch as Marias is concerned with style and ideas. The difference is that Marias' ideas and style are good, rather than fatuous. Who would have thought that would make all the difference? A beguiling narrator, devastating criticisms of contemporary thought and culture (post-war Europeans becoming simultaneously terrified of and obsessed with certainty; simultaneously suspicious of and enamored of language), and a fabulous cliff-hanger 'ending'... it's great.

But there are also real barriers to enjoying this book. Proust, for instance, starts with story and then, after a while, gets into philosophy; this starts with the philosophy and then gets into story. There's no time-line at all; nearly 400 pages of text includes only three real scenes- a party, a conversation and a walk home. But the narrator's memories and thoughts are truly gripping.

It's entirely possible that the rest of the novel (in three parts) will betray me, and this will turn out to be some kind of sub-Pynchonian, sub-Borgesian eye-roll inducing garbage. But right now he seems to be treading the thin line of genius quite well.

And I particularly want to praise the translator. One of the reasons I avoid non-English language novels is that so few translators manage to make their source-authors sound like human beings rather than journalists. There are a few exceptions- John Woods' Mann, for instance- but generally... it's just pain. Margaret Jull Costa has done an incredible, amazing job here. It's up there with the Moncrief/Kilmartin/Enright Proust; and there are French people who think Moncrief improved on the original. All hail Costa! Thankyou! ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
I knew from reading A heart so white and Tomorrow in the battle... that Marías is a writer who says interesting things in an original and sometimes very elegant way, but it's tough to slog through a full-length novel that never steps outside the narrator's circling, recursive thought processes. Fever and spear makes things a bit easier for us by introducing a second major character — a barely disguised portrait of the late spy and Oxford hispanist Professor Sir Peter Russell, who seems to have been amused and flattered to find himself immortalised in this way — and staging a significant part of the book as a discursive, digressive dialogue between him and the narrator.

It's a nice joke to bring in espionage, normally the subject of fast-paced action thrillers, and slow it down to a speed which even John Le Carré (who appears in the margins of the story, together with Ian Fleming) would consider absurdly slow. But it's not done purely as a joke: Marías is using the conventions of espionage fiction — secrecy, deception, betrayal — to illustrate further his usual themes of how much or how little we can really know about other people, or even about ourselves, and how we use imagination and story-telling to explore what we do know.

It's an even nicer joke, of course, to end with that corniest of all narrative tricks, the cliffhanger. ( )
  thorold | Oct 30, 2013 |
Very well-written. I can see the comparison with Proust, but without Proust's toxic qualities. (Worse than the snobbery, the horrible treatment of Albertine.) Like with Proust it doesn't seem to matter that a lot of this novel is digression, and that the actual plot would fit comfortably into a short story. I'm looking forward to reading the second and third volumes, which should be in the post shortly. ( )
  annesadleir | Feb 8, 2011 |
I believe Marias will be the next European writer of my generation (after Orhan Pamuk) to win the Nobel Prize. This novel comes in three volumes, but Javier insists it is a single text. How can you not be intrigued by a 1,570-page novel that begins with the sentence: "One should never tell anyone anything or give information or pass on stories or make people remember beings who have never existed or trodden the earth or traversed the world, or who, having done so, are now almost safe in uncertain, one-eyed oblivion."? ( )
1 vote tedmooney | Jan 7, 2010 |
"Your Face Tomorrow" was a perplexing read. A spy story, history lesson, and novel of ideas rolled into one...yet not much happens. I found myself gripped by the story, yet wondering, "What's going on here?" ( )
  DavidGoldsteen | Dec 14, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811217272, Paperback)

A daring masterwork by Javier Marias: "Spain's most subtle and gifted writer." (The Boston Globe)

Part spy novel, part romance, part Henry James, Your Face Tomorrow is a wholly remarkable display of the immense gifts of Javier Marias. With Fever and Spear, Volume One of his unfolding novel Your Face Tomorrow, he returns us to the rarified world of Oxford (the delightful setting of All Souls and Dark Back of Time), while introducing us to territory entirely new--espionage.

Our hero, Jaime Deza, separated from his wife in Madrid, is a bit adrift in London until his old friend Sir Peter Wheeler—retired Oxford don and semi-retired master spy—recruits him for a new career in British Intelligence. Deza possesses a rare gift for seeing behind the masks people wear. He is soon observing interviews conducted by Her Majesty's secret service: variously shady international businessmen one day, would-be coup leaders the next. Seductively, this metaphysical thriller explores past, present, and future in the ever-more-perilous 21st century. This compelling and enigmatic tour de force from one of Europe's greatest writers continues with Volume Two, Dance and Dream.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:06 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Jaime Deza is a Spaniard who falls in with a secret British intelligence agency that clandestinely examines subjects to determine what they will do in the future.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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