By Jose Asuncion Silva
Misplaced in a shipwreck in 1895, rewritten earlier than the author's suicide in 1896, and never released until eventually 1925, Jose Asuncion Silva's "After-Dinner dialog" (De sobremesa) is one in every of Latin America's most interesting fin de siecle novels and the 1st one to be translated into English. maybe the only top paintings for realizing turn-of-the-twentieth-century writing in South the United States, "After-Dinner dialog" can also be brought up because the continent's first mental novel and an excellent instance of modernista fiction and the Decadent sensibility. Semi-autobiographical and extra very important for sort than plot, "After-Dinner dialog" is the diary of a Decadent sensation-collector in exile in Paris who undertakes a quest to discover his cherished Helen, a imaginative and prescient whom his fevered mind's eye sees as his salvation.Along the best way, he struggles with irreconcilable urges and temptations that pull him in each course whereas he endures an atmosphere detached or adversarial to religious and highbrow objectives, as did the modernista writers themselves. Kelly Washbourne's very good translation preserves Silva's lush prose and experimental type. within the creation, the most wide-ranging in Silva feedback, Washbourne locations the lifestyles and paintings of Silva of their literary and historic contexts, together with a longer dialogue of the way "After-Dinner dialog" matches inside of Spanish American modernismo and the Decadent flow. Washbourne's perceptive reviews and notes additionally make the radical available to common readers, who will locate the paintings unusually clean greater than a century after its composition.
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Extra info for After-Dinner Conversation: The Diary of a Decadent (Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture)
What the paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. Desire, at the end, was a [37–38] malady, or madness, or both . . Consider Fernández’s long lament of 1 September, which culminates with love displacing belief: And in what will you believe, my melancholic, fervent soul, if . . the gods have all died? Perhaps Love had bitter and ecstatic flavors that could replace faith. 38 And again, the desire to believe is not abandoned; it is displaced, and variously misdirected by Fernández, who is an “abandoned church,” in his phrase, but a church nonetheless, a temple or a body fallen from grace.
I would venture the objection to those who see sexualized bodies in the novel that what we actually read are the metonymies of acts that in fact hide their physicality; “sobs of voluptuosity” but not voluptuosity, a lesbian act but not the word lesbian applied to it. 31 Another word is elided: adultery in Fernández’s conquest of Consuelo, who confesses her fears to José (1 September) about the “crimen sin nombre” (“unspeakable crime,” literally, “crime without a name”) they are committing. 32 The literally “nameless” crime stands as a counterpoint to the novel’s proliferation of names in the medical, or in Lacanian terms, symbolic, order.
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes. Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart, Vulture, whose wings are dull realities? 34 Nevertheless the two are merged in the work, as when Helen returns his gaze as a doctor would look on an ulcerous patient. After-Dinner Conversation is “the first Colombian heterodox novel to clearly unfurl the fundamental devices of erotic expression: pretext, digression, verbosity, and a more skillful articulation of action and description” ( Jaramillo Zuluaga, “Desire,” 48).