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José Donoso, The Obscene Bird of Night (1970): Reading Schedule

We’re spending four weeks on this book but it is written in three parts.  Such bad planning on Donoso’s part!  Especially because in my experience you want to start a book slowly.  So my recommended reading schedule is:
Sunday July 22:  Chs. 1-7 ( –> p.93)
Sunday July 29:  Chs. 8-16 ( –> 217)
Sunday August 5:  Chs. 17-23 ( –> 329)
Sunday August 12:  finish
As I said, this runs roughshod over the book’s natural units (1-9, 10-18, 19-30), but c’est la vie.
As I also said, part of the pleasure of these summer reading sessions for me is that I can get in touch with books I’ve read or should have read that are “unteachable” on the undergraduate level –I can’t ever see my way to assigning a 430pp delirious-surreal baroque satire of the Chilean ruling classes in 1970 to any of my Spanish classes, and it’s too big to fit into any of my Surrealism-in-translation courses too. (It’s also not exactly what I would call Surrealist:  Baroque, carnivalesque, grotesque, but it doesn’t have the Surrealist metaphysics or faux-Freudianisms or the philosophizing that’s so characteristic of the Surrealist novel with Breton or Aragon or even, say, Angela Carter or China Mièville when they’re in that mood.)  But I know stuff about Donoso, especially Donoso in the ’50s-’70s, so I may mouth off a bit more professionally than I did about Kushner.  And part of my BloodGradGuilt is that this was one of two books I read as a grad student in translation, so I at least will be working off my debt to La Sociedad by reading it concomitantly in Spanish and English.  The Spanish original is now only available in Kindle –I thought I owned my own copy but couldn’t find it on my ever-messy shelves on Sunday– but that might be an advantage:  I’m about to make a decision on which edition of Rabelais I’ll be assigning to the students on the size of the font in the Penguin edition.

July 17, 2018 - Posted by | boredom |

1 Comment

  1. So far it’s coming across as horror, with a touch of Surrealism in the David Lynchian vein only. I’m really digging it.

    Comment by Joshua Malbin | July 17, 2018

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