The Ingenuity of Julio Cortazar in 6 titles
Julio Cortázar, also known as Julio Denis, was born in 1914 and passed away in 1984. He was an Argentine short-story writer and novelist who combined experimental writing techniques and existential questioning in his work.
Julio Cortázar’s life was fascinating. He was educated in Argentina, where he was a secondary teacher and worked as a translator.
His book Bestiary was his first collection of short stories that was published the same year he moved to Paris, France. He moved to Europe because he was dissatisfied with Juan Perón’s government. He lived in Paris and got French citizenship in 1981. He also kept his Argentine citizenship and always remained involved with political causes in Latin America.
Cortázar wrote many stories but his masterpiece was Rayuela (Hopscotch), which he published in 1963. It’s an open-ended novel where the reader is invited to rearrange different parts of the story according to a unique plan that the author shares. This book was a part of the Latin American “boom,” where many Latin American writers gained international attention.
Cortázar also wrote plays and poetry that were published as essays or numerous volumes.
Benefits of Reading in Spanish
Reading is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the Hispanic culture. It gives you a glimpse into the grammar and how to apply your skills from the classroom. The more you read in Spanish, the better your comprehension will get.
Reading out loud in Spanish will also help with fluency so that you can hear your pronunciation and self-correct. It’s an accessible activity that you can use anytime and anywhere. Reading allows you to expand your knowledge in a varied way because there are many incredible Spanish authors to choose from! You will inevitably learn new words and notice new phrases and grammatical structures that will help you become fluent.
Without even being aware of it, you will start to learn new Spanish words. Reading helps you increase your familiarity with Spanish vocabulary and ensure that words become ingrained in your mind. It means that new Spanish words that were once unfamiliar will be easy to remember and put into practice.
The Best 6 Books by Julio Cortázar
I’ve compiled a list of Julio Cortázar’s best books to help you immerse yourself in Spanish literature. His work has been considered one the best in Latin America by The New York Times. Read on to find out why!
1. Hopscotch (Rayuela)
Rayuela is one of Julio Cortázar’s most famous stories. It follows Horacio Oliveira, an Argentinian writer that lives with his mistress also referred to as La Maga.
They have a group of bohemian friends that call themselves “the club.” But the unexpected death of a child and La Maga’s disappearance put an end to his empty life and made Oliveira return to Buenos Aires, Argentina. He works as a salesman and an attendant in an asylum. Hopscotch is the astonishing adventures of Horacio Oliveira.
This book was influenced by Henry Miller and Teitaro’s take on Buddhism.
2. We Love Glenda So Much (Queremos tanto a Glenda)
Queremos tanto a Glenda are ten superb short stories that include topics such as public and private rituals, nightmares, humor, violence, melancholy, and the realities of life.
From Orientación de los gatos (Orientation of Cats) to Anillo de Moebius (Moebius’ Ring,) these short stories turn literature into an anthology. From fascinating ambiguities to unique structures, Julio Cortázar turns concepts upside down and turns them into superb literature.
As in all great stories, he writes with an indefinable and persistent feeling unlike any other.
These stories are perfect for intermediate to advanced Spanish students that are looking to expand their vocabulary and learn in-depth the Argentine culture.
3. End of the Game (Final del Juego)
Final del Juego is one of Julio Cortázar’s most important short-story collections and many consider it one of the best of the 20th century. As usual, Julio Cortázar loved breaking the rules and making the rules when it comes to conventional narratives. In these 18 stories, Cortázar combines the intertextuality and colloquial expressions to describe a particular universe where nothing is what it seems.
This collection is more for advanced students because the author uses complex vocabulary but it’s a wonderful world he described in depth and that you’ll love to explore!
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4. Bestiary (Bestiario)
These 8 stories are absolute perfection. These masterpieces have youthful undertones and speak about daily happenings and objects making it ideal for intermediate to advanced Spanish learners. As usual, Julio Cortázar loves to pass from one dimension to another and from nightmare to revelation; but it wouldn’t be his work if it didn’t make you imagine the unimaginable. In each text he includes surprises and stories that will make you question what is happening. But I believe Julio loved to keep his readers on the edge of their seats. After reading these stories, you will be changed.
5. Cronopios and Famas (Historias de Cronopios y de Famas)
In the first chapter of Cronopios and Famas, you’ll find a strange assortment of items and tasks that need to be dissected. It’s in an instruction manual format so that the reader can interact with the stories. In the second chapter, Julio Cortázar describes the predilections and obsession of his family, including a tiger that lives with them, and it seems absurd but fascinating. We are eventually taken to Cronopios and Famas where he characterizes his enemies and once more takes us through an adventure with his writings. This literature is for a more advanced level but it will definitely expand your vocabulary and imagination when you read it.
6. All Fires the Fire (Todos los fuegos el fuego)
Todos los Fuegos el Fuego are Cortazar’s unique creative stories told as examples and metaphors so that the reader will be engaged. He compares the human relationship to a highway and explains the masterpiece that is the sky. He was truly a poet because his imagination was endless and that’s why his work is respected by so many. Julio Cortázar paves the way to stories that are beautiful for those that love to read.
This is another one geared towards more advanced students but as a student myself, I always love to push the boundaries and read texts that might be complex but beautiful to study. The more you read, the easier it gets.
Todos los fuegos el fuego is a unique masterpiece that you won’t want to miss.
Julio Cortázar Quotes
Here are some Julio Cortázar quotes for you to enjoy!
“We know that attention acts as a lightning rod. Merely by concentrating on something one causes endless analogies to collect around it, even penetrate the boundaries of the subject itself: an experience that we call coincidence, serendipity; the terminology is extensive. My experience has been that in these circular travels what is really significant surrounds a central absence, an absence that, paradoxically, is the text being written or to be written.”
“She would smile and show no surprise, convinced as she was, the same as I, that casual meetings are apt to be just the opposite, and that people who make dates are the same kind who need lines on their writing paper, or who always squeeze up from the bottom on a tube of toothpaste.”
“Before going back to sleep I imagined (I saw) a plastic universe, changeable, full of wondrous chance, an elastic sky, a sun that suddenly is missing or remains fixed or changes its shape.”
“As if you could pick in love, as if it were not a lightning bolt that splits your bones and leaves you staked out in the middle of the courtyard. (…) You don’t pick out the rain that soaks you to the skin when you come out of a concert.”
“All profound distraction opens certain doors. You have to allow yourself to be distracted when you are unable to concentrate.”
“Memory is a mirror that scandalously lies.”
Do You Love To Read?
Reading any of these incredible books by Julio Cortázar will inspire you to immerse yourself in the Hispanic culture. Spanish is a complex and fascinating language to learn. There’s nothing better than reading to learn a language well. Writers have proficient use of the language and the talent to make us use our imagination through the written word.
Spanish is growing and growing and continues to be spoken in and out of the U.S. Becoming bilingual can help you broaden your career options. Interpreters and translators are among the top five fastest-growing occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with opportunities expected to increase by 46% between 2012 and 2022.
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