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Nocturno de Chile (By Night in Chile) / Edition 1

Nocturno de Chile (By Night in Chile) / Edition 1

by Roberto Bolaño
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Sebastián Urrutia Lacroix, sacerdote del Opus Dei, crítico literario y poeta mediocre, revisa su vida en una noche de fiebre alta en la que cree que va a morir. Y en su delirio febril van apareciendo Jünger y un pintor guatemalteco que se deja morir de inanición en el París de 1943, un Pinochet al que el protagonista da clases de marxismo, el ya anciano pope de la crítica nacional, una misteriosa mujer en cuya casa se reúne lo más granado de la literatura chilena& , todo ello mientras en las calles de Santiago impera el toque de queda. Una novela escalofriante, imprescindible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9788433924643
Publisher: Anagrama
Publication date: 10/31/2013
Edition description: Spanish-language Edition
Pages: 152
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Roberto Bolaño nació en Santiago, Chile, en 1953. Pasó gran parte de su vida en México y en España, donde murió a la edad de cincuenta años. Es autor de numerosas obras de ficción, no ficción y poesía. Su libro Los detectives salvajes ganó el Premio Rómulo Gallegos de Novela y fue uno de los Mejores Libros del 2007 para The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times y The New York Times Book Review. En 2008, recibió póstumamente el Premio de Ficción del National Book Critics Circle por 2666.

Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2000

Roberto Bolaño and Editorial Anagrama
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8112-1547-4


