“Would I find La Maga? Most of the time it was just a case of my putting in an appearance, going along the Rue de Seine to the arch leading into la Quaid de Conti, and I would see her slender form against the olive ashen which floats along the river as she crossed back and forth on the Pont des Art, or leaned over the iron railing looking at the water…”
Julio Cortázar (August 26, 1914 – February 12, 1984) was an Argentine novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Known as one of the founders of the Latin American Boom, Cortázar influenced an entire generation of Spanish-speaking readers and writers in the Americas and Europe. He has been called a “modern master of the short story”. Cortázar published several novels, including The Winners, Hopscotch, 62: A Model Kit, and Libro de Manuel. The open-ended structure of Hopscotch, which invites the reader to read the book in different orders, has been praised by other Latin American masters, including José Lezama Lima, Giannina Braschi, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, and Mario Vargas Llosa. Cortázar’s use of interior monologue and stream of consciousness owes much to James Joyce and other modernists, but his main influences were Surrealism, the French Nouveau roman and the improvisatory aesthetic of jazz.
Cortázar wrote numerous short stories, collected in English translation as Blow-up and Other Stories. The title of this collection refers to Michelangelo Antonioni‘s film Blowup (1967), which was inspired by Cortázar’s story “Las Babas del Diablo” (literally, “The Droolings of the Devil”, an Argentine expression for the long threads some spiders and insects leave hanging between the trees), which was in turn based on a photograph taken by Chilean photographer Sergio Larraín during a shoot outside of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi used Cortázar’s story as a springboard for the chapter called “Blow-up” in her bilingual novel Yo-Yo Boing! (1998), which features scenes with Cortázar’s characters La Maga and Rocamadour. Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño claimed Cortázar as a key influence on his novel The Savage Detectives. “The Southern Thruway” influenced another film of the 1960s, Jean-Luc Godard‘s Week End (1967).