Born: Brussels, Belgium, 26 August 1914. Family returned to Argentina, 1918. Education: Educated at the Escuela Normal de Profesores Mariano Acosta (teachers college), Buenos Aires, degree as primary-level teacher, 1932, degree as secondary-level teacher, 1935; University of Buenos Aires, 1936-37. Family: Married Aurora Bernardez in 1953 (separated); lived with Carol Dunlop in latern years. Career: Taught in secondary schools in Bolivar, Chivilcoy, and Mendoza, 1937-44; professor of French literature, University of Cuyo, Mendoza, 1944-45, and imprisoned briefly for involvement in anti-Peronist demonstrations at the university, 1945; manager, Camara Argentina del Libro [Publishing Association of Argentina], 1946-48; passed examinations in law and languages, and worked as translator, Buenos Aires, 1948-51; travelled to Paris on a scholarship, 1951, and settled there; writer and freelance translator for UNESCO, from 1952; visited Cuba, 1961, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and Chile, all 1973, Nicaragua and (after the lifting of a seven-year ban on his entry into the country) Argentina, 1983; visiting lecturer, University of Oklahoma, Norman, 1975, and Gildersleeve lecturer, Barnard College, New York, 1980; acquired French citizenship (in addition to existing Argentinian citizenship), 1981. Awards: Medicis prize (France), 1974; Great Golden Eagle (Nice), 1976; Ruben Darfo Order of Cultural Independence (Nicaragua), 1983. Member: Second Russell Tribunal for investigation of human rights abuses in Latin America, 1975. Died: 12 February 1984.
Bestiario (stories). 1951; title story as ”Bestiary,” translated by J.M. Cohen, in Latin American Writing Today, edited by Cohen, 1967; as Bestiary: Selected Stories, translated by Alberto Manguel, Paul Blackburn, Gregory and Clementine Rabassa, and Suzanne Jill Levine, 1998.
Final del juego (stories), 1956; enlarged edition, 1964.
Las armas secretas (stories). 1959.
Los premios. 1960; as The Winners, translated by Elaine Kerrigan, 1965.
Historias de cronopios y de famas (stories). 1962; as Cronopios and Famas, translated by Paul Blackburn, 1969.
Rayuela. 1963; edited by Julio Ortega and Saul Yurkievich, 1991; as Hopscotch, translated by Gregory Rabassa, 1966.
Cuentos, edited by Anton Arrufat. 1964.
Todos los fuegos el fuego (stories). 1966; as All Fires the Fire and Other Stories, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine, 1973.
End of the Game and Other Stories, translated by Paul Blackburn. 1967; as Blow-Up and Other Stories, translated by Blackburn, 1968.
Elperseguidory otros cuentos. 1967; edited by Alberto Couste, 1979.
62: Modelo para armar. 1968; as 62: A Model Kit, translated by Gregory Rabassa, 1972.
Ceremonias (includes Final del juego and Las armas secretas). 1968.
Casa tomada. 1969.
Relatos (selection). 1970.
La isla a mediodia y otros relatos. 1971.
Libro de Manuel. 1973; as A Manual for Manuel, translated by Gregory Rabassa, 1978.
Octaedro (stories). 1974; parts translated in A Change of Light and Other Stories, 1980.
Los relatos. 3 vols., 1976.
Alguien que andapor ahiy otros relatos. 1977; parts translated in A Change of Light and Other Stories, 1980.
Un tal Lucas. 1979; as A Certain Lucas, translated by Gregory Rabassa, 1984.
A Change of Light and Other Stories, translated by Gregory Rabassa. 1980.
Queremos tanto a Glenda. 1981; as We Love Glenda So Much and Other Tales, translated by Gregory Rabassa, 1983.
Deshoras (stories). 1983; as Unreasonable Hours, translated by Alberto Manguel, 1995.
El examen. 1986.
Siete Cuentos by Julio Cortazar, edited with introduction by Peter Beardsell. 1994.
Presencia (as Julio Denis). 1938.
Pameos y meopas. 1971.
Poemas, meopas y prosemas. 1984.
Salvo el crepusculo. 1984; as Save Twilight: Selected Poems of Julio Cortazar, translated by Stephen Kessler, 1997.
Los reyes. 1949.
Nada a Pehuajo, y Adios, Robinson. 1984.
Fantomas contra los vampiros internacionales. 1965.
La vuelta al dia en ochenta mundos (essays). 1967; as Around the Day in Eighty Worlds, translated by Thomas Christensen, 1986.
Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, photographs by Alicia d’Amico Facio (includes English translation). 1968.
Ultimo round. 1969.
La literatura en la revolucion y revolucion en la literatura, with Oscar Collazos and Mario Vargas Llosa. 1970. Viaje alrededor de una mesa. 1970.
Prosa del observatorio, photographs by Cortazar, with Antonio Galvez. 1972.
