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The Seven Madmen (Extraordinary Classics) by…

The Seven Madmen (Extraordinary Classics) (original 1929; edition 1998)

by Roberto Arlt

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2991037,504 (3.92)42
Title:The Seven Madmen (Extraordinary Classics)
Authors:Roberto Arlt
Info:Serpent's Tail (1998), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Seven Madmen by Roberto Arlt (1929)

  1. 00
    Dream of Heroes by Adolfo Bioy Casares (iijjaallkkaa)
  2. 00
    Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (CarlosMcRey)
    CarlosMcRey: Like Palahniuk's Joe, Arlt's Remo Erdosain seeks salvation through depravity and self-destruction in the midst of an urban wasteland.

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This was a weird one because we spent the whole early part getting deep into the head of the one subterranean man, trying to decide where to place him in the constellation of Meursaults and Raskolnikovs that we all have in our heads and once again come back to the same old questions about self-actualization and desperation to feel and murdering a dude, etc.; but then as soon as the plot to murder the dude gets off the ground the guy--Erdosain--has a scene in a tree where he gets a bit Passion of the Christlike and remembers the infinite certitude of joy in which he walked as a child etc., and you see that there's no legitimate existential crisis here--this guy was just gifted with a talent to feel and, as the edge came off it as it always does, couldn't figure out how to keep feeling except by murdering a dude. It'd've taken a little self-awareness, but we see in the way things are with him and his wife, not devoid of tenderness, and the peace he finds with the sneering redhead and the family he takes care of/wrecks up that he could have been a man of honour and a source of gentle strength for all about but took the cheap path, letting humiliation stew and harden him and homing in on murder in the same way as his present-day equivalent, the man who resorts to ever more extreme pornography to, again, feel.

And once you know that you're in the rare position of being able to appreciate the skill and nuance with which Arlt renders Erdosain but also to dismiss him as a piece of shit, any sympathy one might feel sharply curtailed as we see him take the murderer's portion for cheap reasons, only a third of the way through the book--and then we get a sense of anticipation from seeing the other madmen come in and their plot come together, and this book is certainly very, very good on the feels that brew up fascism, the pornography or perversion of the early-mid-20th century, and in particular, incidentally, in a way I've not seen really covered before even in books like Morante's History which covers fascism in Italy but a way which perhaps is easier to grab on to in the Argentine context for some reason, not sure how to get into the early 20th century Catholic head in that regard really, but in any case the directness with which the fascist feel emerges from the death of God/end of religious ecstasy (the biggest feel to date??). That is fine, but you can see that this is a part 1 of 2 (planned as one volume but Arlt ran out of self-publishing money) because the pacing is really setting the stage and creating the atmosphere and as such taking the time to really lay out the dead soul of Erdosain, the protagonist whom, as noted above, the reader is in the rare position of being able to write off early. Volume 2 is called The Flamethrowers, and I look forward to seeing this masterful stylist and psychologist blow it all up. ( )
  MeditationesMartini | Jun 3, 2017 |
Bolano compares his fellow writer Roberto Arlt to a character from one of Dostoyevsky’s later novels, and indeed it is Raskolnikov that comes to mind most often when reading about the ordeal of Remo Erdosain. With this difference I must add ,that Raskolnikov’s self-mortifying rambling takes place after the crime and that of Arlt’s character before the crime.

Erdosain, a nobody lost in a great city, himself acting and reacting on the basis of his own mad illusions, moves through a world of hookers, pimps, murderers, thiefs, thugs and other looneys, characters all who live their lives in accordance with their own mad and criminal logic, their self-constructed desperate schemes, their perverse apocalyptic nightmares.

For the reader of the 21th century it is chilling to realize how all these evil plans have turned out to become painful reality in our last century and that Argentine’s most forgotten writer, Roberto Arlt, has turned out to be one hell of a prophet. ( )
1 vote Macumbeira | Jan 8, 2017 |
A group of criminals, sociopaths, and man-babies, inspired by the KKK, decide to take over the Argentinian government using false propaganda, replacing the government with industry-based society that is run by slave labor and forced prostitution. A brutal absurdist tale whose characters recognize that those they are following are madmen, but follow them anyway. This fever dream of an early 20th century mind eerily prescient of 2016 America. ( )
1 vote Jan.Coco.Day | Dec 31, 2016 |
Remi Erdosain knows his soul to be only a centimetre square, circumscribed by no one and contained within nothing. This brings moments of intense and vividly-described anguish relieved by the faint hope that something will happen--perhaps if he stands in the street looking sufficiently tortured, a millionaire might take him up. Erdosain is as well willing to kill himself or another simply to prove to himself his existence and is perhaps because of that receptive to a plan to take over the country and then the world. Indeed, he finds something so appealing in the coup plot that he daydreams of variations of it in which he himself becomes Lord of the Universe.

Halfway through the book I almost decided to give it up and move on to another. It was less than enthralling and those anguished moments had become too repetitious for even the most fervent of superfluous man groupies. And the book is very sloppy: It's repetitious, the author of those abruptly-introduced footnotes changes, and the continuity is weak. It's like a hastily-written first draft with pages slightly shuffled. But the sloppiness is organisational; the writing itself is fine. Only once or twice was I pulled up short by an infelicity in the writing (or translation). Otherwise, it was a smoother read than the sort of metaphor-laden fiction praised as 'well-crafted' and it made other fiction seem anaemic.

