January 20, 2018

Book review

Friday, July 14, 2017

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By Herald Staff
La constelación del sur by Patricia Willson (Colección Metamorfosis), 296 pages

The translation of books from other languages was not always accepted as automatically as it would be today — in mid-century there was a cultural nationalism at odds with the more cosmopolitan writers headed by Victoria Ocampo and starring Jorge Luis Borges or those who felt that an immigrant society should also be importing its literature. It was Victoria Ocampo’s journal Sur which initiated the custom of translating overseas masterpieces for motives which were democratic and élitist at the same time —William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet and Graham Greene, among others, were all faithfully translated by a school of translators including Borges and Ocampo herself (portrayed here as a vanguard writer and a romantic respectively). The debate over this inculcation of foreign influences into Argentina, presenting the translations of European and North American writers as models for local writers, is the main theme of this book (subtitled “traductores y traducciones en la literatura argentina del siglo xx”). Resisted or not, a certain influence on national literature was inevitable, concludes Willson.                              

La lucha por el pasado; cómo construimos la memoria social by Elizabeth Jelin (Siglo XXI Editores), 304 pages

“History is written by the winners,” runs a local saying but who constructs the social memory? And how does that social memory compete with the history books when it comes to defining the past? In these pages the past is far from being an inanimate object or a closed book but constantly returns to life as a key tool for guiding the present and projecting the future. When that past includes political violence, the memories become especially charged — although the need for oblivion also rises. This book is not an abstract speculation about how the social memory is constructed around the world and through the ages but very much centred on the Argentine experience of the 1970s (although also looking at that violent decade elsewhere in the region and in the world). In Argentina, the human rights movements clearly emerge as fundamental protagonists when it comes to constructing that memory. Yet Jelin underlines that this memory should not be considered as confined to the folklore narratives of unwritten tradition but also influences the approach of serious researchers, as well as the civic and political commitments of democratic society at large.                     

El fútbol, de la mano by Eduardo Sacheri (ALFAGUARA), 168 pages

This veteran sports columnist vows that he has never found a better subject than soccer to start a conversation rolling. And no matter where that dialogue unfolds, he always feels that he is on the terraces waiting for the teams to come out. The conversation can take so many forms — personal anecdotes, insults, informed comment, high-minded statements of principle, primitive loyalties, etc. — yet life and soccer are always found to be intermingled. In order to keep the spirit of a current conversation, Sacheri is not interested in going back too far in time but draws his material from the years between 2011 and 2015, compiling texts from the sports magazine El Gráfico among other sources (even if there is also the odd history lesson). The themes are endless — whether results are everything or whether the sport transcends winning or losing, whether watching a match in a stadium is a shared or solitary experience, whether getting there (by bus or by plane) is half the fun, all the new and old customs accompanying the sport, etc. Sacheri even advances the curious thesis that a goal scored from a spectacular free kick can be a way of fighting insomnia. Not so much a book as a lively conversation with the reader.                        
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Edition No. 5055 - This publication is a property of NEFIR S.A. -RNPI Nº 5343955 - Issn 1852 - 9224 - Te. 4349-1500 - San Juan 141 , (C1063ACY) CABA - Director Perdiodístico: Ricardo Daloia