Chapter One

I am dying now, but I still have many things to
say. I used to be at peace with myself. Quiet and at peace.
But it all blew up unexpectedly. That wizened youth is to
blame. I was at peace. I am no longer at peace. There are a
couple of points that have to be cleared up. So, propped up on
one elbow, I will lift my noble, trembling head, and rummage
through my memories to turn up the deeds that shall vindicate
me and belie the slanderous rumours the wizened youth spread
in a single storm-lit night to sully my name. Or so he intended.
One has to be responsible, as I have always said. One has a moral
obligation to take responsibility for one's actions, and that includes
one's words and silences, yes, one's silences, because silences rise to
heaven too, and God hears them, and only God understands and
judges them, so one must be very careful with one's silences. I am
responsible in every way. My silences are immaculate. Let me make
that clear. Clear to God above all. The rest I can forego. But not
God. I don't know how I got on to this. Sometimes I find myself
propped up on one elbow, rambling on and dreaming and trying
to make peace with myself. But sometimes I even forget my own
name. My name is Sebastián Urrutia Lacroix. I am Chilean. My
ancestors on my father's side came from the Basque country, or
Euskadi, as it is now called. On my mother's side I hail from the
gentle land of France, from a village whose name means Man on
the Earth or perhaps Standing Man, my French is failing me as
the end draws near. But I still have strength enough to remember
and rebut the wizened youth's affronts, flung in my face one day,
when without the slightest provocation and quite out of the blue,
he appeared at the door of my house and insulted me. Let me
make that clear. My aim is not to stir up conflict, it never has
been, my aims are peace and responsibility for one's actions, for
one's words and silences. I am a reasonable man. I have always
been a reasonable man. At the age of thirteen I heard God's call
and decided to enter a seminary. My father was opposed to the
idea. He was not absolutely inflexible, but he was opposed to
the idea. I can still remember his shadow slipping from room
to room in our house, as if it were the shadow of a weasel or an
eel. And I remember, I don't know how, but the fact is that I do
remember my smile in the midst of the darkness, the smile of the
child I was. And I remember a hunting scene on a tapestry. And a
metal dish on which a meal was depicted with all the appropriate
decorations. My smile and my trembling. And a year later, at the
age of fourteen, I entered the seminary, and when I came out again,
much later on, my mother kissed my hand and called me Father or
I thought I heard her say Father, and when, in my astonishment,
I protested, saying Don't call me Father, mother, I am your son,
or maybe I didn't say Your son but The son, she began to cry or
weep and then I thought, or maybe the thought has only occurred
to me now, that life is a succession of misunderstandings, leading
us on to the final truth, the only truth. And a little earlier or a little
later, that is to say a few days before being ordained a priest or a
couple of days after taking holy vows, I met Farewell, the famous
Farewell, I don't remember exactly where, probably at his house,
I did go to his house, although maybe I made the pilgrimage to
the newspaper's editorial offices or perhaps I saw him for the first
time at his club, one melancholy afternoon, like so many April
afternoons in Santiago, although in my soul birds were singing
and buds were bursting into flower, as the poet says, and there
was Farewell, tall, a metre and eighty centimetres, although he
seemed two metres tall to me, wearing a grey suit of fine English
cloth, hand-made shoes, a silk tie, a white shirt as immaculate
as my hopes, gold cufflinks, a tie-pin bearing insignia I did not
wish to interpret but whose meaning by no means escaped me,
and Farewell invited me to sit down beside him, very close, or
perhaps before that he took me into his library or the library of
the club, and while we looked over the spines of the books he
began to clear his throat, and while he was clearing his throat
he may have been watching me out of the corner of his eye,
although I can't be sure, since I kept my eyes fixed on the books,
and then he said something I didn't understand or something my
memory has not retained, and after that we sat down again, he
in a Chesterfield, I on a chair, and we talked about the books
whose spines we had been looking at and caressing, my young
fingers fresh from the seminary, Farewell's thick fingers already
rather crooked, not surprisingly given his age and his height, and
we spoke about the books and the authors of the books, and
Farewell's voice was like the voice of a large bird of prey soaring
over rivers and mountains and valleys and ravines, never at a loss
for the appropriate expression, the sentence that fitted his thought
like a glove, and when with the naïveté of a fledgling, I said that
I wanted to be a literary critic, that I wanted to follow in his
footsteps, that for me nothing on earth could be more fulfilling
than to read, and to present the results of my reading in good prose,
when I said that, Farewell smiled and put his hand on my shoulder
(a hand that felt as heavy as if it were encased in an iron gauntlet
or heavier still) and he met my gaze and said it was not an easy
path. In this barbaric country, the critic's path, he said, is not strewn
with roses. In this country of estate owners, he said, literature is
an oddity and nobody values knowing how to read. And since, in
my timidity, I did not reply, he brought his face closer to mine
and asked if something had upset or offended me. Perhaps you
have an estate or your father does? No, I said. Well, I do, said
Farewell, I have an estate near Chillán, with a little vineyard that
produces quite passable wine. And without further ado he invited
me to spend the following weekend at his estate, which was named
after one of Huysmans' books, I can't remember which one now,
maybe À Rebours or Là-bas, perhaps it was even called
L'Oblat, my memory is failing me, I think it was called Là-bas,
and that was the name of the wine as well, and after issuing this invitation
Farewell fell silent although his blue eyes remained fixed on mine,
and I was silent too and, unable to meet Farewell's penetrating
gaze, I modestly lowered my eyes, like a wounded fledgling, and
imagined that estate where the critic's path was indeed strewn with
roses, where knowing how to read was valued, and where taste was
more important than practical necessities and obligations, and then
I looked up again and my seminarist's eyes met Farewell's falcon
eyes and I said yes, several times, I said yes I would go, it would
be an honour to spend the weekend at the estate of Chile's greatest
literary critic. And when the appointed day arrived, my soul was a
welter of confusion and uncertainty, I didn't know what clothes
to wear, a cassock or layman's clothes: if I opted for layman's
clothes, I didn't know which to choose, and if I opted for the
cassock, I was worried about making the wrong impression. Nor
did I know what books to take for the train journey there and
back, perhaps a History of Italy for the outward journey, perhaps
Farewell's Anthology of Chilean Poetry for the return journey. Or
maybe the other way round. And I didn't know which writers
(Farewell always invited writers to his estate) I might meet at
Là-bas, perhaps the poet Uribarrena, author of splendid sonnets
on religious themes, perhaps Montoya Eyzaguirre, a fine and