I'm glad I carried on reading. For one thing, despite the exaggerated anguish abandonment & despair, Arlt can be quite amusing albeit sometimes in a heavy-handed way: Erdosain finds it difficult to maintain that millionaire-baiting pose because his eyes turn to the legs of passing women. The world-domination plans are wonderfully loopy in some of the details. The messiah with which the masses will be drugged will be 'someone in between Krishnamurti and Rudolph Valentino.' Erdosain has a long conversation so immediately reminiscent of Dostoevsky that it's surely a pastiche; it ends with feet being kissed not out of heartfelt Russian self-abnegation but in gratitude for the inspiration for blackmail.

I enjoyed Seven Madmen quite a lot, although I've no idea why it's sometimes praised so wildly. The important thing, I suppose, is that it's available in English. I'm suprised then that it isn't better known in this part of the world: it has all the makings of a campus cult novel. ( )
2 vote bluepiano | Dec 30, 2016 |
Tengo la cabeza medio alterada, mañana haré una reseña decente. Cuando me recupere.

Mientras tanto,

Acabo de conocer a los personajes más interesantes de la literatura argentina, eso sin duda.

Uno peor que el otro, cada cual con su perversión, su locura implacable, su crueldad, su ambición. Insoportables, imposibles de querer, y con todo, impresionantes...


No puedo entender cómo no se me ocurrió leer antes esta obra maestra.

"...los directores del movimiento eran unos cínicos estupendos, que no creían absolutamente en nada. Nosotros les imitaremos. Seremos bolcheviques, católicos, fascistas, ateos, militaristas, en diversos grados de iniciación."

"Usted siente que va cortando una tras otra las amarras que lo ataban a la civilización, que va a entrar en el oscuro mundo de la barbarie, que perderá el timón, se dice y eso también se lo dije al Astrólogo, que provenía de una falta de training en la delincuencia, pero no es eso, no. En realidad, usted quisiera vivir como los demás, ser honrado como los demás, tener un hogar, una mujer, asomarse a la ventana para mirar los transeúntes que pasan, y sin embargo, ya no hay una sola célula de su organismo que no esté impregnada de la fatalidad que encierran esas palabras: tengo que matarlo. Usted dirá que razono mi odio. Cómo no razonarlo. Si tengo la impresión de que vivo soñando. Hasta me doy cuenta de que hablo tanto para convencerme de que no estoy muerto, no por lo sucedido sino por el estado en que lo deja un hecho así. Es igual que la piel después de una quemadura. Se cura, ¿pero vio usted cómo queda?, arrugada, seca, tensa, brillante. Así le queda el alma a uno. Y el brillo que a momentos se refleja le quema los ojos. Y las arrugas que tiene le repugnan. Usted sabe que lleva en su interior un monstruo que en cualquier momento se desatará y no sabe en qué dirección.

«¡Un monstruo! Muchas veces me quedé pensando en eso. Un monstruo calmoso, elástico, indescifrable, que lo sorprenderá a usted mismo con la violencia de sus impulsos, con las oblicuas satánicas que descubre en los recovecos de la vida y que le permiten discernir infamias desde todos los ángulos. ¡Cuántas veces me he detenido en mí mismo, en el misterio de mí mismo y envidiaba la vida del hombre más humilde! ¡Ah!, no cometa nunca un crimen. Véame a mí cómo estoy. Y me confieso con usted porque sí, quizá porque usted me comprende…"

Y la Coja Hipólita...

—¡Sí había soñado!

Días hubo en que se imaginó un encuentro sensacional, algún hombre que le hablara de las selvas y tuviera en su casa un león domesticado. Su abrazo sería infatigable y ella lo amaría como una esclava; entonces encontraría placer en depilarse por él los sobacos y pintarse los senos. Disfrazada de muchacho recorría con él las ruinas donde duermen las escolopendras y los pueblos donde los negros tienen sus cabañas en la horqueta de los árboles. Pero en ninguna parte había encontrado leones, sino perros pulguientos, y los caballeros más aventureros eran cruzados del tenedor y místicos de la olla. Se apartó con asco de estas vidas estúpidas.

En el transcurso de los días los raros personajes de novela que había encontrado, no eran tan interesantes como en la novela, sino que aquellos caracteres que los hacían nítidos en la novela eran precisamente los aspectos odiosos que los tornaban repulsivos en la vida. Y, sin embargo, se les había entregado.

Mas, ya saciados, se apartaban de ella como si se sintieran humillados de haberle ofrecido el espectáculo de su debilidad. Ahora se sumergía en la esterilidad de su vivir igual a un arenal geográficamente explorado."


Lectura conjunta con Liz* y Nanu de Emma's Tea Party

A empezar el 20 de marzo ( )
  LaMala | Jun 7, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roberto Arltprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cortazar, JulioIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Caistor, NickAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sabarte Belacortu, MarioleinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The moment he opened the door to the manager's office, with its milk-glass panels, Erdosain tried to back out; he could see he was done for, but it was too late.
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