This Delve will focus on the work of perhaps one of the most celebrated contemporary Spanish authors, Enrique Vila-Matas (Barcelona, 1948) has been the recipient of numerous literary awards including the Premio Rómulo Gallegos, Prix Médicis and Premi Nacional de Cultura de la Generalitat. Widely translated and with a body of work that expands over 30 novels and several books of essays and short stories, Vila-Matas’ characters are writers who have stopped writing, who have fallen ill from reading too much literature or who muse in the folds and creases of their own theories about writing.
To go mad from literature is intimately intertwined with the spirit of the Spanish novel, and so is the proliferation of quotes, the mysterious appearance of long lost manuscripts and the copy or the pastiche. Vila-Matas gathers all those elements to revive a novel that echoes authors as diverse as Cervantes, Melville, Sterne, Piglia or Pitol. Returning to a trope that is quintessential to the novel, Montano’s Malady (2002) is the voyage of a writer as he muses through the geography of madness, to postpone writing, to trace his own state, or perhaps to find a cure.
If Montano’s Malady is a novel that examines the possibilities away from the precipice of silence, Never Any End to Paris (2003) takes a look at the microcosm of an attic in Paris, where Vila-Matas’ aspirations to become a writer formed. A bildungsroman celebrating writing and the search for a language of one’s own, away from what is familiar and dull.
Montano’s Malady by Enrique Vila-Matas Trans. Anne McLean (New Directions, 2011)
Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas (New Directions, 2007)