Read Romanul Oxfordului by Javier Marías Tudora Şandru Mehedinţi Online


Un tanar profesor spaniol care preda la Oxford e amantul unei englezoaice maritate. Povestea unei iubiri care se transforma intr-o relatie obsesiva intr-un Oxford unde principala preocupare a tuturor e sa aiba aerul ca muncesc si sa salveze aparentele. In acest roman , scris parca dintr-o singura rasuflare, personajul lui Javier Marias descopera la tot pasul prilejuri de aUn tanar profesor spaniol care preda la Oxford e amantul unei englezoaice maritate. Povestea unei iubiri care se transforma intr-o relatie obsesiva intr-un Oxford unde principala preocupare a tuturor e sa aiba aerul ca muncesc si sa salveze aparentele. In acest roman , scris parca dintr-o singura rasuflare, personajul lui Javier Marias descopera la tot pasul prilejuri de a lua peste picior traditiile si principiile sacrosante ale Albionului si ale lumii sale academice....

Title : Romanul Oxfordului
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ISBN : 0978753275
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
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Romanul Oxfordului Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2019-04-10 14:18

    ”I’ve been slowly wearing away at my ignorance and, as I said, I’ve always kept on learning. But that ignorance is still so vast that even today, at seventy, leading this quiet life, I still cherish the hope of being able to embrace everything and experience everything, the unknown and the known, yes, even those things I’ve known before. There’s an intense longing for the known as there is for the unknown because one just can’t accept that certain things won’t repeat themselves.”The Spaniard, unnamed, but most assuredly based on the author Javier Marias, is teaching at Oxford for two years. Teaching might be an overstatement. He has two classes assigned to him, but his main job seems to be that of being a celebrated Spanish author who adds some panache to their list of professors. He is arm candy for the university. He increases their already prestigious name with his presence. He is single and has only a handful of acquaintances among the Oxford teaching staff, so time stretches before him with no horizon.He has two main hobbies. Women and Books.Is there a better place for a collector of books than the Oxford area? ”For those with a taste for them, England’s second-hand bookshop are a dusty, sequestered paradise, frequented, moreover, by the most distinguished gentlemen of the realm. The variety and abundance of these shops, the limitless wealth of their stocks, the rapidity with which those stocks are replenished, the impossibility of ever exploring every corner of them, the circumscribed but vigorous and vital market they represent, make them an endlessly surprising and rewarding territory to explore.”I’d swear I was more related to Javier Marias than I am to anyone in my own family. To be a writer is one thing, but to be a collector of books is a whole other level of madness reserved for a select group of “gently mad” individuals. Anyone who has ever been in my basement can attest to the evidence of the extent of my disease in the teetering stacks of books as well as the shelves and shelves of books that have been properly, alphabetically filed in bookcases. If I lived in the London area, I would have to subscribe to the Thomas De Quincey method of renting houses just for my books. You move to the next house when the present house becomes too full of books. If I ever get the chance to meet Marias, I’m sure the distinctive scent of book dust that is as heady to me as the smell of baking bread or brewing coffee will reveal his malady to me as readily as red spots on the skin reveal chickenpox to a physician.When he isn’t book hunting, our narrator is quite possibly rendezvousing with someone else’s wife or going to the local discotheque (this is the early ‘80s) to score with one of the “fat” girls who hang out there. They are girls that aren’t really slim, trim, and pretty enough to be a mistress or a girlfriend, but are reasonably attractive enough for sex. Even with casual sex, he is preoccupied with things beyond the act itself. ”It’s far less comprehensible than the fact of placing my cock, as I very soon will, inside her vagina, for--or so one hopes--there will have been nothing else in her vagina in the last few hours whilst in her mouth there’s been chewing gum and gin and tonic and ice and cigarette smoke and peanuts and my tongue and laughter and also words that I did not listen to. (The mouth is always full, abundance itself.) Now she doesn’t drink or smoke or chew or laugh or speak, because my cock is in her mouth and that keeps it occupied, there’s no room for anything else. I don’t speak either, but I’m not occupied in doing anything, I’m thinking.”The Fat Bottom Girls are just a temporary diversion from an ongoing adulterous affair he has going with the wife of a colleague. Clare is on again off again as her married life and her life as a mother interfere with her afternoon delights with the writer from Spain. Because she is intelligent and educated, it is no surprise that she is more complicated than the girls from the discotheque. ”’You’re a fool,’ Clare said to me. ‘Fortunately you’re not my husband. You’re a fool with the mind of a detective, and being married to that kind of fool would make life impossible. That’s why you’ll never get married. A fool with the mind of a detective is an intelligent fool, a logical fool, the worst kind, because men’s logic, far from compensating for their foolishness, only duplicates it, triplicates it, makes it dangerous.’”Since the Spaniard is not married, Clare is taking all the risks, but he is more worried about getting caught than she is. He is the one that cocks an attentive ear for the bells of Oxford to determine if it is time for her to go. He places layers of subterfuge in their meetings that she finds to be amusingly childish. Another advantage to being single is that adultery is very cheap entertainment. Instead of the expense of hotels they can use his flat for their “dangerous liaisons.” No time or opportunity for wooing with expensive restaurants and bottles of bubbly. Eating out together is simply too dangerous. They can talk, and they can screw; anything much more than that puts everything at risk.The revelations and the details you will have to discover for yourself when you read this book. There is an interesting substory to the plot of this novel. This book was such a huge international hit that it actually changed Marias life in more ways than one. The poet John Gawsworth is a minor character in the book. He also happened to be the King of Redonda. When the current King of Redonda, Jon Wynne-Tyson, read this book, he abdicated the throne in favor of Javier Marias. Another reason why I need to meet Marias is that he is giving away Royal titles like Reeses Pieces at a Bingo Palace. The following has been copied from Wikipedia:Pedro Almodóvar (Duke of Trémula), António Lobo Antunes (Duke of Cocodrilos), John Ashbery (Duke of Convexo), Pierre Bourdieu (Duke of Desarraigo), William Boyd (Duke of Brazzaville), Michel Braudeau (Duke of Miranda), A. S. Byatt (Duchess of Morpho Eugenia), Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Duke of Tigres), Pietro Citati (Duke of Remonstranza), Francis Ford Coppola (Duke of Megalópolis), Agustín Díaz Yanes (Duke of Michelín), Roger Dobson (Duke of Bridaespuela), Frank Gehry (Duke of Nervión), Francis Haskell (Duke of Sommariva), Eduardo Mendoza (Duke of Isla Larga), Ian Michael (Duke of Bernal), Orhan Pamuk (Duke of Colores), Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Duke of Corso), Francisco Rico (Duke of Parezzo), Sir Peter Russell (Duke of Plazatoro), Fernando Savater (Duke of Caronte), W. G. Sebald (Duke of Vértigo), Jonathan Coe (Duke of Prunes), Luis Antonio de Villena (Duke of Malmundo), and Juan Villoro (Duke of Nochevieja).In addition, Marías created a literary prize, to be judged by the dukes and duchesses. In addition to prize money, the winner receives a duchy. Winners: 2001 – John Maxwell Coetzee (Duke of Deshonra); 2002 – John H. Elliott (Duke of Simancas); 2003 – Claudio Magris (Duke of Segunda Mano); 2004 – Eric Rohmer (Duke of Olalla); 2005 – Alice Munro (Duchess of Ontario); 2006 – Ray Bradbury (Duke of Diente de León); 2007 – George Steiner (Duke of Girona); 2008 – Umberto Eco (Duke of la Isla del Día de Antes); 2009 – Marc Fumaroli (Duke of Houyhnhnms)I adore lots of writers, but probably no writer has vaulted so quickly to my top ten favorite writers of all times list than Javier Marias. His musings about the smallest details, which all impact the larger picture in sometimes subtle, but also in critical, ways is like putting my own eyes in his head. He is a thoughtful, philosopher of literature whom I sometimes swear is a conjurer of the thoughts of least of my thoughts. My next Marais will be Dark Back of Time where he discusses what he calls a “false novel,” the impact of All Souls on his career and life. A Highly Recommended Writer!!Here is my review of A Heart So White also by Javier Marias.If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at: or you can catch some of my reviews on