La casilla de los Morelli y otros textos (miscellany), edited by Julio Ortega. 1973.
Antologia, edited by Nicolas Bratosevich. 1975.
Silvalandia (on the paintings of Julio Silva). 1975.
Estrictamente no profesional: Humanario (on the photographs of Aticia D’Amico. 1976.
Territorios (miscellany). 1978.
Conversaciones con Cortazar, with Ernesto Gonzalez Bermejo. 1978; as Revelaciones de un cronopio: Conversaciones con Cortazar, 1986.
Monsieur Lautrec, with Hermenegildo Sabat. 1980. Un elogio del tres (on the paintings of Luis Tomasello). 1980.
Paris: Ritmos de una ciudad, photographs by Alecio de Andrade. 1981; as Paris: The Essence of an Image, translated by Gregory Rabassa, 1981.
Los autonautas de la cosmopista; o, Un viaje atemporal Paris—Marsella, with Carol Dunlop. 1983.
Cuaderno de bitacora de Rayuela, with Ana Maria Barrenechea.1983.
El edad presente es de lucha/The Present Age Is One of Struggle, with Sergio Ramirez Mercado. 1983.
Nicaragua, tan violentamente dulce. 1983; as Nicaraguan Sketches,translated by K. Weaver, 1989.
Negro el diez (on the lithographs of Luis Tomasello). 1983.
Argentina: Anos de alambradas culturales, edited by Saul Yurkievich. 1984.
Alto el Peru (on the photographs of Manja Offerhaus). 1984.
La fascinacion de las palabras: Conversaciones con Julio Cortazar,with Omar Prego. 1985.
Cortazar: Iconografia, edited by Alba C. de Rojo and Felipe Garrido.1985.
Policritica en la hora de los chacales. 1987.
Voicing, with others, edited by Don Wellman, translated by Cola Franzen and others. 1989.
Cartas a una pelirroja, edited by Evelyn Picon Garfield. 1990.
Translator, Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe. 1945. Translator, El hombre que sabia demasiado, by G.K. Chesterton. 1946.
Translator, Nacimiento de la Odisea, by Jean Giono. 1946.
Translator, La poesia pura by Henri Bremond. 1947 Translator, El inmoralista, by Andre Gide. 1947.
Translator, Filosofia de la risa y el llanto, by Alfred Stern. 1950.
Translator, Mujercitas, by Louisa May Alcott. 1951.
Translator, Brown en la escuela, by Thomas Hughes. 1951.
Translator, La filosofia existencial de Jean-Paul Sartre, by Alfred Stern. 1951. Translator, La vibora, by Marcel Ayme. 1952.
Translator, La vida de los otros, by Ladislas Dormandi. 1952.
Translator, Asi sea; o, La suerte esta echada, by Andre Gide. 1953.
Translator, Vida y cartas de John Keats, by Lord Houghton. 1955.
Translator, Memorias de Adriano, by Marguerite Yourcenar. 1955.
Translator, Obras enprosa, by Edgar Allan Poe. 1956.
Translator, Cuentos, by Edgar Allan Poe. 1963.
Translator, Eureka, by Edgar Allan Poe. 1972.
Translator, Ensayos y criticos, by Edgar Allan Poe. 1973.
Translator, Memorias de una enana, by Walter de la Mare. N.d.
Moyano, Benedetto, Cortazar by Eugenio Castelli, 1968; Cortazar: Una antropologia poetica by Nestor Garcia Canclini, 1968; Cinco miradas sobre Cortazar edited by Ana Maria Simo, 1968; Julio Cortazary el hombre nuevo by Graciela de Sola, 1968; La vuelta a Cortazar en nueve ensayos, various authors, 1968; Sobre Cortazar by Jose Amfcola, 1969; Julio Cortazar: El escritor y sus mascaras by Mercedes Rein, 1969; Julio Cortazar: Vision de conjunto by Roberto Escamilla Molina, 1970; De Sarmiento a Cortazar by David Vinas, 1970; El individuo y el otro: Critica a los cuentos de Julio Cortazar by Alfred J. MacAdam, 1971; Cortazar: La novela moderna by Lida Aronne Amestoy, 1972; Julio Cortazar; o, La critica de la razon pragmatica by Juan Carlos Curutchet, 1972; Homenaje a Julio Cortazar edited by Helmy F. Giacoman, 1972; Seven Voices by Rita Guibert, 1973; Julio Cortazar: Una busqueda mitica by Saul Sosnowski, 1973; Julio Cortazar ante su sociedad by Joaquin Roy, 1974; ^Es Julio Cortazar un surrealista?, 1975, Julia Cortazar (in English), 1975, and Cortazar por Cortazar, 1978, all by Evelyn Picon Garfield; Estudios sobre los cuentos de Julio Cortazar edited by David Lagmanovich, 1975; Currents in the Contemporary Argentine Novel: Arlt, Mallea, Sabato and Cortazar by William David Foster, 1975; Cortazar issue of Books Abroad, 50(3), 1976; Julio Cortazar: Rayuela by Robert Brady, 1976; The Final Island: The Fiction of Cortazar (includes bibliography) edited by Ivar Ivask and Jaime Alazraki, 1978, and En busca del unicornio: Los cuentos de Julio Cortazar by Alazraki, 1983; The Novels of Cortazar by Steven Boldy, 1980; Keats, Poe, and the Shaping of Cortazar’s Mythopoesis by Ana Hernandez del Castillo, 1981; Julio Cortazar edited by Pedro Lastra, 1981; Cortazar issue of Casa de las Americas, 25(145-146), 1984; Julio Cortazar: Life, Work, and