Javier Marías, relying on various sources among which we mention the letters, testimonies from different people, biographies, studies, correspondence of all kinds of different characters that addresses the author gives us a series of biographical essays. His portraits addresses issues both public and private writers' multiple outlined in this biography. These are pictures that summarize the most characteristic traits of the characters addressed. Some data may be known or unknown to the reader, depending on their degree of specialization in literary or historical themes.
With a foreword by Elis Pitrarello, Javier Marías starts talking about William Faulkner, creator of novels in the series Yoknapatawpa. His alcoholism, his vices and not so hidden, details about their sexuality. His love of horses, which said it was crazy as one of the characters in his novels. It says, for example, Faulkner decided to write As I Lay Dying just to have the means to buy a horse she liked. We also relates the various offices of which Faulkner had been fired because of their lack of consistency and its abstraction. Other data show that Faulkner never read Freud and was only five times in the theater. It also reveals his literary tastes as a preference for Thomas Wolfe, Shakespeare and Melville.
Continue with Joseph Conrad, who, despite his reputation as a seaman, is said to have spent the last thirty years of his life out of the sea.
Then, comes the writing of Isak Dinesen portrait or Baroness Karen Blixen, an aristocrat who returned to Denmark after living in Africa for a long time, that's where the memory powered by homesickness decides to write his finest stories and the celebrated Out Of Africa. Javier Marías tells stories of Isak Dinesen's life when he was living in the United States and their culinary tastes like champagne oysters accompanied at all times of day. It abounds also on his lack of sex life due to syphilis, which became the very young. His portrait shows an elderly aristocrat, excellent conversationalist and storyteller by way of pure oral tradition, stories narrated by the mere pleasure of pleasing your guests. His is the following sentence: "In art there are no mysteries. Do the things you can see, they show you what you can not see."
It is inevitable that if we do a portrait of Faulkner we should also mention James Joyce, Javier Marias describe in his gestures. Joyce was one of those writers whose legend seems to exceed his personality. We portrays indifference Joyce felt that was read by very few in contrast to many jobs and hardships he went through to publish Ulysses, his masterpiece. Respected and honored in life and few writers Joyce had all sorts of quirks and missing people who meet them. There is also talk of the paraphilias and their sexuality a little unusual as well as their fear of storms, according to gossip, it caused panic attacks.
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa tells her story was sad and that being a writer known after his death he never took a life as a writer, she felt as such and only until the end of his life was enough to get published his most notorious of which was rejected at first instance by several publishers. Lampedusa was a nobleman who never had the need to work, a circumstance that enabled him to devote to reading long, "I read all kinds of writers, from the largest to the squad because, he said, we also need to know how to be bored" he said one time. In the afternoon several hours prowling the libraries by searching or browsing books, to finally return home laden with pastries and sweets as it is said, not at home having lunch. Lampedusa, like most writers, had his foibles. His life was a great reader one, more than a writer.
Then there is Henry James, described as an intelligent writer with a penetrating gaze more to do or see, peering. Speaking more than refer to something, looking to question without being omitted any details. Henry James was never a man who openly participate in life, rather it was an observer. The complexity of their thoughts and conversation went to his prose, which was very difficult conciseness, it is hard to reach it, understand it. James used to talk way too many parentheses for clarification or additional information which stretched too much cost the conversation and follow the thread.
Javier Marías seems to feel a certain fascination for portraits so do not miss any of the writers makes a small biography. I can not continue to abound about the various writers he mentions, among them Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Malcolm Lowry, Thomas Mann, Vladimir Nabokov, Rainer Maria Rilke, Ruyad Kipling, Arthur Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, Yukio Mishima ...
It is certainly an essential book for understanding the life of the greatest writers and a collection of essays from the finest style.