  • BlackOxford
    2019-03-23 12:28

    The Uses of AbsurdityAll Souls College is a real place. At least I think it's a real place. It might be a film set. Like most Oxford people I have never been inside it. I know it has no students, only fellows. And I know that Hillaire Belloc was refused such a fellowship, probably because of his fetishistic Catholicism. Oh, and it has a library, The Codrington, which is particularly known for is history collection. And that's it.In fact, Marias's All Souls has relatively little to do with All Souls College, but with an issue contained in many of its ancient volumes. The problem of 'other minds' is a perennial flower in the philosophical garden, one of particular importance ever since that awkward Frenchman Rene Descartes threw his tuppence of fertiliser into it in the 17th century. His 'I think therefore I am' notably lacks a way to get to 'You think too, and therefore are as well.' Philosophy has moved on from Descartes's solipsistic world, but not very far. As one of Marias's characters confides to his diary, "Life is still so medieval." We may be fairly certain that other people do think. But finding out what they think is something else. This sort of functional solipsism, virtually total uncertainty about what's actually going on in other people's heads, is what All Souls is about. It's not unlike Oxford and All Souls College really: we know it’s there but what goes on is a mystery better left alone.This condition is fundamental to the structure of our world. From international politics to sexual politics, it dominates our lives. As Marias's unnamed protagonist sums it up: "Family resemblances notwithstanding, no man has ever known for certain that he was the father of his children. Between married couples, neither partner answers questions they don't want to answer, and so they ask each other very few." The porter at the Taylorian who lives in a different year every day, of which year no one else is entirely certain, serves as a theme for the entire book.Other minds are mysterious, but the behaviour of others is more obvious and often just comical. Anyone who has read C. P. Snow's The Masters, or Tom Sharpe's Porterhouse Blue or even Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited knows that the manners and rituals of Oxbridge life are not just quaint remnants of outmoded tradition but also serious rules for distinguishing 'members' from others and for keeping these others permanently off-balance. Marias's wonderful vignettes of college servants, donnish types, classes, tutorials, and dinners at high table shows another reason for the persistence of Oxford rituals: they compensate for the impenetrability of other minds by providing a definiteness to social interaction. This is why they are often so hilarious. Otherwise detestable people can be accommodated with a fluidity and ease that is probably rare even in the best of foreign embassies. Raised voices, much less fist fights rarely break out even among sworn adversaries.There is a one word description that I think captures Marias's brilliance in coupling a philosophical problem with an essentially comedic situation: absurd. One example: The fellows of All Souls College, atheists though they may largely be, are required to attend periodic services for the repose of the eternal souls of their benefactors. Wonderfully, divinely absurd one might say. All Souls is a fiction of the absurd told with a straight face. Not a small achievement.

