A Brief History of Portable Literature (New Directions by Enrique Vila-Matas, Anne McLean, Thomas Bunstead

By Enrique Vila-Matas, Anne McLean, Thomas Bunstead

A reader’s fictional travel of the paintings and lives of a few of the nice 20th-century Surrealists

An writer (a model of Vila-Matas himself) offers a brief “history” of a mystery society, the Shandies, who're passionate about the concept that of “portable literature.” The society is completely imagined, yet during this rollicking, intellectually playful publication, its individuals contain writers and artists like Marcel Duchamp, Aleister Crowley, Witold Gombrowicz, Federico García Lorca, guy Ray, and Georgia O’Keefe. The Shandies meet secretly in flats, lodges, and cafes in all places Europe to debate what nice literature fairly is: short, now not too critical, penetrating the depths of the mysterious. We witness the Shandies having adventures in desk bound submarines, underground caverns, African backwaters, and the cultural capitals of Europe.

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Extra info for A Brief History of Portable Literature (New Directions Paperbook)

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Therefore, the portable conspiracy—whose principle characteristic was that of conspiring for the sake of conspiring—should be short-lived. Three years after Varèse’s fall and Bely’s breakdown—on the day of the Góngora tribute in Seville in 1927 to be precise—the Satanist Aleister Crowley, with a deliberately histrionic flourish, dissolved the secret society. Many years after Crowley set the Shandy eagle free, I find myself in a position to reveal that the portable society exists beyond the distant horizons of its members’ imagination.

The question didn’t surprise Littbarski, who answered: “He poured champagne over my powers of reason. ” Larbaud, choosing to believe that what he’d just heard was a metaphor, moved on to what he was actually interested in, proposing they organize a party that would bring together in Vienna the secret society’s most incisive members. ” That said, he asked if they might swap suitcases; an enigmatic petition, to which Littbarski said yes. Even Miriam Cendrars found it difficult to explain: “Whenever he spoke to me about the preparations for the party, Larbaud would go quiet at this point.

He keeps the umbrella furled and his pocket watch inside a grey suede protective sleeve, and he also keeps the penknife that he uses as a pencil sharpener stowed in a case; he even seems to have his face sheathed, because he always hides it with the upturned collar of his coat. He wears dark glasses, a wool shirt, stuffs his ears with cotton wool, and when he gets in a car, he orders the driver to put the top up. In a word, this individual displays a constant tendency to create something akin to a casing that isolates him and protects him from all manner of prying eyes.

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