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Poetics and Narrative

6, 8 November 2007
Image of the Lecture

Luis Landero, as seen by Ángel Basanta


Ángel Basanta

The publication of Juegos de la edad tardía in 1989 is a milestone in the Spanish novel of the late 20th century. This literary debut of unbelievable maturity met with the best critics, was awarded with the most important prizes, and became a best-seller. The rise of this author since the beginning of his career is based in solid literary fundaments stemming from the artistic quality of his five novels. In addition, his seduction capacity as the oral narrator in front of devoted listeners has also contributed to this.

The mastery of Landero feeds from his reading voraciousness and his passion for writing. From the enjoyment for listening and telling, followed by his enjoyment for reading, he went into the need of writing. In all of his novels, from Juegos de la edad tardía to Hoy, Júpiter (2007), he combines his oral literature experience with years of learning and the assimilation of the best Spanish and European novel tradition, a “cervantian” inheritance spanning from Don Quixote to Kafka and García Márquez, and including Flaubert and Galdós, just to mention a few of the masters acknowledged by the writer from Extremadura.

He is an author with an own literary world built with personal concerns and obsessions, touched by Cervantes and other fabricators of "desire", and enriched by autobiographical elements that he novels with modesty. His conception of novels is based on the construction of characters with their own views on the world and an appropriate speech. His characters are antiheroes of the end of the century, common people but with a metaphysic point, very representative of the common mortal, who fight to transcend the limits of the human condition. They incarnate the eternal problem of being a human stricken by the radical discontent that the capacity to dream produces, without having any other exit than shredding into pieces their desires against reality. This chronicle of vital discontent strikes us like a modern epic of the defeat where our longings get burned. Due to this, Landero's books also read us.

The thematic core of Landero's novels lies at this particular way of interpreting the conflict between reality and fiction, which we can identify with a single word of multiple meanings: desire. "Being ourselves above all" is the key teaching that Mr. Isaías passed to Gregorio in his first novel. As Rodo tells Emilio in the El guitarrista, "Getting to be yourself: that is the key of the mistery". Among all the potential possibilities that each person has, the desire represents the adventure of the human being attempting to execute a personal project. And in this semi-eternal defeat of the imagination, we discover the footprints of literary and philosophical existentialism. This is why Landero's novels seem to us like luminous arcs shinning in the nights of our lives, leaving the real world in between parentheses. And on top of that, he does it with great humor. Applying a personal style within a classical prose that provides us with fast-flowing novels, with multiple characters and anecdotes linked with artistry in a common plot ruled by the pleasure of telling a story.

Fundación Juan March
Castelló, 77 – 28006 MADRID – Spain
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