  • Ian
    2019-04-04 12:27

    A Spaniard in the WorksI suppose you could say that not a lot happens in “All Souls”, but that would only be true if you don’t count looking, thinking, loving, remembering, even being:"Oxford is a city in syrup, where simply being is far more important than doing or even acting."Marias uses first person narration to tell his story, and for 210 pages I was firmly ensconced in the mind of this ostensibly charming man and lover, referred to (only once) as "the Spaniard".The closest analogies I can think of are Virginia Woolf’s "Mrs Dalloway" and Graham Greene's "The End of the Affair", although at one point I wondered about parallels with the works of Italo Calvino. This novel deserves a place high in this class of literature. Stream of ConsciencelessnessIt has almost become a cliché to refer to “stream of consciousness” in literary criticism, as if it is one easily identifiable practice. However, there is not one stream, but many, and they can be of different shapes and sizes.If "Mrs Dalloway" was a river that flowed inexorably from planning to party over the course of 24 hours, "All Souls" moves with the same intent, but covers a longer timespan. It is a recollection of what happens at an emotional level during a two year period while the narrator teaches translation in "that inhospitable city", Oxford.The adulterous affair failed to eventuate during the interval of "Mrs Dalloway". However, it supplies the framework for "All Souls", although it is by no means the sole focus of the novel.Just as Woolf didn’t seem to make any moral judgement of Clarissa, Marias doesn’t condemn the Spaniard or the object of his illicit desire, Clare (note the likeness of the first names of the protagonists). His version of stream of consciousness is less a stream of conscience than a stream of consciencelessness.We are hot wired into the narrator's libido via the thought processing of his ego, almost in circumvention of his superego. If You Don't Get Caught, Then Steal It AllWhile the affair is adulterous, only Clare Bayes breaks her marriage vows. The Spaniard is single at the time. Marias uses the word "usufruct" to describe the relationship. This is a term of Roman law that describes the distinction between ownership and use of (or benefit from) property.To the extent that a wife can be considered the property of a husband (which is an unfortunate condition of the metaphor), it suggests the possibility that the husband might "own" the tree that is the wife, but another man (or woman) might enjoy the fruit of the tree.The conjugal rights of the husband are compromised by the fructal rights of the rival suitor.This metaphor describes the relationship between the Spaniard and Clare’s husband. However, ultimately it is almost irrelevant to the principal concerns of the novel. What matters is the internal honesty and sincerity of the relationship between the two lovers.Somebody to LoveClare needs the Spaniard as much as he needs her. The Spaniard is looking for someone to love while he’s in Oxford: "This is just a stopping-off point for me but I’ll be stopping long enough to make it worth my while finding what people call 'someone to love'."Clare is looking for something more than what she has already via her marriage. There is never any suggestion that she will leave her husband or her son. The Spaniard must take Clare as she comes.Thus, it is inevitable that their relationship will be defined by the period our European traveller is stationed at All Souls College. In Clare’s eyes, the Spaniard would be a fool, if he didn’t accept his function and simply enjoy the relationship within its geographical and temporal constraints."All Souls" could almost be "Mrs Dalloway", reconceived from a male point of view, but with Clarissa/Clare in control.Doing a Post-Modern DanceThe novel uses a stream of consciousness technique to some extent. However, in reality, every sentence is perfectly composed, which makes for a fast, enjoyable reading experience.Nevertheless, Marias does play with both time and space.There is no linear narrative. It jumps all over the place. Insofar as its focus is Clare, it follows the eye, as if Marias had taken a photograph or painted a picture of her, and his description was simply following his eye as it moved around the image.Furtive Eavesdropping by and on the NarratorIn this respect, the mechanism of the novel depends on the narrator’s look, his view, his gaze, and what this reveals about his desire.Marias doesn't shy away from the indiscreet, the secret, the furtive. It is all revealed.Because the novel is a first person narrative, there is a lot of thinking (albeit relatively little "action"). Thus, one of its concerns is the relationship between thinking, looking and desire:"[Apart from Clare herself], the more I desire women the less prepared I am to think about them, I desire them without thinking about them at all...and I don’t know if that’s indicative of anything…apart from my general state of disequilibrium."Dislocation DanceThe novel is to some extent a fish out of water story. The Spaniard is outside his comfort zone:"Having always been in the world (having spent my life in the world), I suddenly found myself outside it, as if I’d been transplanted into another element..."Whereas at home he was a local, now he is a foreigner, an alien. He is an unknown quantity. He can’t be trusted and he can’t trust anybody else. Without witnesses (i.e., someone who has looked at him, observed, witnessed and authenticated him), he can have no provenance:"I’m a foreigner about whom no one knows or cares…That’s what really troubles me, leaving the world behind and having no previous existence in this world, there being no witness here to my continuity, to the fact that I haven’t always swum in this water."What is required to "fit in", to be "like" everybody else? Marias draws an analogy with Marco Polo staying in China for long enough to effectively become a "blue-eyed Chinaman".Paradoxically, it’s this geographical dislocation that allows the Spaniard to be liberated from his past and from future expectations in a temporal and moral sense.Temporal VertigoThe Spaniard’s time in Oxford is always defined. He has only two years before he has to leave. He knows this, as does Clare. Yet it is Clare who liberates him from the constraints of time, by virtue of her carefree approach to temporal demands.I love Marias’ description of her just lying around casually, languidly in bed:"She would lie on my bed or her bed or on a hotel bed and smoke and talk for hours, always with her skirt still on, but pulled up to reveal her thighs, the dark upper part of her tights or just her bare skin. "She was not circumspect in her gestures, often scorching them with the cigarette she waved around with an abandon uncommon in England (and learned perhaps in the southern lands of her childhood), a gesture accompanied by the tinkling of various bracelets adorning her forearms, bracelets she sometimes neglected to take off (it was little wonder that sometimes real sparks flew from them). "Everything about her was expansive, excessive, excitable; she was one of those beings not made for time, for whom the very notion of time and its passing is a grievance, and one of those beings in need of a constant supply of fragments of eternity or, to put it another way, of a bottomless well of detail with which to fill time to the brim."What could compose and relax a man more than to be propped up on a pillow next to this woman?An Erotic Corollary to Parkinson's LawStill, what Clare seems to do is to disregard time, so much so that she seems to expand to fill the time available. While she is alive, time is of no concern, there is only her and what she is doing in that time.Her response to the demands of time is to be “careless and frivolous and smiling and forgetful..."In her arms, time and pleasure perpetuates into infinity and eternity:"That night we were free to eternalize the contents of our time, or enjoy the illusion that we did so, and that’s why there was no hurry..."Verbal InventionWhen we first meet the Spaniard, he is flirtatious and playful and inventive, almost Nabokovian, in the way he fabricates meanings for words that don’t exist or that deserve a better meaning:"My crazy etymologies were no more nonsensical, no less likely than the real ones...when true knowledge proves irrelevant, one is free to invent." So, his Spanish background having become irrelevant, he is free to improvise.This improvisation, of course, is in the nature of sexual flirtation as well.Glimpses and Snippets and SkirtsThis is when Marias’ prose becomes most enjoyable and lyrical and assonant (note the tinkles and winkles and glimpses and snippets and skirts), and most of it is directed at what the Spaniard sees and hears:"The consequent tinkle of fine crystal.""The whole of Oxford is fully and continuously engaged in concealing and suppressing itself whilst at the same time trying to winkle out as much information as possible about other people...""The tinkling of various bracelets." "Just the glimpse of bracelet""Snippets of her comments""I was too intent on observing the wary flappings of her skirt."Then there's his more overtly erotic observations:"Clare’s breasts combine their two colours very subtly, like the transition from apricot to hazel."The Spaniards eyes and ears take it all in. He processes what he sees and eroticises the "contents of our time" together. He assembles "fragments of eternity" in his mind. Then, by virtue of turning them into literature, like Proust and Nabokov, Marias "eternalises" them for our consumption and enjoyment.The Tale of a Blind Man Without a Seeing Eye CockLike most men, the Spaniard is driven by his libido, a joint venture between his eyes, his mind, his mouth, his ears and his penis.According to his own account, his eyes are vigilant and compassionate. What he sees, he thinks about. Some of what he thinks about, he talks about. Some of what he thinks and talks about, he desires. Unless he sees, unless he thinks, unless he talks, he cannot desire:"I can’t let myself have all this time at my disposal and not have someone to think about, because if I do that, if I think only about things rather than about another person, if I fail to live out my sojourn and my life here in conflict with another being or in expectation or anticipation of that, I’ll end up thinking about nothing, as bored by my surroundings as by any thoughts that might arise in me."At the heart of his desire is his vision, his sight, looking, watching, observing, witnessing, gazing.You can see the influence of Continental Philosophy on Marias’ fiction. However, he also brings a [vulgar male] sense of humor to the novel:"When I go to bed with Clare [I miss] that my cock has no eye, no vision, no gaze that can see as it approaches or enters her vagina."High Table Fidelity and Thoughtless InfidelityTwo libidos are at work here, and in view of Clare’s marital status, it involves an infidelity.Marias discusses infidelity in two contexts, one general and definitional, the other personal to the three people involved.Of fidelity and infidelity, Marias says:"Fidelity (the name given to the constancy and exclusivity with which one particular sex organ penetrates or is penetrated by another particular sex organ, or abstains from being penetrated by or penetrating others) is mainly the product of habit, as is its so-called opposite, infidelity (the name given to inconstancy and change, and the enjoyment of more than one sex organ.)"This discussion is almost wholly genital and masculine in orientation (for all its attempt to be reciprocal in terms of penetrating or being penetrated, I wonder how women relate to this genital analysis?).Only a Fool Would Say ThatOn the other hand, Marias presents the relationship between the Spaniard and Clare (from her point of view) in terms of the relative ability of the two males in her life to deal with real physical and emotional demands, regardless of intellectual and moral considerations:"You’re a fool. Fortunately, though, you’re not my husband. You’re a fool with the mind of a detective, and being married to that kind of fool would make life impossible. "That’s why you will never get married. A fool with the mind of a detective is an intelligent fool, a logical fool, the worst kind, because men’s logic, far from compensating for their foolishness, only duplicates it, triplicates it, makes it dangerous. "Ted’s brand of foolishness isn’t dangerous and that’s why I can live with him. He just takes it for granted, you don’t yet. You’re such a fool that you still believe in the possibility of not being one. You still struggle. He doesn’t."Perhaps our ability to think, to reason, to intellectualise, particularly in the academic context of Oxford, blinds us to the reality that, as Clare continues, "we are all fools". Save What You CanSo it is that Clare, who has the greatest ability of the protagonists to deal with the relative vagaries of space and time, is able to dictate (it must be wrong to say "rationalise"?) the basis upon which she deals with the men in her life.While the narrator is a male, this is very much a tale where the female is in control.However, given that the novel was written by a male, there must be a lingering question as to whether Clare is just a figment of a libidinous male’s imagination.I can only say that, as a male, I found the novel thoughtful, intelligent, insightful, eloquent, poignant, playful, erotic and funny.SOUNDTRACK:The Triffids – "Save What You Can""Time is against us, even love conspires to disgrace usAnd with things being what they are ...Yes and things being what they areOh my friend, we used to walk in the flamesNow somebody's taken my armsThe shadows are taller. You're missing your haloWith your face in the half-light, you look like a strangerYou made me catch my breath just thenYou made me catch my breathIs that you... is that still you?If you cannot run, then crawlIf you can leave, then leave it allIf you don't get caught, then steal it allIf you don't get caught, then steal it allSteal it allThe final time we touchI watch as you enter the churchYou turn and you wave, then you kneel and you prayAnd you save of yourself what you can saveIf you cannot run, then crawlIf you can leave, then leave it allIf you don't get caught, then steal it allIf you don't get caught, then steal it allSteal it allAnd between ourselves, and the end at hand,Save what you can"David McComb: "I Want To Conquer You""We have so little timeAnd we have so many pains,These days it's frighteningMy dear how swiftly love wanes."Angie Hart: "I Want To Conquer You" Triffids – "A Trick Of The Light" McComb – "Setting You Free" Blackeyed Susans – "Ocean Of You" Blackeyed Susans – "Every Gentle Soul" (from the album "All Souls Alive")"Every gentle soul that passes me byI have to close my eyesAnd hope their gentle smile survivesHope that their footsteps don't follow mineThere ought to be a lawThere should be a placeThat they can send you toTo take my mind off your face."The Triffids - "The Seabirds" Mutton Birds – "Anchor Me" Airplane - "Somebody to Love" (Live 1969, with David Crosby) Minds – "Theme For Great Cities"

  • Mike Puma
    2019-03-27 17:25

    Sometimes you know from the very first words in a novel: I’m gonna’ like where this takes me. Now, as I start All Souls (and this review), I’ve read over 1600 pages penned by Marías, and he never fails to catch me up immediately and run with me. In this novel’s case, by the narrator’s distancing of himself from the character he was at the time of the events he’s yet to reveal. An unnamed Spanish professor at Oxford teaching contemporary Spanish literature and translation (during the classes for which he lies outrageously to his students about the meanings and etymologies of obscure Spanish words) recounts his experiences at the university, the true natures of the faculty, and his affair with the wife of another faculty member. His account of high tables, the dinner where he meets his future lover, is Marías operating at the most comic level I’ve yet seen in his work. Amid the formality of high tables’ etiquette, which in this case degenerates rather quickly due, in part. to the drunken lechery of the Warden [he who officiates at said dinner], Marías glides effortlessly from the rendering of the evening’s havoc to a characteristic passage of great beauty:It’s getting close to the girl’s bedtime, but before she goes one more train must pass, just one more, because the fresh image of the passing train and of the river illuminated by its windows (the men on the barge look up at it and grow dizzy) helps her to go to sleep and come to terms with the idea of spending another day in a city to which she does not belong and which she will only perceive as hers once she has left it and when her only chance to recall it out loud will be with her son or her lover.The description is that of the narrator considering, not only the childhood of his soon-to-be lover and her earliest years spent in India or Egypt, but also the evaluative looks the two share over the course of the dinner; one of those passages which seems to say everything, and then ultimately says even more.The high tables debacle briefly mentions the attendance of one Toby Rylands, a character who plays a significant role in the Your Face Tomorrow sequence and leads me to assume the narrator of that sequence is the narrator of this book (I could verify that, I suppose, but I’m too lazy, think it doesn’t really matter, and would rather readers of this review read those novels as well—having read further now, it seems apparent the narrator of this and YFT are in fact the same man, he goes unnamed in this novel).At turns reflective, comic, then poignant, this is the one I wish I’d started my Marías odyssey with—characters pop in and out of subsequent novels, playing large roles in one and minor roles in the next—weaving stories back on themselves and other stories—for fans of The Sea Came in at Midnight, the works of Marías operate on a larger, if not epic scale. This one leaves me psyched for Dark Back of Time, a novel in which the Real members of the Oxford community during the narrator’s (Marías’ ?) stay there react to their portrayal in this novel. Called a ‘false novel’ by its creator (odd itself, in that, the characters of that novel are supposed to be the real Oxfordians, promises to be equally compelling.

