Saturday, February 18, 2006
Written Lives by Javier Marias
Javier Marias, one of Spain’s leading novelists, turns his hand to literary mini-biography in these short sketches of writers’ lives, supposedly written "as if they were fictional characters, which may well be how all writers, whether famous or obscure, would secretly like to be treated". In practice his method is more conventional. While admitting to having "embellished" certain stories from his subjects’ lives, he assures us that nothing is invented. The result shuns the equivocations of the more careful sort of biographer without straying into outright fantasy.
The line-up of writers is mainly Anglophone, and includes several whom Marias has worked on as a translator, such as Laurence Sterne, Robert Louis Stevenson and Vladimir Nabokov. Each is approached via a particular viewpoint or characteristic: Joseph Conrad on land, for instance, or Thomas Mann and suffering.
You can find the full review here
Buy Written Lives at Amazon.com