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An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (2000)

by César Aira

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 25 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Novella about a travelling painter crossing from Chile to Argentina looking for the idealized "pampa". Condensed story that mixes some philosophical content with a dreamy description of the argentinian country side (those monumental carts!). ( )
  ivan.frade | Oct 7, 2014 |
This is really short, and really great; it'll make you think and it'll grow on you over time. Nice. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
This was an easy enough read for a bizarre tale amid philosophical musings about reality and observation etc. Somehow, however, it never quite grabbed me. It seemed a bit cold and distant. ( )
  snash | Dec 22, 2013 |
Three stars means "I liked it" so I guess that is good enough for me. Though my measly rating looks bad among all these five stars I see around me. The book was very easy to read and I liked some of the words the translator chose to use. More on this later. But I wasn't all that moved by the monstrous other-worldly trip-off in the spirit-quest for art, or for its sake. I will expound later when I have had more time to run this reading through my mind's-eye filter. Or if the text somehow finds itself getting deliberately burrowed deeper below my skin. ( )
  MSarki | Mar 31, 2013 |
For better or for worse a more straightforward read than the other Aira novella I have read, The Literary Conference. Still... it just doesn't quite add up to much. The writing is quite nice, the ideas nice but at the end of the day it doesn't move me and it doesn't even really stir me to think either. I can see the thoughts and themes but I'm not excited by them. Perhaps this is a work that would benefit from being much longer, where these ideas could play out properly and develop into something more meaningful.

As it is, An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter is just an interesting, minor curiosity. Sure, Aira is contemporary and that lends him an edge and a bit of kudos but I can't quite buy into the hype off of that alone. ( )
  DRFP | Feb 2, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Possibly not since Cormac McCarthy’s blood-sprent work has there been a contemporary novel such as the Argentine writer César Aira’s An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter—one that stresses the sublime without falling back on the props of magical realism. This fictional take on an actual historical figure is not without its surrealist touches, but such elements arise as a result of, as opposed to being imposed on, the setting itself.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
César Airaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andrews, ChrisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bolaño, RobertoPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KjellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811216306, Paperback)

An astounding novel from Argentina that is a meditation on the beautiful and the grotesque in nature, the art of landscape painting, and one experience in a man's life that became a lightning rod for inspiration.

An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter is the story of a moment in the life of the German artist Johan Moritz Rugendas (1802-1858). Greatly admired as a master landscape painter, he was advised by Alexander von Humboldt to travel West from Europe to record the spectacular landscapes of Chile, Argentina, and Mexico. Rugendas did in fact become one of the best of the nineteenth-century European painters to venture into Latin America. However this is not a biography of Rugendas. This work of fiction weaves an almost surreal history around the secret objective behind Rugendas' trips to America: to visit Argentina in order to achieve in art the "physiognomic totality" of von Humboldt's scientific vision of the whole. Rugendas is convinced that only in the mysterious vastness of the immense plains will he find true inspiration. A brief and dramatic visit to Mendosa gives him the chance to fulfill his dream. From there he travels straight out onto the pampas, praying for that impossible moment, which would come only at an immense pricean almost monstrously exorbitant price that would ultimately challenge his drawing and force him to create a new way of making art. A strange episode that he could not avoid absorbing savagely into his own body interrupts the trip and irreversibly and explosively marks him for life.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:45 -0400)

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