Julio Cortázar's Character Mosaic: Reading the Longer Fiction


249 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-5888-4
DDC 863




Reviewed by Kenrick E.A. Mose

Kenrick E.A. Mose is an associate professor of Spanish Studies at the
University of Guelph.


Julio Cortбzar, the Belgian-born Argentine writer, long resident in
Paris, died in 1984. He is best known for his so-called anti-novel
Rayuela (Hopscotch), which earned him a reputation as a literary
revolutionary, linguistic terrorist, and moral iconoclast in that
radical period of the 1960s. Gordana Yovanovich has built her thesis
around the process of characterization present in all of Cortбzar’s
novels, but most successfully achieved in his best work, Rayuela (1963).

Yovanovich’s study is divided into four uniformly written and evenly
divided chapters. Chapter 1 deals with an examination of the characters
in Los premios (The Winners) (1960), an inferior, preparatory rough
draft for the author’s masterly treatment of the protagonists of
Rayuela (1963) in Chapter 2. This core chapter represents a close study
of Hopscotch based on a web of characters who are autonomous and yet at
the same time imply a single, unified fictional world. Rayuela contains
some of Cortбzar’s favorite themes (the bridge, pity) as manifested
in the interaction of the contrasting protagonists (Horacio Oliveira and
La Maga), and in the role of the accomplice-reader in the collaborative
act of literary creation.

Chapter 3 deals with the lesser-known novels, the mysterious
Divertimento (1949), 62: Modelo para armar (62: A Model Kit) (1968), and
Libro de Manuel (A Manual for Manuel) (1973), in which the forgettable
characters are clearly subordinate to the sociopolitical action.
Yovanovich’s subtitle notwithstanding, Chapter 4 examines three of
Cortбzar’s best short stories and shows how characters function and
communicate in key pieces like “El perseguidor” (“The Pursuer”),
“Las babas del diablo” (“Blow-up”), and “Las armas secretas”
(“The Secret Arms”), all drawn from the collection Las armas
secretas (1959).

The useful notes and select bibliography contribute to a solid study of
a vitally important writer during the boom years of the Latin American
novel in the 1960s.


Yovanovich, Gordana., “Julio Cortázar's Character Mosaic: Reading the Longer Fiction,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/12400.