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An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter

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Cover artist  J. M. Rugendas
Language  Spanish
Published in English  2006
Originally published  2000
Page count  87
Publisher  New Directions Publishing
3.9/5 Goodreads

Country  Argentina
Publication date  2000
Media type  Print (Paperback)
Author  César Aira
Genre  Novel
Translator  Chris Andrews
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Similar  Works by César Aira, Novels

An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter by César Aira was first published in 2000. Chris Andrews’ English translation was published by New Directions in 2006.

Contents

Summary

An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter simultaneously navigates the territories of history, philosophy, and fantasy to offer less a biography of German painter Johann Moritz Rugendas (1802-1858) than a surreal account of his journeys through Latin America. At the prompting of explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, Rugendas travels to Argentina, Chile, and Mexico to paint their landscapes with a sense of what Humboldt calls "physiognomic totality," an understanding of each work as a portrait of the environment as a whole. In Argentina, Rugendas' adventure into the pampas almost costs him his life when he is struck by lightning while riding his horse and then dragged through the pampas as his horse flees. This leaves him horribly disfigured. As Rugendas struggles to recover physically he now sees the landscape with an altered vision. Aira's themes include the persistence of the artist and the sustaining power of his will to continue painting.

Reception

An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter has been hailed as "thrilling" (The New York Sun) and "utterly astonishing" (San Francisco Chronicle), a "memorable performance...whose tone and oddly compelling vision are distinctly [Aira's] own" (The Los Angeles Times). In his San Francisco Chronicle review, critic Ilan Stavans places this work alongside that of Roberto Bolaño as a modern Latin American novel likely to endure beyond its present moment.

References

An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter Wikipedia


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