Tuesday, September 13, 2005


“Some ingenuous souls, including a few guardians of left-wing orthodoxy and the odd mischief-maker, declared that rehabilitating a Falangist writer was vindicating (or laying the ground work to vindicate) Falangism itself. The truth was exactly the opposite: rehabilitating a Falangist writer was just rehabilitating a writer; or more precisely, it was vindicating themselves as writers by rehabilitating a good writer. I mean that the fashion arose, in the best cases (the worst aren’t worth mentioning), from the natural need all writers have to invent their own tradition, from a certain urge to be provocative, from the problematic certainty that literature is one thing and life another and that it was therefore possible to be a good writer at the same time as being a terrible person (or a person who supports and foments terrible causes) from the conviction that we were being literarily unfair to certain Falangist writers, who, to use Andrés Trapiello’s phrase, had won the war but lost literature.”

On Falangist writer Rafael Sánchez Mazas:

“He always had an impertinent, haughty, brittle and melancholic genius . . . He was a romantic after all, would he not have judged deep down all victory to be contaminated by unworthiness, and the first thing he noticed upon arriving in paradise,—albeit that illusory bourgeois paradise of leisure, chintz and slippers that, like a needy travesty of old privileges, hierarchies and securities, he constructed in his last years—was that he could live there, but not write, because writing and plenitude are incompatible.”


“. . . a Chilean lost in Europe who would be smoking, his eyes clouded, standing back a little and very serious, watching us dance a paso doble beside Miralles’ grave just as one night years before he’d seen Miralles and Luz dance to another paso doble under the awning of a trailer in the Estrella de Mar campsite, seeing it and wondering if maybe that paso doble and this one were in fact the same, wondering without expecting an answer, because he already knew that the only answer is that there is no answer, the only answer is a sort of secret or unfathomable joy, something verging on cruelty, something that resists reason, but nor is it instinct: something that remains there with the same blind stubbornness with which blood persists in its course and the earth in its immovable orbit and all beings in their obstinate condition of being, something that eludes words the way the water in the stream eludes stone, because words are only made for saying to each other, for saying the sayable, when the sayable is everything except what rules us or makes us live or matters or what we are . . .”

(The Chilean being novelist Roberto Bolaño.)

Javier Cercas, trans. Anne McLean, Soldiers of Salamis (Bloomsbury, 2003)


Unhappie is the man for evirmaire
That teils the sand and sawis in the aire;
Bot twyse unhappier is he, I lairn,
That feidis in his hairt a mad desyre,
And follows on a woman throw the fyre,
Led be a blind and teichit be a bairn.