  • Ben Winch
    2019-03-24 12:22

    Strangely, I'm not exactly sure what I thought of this one. I mean, I liked it. I didn't love it though, except in places: the opening (the ancient porter who, memory ravaged, imagines himself in a different decade every morning); the hilarious 'High Table' dinner scene (in which I could almost imagine a half a boiled egg shooting from the throats of one of the Dons and lodging itself in the prominent cleavage of Claire Bayes (which I couldn't help reading as Claire Danes)); even, perhaps, the ending (kind of satisfying, kind of magical, kind of circular, feeding back into the body of the book and casting much of it in a new light). And Marias's use of language is, at times, flat out brilliant. But at times, and despite that he didn't come across (like so many 'virtuosic' writers) as a megalomaniac, I got the feeling he was skating on thin ice – a little too close to the precipice of self-caricature or just plain lack of inspiration, playing for time too transparently as he tried to conjure the next of his clause- and parenthesis-glutted sentences. An example:I saw the child Eric, Claire's son, only once and that was when the days of his unexpected stay in Oxford were coming to an end and my emotional instability was at its height (for if you have already been deprived of something for some time or – its real duration being of little importance – have experienced it as having gone on for a long time, as perhaps being endless, the fact that an end to it is now in sight pales into insignificance beside the continuing fact of your deprivation; I mean that the mere juxtaposition of these two things is not in itself enough for you to perceive as being at an end something which, though about to end, is still not over, and what prevails is the fear that by some ill luck – by some misfortune, the opposite of what you have foreseen – that long-accumulated, patient present might yet go on forever: you experience not relief but anxiety and feel only distrust for the future.)Now I don't know about you, but I feel as if I'd pretty much grasped what he was saying by halfway through that sentence, and that everything after 'I mean that the mere juxtaposition...' was just flash and fizzle, more about maintaining the elaborate rhythm than transmitting any meaning or illumination. To me that sentence sums up the best and worst of Javier Marias. Perhaps because I haven't read a bunch of other sentences like it recently, looking at it now I have to admit it frustrates me less than when I originally read it (and I let the book sit before writing this review for just that reason, to see if it would settle and become more satisfying, less frustrating, in retrospect). And of course there's the chance that Margaret Jull Costa's otherwise excellent translation has struggled here: that phrase 'the juxtaposition of these two things is not in itself enough for you to perceive as being at an end' is almost like some tongue-twister out of a scientific journal or owner's manual, and may well have been hell to transpose. But still, by halfway through All Souls I did start to wonder how much of this was just playing for time. By comparison, fellow Spaniard Javier Cercas uses a similar prose style in The Soldiers of Salamis, but his serpentine sentences, though at times seeming less proficiently rendered than Marias's, often left me with with a feeling I'd been kicked or struck with a whip – or bitten, to continue the serpent analogy. I winced. I gasped. He seemed to really be saying something. Now maybe it's just that my and Marias's temperaments don't knit so well, or maybe it's that I need to read more of him to put into a broader context this thin slice of his ouvre, but for now the jury's out. I can't in all conscience say I love him like Cercas or Bolano, even though Marias may well have pioneered the style that the other two use so successfully. To be fair, I've had this sense that Marias might not be 'my people' from the first time I noticed him back in the nineties – when A Heart So White propelled him to fame. Why not? Try this:'I have my cock in her mouth,' I thought at a certain point... 'I have my cock in her mouth or rather she has her mouth round my cock, since it is her mouth that sought it out. I have my cock in her mouth,' I thought, 'and it isn't like other times, all those other times in recent months. As I noticed the first time I kissed her, Muriel's mouth is absorbent but not as spacious or liquid as Claire's mouth. It lacks saliva and space. She has nice lips but they're a bit thin and immobile or, rather, not immobile exactly (for they're not, I'm aware of them moving) but lacking in flexibility, rigid... While I have my cock in her mouth I can see her breasts, they are large and white with very dark nipples... her breasts are soft, like new Plasticine... I used to play with Plasticine a lot... It's incomprehensible to me that I should have my cock in her mouth...' And so on and so forth. It's a one-night stand he's describing, granted. Probably it was never going to be scintillating. But why linger on it for so long? To me, it's just more playing for time. Add that to the long essayistic paragraph which accompanies it – 'When, over a period of time, one has become used to one mouth, other mouths seem incongruous, and present one with all kinds of difficulties,' etc, etc – and I guess I have to wonder if Marias is just some kind of a boffin. Zero punk rock in that passage, that's for damn sure, which I'm aware must sound like a pretty unintelligent criticism. But maybe it goes some way to explaining why he and I may never quite gel. A high three.

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-04-19 17:20

    Beautifully written. The plot is thin but Marias' prose managed to make this very engaging. I particularly liked the way he interjected the thoughts going on inside his characters' minds. I've seen this technique in many other great works the last being Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies (5 stars). However, that book has a thick and historical plot so that is its advantage. This book, All Souls has only an illicit affair on Oxford (yes, that famous school for the rich and brainy kids) hallowed ground and rooms and anywhere the lovers - the narrator and Clare - find themselves alone.This also has a fresh approach to adultery. The doomed relationship is not dramatic as Romeo-Juliet or Anna Karenina-Alexie Vronsky. In fact, most of the time, Clare is cold and stiff in dealing with her lover and it looks like, particularly at the beginning, that she is just after sex. The setting of the story being the Oxford brought back the memories of watching Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw in the 1970 hit movie, Love Story (3 stars). However, the setting being that of another prestigious school, is the only similarity between the two. This book is neither mushy nor tearjerker. It is also not a soft porn or a romance.I know that I am not making a lot of sense by describing a book by saying what it is not rather that what it is. Just take this from me: this is my first Marias book and I was in awe reading how great he intricately puts his words together. There are many good reviews already written here on Goodreads like those of my brother's and my friend Mike's. This is my first time to ride on other people's reviews but I think they both expressed perfectly what I wanted to say.Thank you, Javier Marias, for your very nice book. Makes me what to ask myself why I am not having an extra-marital affair when it could be this "beautiful" LOL.

  • Lee
    2019-04-17 15:09

    Narrative voice and structure for the win. Loved the opening with the Oxford doorman suggestive of the transmigration of souls -- it introduces an almost magical hefty levity and looseness to the proceedings, which move along unexpectedly, smoothly, Sebaldianly, sort of, with language infused by Nabokov and even a sniff of the Shakespearean stylings of some Philip Roth ("in exile from the infinite" etc). Margaret Jull Costa's translation conveys all this wonderfully and I'm sure matches or maybe even improves the original Spanish. Sly, sophisticated, informed, observant, associative, digressive, yet also a little bawdy. Loved how Banville's introduction (read it after finishing the novel) didn't mention the sexy-time section with "the fat tart." The sort of open structure that lets its associations breathe. Loved the rare book hunting, the murderous booksellers (the very lightly foreboding/threatening sense throughout), the high table talk with the boring economist, all the not really all that many episodes, concluding with Clare's tragic story that may or may not relate to a forgotten writer once friends with Dylan Thomas and Lawrence Durrell. Docked a star in part because the ending seemed too set on summary. It could've done anything but just sort of seemed to return to various themes and phrases. Just started the sequel ("Dark Back of Time") and will most likely read the other two novels of his I own ("A Heart So White" and "Tomorrow in the Battle . . . ") before the fall. For ten or 12 years I've been storing up Javier Marias books for some later date that seems like it's finally arrived.

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-04-08 17:29

    I like to take recommendations from friends, read their favourite authors, then prove them illiterate schlemiels by showing how much better Gilbert Sorrentino and Lucy Ellmann are at writing things. Then I laugh at them. Hahahaha, I go. You FOOLS! Hahahahaha. OK, no I don’t. On this occasion, Mike’s recommendation was valorous and astute.He was absolutely right in saying Marías is the middle point between Bolaño and Sebald (or words to that effect). Combining the long unspooling sentences of the big Bolaño books, and the meandering metaphysics found in Sebald, Marías has written a unique, maddening and hilarious book at the classiest end of so-called lit-fic.The narrator is a haughty Spanish don visiting at Oxford who gets tangled in an affair with a co-academic. OK, that sounds intolerable, but honestly, like On Beauty, it’s really quite beautiful. Marías favours laborious passages of lyrical musing and old-time wit, often straying into Henry James territory with the ponderousnessness of it all, but it’s mainly exquisite. Here’s Mike’s review. Let him take over.

