Books

Thus Bad Begins

Javier Marías

Award-winning author Javier Marías weaves a darkly thrilling tale of love, betrayal and lives played out in the unhappy shadow of history

As a young man, Juan de Vere takes a job that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Hi employer is Eduardo Muriel: a famous film director, sophisticated and discreet. Muriel's wife Beatriz is a soft, ripe woman who slips through her husband's home like an unwanted ghost, finding solace in other beds. And on the periphery of their lives stands Dr Jorge Van Vechten, a old family friend with a shadowy past. Juan enters eagerly into Muriel's world of glamour and prestige, but as time passes he is troubled by many questions that seem to have no answer. Why does Muriel hate Beatriz? How did Beatriz meet Van Vechten? And what happened in the chaotic years after the war?

As Juan learns more about his employers, his own innocence begins to fall away. Though he starts off as a mere observer, he is soon unable to stand on the side lines, compelled to interfere ever more dangerously in the dark interior of other people's lives.

Marias presents a study of the infinitely permeable boundaries between private and public selves, between observer and participant, between the deceptions we suffer from others and those we enact upon ourselves.

'No one else, anywhere, is writing quite like this' Daily Telegraph on The Infatuations

Venice, An Interior

Javier Marías

An essential companion for every traveller to Venice, this is the hidden city revealed in a gorgeous non-fiction account by one of Europe's greatest living writers, Javier Marías

Century after century, the essence of Venice is unchanging. It is a place of contradictions, equal parts glamour and chaos. As a young man, Javier Marías made the city his home; since then he has left and returned many times, drawn back to its labyrinth of blind alleys, its pearly green canals, its imagined spaces.

His love affair with the city has lasted over thirty years - he has traced every inch of its endless interior, has lived among the Venetians and lived apart from them. In Venice, An Interior, Marías sets out to uncover the heart of this strange and enchanting place.

Written Lives

Javier Marías

In these short, capricious and irreverent portraits of twenty-six great writers, from Joyce to Nabokov, Sterne to Wilde, Javier Marías, winner of the Dublin IMPAC prize and author of the bestselling A Heart So White, throws unexpected, and very human, light on authors too often enshrined in the halo of artistic sainthood. Revealing that Conrad actually hated sailing and Emily Brontë was so tough she was known as 'The Major', among many other stories of eccentricity, drunkenness and even murder, this joyful book uses unusual angles and peculiar details to illuminate writers' lives in a new way.

Javier Marías was born in Madrid in 1951. He has published ten novels, two collections of short stories and several volumes of essays. His work has been translated into thirty-two languages and won a dazzling array of international literary awards, including the prestigious Dublin IMPAC award for A Heart So White. He is also a highly practised translator into Spanish of English authors, including Joseph Conrad, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Thomas Browne and Laurence Sterne. He has held academic posts in Spain, the United States and in Britain, as Lecturer in Spanish Literature at Oxford University.

The Infatuations

Javier Marías (and others)

The Infatuations is a critically acclaimed novel by the great Spanish writer Javier Marías.

Every day, Maria Dolz stops for breakfast at the same café. And every day she enjoys watching a handsome couple who follow the same routine. Then one day they aren't there, and she feels obscurely bereft.

It is only later, when she comes across a newspaper photograph of the man, lying stabbed in the street, his shirt half off, that she discovers who the couple are. Some time afterwards, when the woman returns to the café with her children, who are then collected by a different man, and Maria approaches her to offer her condolences, an entanglement begins which sheds new light on this apparently random, pointless death.

With The Infatuations, Javier Marías brilliantly reimagines the murder novel as a metaphysical enquiry, addressing existential questions of life, death, love and morality.

Praise for The Infatuations:

'Mesmerising . . . chillingly clear and hypnotically eerie . . . At this very fine and disturbing novel's core is a compelling meditation on love in all its ramifications' Herald

'Keeps us guessing until almost the last page' Financial Times

'Few writers have sustained such an engagement with the classic (Anglophone) canon. As a translator he has rendered into Spanish work by Hardy, Yeats, Conrad, Nabokov, Faulkner, Updike, Salinger and many others. As a novelist, he has threaded his work with traces of these writers, and is explicitly underpinned by an empathy with Shakespeare and Sterne, as well as Cervantes and Proust' Guardian

Javier Marías was born in Madrid in 1951. He has published thirteen novels, two collections of short stories and several volumes of essays. His work has been translated into forty-two languages and won a dazzling array of international literary awards.

