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A Brief History of Portable Literature

Paperback

Enrique Vila-Matas (Author), Anne McLean (Translator), Thomas Bunstead (Translator)

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Description

A reader’s fictional tour of the art and lives of some of the great 20th-century Surrealists

An author (a version of Vila-Matas himself) presents a short “history” of a secret society, the Shandies, who are obsessed with the concept of “portable literature.” The society is entirely imagined, but in this rollicking, intellectually playful book, its members include writers and artists like Marcel Duchamp, Aleister Crowley, Witold Gombrowicz, Federico García Lorca, Man Ray, and Georgia O’Keefe. The Shandies meet secretly in apartments, hotels, and cafes all over Europe to discuss what great literature really is: brief, not too serious, penetrating the depths of the mysterious. We witness the Shandies having adventures in stationary submarines, underground caverns, African backwaters, and the cultural capitals of Europe. 

Reviews

“His intelligent playfulness and his fervor for written language are visible on every page and highlighted by this excellent translation. Vila-Matas is a master, one of the most gifted contemporary Spanish novelists.” — Publishers Weekly

“Vila-Matas's work made a tremendous impression on me. I was so fascinated by his humor, the incredible knowledge he has of all kinds of literature, his compassion for writers, and his fearlessness in taking on literary subjects and making that part of what he is writing about.” — Paul Auster

“Arguably Spain's most significant contemporary literary figure.” — Joanna Kavenna, The New Yorker

“Vila-Matas's touch is light and whimsical, while his allusions encompass a rogue's gallery of world literature.” — Time Out New York

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