  • Jonfaith
    2019-04-04 17:18

    Periodically I am asked if I've been to Oxford. I glibly reply, yes, I've been to both. Perhaps my first sentence is an overstatement, but i have offered my response a few times in my life and mean it. I don't consider Square Books and Rowan Oak to be tantamount to the learned city on the Isis, but the southern locale is a cultural hub. My wife and i last went to Oxford, on the Thames, a few winters ago. It was a delightful cold and wet day. Our minds were occupied with Inspector Lewis and second-hand books rather than discerning the vapor trails of Senor Marias. I loved All Souls for its discretion. It struggles to find a pragmatic middle path in life. That said it didn't lose itself in serpentine digressions. Perhaps here, I am looking at you Your Face Tomorrow: Fever and Spear / Dance and Dream / Poison, Shadow, and FarewellIt was intriguing to note the number of observations in All Souls which resurface in YFT: the thesis on cider tax and the booksellers' distinction of Richard Francis Burton (Captain Burton for those inclined) were but a few. Alas, contrary to the novel, we didn't discover any intrigue, only wonderful Lebanese food and a knapsack stuffed w/ books from the tented stalls.

  • Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
    2019-03-29 14:26

    The plot is sparse: the narrator is a visiting Spanish lecturer in Oxford, a bachelor (good looks hinted), he mingles with the people there, those quirky dons, and--for a Spaniard like him-- experiences those strange English mannerisms and customs. He starts an affair with a pretty, but married (to a fellow professor) tutor. But this is no withering, whimpering love story. The two occasionally meet some place basically just to fuck. And mostly talk. So this is no porn. It's not in the fucking or the sucking (although Marias has thoughts while his cock is being sucked) but in the thinking.Marias, master of asides, adorns his barest of plots with his surprisingly fresh, novel, incisive and brilliant introspective ruminations on practically everything. Carefully-crafted mini-essays about whatever comes to his or his characters' minds. Some didactic and serious, some nostalgic, some funny set pieces worthy of a laugh even during wakes or funerals (goodreads people read even there). If the reader does not control himself, he'll end up copying these and pasting them in his liked quotes here. I was able to resist this temptation only because they are so many and each of them as outstanding as the other.Alright, so then is this just a barren skeleton of an old Christmas tree where the author hanged his varied thoughts to create a semblance of a novel? No. There is a surprising denouement waiting for the reader towards the end which, for me, completely changes the mood of the novel.Loved it.

  • Carmo
    2019-03-20 12:18

    António Lobo Antunes, admirador convicto de Javier Marías, escreveu o prefácio deste livro e nele enumerou todas as qualidades da escrita deste autor.Não vos maço com a minha opinião, até porque não há mais nada a dizer e, certamente, não faria melhor.Quanto à história do livro…não há grande história. Escrito em forma de relato autobiográfico, revela-nos um pouco da vida de um professor de Espanhol colocado em Oxford por um breve período de tempo. As personagens não são muitas nem muito aprofundadas. O que nos é dado conhecer, são pequenos acontecimentos do dia-a-dia, as interações entre colegas, as relações mais ou menos ilícitas, conflitos familiares, no fundo nada de anormal. O “mistério” está na forma tão típica do autor, de contar as coisas mais banais e fazer delas tema de reflexão.Para um autor mais “despachado” seriam episódios para 2/3 páginas, Javier Marías fá-lo em 12 ou 13 numa linguagem elaborada, encadeada em longas frases, fazendo constantes desvios, abrindo e fechando parênteses 2 ou 3 vezes dentro do mesmo raciocínio. Nem sempre é de fácil compreensão, mas há que reconhecer-lhe a genialidade da retórica e o sentido de humor discreto e inteligente.Não gostei de todos os capítulos (dá mais ou menos para separar a obra desta maneira), houve mesmo alguns que li na diagonal, por achar que aquela personagem não apresentava nada de relevante para a história, mas outros houve que achei divinais.Destaco dois divertidos, mas houve outros que me tocaram por razões mais sérias. -Um jantar na universidade com todos os salamaleques devidos à rígida etiqueta, e que seria sacrilégio não respeitar. Mas qual é a etiqueta que resiste a doses colossais de soro etílico?Quando o maior e mais respeitável “figurão” do grupo, faz uma “figurinha”, completamente embriagado e embasbacado pelo decote de uma das professoras é o descalabro. -Uma aventura notívaga do nosso narrador, em que passa o tempo a estabelecer comparações entre a performance e os atributos físicos da mulher que conheceu casualmente e estava disposta pra coisa, e ele, claro, macho que é macho não refuga - como dizia lá atrás, passa o tempo a fazer uma exaustiva análise racional e técnica, marcada pela distância que existe entre duas pessoas que se enrolam por valdelençois, mas sem envolvimento emocional.Resumidamente, o livro é uma viagem ao fundo da alma de cada personagem. As minudências de cada um compõem a sua essência, o seu íntimo, a sua postura perante a vida e as suas opções: as que assumem, as que revelam a uns poucos merecedores da sua confiança, e as que calam no seu interior.

  • M. Sarki
    2019-04-06 14:06

    Reading All Souls was like an easy stroll through Central Park, in no hurry, and mindful of all my surroundings. It was a sleepy tale for me and one that took longer than anticipated as I cared little for it to end and had no stake in if it continued. However, the relaxed pace of the writing of Javier Marías and the sophistication he brings to the page is quite delightful. It is similar to sitting in a professor's comfortable library listening to a respected teacher tell a story. It is difficult to grade a book such as this one. If I were on a vacation somewhere, in a lounge chair on the beach, and if my reading of late had not been so intensely violent and bloodthirsty, then perhaps I would have had a different experience with this book. But in my case, in real time, the book was too slow for me and I never got past the staleness I felt throughout most of it except for the bookshop segment and the narrator's thoughts on having a child. I also throughly enjoyed Clare's explanation near the end of the book and her story regarding her mother and why these two adulterous lovers would not be continuing on in their relationship because of it. Hard for me to punish Javier with a poor rating when it was only I who was elsewhere while reading the text. He is a very fine writer and I look forward to reading more of his work in the very near future.

  • Stephen P
    2019-04-16 15:20

    Welcome to the journey.Marias spins us through time and isolation written in aquiline precise prose. The master of black comedy, his humor throughout much of the novel is tinged with a palpable sadness.The novel opens with the narrator telling us that while at Oxford two of his colleagues died but that he is no longer the same person who taught there for two years. Entering his building each morning he passes the ninety year old porter, Will, who due to some unnamed form of dementia lives in different eras each day, shifting back and forth, seeing the people who he waves a good morning to as those of that past time, the past that has now for that day become his present. The present for our first person narrator includes an affair with the beautiful Clare that is not only limited by his two year lectureship and need to return to Madrid but also defines its character and possibilities. The novel is permeated with a sad smile at life fixed and limited in time. The presentiment of aging, ill health, death weights time as a motif through the novel absenting the present not only for the aging but some of the young as well, on their downward tread.Oxford also is stymied rather than being the venerable institution of high discourse and the seeking of further and greater knowledge. It is a place of vapid stasis, stuck in time and space. Their lectures, "... would have been or would be conducted in the most absolute calm and tranquility, since classes were part of being, not doing or acting." The interactions of faculty were prescribed by never revealing emotions or any information about themselves. Their entertainment circles around gossip about each other, real or fictionalized. In the best of black comedy Marias tells of, high table dining, the faculty and administration are condemned to. Silently scoffing students are seated below. The meal is highly structured with each person at high table forced to talk for a specific number of minutes to the person on the right then when signaled to the person on the left. The narrator there as everywhere in this static campus feels unease and loneliness, out of sync with others who had chosen or all too willing adapted to living a confined life. "For the inhabitants of Oxford are not in the world and when they do sally forth into the world (to London, for example) that in itself is enough to have them gasping for air; their ears buzz, they lose their sense of balance, they stumble and have to come scurrying back to the town that makes their existence possible, that contains them, where they do not exist in time."Reading this novel for me was a delight due to the fineness of his prose and darkly comedic exposition of his theme. Where I felt he stumbled was his shifts of time which were harsh and at times threw me outside of the narrative's dream. I read this in conjunction with McElroy's, Night Soul and Other Stories, as a needed occasional break. McElroy made his shifts in time jarring yet fitting into a purposefulness which rendered it as a part of the overall work. Some of Marias' shifts called attention to themselves and thus became disruptive. The ending felt forced, contrived. I am completely open that on a second reading I might see what I missed and how this fit seamlessly with his tenured preoccupations with the difficulty of living within time, space. Also as I become a better reader it may become clearer.These were small stumbles and easily diminished by the overall polish and flow of the writing. I imagined him, a magic cloth held in hand buffingeach word, sentence, paragraph, idea to a polished gleam. I am on soon to his, Dark Back Of Time, and to rereading, All Souls when the next time is right.

