He says José Manuel Caballero Bonald at the beginning of Reader’s office (Seix Barral, 2013) that, over time, the successive taste corners readings that were preferred, while “books that did not deserve any appreciation” end “rediscovered with some delight. Nor is it improbable, “continues the teacher from Jerez,” that the natural mobility of selective reading habits motivates that the personal canon of truly durable writers ends up being reduced to half a dozen classics “.
After that book Knight Bonald published Wits exam (2017) in the same editorial. This constituted an exhaustive revisit of his to writers or characters of the cultural life of the various generations of the 20th century, whom he personally frequented and read or treated in detail. The combination of both books, one of criticism (or whatever you want to call it, since he does not arrogate to himself “the arduous business of the critic”) and another of portraits, shapes the profile of a way of being, which is also a way of read, proper to the author of Cat’s eye agate.
What stands out in these books from Caballero Bonald, one of the most generous writers in Spanish history of the 20th century, capable of helping all who have come to his door, is the radical independence of judgment, an unbearable way of putting all reading to the sovereign service of your taste and never asking forgiveness for it.
Both books are an abundant, and movable, personal canon, which he crumbles into Wits exam to put things, and history, in their right place. They are no longer individual books, works that are a circumstance in the writers’ trajectory, random, on the other hand, to the liking of the reader. They are sugar tests, of which some leave with minor injuries, others are seriously injured and, finally, a few are comforted by the gaze of the demanding teacher.
The demand of the Jerez master is described in his consideration of the greatest of any canon. Miguel de Cervantes and his literary attributes help him to slide his way of reading, his paradigm of taste. Poetry, what there is of poetry in writing, seems to Caballero Bonald the irreplaceable music of literature. And Cervantes has it, in Don Quixote and wherever he is sought. Caballero says that “Cervantes is a great poet in prose”, and that as a result his major work deserves to be considered, in significant parts, also the work of a poet.
Wits exam Y Reader’s office they are communicating vessels, characters and books circulate together by the hand of a formidable portraitist (and self-portraitist), who in the cases of his contemporaries (Aldecoa, Blas de Otero, José Hierro, Carlos Barral …, almost the entire payroll of the last century) They are not only treated for their literary virtues but for their human garments, some of which seem truly tattered. As he is already happily married (with Pepa Ramis, and for several centuries, as he would say), neither in that nor this book does he marry anyone. So when it came out Wit test, above all, the cave of egos in which Spanish literature takes refuge, or anywhere else, rejoiced, was amazed or felt hurt because some of the popes jumped off the pedestal where they had been praised (or cornered) by laziness.
Returning to those books, such a special canon, so demanding, so fun, also guarantees the end of a period of history that in so grim and conventional a way has turned Spanish literature into a world of good and bad that were not so good. not so bad. They were, perhaps, poorly read or poorly portrayed, and Caballero Bonald came to say of each one of them, from Azorín and Baroja to Juan Gelman and Francisco Umbral, among almost four hundred, what was great, sandy or despicable in their respective cathedrals .
These are some of the characters, writers or not, portrayed by Caballero Bonald in Wits exam.
Jorge Luis Borges
The Girl with Combs
Camilo José Cela
José Lezama Lima
Guillermo Cabrera Infante
Mario Vargas Llosa