Criticism by E.D. Carter, Jr., 1986; Lo ludico y lo fantastico: Coloquio, edited by Keith Cohen, 2 vols., 1986; Los ochenta mundos de Cortazar: Ensayos edited by Fernando Burgos, 1987; Otro Round: Ensayos sobre la obra de Julio Cortazar edited by E. Dale Carter, 1988; The Politics of Style in the Fiction of Balzac, Beckett, and Cortazar by M.R. Axelrod, 1991; Julio Cortazar: A Study of the Short Fiction by Ilan Stavans, 1996; Julio Cortazar: New Readings, edited by Carlos J. Alonso, 1998; Critical Essays on Julio Cortazar, edited by Jaime Alazraki, 1999; Questions of the Liminal in the Fiction of Julio Cortazar by Dominic Moran, 2000; Understanding Julio Cortazar by Peter Standish, 2001.
Julio Cortazar is one of the most widely recognized Spanish American writers outside the Spanish-speaking world, due particularly to the critical acclaim of Rayuela (Hopscotch), a novel where the most experimental narrative innovations find an original form, and to the filming by Michelangelo Antonioni of one of his best short stories, ”Blow-Up.”
Cortazar’s narrative is unclassifiable. His fiction breaks away from the habitual categories of narrative and all conventional forms, and blurs the uncertain boundaries between reality and the fantastic. The realistic and social milieu of his stories (be it Buenos Aires or Paris) is continuously compromised by elements of the absurd, the mythic, and the oneiric, by surrealist undercurrents where artistic freedom and imaginative possibilities disturb all routine representations of reality. Cortazar searches for an opening toward the other side of reality, toward—in his own words—”a more secret and less communicable order.”
Cortazar’s experimentation with the techniques of narrative can best be exemplified with Hopscotch, his masterpiece. The novel is written in loose fragments—the collage is the basic associative procedure—sequences of a totality that the reader is forced to recompose. The search for harmony and authenticity is the guiding motif of the novel; the search for the ”key,” ”the other side,” ”the centre,” ”the heaven of the hopscotch,” ”the love-passport,” ”the wishful kibbutz,” illustrate Cortazar’s attempts to apprehend an absolute order, a ”sacred space” or mandala (a mystical labyrinth used by the Buddhists as a spiritual exercise), where integration and ultimate harmony can be attained. This ontological search for unity is one of the distinctive aspects of Cortazar’s narrative. In his fiction it is common to find a character embarked on the search for a secret order, pursuing something undefinable to bring him inner harmony. Some characters intuitively explore the mysteries of the self (Johnny Carter, the jazz musician of ”The Pursuer”), others chase truth and self-knowledge—Medrano in Los premios (The Winners)—but most attempt failed intellectual projections into a world of their dreams: Oliveira in Hopscotch, Juan in 62: Modelo para armar (62: A Model Kit), Andres in Libro de Manuel (A Manual for Manuel). Fascinated by the unreachable absolute, all of Cortazar’s major characters seek to jump into authenticity, rebel against a civilization governed by reason.
Hopscotch is a questioning of the art of storytelling, as well as a questioning of reality and all rational knowledge, an attempt to break away from all routine narrative formulas. The disintegration of the traditional novel begins with ”The Table of Instructions,” where Cortazar suggests at least two ways of reading the novel and the reader is invited to select between expendable and unexpendable chapters. The complex point of view, movable chapters, montage, dedoublement, dissociation of personality, simultaneity of creation and theoretical reflection within the novel, and, above all, the destruction of inherited language and syntax, the search for a new syntax to reunite unreconcilable languages, are the predominant features of Cortazar’s writing. The constant questioning of the capability of language to represent reality can best be seen by quoting the opening paragraph of ”Blow-Up”:
It’ll never be known how this has to be told, in the first person or in the second, using the first person plural or continually inventing modes that will serve for nothing. If one might say: I will see the moon rose, or: we hurt me at the back of my eyes, and especially: you the blond woman was the clouds that race before my your his our yours their faces. What the hell.
These two aspects of Cortazar’s narrative—innovation of language and form, and the metaphysical search—reveal his talent as a storyteller of universal appeal.