A young girl spends her summer vacation in a country house where a tiger roams . . . A man reading a mystery finds out too late that he is the murderer’s intended victim . . .
Originally published in hardcover as End of the Game and Other Stories, the fifteen stories collected here—including “Blow-Up,” which was the basis for Michelangelo Antonioni’s film of the same name—shows Julio Cortázar's nimble capacity to explore the shadowy realm where the everyday meets the mysterious, perhaps even the terrible.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Edition description:||1st Pantheon paperback edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
JULIO CORTÁZAR was born in Brussels to Argentinian parents in 1914, was raised in Argentina, and in 1952 moved to Paris, where he continued to live for the rest of his life. He was a poet, translator, an amateur jazz musician as well as the author of several novels and volumes of short stories. Ten of his books have been published in English: The Winners, Hopscotch (which won the National Book Award), Blow-Up and Other Stories, Cronopios and Famas, 62: A Model Kit, A Change of Light, We Love Glenda So Much, and A Certain Lucas. He received the Prix Médicis Award (France, 1974) and the Rubén Darío Order of Cultural Independence (Nicaragua, 1983), among other accolades. Considered one of the great modern Latin American authors, he died in Paris in February 1984.
Read an Excerpt
CONTINUITY OF PARKS
He had begun to read the novel a few days before. He had put it down because of some urgent business conferences, opened it again on his way back to the estate by train; he permitted himself a slowly growing interest in the plot, in the characterizations. That afternoon, after writing a letter giving his power of attorney and discussing a matter of joint ownership with the manager of his estate, he returned to the book in the tranquility of his study which looked out upon the park with its oaks. Sprawled in his favorite armchair, its back toward the door—even the possibility of an intrusion would have irritated him, had he thought of it—he let his left hand caress repeatedly the green velvet upholstery and set to reading the final chapters. He remembered effortlessly the names and his mental images of the characters; the novel spread its glamour over him almost at once. He tasted the almost perverse pleasure of disengaging himself line by line from the things around him, and at the same time feeling his head rest comfortably on the green velvet of the chair with its high back, sensing that the cigarettes rested within reach of his hand, that beyond the great windows the air of afternoon danced under the oak trees in the park. Word by word, licked up by the sordid dilemma of the hero and heroine, letting himself be absorbed to the point where the images settled down and took on color and movement, he was witness to the final encounter in the mountain cabin. The woman arrived first, apprehensive; now the lover came in, his face cut by the backlash of a branch. Admirably, she stanched the blood with her kisses, but he rebuffed her caresses, he had not come to perform again the ceremonies of a secret passion, protected by a world of dry leaves and furtive paths through the forest. The dagger warmed itself against his chest, and underneath liberty pounded, hidden close. A lustful, panting dialogue raced down the pages like a rivulet of snakes, and one felt it had all been decided from eternity. Even to those caresses which writhed about the lover’s body, as though wishing to keep him there, to dissuade him from it; they sketched abominably the frame of that other body it was necessary to destroy. Nothing had been forgotten: alibis, unforeseen hazards, possible mistakes. From this hour on, each instant had its use minutely assigned. The cold-blooded, twice-gone-over re-examination of the details was barely broken off so that a hand could caress a cheek. It was not beginning to get dark.
Not looking at one another now, rigidly fixed upon the task which awaited them, they separated at the cabin door. She was to follow the trail that led north. On the path leading in the opposite direction, he turned for a moment to watch her running, her hair loosened and flying. He ran in turn, crouching among the trees and hedges until, in the yellowish fog of dusk, he could distinguish the avenue of trees which led up to the house. The dogs were not supposed to bark, they did not bark. The estate manager would not be there at this hour, and he was not there. He went up the three porch steps and entered. The woman’s words reached him over the thudding of blood in his ears: first a blue chamber, then a hall, then a carpeted stairway. At the top, two doors. No one in the first room, no one in the second. The door of the salon, and then, the knife in hand, the light from the great windows, the high back of an armchair covered in green velvet, the head of the man in the chair reading a novel.
Table of Contents
House Taken Over 10
The Idol of the Cyclades 28
Letter to a Young Lady in Paris 39
A Yellow Flower 51
Continuity of Parks 63
The Night Face Up 66
The Gates of Heaven 97
End of the Game 135
At Your Service 150
The Pursuer 182
Secret Weapons 248
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Cortázar's curious little tales, precisely translated by Blackburn here in this collection, have inspired many a great vanguard artworks from Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni's film Blowup to Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi's dramatic novel Yo-Yo Boing! to Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives to French director Jean-Luc Godard's Week End. These evocative brief stories add up to so much more than the individual marvels.
Julio Cortazar's writing, is nothing short of genius. His stories remind me of the art of M.C. Escher. Many of the stories in this collection seem to focus on the concept of identity. Do we really simply possess such a thing as an identity or is it merely a transient phenomenon, such that could easily be passed on between species. There is a constant feeling of inexplicable tension in his stories that he masterfully passes on to his readers. The only reason I did not give this a perfect score is because of the story The Pursuer, which was decent but not as good as the others.
There was a time when I thought a great deal about the story "Axolotl". When I envied those rhythms, their faint movements, those sentences in particular, intimate, slightly illogical, thought-like vectors achieving a rolling quality that is not like a sentence at all. Yes, above all I envied Cortazar's sentences, which are unique in their grammatical messiness, their organic connections, the imperceptible consequences of unfolding. Those days I read "Axolotl" obsessively, drunk on the sound of "Ambystoma", "Port Royal", and "an indifferent immobility", sometimes three or four times a day, captured by that minute looking, that description in which the words are just a cake of dust upon what is actually a chthonic--slow--turning over and over. Often I drifted off while reading, and they would enter my dreams, the axolotls and the sentences both, together."Axolotl" is probably the best story in this collection. The sentences are what I fell in love with first, but Cortazar is preoccupied with other notions. With the idea of becoming the Other, switching identities, with time, with perception. Most of these concepts, dare I say it, are weights that hinder his gifts, yes sometimes even gimmicks. Once you read one story, you begin to see the pattern and start looking for it, which is incredibly distracting, especially when you're trying to focus your eyes on those mysterious sentences at the bottom of the tank. But the particulars, that is where these stories sit implacable, where the concept cannot infringe. I insist that these stories do not need to be weighed down by such concepts, that they should live alone at the level of the sentence, that they need to be freed from the constraints of expectation.