A singular figure in Spanish letters, the prose of Javier Marías offers no concessions to the reader. Novelist deliberately tortuous syntax that abounds in long descriptions and digressions, did not give much importance to the plot. Marías liked to ramble and get lost in meanders, resources with which he managed to coin an enveloping prose.
His literary career begins with ‘The domains of the wolf’ (1971). The writer’s first novel came out when Marías was 19 years old. It is a fun parody and at the same time a tribute to the cinema of the golden years of Hollywood. His writing coincides in time with the friendship that the prose writer established with Juan Benet, a leading figure in his life and work.
Despite his somewhat aristocratic contempt for prizes, his writing was greeted with honours. It happened with ‘El hombre sentimental’ (1986), a narrative with which she won the Herralde Novel and Ennio Flaiano awards. The work gives way to a new, more intimate stage in her work.
His experiences as a professor at Oxford nurtured the writing of ‘Todas las almas’ (1989), a book that was made into a film by Gracia Querejeta under the title ‘The Last Voyage of Robert Rylands’.
Translated into 37 languages, ‘Corazón tan blanco’ (1992) was a great sales success, with 2.3 million copies shipped. Thanks to this novel, he became known in Germany, whose doors were opened to him by the guru of literary criticism Marcel Reich-Ranicki.
Tomorrow in the battle think of me
A quote from Shakespeare gave the title to ‘Tomorrow in battle think of me’ (1994), reading is essential to understand the keys to the author’s literature. His themes include concealment, denial of the people we once loved, forgetfulness and indecision; farewell and deception.
Perhaps the most demanding novel by Javier Marías is ‘Your face tomorrow’, if only for the challenge of facing 1,400 pages. This trilogy is a fiction that invites us to think about how novels work. On this occasion, María gave birth to a story that oscillates between sanity, madness and obsession.
One of his most celebrated works, ‘Black back of time’ (1998) was described by the author as a ‘false novel’. The work is located on the vague border between fiction and reality, between imagination and fantasy. Javier Marías himself is the narrator of a book that the author claimed belonged to a “hybrid and flexible genre.”
With ‘Los Enamoramientos’ (2011) he won the National Prize for Narrative. It is a novel that addresses issues such as deception and duplicity, as well as the persistence of the dead in the lives of the living. Marías imprinted on this book a restrained prose that, as in all of his, abounds in digressions and meticulous analysis.
‘Tomás Nevison’ (2021) is a novel that has something of a thriller, although Marías was scared of this assessment. In this novel, Javier Marías reflects on evil based on the adventures of a British agent who investigates the connection between ETA and the IRA. The protagonist of the book already appeared in his previous novel, ‘Berta Isla’. Full of morose descriptions, the novel is profuse in literary quotations.