  • jeremy
    2019-04-02 14:04

    the first of the soon eventually-to-be-crowned nobel laureate's works to be translated into english (being his sixth novel overall), all souls (todas las almas) is the tale of an unnamed professor tapped to teach spanish lit at oxford university for a two-year assignment (where marías himself assumed a post of similar duration). the lecturer/narrator soon finds himself entangled in an affair with a married colleague, for whom he pines and reservedly distracts himself from during her imposed absence. marías's novel, at times quite funny, takes aim at the ridiculousness of the collegiate milieu, marked as it is by a shared love of gossip, the outdoing of one another, and often a pettiness that one would expect more from the students rather than those charged with their higher education. perhaps most notably, all souls concerns itself with the vagaries and constancies of relationships - romantic, professorial, friendly, and familiar."what an idiot," i thought, "why can't i think about something more fruitful, more interesting? relationships with those with whom we have no blood ties never are; the possible variety of paths such a relationship can take are minimal, the surprises all fake, the different stages mere formalities, it's all so infantile: the approaches, the consummations, the estrangements; the fulfillment, the battles, the doubts; the certainties, the jealousies, the abandonment and the laughter; it wears you out even before it's begun."like in so many of marías's stories, there is little action to speak of, with a narrative instead focused on the nature of life, the passing of time, and the introspective tendencies afforded his characters. musings on academia and the many irreconcilabilities of love pepper the pages, imparted via the author's characteristically distinctive prose. all souls, free from answers that all serious authors know better than to offer indelibly, is a mere fictive reflection (however autobiographically inspired) of the hopes, dreams, fears, and disappointments - often unspoken - that inevitably accompany life."knowing that some time one will have to give up everything, whatever that everything is, that's what's unbearable, for everyone, it's all we've ever known, all we've ever been used to. i can understand someone who regrets dying simply because they won't be able to read their favourite author's next book, or see a new film starring an actress they admire, or drink another glass of beer, or do today's crossword, or continue to follow a particular television series, or because they won't know who won this yea's fa cup. i can understand that perfectly well. it isn't only that anything might still happen, some unimaginable piece of news, a sudden turn-around in events, the most extraordinary experiences, discoveries, the world turned upside down... the other side of time, its dark back. it's also because so many things hold us here."*translated from the spanish by the great margaret jull costa (saramago, pessoa, eça de queirós, coelho, et al.)

  • Guillermo Jiménez
    2019-04-10 17:27

    Me he propuesto escribir sobre lo que leo, porque de alguna manera es una forma en la que me obligo a escribir. Es algo que hago, pero al mismo tiempo no. Según yo, tampoco me muevo mucho, ni viajo, y de un tiempo para acá siento que no he dejado de moverme. Y, cuando lo he hecho, he decidido que sea Marías quien me acompañe y me guíe y me de algo de paz y sosiego en el mar turbulento que siento que se me ha vuelto el mundo hoy en día.Viajé a Bogotá con Corazón tan blanco, y elegí Todas las almas para el viaje que hicimos Rebeca y yo a varias ciudades del este americano: New York, Boston y DC; lo elijo porque sé cómo escribe, sé cómo pueden ser sus historias, cómo pueden ayudarme a sentir que me asgo a una tabla que me mantiene a flote.Lo leo porque antes de comenzar a leer, recuerdo que entraré en un universo que aunque titubee, estará bien escrito, estará bien narrado, utilizando uno de los mejores usos del español que alguien pueda imaginar, y de paso, habrá una gran historia, y unos personajes inolvidables, y unas escenas magníficas, como esta de Cromer-Blake que yace y ve la televisión, una ópera sin sonido con “un Falstaff que vociferaba mudo”. Exquisito.Un narrador nos lleva a recorrer su recuerdo de un par de años que pasó en Oxford como catedrático invitado. En una primera persona brutal, nos hace partícipe de sus opiniones en el momento y de las que recuerda y cómo las recuerda a su regreso a Madrid. Va y viene en el tiempo y en el recuerdo, y la narración fluye como solo pueden fluir los ríos constantes de la memoria, cabalgando a medio camino entre la ficción y la realidad, que es solo una invención más de nuestra mente.“Todo debe ser contado una vez al menos [...] en el momento justo y a veces nunca más si ese momento justo no se supo reconocer o se dejó pasar deliberadamente”. Y nuestro narrador nos cuenta, cuenta, en el momento que adivinamos justo, no antes ni después de dónde está en ese momento, ¿por qué lo hace? Lo ignoro, ¿por qué habrá llegado al momento en su vida en que de alguna manera comprendió a quien fue su amante en esa época? ¿Porque ahora sí se reconoce en la “sensación de descenso que todos los hombres sienten más pronto o más tarde”?Creo más bien que es lo último.Fue un gran momento reconocerme en los paseos del narrador por las librerías de viejo, aunque él enguanta sus manos, y coincido con comprender bien “a quien lamenta morirse solo porque no podrá leer el próximo libro de su autor favorito”. ¿Cuándo leyó papá esta novela? Recuerdo que me hablara de Negra espalda del tiempo, de la tarea del escritor y los enfrentamientos con aquellos que se sienten “sus” personajes. No lo son. Recuerdo los años, los meses en que esta barata edición de bolsillo descansaba en la mesa de noche de papá, lo recuerdo porque acostumbraba tomar la siesta en su cama, en su lado, en su lugar, y ponerme los audífonos de su discman y escuchar antes de quedar dormido lo que sea que estuviera escuchando, y ver los lomos de los libros que estaba leyendo o que esperaban ser leídos.Creo que Marías es mi Cortázar, mi Salgari, mi Conrad, quiero decir que es el autor de mi juventud aunque lo esté leyendo ya en mi edad adulta; es el escritor que me remonta a una época de vigor y de fuerza, envejecido a contratiempo, porque esa época ya fue. Las lecturas que marcaron a la generación de Marías, algo así como a Pérez-Reverte, o incluso a un Vargas Llosa (y aquí me refiero al encuentro que sostuvieron los 3 por el 50 aniversario de su editorial Alfaguara), son Salgari, Verne, entre otros. Autores que no leemos más los jóvenes. Autores que se perdieron y que solo rescatamos a través de lo que se cuele entre los textos de estos viejos.Escribe increíblemente bien este Marías. Deseo que le reste mucho tiempo de vida escribiendo, y que lo reciente de él (que aún no leo) siga siendo tan sólido como esta novela.

  • Becky
    2019-03-26 17:12

    Having spent three years in Oxford, I've been eagerly looking forward to reading All Souls since I picked it up in a second hand about a year ago. Heralded as a great Oxford novel, and witty to boot, it sounded pretty enticing.What a disappointment it was. For Oxford, all the cliched bases are covered, but to be honest, the City really seems like a bystander. There's none of the inspiration, none of the light. Just drunk wardens, pompous gay tutors, and cheap girls in the local clubs where academics like to "rough it." The real star of this story (yawn), is yet another man (young this time, not the usual middle age), trying to find his place in life, and seeking solace in the arms of a one dimensional temptress of a lover. Troubled past, yawn, nice boobs, yawn, hotels in Reading, err, what?I found this boring and dull and very much lacking in wit. Bah.

  • Justin Evans
    2019-03-24 19:13

    There's a small group of authors whose works should be read in chronological order (e.g., Pynchon), and I'm now certain that Marias is one of them. Many of the characters in this book show up again in Your Face Tomorrow; more importantly, I think you'll appreciate this book more if you read it without thinking to yourself "well now, this is different, Marias doing Beckettian farce," or "ah, this is the start of his wonderful style" or "a lot more happens in this book than in his later works, but I'm not sure that's a good thing," all thoughts I had as I read it. One slightly more productive thought: it turns out that I think of novels are a mix of essay, plot and character. And I think many authors eventually eliminate one or the other of these in their books. What's weird about 'All Souls' is that Marias, who pretty much eliminates character in his later works, here revels in his cast of eccentric Englishmen. The people don't all speak like Marias' narrator, they're of different classes and different backgrounds, and they all have little handles--the old professor, the lech, the plump girl and so on. In the other Marias I've read, all of this is gone, and those novels are *stronger* because of it. The ideas are more developed and the plot is both more gripping and more concise, even though the books themselves are much longer. That said, this is still better than your average Oxford novel.

