Following the Precedent: Marías's Shandean Novel

Gareth Wood

in Javier Marías's Debt to Translation

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199651337
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741180 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs

Following the Precedent: Marías's Shandean Novel

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This chapter argues for an interpretation of Marías's novel Negra espalda del tiempo (NET) as a Shandean autobiography. It argues that Marías consciously echoes Sterne's masterful literary precedent, both in terms of his consistent claims to having been influenced by his translation work on Tristram Shandy and the specific acts of homage that punctuate Marías's novel. Among the latter are the awareness both Tristram Shandy and the autobiographical narrator of NET display that the task of life-writing will always ultimately be in vain, the habit of resorting to visual prompts (black and blank pages, photographs, etc.) as a means of eluding the pitfalls of language, and a playful sense of the personal foibles that determine their world view and artistic predilections. This chapter also draws on Julian Barnes's essay ‘Justin: A Small Major Character’.

Keywords: Negra espalda del tiempo; Tristram Shandy; Julian Barnes; intertextuality; ‘El cadáver jovial’; photographs; Juan Benet; death of; autobiography/autofiction

Chapter.  20153 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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