Margaret Jull Costa has been a literary translator for over twenty-five years and has translated many novels and short stories by Portuguese, Spanish and Latin American writers, including Javier Marías, Fernando Pessoa, José Saramago, Bernardo Atxaga and Ramón del Valle-Inclán.

Dark Back of Time

Javier Marías

Dark Back of Time is a compelling story of the way in which reality blurs into fiction by Javier Marías, whose highly-anticipated new novel The Infatuations is published in 2013. It is translated by Esther Allen in Penguin Modern Classics.

'We lose everything because everything remains except us', says the mysterious narrator of this extraordinary novel, which meditates on the transience, chance and fragility of life. As a man called Javier Marías recalls the strange events and people that shaped his past, including ghostly literary figures, a pilot, an adventurer, a brother who died as a child and the king of an island in the Caribbean, we begin to question the nature of time, memory and reality itself. Here the writer is both a keeper of memories and a purveyor of illusions, destined to be lost in the dark back of time.

Javier Marías was born in Madrid in 1951. He has published ten novels, two collections of short stories and several volumes of essays. His work has been translated into thirty-two languages and won a dazzling array of international literary awards, including the prestigious Dublin IMPAC award for A Heart So White. He is also a highly practised translator into Spanish of English authors, including Joseph Conrad, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Thomas Browne and Laurence Sterne.

'I was enthralled by his strange mix of made-up memories, lost experiences and real-life fantasies' Marina Warner, Guardian

'He uses language like an anatomist uses a scalpel to lay bare the innermost secrets of that strangest of species, the human being' W. G. Sebald, author of Austerlitz

When I Was Mortal

Javier Marías

In the dark narratives that make up When I Was Mortal by Javier Marías, winner of the Dublin IMPAC prize and author of the bestselling A Heart So White, a dapper Paris doctor dispenses a treatment for dissatisfied wives. A mother auditions for her first porn movie. A writer working on a study of pain makes himself the subject of his experiments. A voyeur mistakes a murderer for a fellow peeping tom ... these are some of the characters observed by the narrator of these chilling stories. Ironic, unsettling, imbued with dread and with droll humour, Javier Marías' short tales cast a shrewd, sardonic eye on humanity.

Javier Marías was born in Madrid in 1951. He has published ten novels, two collections of short stories and several volumes of essays. His work has been translated into thirty-two languages and won a dazzling array of international literary awards, including the prestigious Dublin IMPAC award for A Heart So White. He is also a highly practised translator into Spanish of English authors, including Joseph Conrad, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Thomas Browne and Laurence Sterne. He has held academic posts in Spain, the United States and in Britain, as Lecturer in Spanish Literature at Oxford University.

A Heart so White

Javier Marías

A Heart so White is the breathtaking international bestseller and IMPAC Award-winning masterpiece by Javier Marías, whose highly-anticipated new novel The Infatuations is published in 2013. This Penguin Modern Classics edition features a new Introduction by Jonathan Coe.

A Heart so White begins as, In the middle of a family lunch Teresa, just married, goes to the bathroom, unbuttons her blouse and shoots herself in the heart. What made her kill herself immediately after her honeymoon? Years later, this mystery fascinates the young newlywed Juan, whose father was married to Teresa before he married Juan's mother. As Juan edges closer to the truth, he begins to question his own relationships, and whether he really wants to know what happened. Haunting and unsettling, A Heart So White is a breathtaking portrayal of two generations, two marriages, the relentless power of the past and the terrible price of knowledge.

Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me

Javier Marías

Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me is a gripping and moving meditation on the hold that the dead have over the living, by Javier Marías, whose highly-anticipated new novel The Infatuations is published in 2013.

Víctor, a ghostwriter, is just about to have an affair with Marta, a married woman, when - in the bedroom, half-undressed - she drops dead in his arms. He panics and slips away. But Marta's family are all too aware that she was not alone when she died, and Deán, the widowed husband, is determined to find out who was sharing her bed that night. Víctor, accustomed to a life of pretending, finds that he cannot live in the shadows forever.