concise prose stylist, perhaps Baldomero Lizamendi Errázuriz, the
celebrated and orotund historian. All three were friends of Farewell.
But given the number of Farewell's friends and enemies speculation
was idle. When the appointed day arrived, my heart was heavy as
I felt the train pull out of the station, but at the same time I was
ready to swallow whatever bitter draughts God in his wisdom had
prepared for me. I remember as clearly as if it were today (indeed
more clearly still) the Chilean countryside and the Chilean cows
with their black splotches (or white ones, depending) grazing beside
the railway lines. From time to time the clickety-clack of the train
set me dozing. I shut my eyes. I shut them as I am shutting them
now. But then I opened them again suddenly, and there before
me was the landscape: varied, rich, exultant and melancholy by
turns. When the train arrived in Chillán, I took a taxi which
dropped me in a village called Querquén, in what I suppose was
the main square, although it was not much of a square and showed
no signs of human presence. I paid the taxi driver, got out with my
suitcase, surveyed my surroundings, and just as I was turning to
ask the driver something or get back into the taxi and return
forthwith to Chillán and then to Santiago, it sped off without
warning, as if the somewhat ominous solitude of the place had
unleashed atavistic fears in the driver's mind. For a moment I too
was afraid. I must have been a sorry sight standing there helplessly
with my suitcase from the seminary, holding a copy of Farewell's
Anthology in one hand. Some birds flew out from behind a clump
of trees. They seemed to be screaming the name of that forsaken
village, Querquén, but they also seemed to be enquiring who: quién,
quién, quién
. I said a hasty prayer and headed for a wooden bench,
there to recover a composure more in keeping with what I was, or
what at the time I considered myself to be. Our Lady, do not
abandon your servant, I murmured, while the black birds, about
twenty-five centimetres in length, cried quién, quién, quién, Our
Lady of Lourdes, do not abandon your poor priest, I murmured,
while other birds, about ten centimetres long, brown in colour, or
brownish, rather, with white breasts, called out, but not as loudly,
quién, quién, quién, Our Lady of Suffering, Our Lady of Insight,
Our Lady of Poetry, do not leave your devoted subject at the mercy
of the elements, I murmured, while several tiny birds, magenta,
black, fuchsia, yellow and blue in colour, wailed quién, quién,
, at which point a cold wind sprang up suddenly, chilling
me to the bone. Then, at the end of the dirt road, there appeared
a sort of tilbury or cabriolet or carriage pulled by two horses, one
cream, one piebald, and, as it drew near, its silhouette looming on
the horizon cut a figure I can only describe as ruinous, as if that
equipage were coming to take someone away to Hell. When it was
only a few metres from me, the driver, a farmer wearing just a smock
and a sleeveless vest in spite of the cold, asked me if I was Mr Urrutia
Lacroix. He mangled not only my second name, but the first as well.
I said yes, I was the man he was looking for. Then, without a word,
the farmer climbed down, put my suitcase in the back of the carriage
and invited me to take a seat beside him. Suspicious, and numbed
by the icy wind coming down off the slopes of the Cordillera, I
asked him if he was from Mr Farewell's estate. No I'm not, said the
farmer. You're not from Là-bas? I asked through chattering teeth.
Yes I am, but I don't know any Mr Farewell, replied the good soul.
Then I understood what should have been obvious from the start.
Farewell was the critic's pseudonym. I tried to remember his real
name. I knew that his first family name was González, but I could
not remember the second, and for a few moments I was in two
minds as to whether I should say I was a guest of Mr González, plain
Mr González, or keep quiet. I decided to keep quiet. I leant back
against the seat and shut my eyes. The farmer asked if I was feeling
ill. I heard his voice, faint as a whisper, snatched away immediately
by the wind, and just then I remembered Farewell's second family
name: Lamarca. I am a guest of Mr González Lamarca, I said,
heaving a sigh of relief. He is expecting you, said the farmer.
As we left Querquén and its birds behind I felt a sense of
triumph. Farewell was waiting for me at Là-bas with a young
poet whose name was unfamiliar to me. They were both in the
living room, although the expression "living room" is woefully
inadequate to describe that combination of library and hunting
lodge, lined with shelves full of encyclopedias, dictionaries and
souvenirs that Farewell had bought on his journeys through Europe
and North Africa, as well as at least a dozen mounted heads,
including those of a pair of pumas bagged by Farewell's father, no
less. They were talking about poetry, naturally, and although they
broke off their conversation when I arrived, as soon as I had been
shown to my room on the second floor, they took up it up again.
I remember that although I wanted to participate, as indeed they
kindly invited me to do, I chose to remain silent. As well as being
interested in criticism, I also wrote poetry and my intuition told me
that to immerse myself in the lively and effervescent conversation
Farewell was having with the young poet would be like putting
to sea in stormy waters. I remember we drank cognac and at one
point, while I was looking over the hefty tomes of Farewell's library,
I felt deeply disconsolate. Every now and then, Farewell burst into
excessively sonorous laughter. At each of these guffaws, I looked
at him out the cornet of my eye. He looked like the god Pan,
or Bacchus in his den, or some demented Spanish conquistador
ensconced in a southern fort. The young bard's laugh, by contrast,
was slender as wire, nervous wire, and always followed Farewell's
guffaw, like a dragonfly following a snake. At some point Farewell
announced that he was expecting other guests for dinner that night.
I turned my head and pricked up my ears, but our host was giving
nothing away. Later I went out for a stroll in the gardens of the
estate. I must have lost my way. I felt cold. Beyond the gardens
lay the country, wilderness, the shadows of the trees that seemed
to be calling me. It was unbearably damp. I came across a cabin
or maybe it was a shed with a light shining in one of its windows.
I went up to it. I heard a man laughing and a woman protesting.
The door of the cabin was ajar. I heard a dog barking. I knocked
and went in without waiting for a reply. There were three men
sitting around a table, three of Farewell's farm-hands, and, beside a
wood stove, two women, one old, the other young, who, as soon as
they saw me, came and took my hands in theirs. Their hands were
rough. How good of you to come, Father, said the older woman,
kneeling before me and pressing my hand to her lips. I was afraid
and disgusted, but I let her do it. The men had risen from their
seats. Sit yourself down, son, I mean Father, said one of them. Only
then did I realize with a shudder that I was still wearing the cassock
I had travelled in. I could have sworn I had changed when I went
up to the room Farewell had set aside for me.


Excerpted from BY NIGHT IN CHILE
Copyright © 2000 by Roberto Bolaño and Editorial Anagrama.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Nocturno de Chile (By Night in Chile) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
emed0s on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Un uso extremadamente sofisticado del lenguaje, una pena que el contenido no este a la altura del continente.