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By César Aira

An magnificent novel from Argentina that could be a meditation at the attractive and the gruesome in nature, the paintings of panorama portray, and one adventure in a man's lifestyles that grew to become a lightning rod for inspiration.

An Episode within the lifetime of a panorama Painter is the tale of a second within the lifetime of the German artist Johan Moritz Rugendas (1802-1858). tremendously widespread as a grasp panorama painter, he used to be prompt via Alexander von Humboldt to shuttle West from Europe to checklist the incredible landscapes of Chile, Argentina, and Mexico. Rugendas did in reality turn into the most effective of the nineteenth-century ecu painters to enterprise into Latin the United States. even though this isn't a biography of Rugendas. This paintings of fiction weaves a virtually surreal historical past round the mystery target in the back of Rugendas' journeys to the USA: to go to Argentina so one can in attaining in paintings the "physiognomic totality" of von Humboldt's clinical imaginative and prescient of the total. Rugendas is confident that basically within the mysterious vastness of the enormous plains will he locate real suggestion. a quick and dramatic stopover at to Mendosa provides him the opportunity to satisfy his dream. From there he travels immediately out onto the pampas, praying for that very unlikely second, which might come simply at an enormous pricean virtually monstrously exorbitant rate that will eventually problem his drawing and strength him to create a brand new means of creating paintings. a wierd episode that he couldn't keep away from soaking up savagely into his personal physique interrupts the journey and irreversibly and explosively marks him for all times.

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Extra resources for An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (New Directions Paperbook)

Example text

There was a high-pitched squealing in his ears. He would never have imagined that his nervous system could produce so much pain; it was a revelation of what his body could do. He had to take massive doses of morphine and the attacks left him fragile, as if perched on stilts, his hands and feet very far away. Little by little he began to reconstruct the accident, and was able to tell Krause about it. The horse had survived, and was still useful; in fact, it was the one he usually chose to ride. He renamed it Flash.

Meanwhile, what he was capable of painting took a new and rather unexpected, form. In the process of hiring a guide, he came into contact with a supremely fascinating object: the large carts used for journeys across the pampas. These were contraptions of monstrous size, as if built to give the impression that no natural force could make them budge. The first time he saw one, he gazed at it intently for a long time. Here, at last, in the cart's vast size, he saw the magic of the great plains embodied and the mechanics of flat surfaces finally put to use.

A natural or cultural scene, however detailed, gave no indication of how it had come into being, the order in which its components had appeared or the causal chains that had led to that particular configuration. And this was precisely why man surrounded himself with a plethora of stories: they satisfied the need to know how things had been made. Now, taking this as his starting point, Rugendas went one step further and arrived at a rather paradoxical conclusion. He suggested, hypothetically, that, were all the storytellers to fall silent, nothing would be lost, since the present generation, or those of the future, could experience the events of the past without needing to be told about them, simply by recombining or yielding to the available facts, although, in either case, such action could only be born of a deliberate resolution.

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