All Souls

Javier Marías

All Souls is a compelling black comedy of Oxford life by Javier Marías, whose highly-anticipated new novel The Infatuations is published in 2013. This Penguin Modern Classics edition features a new Introduction by John Banville, author of The Sea.

The pretty young tutor Clare Bayes attracts many eyes at an Oxford college dinner, not least those of a visiting Spanish lecturer (desperate to escape his conversation with an obese economist about an eighteenth-century cider tax). As they begin an affair, meeting in hotel bedrooms away from the eyes of Clare's husband, the Spaniard finds himself increasingly drawn into the strange world of Oxford, 'one of the cities in the world where the least work gets done', in a story of lust, loneliness, vanity and memory. Filled with brilliant set pieces and pin-sharp observation, All Souls is a masterpiece of black humour.

The Man of Feeling

Javier Marías

The Man of Feeling is a story of love and memory by Javier Marías, whose highly-anticipated new novel The Infatuations is published in 2013.

On a train journey from Paris to Madrid a young opera singer becomes fascinated by those in his compartment: a middle-aged businessman, his alluring wife and their male travelling companion. Soon his life of constant travel, luxury hotels, rehearsal and performance will become entangled with these three people, and the singer will find himself fatefully consumed by Natalia's beauty. The Man of Feeling is the haunting story of the birth and death of a passion, told in retrospect. Intricately interweaving desire and memory, it explores the nature of love, and asks whether we can ever truly recall something that no longer exists.

Your Face Tomorrow 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell

Javier Marías (and others)

Poison, Shadow and Farewell is the concluding part in Javier Marías spy trilogy masterwork, Your Face Tomorrow.

Jacques Deza is back in London and once again working for the secret intelligence agency run by Bernard Tupra. Deza finds himself forced to watch Tupra's collection of incriminating videotapes of important public figures. The recordings document unconventional private lives - and horrific acts. The scenes enter him like a poison, contaminating everything good, yet he is powerless to counteract them.

Set against a background of brutality, Poison, Shadow and Farewell asks whether violence can ever be justified and completes the extraordinary journey that has led us on a descent into hell and a re-emergence, not entirely unscathed, into life.

While the Women are Sleeping

Javier Marías

Celebrated as one of the greatest writers of his generation, Javier Marías is best known for his spy trilogy, Your Face Tomorrow, which has been compared to Proust and hailed as one of the great modern European novels. In his first short story collection for fifteen years, beautifully translated by Margaret Jull Costa, he brings together tales which span his entire writing career from the 1960s to the present.
Marías' characters are slippery, and they live on the edges of society: a tramp, a butler, a bodyguard, a ghost. They threaten the everyday, rational world, and, compelled by desperation, are driven to perverse acts of obsession. In the title story an obscenely fat man fixated with his much younger lover endlessly videotapes her every move, and, in a chance midnight rendezvous, confides his shocking plans for her to a stranger; in 'The Resignation Letter of Señor of Santiesteban' a ghost is condemned to repeatedly resign from his job; and, in perhaps the most perfectly conceived story, when a man of impeccable taste and refinement meets his doppelgänger at a work dinner ('it was like dining opposite mirror made flesh'), he starts changing his dress and behaviour, in ways he previously would have abhorred, to mark the difference, only to find, at the next work convention, that his ghoulish twin has done exactly the same.
Mesmerising, unexpected and disturbing, these creepy, haunting stories inspire the reader to look at the normal things of life aslant.

Biography

Javier Marías is the author of sixteen works in Spanish, which have been translated into forty-two languages including English. His translated English works are All Souls, A Heart So White, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, When I Was Mortal, Dark Back of Time, The Man of Feeling, Voyage Along the Horizon, Written Lives, the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy (Fever and Spear, Dance and Dream and Poison, Shadow and Farewell), Bad Nature, While the Women Are Sleeping, The Infatuations, Thus Bad Begins and, Venice, An Interior. Javier Marías has received numerous literary prizes including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Prix Formentor. He lives and works as a translator and columnist in Madrid.