  • Abailart
    2019-04-15 19:28

    Literary tricks galore, and I fear I have noticed little of the allusions, clever internal referentiality and most especially the play between characters, especially that of the narrator, with a most pointed context of actuality. The narrator, by the way, is not a pleasant person so fits in perfectly with all the others. The humour is belly-stretching and gives concord to the crude lusts depicted within the pages, leaving a tense indigestion. Incessant talking, loveless sex, gluttony, competition, malevolence, pointlessness, disease, death, deceit, uxurious consumption, devestating boredom and alcohol are some of the ingredients of the Oxford academic life. Beggars come from every corner of the kingdom to people the city between terms, a contrapuntal swell that blends seamlessly with the sense of eternal Sunday residue of 'exile from the infinite'. Insofar as the narrator has any internalised sense of the malaise it is a transitory unease, a self-consumed impatience and frustration rather than anything so grandiose as ennui. He feels by numbers, creates tawdry stories with hyperbolic mania both for himself and those he meets with. His love affair is mechanical, loveless, and, one may think, one of many interludes notwithstanding a final pathetic impulse to shape it into an operatic tragedy, the demise of which barely registers on the scrivening of his flat feelings. Only once, one word, not from the narrator but carefully inserted by the author, does his latent homosexual desire become explicit. Desire, though, generally, is beautifully managed by a dance of various legs, male and female, which tap, jiggle, are exposed, thrown across desks, amputated, described with exactitude such as a fetishist would do, the part becoming focus for the all, so, yes, metonym and metaphor are worth bearing in mind as the book is read, tropes and conceits.We're eavesdroppers on a world, spies, dramatic ironists, relating author and reader, narrator and (I fondly imagine) author and reader. Story making is what the story here is about, of course, and the gaze of the spy and the eavesdropper and the beady eye is all consuming. Unsurprisingly, the traditian of Oxford spies is covered, along with the genre of spying on spies, and so too other Oxford stories, Oxford characters. Parts of the love story itself is straight out of a film, possibly Merchant Ivory (and remember that cinema proceeded from the novel, not the other way around, although interpenetration today is far more evident) and it's very well done; so too is the 'reality' of the love object's dreary, hyperactive personality: she's a handbag full of rubbish, his days are measured by the contents of the binbags he discards each night.The final laugh is that some folk at Oxford believe that Javier Marias modelled his characters upon them while he was (in actuality) a visiting lecturer there. I can't wait to get going on Dark Back of Time recommended by Mike Puma (a real character, to whm thanks for introducing me to Marias), the publisher's note to which states: Dark Back of Time begins with the tale of the odd effects of publishing All Souls, his witty and sardonic 1989 Oxford novel. All Souls is a book Marías 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 à clef.

  • طَيْف
    2019-04-11 15:09

    أكسفورد..."المدينة الجامدة والمحفوظة في الماء والسكر"...هي مدار حديث "مارياس"...حيث روح المدن وأرواح ساكنيها...ونظرة الغرباء إليهاالراوي "جامع الكتب النادرة" والمدرس الجامعي...يحكي تفاصيل حياته لسنتين في المدينة الجامعية...حيث كان مدرسا للترجمة...ويصف برتابة وحيادية أخلاقية حياته هناك وعلاقاته بمن حوله...متحدثا عن نفسه كأجنبي يُنظر له دوما بعدم الثقة وعن عدم ثقته بمن حوله وعن محاولات تأقلمه مع البلد الغريب...كاشفا الكثير من الأسرار والحكايات المخبوءة داخل المدينة ذائعة الصيت مما يعري الصورة المبهرة التي رسمت لها...وقصة حبه الغريبة الباردة في كثير من الأحيان والبعيدة عن الرومانسية المتوقعة...والتي انتهت كما يجب...بعد أن ساق لنفسه كل المبررات التي تمنحه حق الاستمتاع بامرأة متزوجة...فما يهمه حاجته لها بالقدر الذي احتاجته قربها هي أيضا...وكأنه نوع من الاعتياد والضرورة الحياتية...بغض النظر عن الاعتبار الأخلاقيسنتين تركا تأثيرهما عليه بحيث ظل يربط بين حياته الحالية وبينها من خلال مقارنات يعقدها واحتمالات يشغل باله فيها...بعد أن أصابته المدينة بغبش في هويّته.السرد زمنيا ومكانيا لا يسير بخط ثابت...بل يراوح مارياس بين الماضي والحاضر...وينقلنا لأكثر من مكان بحسب ما تقتضيه ذاكرة الراوي الذي وصفه مارياس بكثير التفكير وقليل الفعلأعجبني أسلوب مارياس الساخر...واستمتعت ببعض مشاهد روايته وتفاصيلها في المدينة الجامعية وبعض حواراته الداخلية...ولكن الرتابة وكثرة التفاصيل والمراوحات...وربما أكثر من ذلك نظرته للأشياء من حوله وطريقة تفكيره فيها لم تعجبني.

  • Lynda
    2019-03-31 18:14

    Superb, probably one of the best books I have read this year. In a deliciously gossipy manner Maria's draws the reader into the ludicrously eliteist world of Oxford and the Dons. The narrator like Maras himself was a visiting lecturer at Oxford for two years and as such ruthlessly dissects the rather esoteric codes and customs of the much revered place. His description of the protocol of High Table is particularly memorable. This is an emotional novel full of fluctuating passions both hilariously funny and acutely poignant. It is overall I think a novel about death and change and the unreliable nature of memory which is mercurial and elides and conflates as one looks back from differing perspectives. Sometimes it reminded me of Robertson Davies at his best, but Maras puts a lot more emotion on the bones. Great stuff.

  • Iris
    2019-04-16 12:12

    Javier Marias manipulates wit and the first-person to proffer a thesis about how times and people organize themselves chronologically. His account of high table lunch at an Oxford college is so fine and funny I couldn't put it down once, not even while preparing a hot café crème with homemade bittersweet chocolate sauce.More than just a wry, bittersweet story, "All Souls" is phenomenological. Each character evoked in the book inhabits a lineage, closely bookended by their own predecessors and successors. Clare, for example, is the descendent and progenator of versions of herself, whether familial or professional or amorous or platonic. The narrator writes not about himself but about a past version of himself.This book is just the thing to open up our eyes to springtime.

  • Lauren
    2019-04-14 17:14

    Disappointing, disjointed, banal. I didn't care about or understand the characters. Marias has no talent for slapstick, despite several attempts (including an excrutiating and neverending "ironic" dinner scene which is physically and temporally impossible) and despite the fact that a degree of successful slapstick is the hallmark of an Oxford novel. Unfortunately, Marias's tragic climax, in which a character recalls a loved one's death, is similarly slowed and strangely paced. Maybe it's the translation's fault? I read this because I was interested in its companion book, Dark Back of Time, but I can't see reading it now. Comparisons to Italo Calvino shoud be ignored.

  • Lena
    2019-04-15 20:00

    Fin. Både på insidan och utsidan.

  • Roseb612
    2019-04-08 17:28

    Můj první Marías a příjemné překvapení. Vlastně jsem nevěděla, co od knihy čekat, a o to víc mi pak padla do noty. Byť stylově je Marías jiný než Irving, tak jak jsem to četla bezprostředně po Modlitba za Owena Meanyho, tak mi to náladou přišlo docela podobné. Autor v knize zachycuje dva roky života hlavního hrdiny - Španěla, hostujícího profesora španělské literatury na Oxfordu. Jak říká hrdina - mimochodem se nikde nedozvíte jeho jméno - jsou to jeho dva "vykolejené roky", jeho život mimo život, bez minulosti, bez budoucnosti. Právě díky tomu si může dovolit všechny ty sarkastické narážky na oxfordské akademické poměry. Tím někdy až brutalitně přímým popisem jednotlivých postav, večeří, zvyků atd. mi Marías připomněl Douglase Adamse a jeho Holistická detektivní kancelář Dirka Gentlyho (byť tam to byla Cambridge). Zároveň má příběh i velmi osobní rovinu - setkání s dvěma osudovými ženami - která se proplétá celou knihou. V knize je toho ještě o hodně víc, skvělá je např. kapitola o vrátném v Taylorian či vhled do budoucího života hrdiny. I to pátrání po zapomenutém anglickém spisovateli není k zahození, vůbec když se ke konci objeví možné propojení na další osoby příběhu.Rozměr navíc celé knize pak dodává fakt, že samotný Marías opravdu dva roky hostoval na Oxfordu jako profesor španělské literatury, a byť se dušuje, že kniha je čistě fiktivní, tak v Oxfordu měla poměrně velký ohlas a někteří se v ní poznali. Na tento fakt pak Marías reagoval sepsáním druhé knihy, která Všechny duše reflektuje - Černá záda času. Toto jsem bohužel nevěděla, když jsem si knížku půjčovala z knihovny, takže to budu muset při první příležitosti napravit a tuhle knížku si dočíst. A už se na ni moc těším.Kontext: Přečteno nečekaně rychle - vyšlo to na neděli, to ráno s dětmi vstává David, ale i tak jsem nečekala, že to dám za den.První věta: "Dva z těch tří zemřeli, co jsem z Oxfordu odjel, a tak si pověrčivě myslím, že možná počkali, až přijedu a strávím tam svůj čas, aby mi dali příležitost poznat je a mohl jsem teď o nich mluvit."Poslední věta: "Chlapec Eric žije a roste."

