Spanish writer Javier Marias as a sponsor and friend

DrJavier Marias died at a young age – he was not even 71 years old and a literary work was still growing, although it already covers more than thirty volumes – perhaps it is not appropriate to speak of what remains hidden from German readers: the man Javier Marias behind the novels and essays . That’s right, I thought you knew him when you saw him in the readings, as he was funny and amusing on the one hand, and arrogant and capricious on the other, depending on the mood of the day. The fickle was a part of him, and anyone who didn’t like him could lose patience with him. But everyone who knew him better, saw and heard more about him, knew of a character trait that is difficult to call what it was, for the word has long become obsolete and cannot be classified into genders: chivalry.

His friend, old writer Eduardo Mendoza now recalls two statements in El País about the death of Marías that he, Mendoza, had made decades ago: Javier Marías is the best writer in Spain and who treats women better. Which means: the woman in the novel, and her female characters. In fact, there is something noble about his women without them having to be whole, something uncommon and thoughtful, which Marias men do not always have, especially not so homosexual. Mendoza concluded that his friend feels the same way about life. And when I went to his readings, I saw her in the audience at first glance: almost all women. Not only because women are more empathetic beings and better readers anyway, but also because they specifically loved reading this writer, Javier Marías.

little island king

There are many examples of his chivalry and generosity, but one of them is modern, representing something like his words he left behind: his last column in El País, the newspaper to which he has been associated for several decades and nearly a thousand articles. It is a tribute to literary translators. To the people who scrutinize every word and put all their creative power, knowledge and experience at the service of other authors, while often remaining invisible, and for poor pay. Marias himself translated many books from English at a young age, and in his last article in the newspaper he tells us how enriching this work was for him – and that he did not later because his books got in the way and the drawings were simply too. bad. He was chivalrous with Elke Weir, his first translator into German who set the standards: when she died, he wrote an obituary for her in the FAZ. He was also chivalrous when it came to praising others. He once said several years ago that his own translation of “Tristram Shandy” by Laurence Stern “Tristram Shandy” was the best book he had ever written.

He was generous and chivalrous – apart from the audience, who noticed very little – even with his colleagues, provided that he respected them as artists. This was the condition. With his own money he donated a cultural prize called “Reino de Redonda” – the Kingdom of Redonda – in reference to a small uninhabited island in the Caribbean, near Antigua, of which Marias was “king” and on whose behalf he had not only one literary distinction, but also a Titles of nobles and court offices (FAZ of May 12, 2007).

Culture Award for Foreigners

You can see a game in it, but it was seriously played and had an ulterior motive: since Marias (or King Xavier I) had always thought that Spain did a lot of navel stares and had little knowledge of foreign cultures, I forgave he gave his prize only to artists and non-Spanish-speaking writers, directors, and historians: J.M. Coetzee, Eric Romer, George Steiner, Umberto Eco, Alice Munro, John H. Eliot, Claudio Magris, Milan Kundera, and a few others. . If WG Sebald was still alive, then surely he was there as well. And Thomas Bernhard anyway. But not Gunter Grass. But this is another story.

The winners received not only money, but also the title of Duke in the Kingdom of Redonda, a place that certainly stimulates artistic imagination, because only gannets, gulls and lizards live there. As a literary publisher, “Reino de Redonda” also published his own series of rediscovered books, especially Anglo-Saxon literature. Each volume had an appendix of Redonda’s noble titles and court offices; And, of course, the literary translators of Marias were also awarded honorary positions.

And in the newspaper “El País” he was bid farewell to some of his companions, including screenwriter Julia Altares, whose name spread a million times because Marias dedicated to her his best-selling book “Mein Herz soweiß” (1992, German 1996). Her obituary title: “Javier Marias Franco, Best Friend.” (Franco was his mother’s last name, Dolores.) Obviously, those who were closer to this man knew more. Those closest knew his shyness, loyalty and ferociousness. Now all we have left are his books.

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