By Jose Asuncion Silva
Misplaced in a shipwreck in 1895, rewritten prior to the author's suicide in 1896, and never released until eventually 1925, Jose Asuncion Silva's "After-Dinner dialog" (De sobremesa) is considered one of Latin America's best fin de siecle novels and the 1st one to be translated into English. possibly the one top paintings for knowing turn-of-the-twentieth-century writing in South the United States, "After-Dinner dialog" is usually brought up because the continent's first mental novel and a good instance of modernista fiction and the Decadent sensibility. Semi-autobiographical and extra vital for variety than plot, "After-Dinner dialog" is the diary of a Decadent sensation-collector in exile in Paris who undertakes a quest to discover his cherished Helen, a imaginative and prescient whom his fevered mind's eye sees as his salvation.Along the best way, he struggles with irreconcilable urges and temptations that pull him in each path whereas he endures an atmosphere detached or adverse to non secular and highbrow objectives, as did the modernista writers themselves. Kelly Washbourne's very good translation preserves Silva's lush prose and experimental type. within the advent, some of the most wide-ranging in Silva feedback, Washbourne areas the lifestyles and paintings of Silva of their literary and ancient contexts, together with a longer dialogue of ways "After-Dinner dialog" matches inside Spanish American modernismo and the Decadent circulate. Washbourne's perceptive reviews and notes additionally make the radical obtainable to basic readers, who will locate the paintings strangely clean greater than a century after its composition.
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Additional resources for After-Dinner Conversation: The Diary of a Decadent (Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture)
How many times have I seen her passing by, dressed in shimmering rags, . . beckoning me into TRANSLATOR’S INTRODUCTION 31 the unknown! . She had a horrible head, half twenty-year-old woman, smiling and healthy but crowned with thorns that bled her smooth brow; the other half, a desiccated death’s-head with hollow black eye sockets, and a crown of roses, . . ” [London, 20 November] Madness, then, is painted as an hermaphroditic seductress, a burlesque figure mocking both life and death. 51 This is a variant on the Decadent motif of the sphinx, and one of many hermetic unions in the novel, which oscillates between and sometimes conjoins the illusory and the real, the real and the “extra-real,” the antigravitational and the heavy, the beautiful and the beastly, dissipation and crystallization, the elusive and the unshakable, the traditions of the past and the chimeras of the future.
Jackson remarks on “all the anxious earnestness which often seemed—by the late nineteenth century—to lack clear focus or direction” (8 –9). Like Fernández’s fragmented identity, [t]he autonomous self, long a linchpin of liberal culture, was being rendered unreal . . ] choice. ” Silva himself seems to have internalized this biological and hygienic gospel of the times, even if he questions it; note, for example, his genetic metaphors and mind-body connections in his description of his own writing process: To produce perfect literary work the body must have the normal and physiological sensation of life; neuroses do not engender but sickly children, and without .
In keeping with this development, the therapist becomes priest and “lay confessor,” ministering to the parishionerpatient’s moral failings. Darwin and the cult of science edged their way into the prevailing discourse. Next to the artist—who replaces God in that his creations are more intentional than “mere” nature—the doctor is the highest hierophant; he may not create but he is privy to creation’s laws. 39 To support this contention, let us look into Fernández’s vocabulary. ” He uses the word devoted (a semi-dead religious TRANSLATOR’S INTRODUCTION 25 metaphor, as is to adore) when speaking of his feeling for her; she prostrates herself at the feet of the Savior in a kind of religious voluptuosity (Paris, 3 June 189 –.