By Enrique Vila-Matas, Anne McLean, Thomas Bunstead
A reader’s fictional journey of the paintings and lives of a few of the nice 20th-century Surrealists
An writer (a model of Vila-Matas himself) offers a brief “history” of a mystery society, the Shandies, who're captivated with the idea that of “portable literature.” The society is fullyyt imagined, yet during this rollicking, intellectually playful e-book, its individuals contain writers and artists like Marcel Duchamp, Aleister Crowley, Witold Gombrowicz, Federico García Lorca, guy Ray, and Georgia O’Keefe. The Shandies meet secretly in flats, inns, and cafes far and wide Europe to debate what nice literature relatively is: short, now not too critical, penetrating the depths of the mysterious. We witness the Shandies having adventures in desk bound submarines, underground caverns, African backwaters, and the cultural capitals of Europe.
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Extra resources for A Brief History of Portable Literature (New Directions Paperbook)
In his diary, we find the following sketch: “Under a full moon in Vienna one night, when everything is as everything is beheld. An astrological and ephemeral house, falling from universe to universe. All the portable mob’s bigwigs were there. Explosion of disguises, artifices and Viennese gondolas. An absolute explosion of stellar conversations and the cherries of vagabond greetings. Drinks and distant diamonds. The planets were coming to fruition in the firmament, and our eyes beheld the essence of birds, the water lilies’ beyond, the hereafter of butterflies.
According to Man Ray, Jacques Rigaut’s letter helped the Shandies uncover a new characteristic: a radical rejection of any idea of suicide as a benighted romantic tic. “Rigaut’s text,” he wrote, “made clear that, of all of us, he was the only one who believed in suicide. ” Out of the blue, one of the New York suicides had a profound effect on Rigaut. His best friend in the city, a concierge at the Ritz, hanged himself in the hotel lobby. Downcast and ashamed, Rigaut took his briefcase and hurried back to Paris, where he became hefty and his shadow (errant and voluminous) wandered the streets of Montmartre; he tried desperately to delay a suicide that seemed to him increasingly inevitable.
It seemed to Larbaud that Littbarski had played with two meanings of the word lodge. The houses in Vienna also had glass-domed pavilions outside that were used for household clutter. He also had meant to indicate that he understood perfectly that the offer of a “key” would bring him into contact with portable literature, that is, with a non-existent literature, seeing as none of the Shandies knew what it consisted of (though paradoxically this was what made it possible). It was a literature to whose rhythm the members of the secret society danced, conspiring for the sake of—and on the basis of—nothing.
A Brief History of Portable Literature (New Directions Paperbook) by Enrique Vila-Matas, Anne McLean, Thomas Bunstead