Dark Back of Time

Dark Back of Time

By Javier Marias; Esther Allen (Translator)

New Directions Publishing Corporation, Hardcover, 9780811214667, 336pp.

Publication Date: May 22, 2001

Description
Javier Marias' s singular new production Dark Back of Time begins with the tale of the odd effects of publishing All Souls, his 1989 Oxford novel. All Souls, narrated by a visiting Spanish lecturer, is a book he swears to be fiction, but which its "characters" -- the real-life dons and professors and bookshop owners who have "recognized" "themselves" -- fiercely maintain to be a roman a clef. They claim certain roles for their own, and for others: the narrator's invented mistress has been firmly identified as one of the professors' wives. Marias views with astonishment a world that seemed nearly asleep set into fretful motion by a world that never "existed". Yet this backwash of All Souls only begins an odyssey into the nature of identity ("We do not know anyone entirely, not even ourselves"), and of time ("which is not yet past nor lost and maybe isn't even time at all"). With the flair of Sterne, his "false" novel manipulates time, weaving in autobiography, a legendary kingdom, strange ghostly literary figures, halls of mirrors, a one-eyed WWI veteran, a curse in Havana and a bullet lost in Mexico. Dark Back of Time becomes a brilliant ironic puzzle about the powers of art and of memories, which become only more mysterious the more Marias remembers.


About the Author
Javier Marias is an award-winning Spanish novelist. He is also a translator and columnist, as well as the current king of Redonda. He was born in Madrid in 1951 and published his first novel at the age of nineteen. He has held academic posts in Spain, the US (he was a visiting professor at Wellesley College) and Britain, as a lecturer in Spanish Literature at Oxford University. He has been translated into 34 languages, and more than six million copies of his books have been sold worldwide. In 1997 he won the Nelly Sachs Award; the Comunidad de Madrid award in 1998; in 2000 the Grinzane Cavour Award, the Alberto Moravia Prize, and the Dublin IMPAC Award. He also won the Spanish National Translation Award in 1979 for his translation of Tristram Shandy in 1979. He was a professor at Oxford University and the Complutense of Madrid. He currently lives in Madrid.

Esther Allen has translated Javier Marias, Jorge Luis Borges, Felisberto Hernandez, Flaubert, Rosario Castellanos, Blaise Cendrars, Marie Darrieussecq, and Jose Marti. She is currently a professor at Baruch College (CUNY) and has directed the work of the PEN Translation Fund since its founding in 2003. Allen has received a Fulbright Grant (1989), a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship (1995), and was named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters (2006).