  • عبدالله ناصر
    2019-04-12 14:26

    كانت لي تجربة أكثر من رائعة مع دار نوفل و التي تقوم بترجمة كتب أجنبية بطريقة أكثر من جيدة و كانت المرة الأولى مع " شتاء في لشبونة " و قد كانت تجربة هائلة خصوصاً على صعيد اللغة و بما أني فكرت أن الجرّة قد تسلم كل مرة قمت بابتياع هذا الكتاب بعد أن قررت أن أحسم أمر اقتنائي من عدمه من خلال قراءة سطر واحد و قد كان السطر التالي :"عندما يكون المرء وحيداً و يعيش بمفرده و بخاصةً في الغربة يعير سلة المهملات انتباهاً خاصاً لأنها قد تصبح الشيء الوحيد الذي لديه علاقة ثابتة به .. " توقفت هنا و حمدت الله على فراستي التي أرجو أن لا أشكك فيها مستقبلاً ، بأمانة تجربة غير موفقة و الرواية باختصار تتحدث عن محاضر أسباني يعمل مؤقتاً في جامعة أوكسفورد و يتحدث عن الضجر الذي يعتريه من المدينة و الجامعة و الطلاب و كل شيء تقريباً ماعدا عشيقته بطبيعة الحال . الرواية تتحدث مطولاً عن الفوارق الشخصية و حتى المكانية و اللغوية أيضاً. لم أشعر بالامتنان سوى عند نهايتي منها و هذا ما لا تتحلى به الكتب الجميلة.

  • janine
    2019-04-08 17:18

    I feel a very curious mix of frustration and love and admiration for this book. It took me a month to read, and I very nearly gave up on it, and I'm grateful I didn't. I'm glad I read it slowly, too -- it needed a lot of time. Marias writes with a very strange magic in that sometimes this book was tedious and boring and offensive, but it was all necessary somehow. The ending is vivid and beautiful beyond belief. It's going to be a while before I find a book this good again.

  • Nimbex
    2019-04-19 16:11

    Seguramente sería mejor haber leído este libro antes de la trilogía Tu rostro mañana, no sólo porque ése sea el orden correcto sino porque podría cometerse el error de juzgar a Todas las almas como una obra menor en comparación con los otros tres. Supongo que es inevitable que habiendo leído ya la mencionada trilogía este libro pueda saber a poco, pero considerando que fue escrito más de 10 años antes uno se hace una idea del gran escritor que es Javier Marías.

  • Aliaa Mohamed
    2019-03-28 19:17

    رواية مملة للغاية ، لم أتمكن من اتمامها ، حاولت كثيراً ولكن بلا جدوي ، مليئة بحشو زائد دون داع له لدرجة جعلتني اتخطى عدة صفحات دون أن أجد شيئاً جديداً على الإطلاق .. كما أن عنوان الرواية المترجم سيئ للغاية !

  • Bruce
    2019-04-02 19:15

    The contemporary Spanish novelist Javier Maríes published Todas las lamas in 1989. His protagonist and first person narrator is a Madrid professor who teaches at Oxford University in England for two years, the novel’s title (translated in its English edition as All Souls) referring not only to All Soul’s College at Oxford but also to all the people the narrator encounters there, both living and dead.The narrator lives a somewhat isolated existence during those two years, an existence as an essential outsider with few teaching responsibilities, free to follow his interests and whims, all the time observing carefully the patterns, individuals, and rituals going on around him. He develops a few close friendships, notably with Cromer-Blake, another professor, and also with Clare Bayes, another teacher and the wife of another Oxford Don. It is with Clare that the narrator has a rather desultory affair during his stay in England, an affair that does not last beyond his two years there. In fact, the story is told from the narrator’s perspective some time after his return to Madrid. The tone of the work is gently witty and also tinged with sadness, no rigorous plot carrying the narration forward. Rather the interest lies in the frequent digressions, the observations, and the hobbies that the narrator pursues in part to keep himself occupied. The reader is treated to descriptions of the unchanging rituals of the Oxford dons and their stereotypical behaviors, for example, at high table as they eat as guests of each other at their individual colleges, performances during which they reveal as little about themselves as possible while trying to impress each other maximally. Hints that the narrator picks up about various colleagues become fleshed out over time as he encounters each individual in other settings – in a used book store, during private conversations, at a disco club. During his time in Oxford he decides to pursue the acquisition of used books written by or about real life shadowy figures who have died, one in particular being Terry Armstrong, aka John Gawsworth, an enigmatic adventurer who, inter alia, becomes king of the tiny uninhabited island of Redondo in the Caribbean. This pursuit leads to his meeting with odd booksellers and other individuals involved in the rare book trade, all of them colorful and unforgettable. Many of these threads begin to come together near the novel’s end, but the fascination of the work lies more in its ambiance and philosophical musings than in any specific plot structure. Time is fluid in this narration, frequently moving forward and backward, often over periods of years far beyond the two years of residence in Oxford.Marías is a masterful writer, spellbinding in his narration and ability to balance tone and character. Dialogues are wonderfully constructed, and the gradual unfolding of understanding contrasts with the emergence of continual ambiguities such that the work is true to life, without easy conclusions or tidy endings. The book was thrilling to read, and I am eager to read more from this enthralling writer.

  • Ve Rena
    2019-03-20 20:00

    Wann habe ich zuletzt so lange für ein Buch gebraucht wie für diese 280-Seiten-Büchlein? Trotz oder gerade, weil es so unglaublich dicht ist, dass ich immer wieder eine Pause einlegen musste, um die kunstvolle Sprache und die leise Ironie dahinter sacken zu lassen. Und weil ich ständig damit beschäftigt war, mir wunderbare, wahre, volle Sätze rauszuschreiben.Eine Liebesgeschichte, die eigentlich keine ist ("Einer dieser Männer, die mit genügend Ernst und genügend Ironie Briefe und Gedichte schreiben und Tatkraft vermitteln und mit ihrer Vitalität anstecken und denjenigen, der sich von ihnen geliebt fühlt, zum Lachen bringen und mit zu vielen Illusionen erfüllen." oder auch "Unsere Aufgabe ist es, nicht zu lange zu dauern, nicht zu beharren, nicht zu bleiben, denn wenn wir etwas über Gebühr dauern, dann hört der Charme auf, und es beginnen die Leidensgeschichten und folgen die Tragödien"); viele weise Worte ("Ich kann denjenigen gut verstehen, der nur deshalb darüber klagt, sterben zu müssen, weil er das nächste Buch seines Lieblingsautors nicht mehr lesen oder den nächsten Film mit der bewunderten Schauspielerin nicht mehr sehen oder kein Bier mehr trinken oder nicht mehr das Kreuzworträtsel des neuen Tages lösen oder die Fernsehserie nicht weiterverfolgen kann oder weil er nicht erfahren wird, welche Mannschaft die Fußballmeisterschaft des laufenden Jahres gewonnen hat."); scharfe Beobachtungen über das Wesen des Menschen ("Denn mit Toby Rylands konnte man nicht eigentlich befreundet sein, nicht, weil er nicht gastfreundlich und liebenswürdig gewesen wäre oder nicht gern jeden Besucher, der ihn sehen wollte, empfangen hätte, sondern weil er ein zu scharfsinniger und zu wahrheitsliebender Mensch war und weil ihm gegenüber man nicht leicht etwas anderes als offene Bewunderung und vielleicht ein wenig Angst empfinden konnte.")