By Jose Asuncion Silva
Misplaced in a shipwreck in 1895, rewritten earlier than the author's suicide in 1896, and never released till 1925, Jose Asuncion Silva's "After-Dinner dialog" (De sobremesa) is certainly one of Latin America's most interesting fin de siecle novels and the 1st one to be translated into English. probably the only most sensible paintings for knowing turn-of-the-twentieth-century writing in South the United States, "After-Dinner dialog" is additionally mentioned because the continent's first mental novel and a great instance of modernista fiction and the Decadent sensibility. Semi-autobiographical and extra very important for sort than plot, "After-Dinner dialog" is the diary of a Decadent sensation-collector in exile in Paris who undertakes a quest to discover his loved Helen, a imaginative and prescient whom his fevered mind's eye sees as his salvation.Along the way in which, he struggles with irreconcilable urges and temptations that pull him in each path whereas he endures an atmosphere detached or antagonistic to non secular and highbrow goals, as did the modernista writers themselves. Kelly Washbourne's very good translation preserves Silva's lush prose and experimental sort. within the advent, essentially the most wide-ranging in Silva feedback, Washbourne locations the lifestyles and paintings of Silva of their literary and old contexts, together with a longer dialogue of the way "After-Dinner dialog" suits inside of Spanish American modernismo and the Decadent stream. Washbourne's perceptive reviews and notes additionally make the radical obtainable to normal readers, who will locate the paintings strangely clean greater than a century after its composition.
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Additional info for After-Dinner Conversation: The Diary of a Decadent (Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture)
54 An example of the latter is found at one point in the novel where Fernández ridicules contemporary poets as “enervated mandarins” the solution to whose poems is the word nirvana. Recognizing that “enervated” means enfeebled by a loss of vigor, we observe that many prevailing discourses about masculinity and class are bound up in this characterization. 55 Not only the style but the very impetus behind the diary is nervous: According to Logan (2), the nervous body is narrative in structure. He surveys Trotter’s A View of the Nervous Temperament (1807), which describes how the nervous narrator, an “overly inscribable body,” is compelled to narrate its story, its impressionability, to “act out its nervous fit” (29).
47 The most pernicious, or most notorious, of the root-seekers in pathologies was certainly Max Nordau (Hungary, 1849 –1923). Nordau practiced the taxonomer’s art with an obsessive, almost parodic dismissiveness; virtually all of the great spirits of the age to him were degenerates. William James employs the term medical materialism to describe those, like Nordau, who adhere to the simplemindedness of [c]alling [Saint Paul’s] vision on the road to Damascus a discharging lesion of the occipital cortex, he being an epileptic.
It would be cruel to have me die when I am so accommodating. . [I]n the very midst of my prayers for happiness, I find myself happy at being miserable. 67, cited in James, 83– 84n2 It may help to consider these apparently masochistic tendencies in the light of Lionel Trilling’s remark on “how pervasive and deeply rooted is the notion that power may be gained by suffering” (161) and indeed, “[I]n the nineteenth century the Christianized notion of the didactic suffering of the artist went along with the idea of his mental degeneration” (162).
After-Dinner Conversation: The Diary of a Decadent (Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture) by Jose Asuncion Silva