Jorge Volpi’s prize-winning El insomnio de Bolívar: Cuatro consideraciones intempestivas sobre América Latina en el siglo XXI (Bolivar’s Insomnia: Four. El Insomnio de Bolivar by Jorge Volpi, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. PDF | Este trabajo provee un análisis formal de la colección de ensayos de Jorge Volpi, El insomnio de Bolívar (), como contrapunto a una crítica.

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A member of the Crack Generation, whose Crack Manifesto questioned the hegemony magical realism held over Latin American literature, Jorge Volpi has become an intellectual and literary referent for the upcoming generations.

His books—most famously his Trilogy of the Twentieth Century —attempt to tackle the links between literature and history, literature and power, literature and knsomnio, among others. His most famous novel, In Search of Klingsorwas insomnip in English in by Fourth Estate, and, more recently, Open Letter Books published a translation of the last volume of the Trilogyentitled Season of Ash.

Volpi is currently a visiting research scholar at Jlrge University. Overwhelmed by phone calls from friends, newspapers, and family, Volpi was still able to make some time for our questions. What follows is the result of our conversation. Diego Azurdia and Carlos Fonseca: In your Trilogy of the Twentieth Century there seems to be a short-circuit between historical events—the Second World War, May ofthe fall of the Berlin Wall—and literature. How do you think literature works on history?

How does history work on literature? First of all, literature and history are inslmnio linked. The narrative of history is already in some sense literature. That is to say, history has been understood in the past centuries as a scientific bolivarr, as a constant reference to concrete facts, constantly relying on documents as its source.

Thus, one could say that literature has the insoknio to fill in the gaps that these documents leave behind. Literature uses imagination as its tool for analyzing the historical processes. I actually believe that the central theme of these three books is power.

More specifically, how individuals comport themselves in relationship to power. Sometimes it is the everyday man, sometimes the politician, sometimes the scientists or other specialists.

That power that is permanent, omnipresent, that microphysics of power described so well by Michel Foucault, seen in the behavior of concrete characters, in their intimate worlds, but also from the much wider perspective of the State.

The novels attempt to observe, through all of these characters and discourse, the perpetually antagonistic relationship to power. How you exercise power and how you resist power. In Search of Klingsor seems to revolve around an attempt to explain evil, or at least one of its variants.

It seems that this theme runs through contemporary Latin American literature. What do you think is the genesis of this emphasis on evil in a society that declared itself, more than a century ago, beyond good and evil? How do you see the relationship between evil and literature? Evil is one of the most interesting themes for ds. And yes, it is a theme that is very present in contemporary literature. First, because evil has been understood in the 20th century as a political category rather than as a theological bollivar.


We assume—above all—Nazism as the paradigm of absolute evil, even though, for many people this place might be reserved for any totalitarian system, including the contrary tendency, which would be Stalinism. That idea of selling our souls, that functions almost as a metaphor for what occurs not only in the within Nazism but within many Latin American political regimes that—within the ideological war—always believed themselves to be on the side of good, as well as that were ready to do anything to battle that which for them was evil even becoming themselves an image of evil.

And that is maybe one of the themes that is present in all of Latin American literature, everywhere, from the Boom to the present literature dealing with political regimes. Our regimes keep being related to evil. Although one must say that there is, perhaps, an overuse of the term in our times. What do you think is the place of utopia today? Has it merely disappeared, or do you believe that, as in your novels, we live under its shadow? We are accustomed to understanding utopia in these extreme terms, which have to do with the imposition of a truth.

This produced the inevitable link between utopia and totalitarianism, and in the long run it discredited not only totalitarianism but also utopia. And yes, during the second part of the 20th century there was a nostalgia for utopia. While in general it was seen that the utopias generated monsters—totalitarian regimes—there was still a nostalgia for utopias that could really lead to a better society, more just, that was really the origin of utopia as such.

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In our age I believe that we are living in an epoch joge so much of disenchantment, discontent, or nostalgia but in an epoch that is attempting to rearticulate utopia again in its original sense, merely as a model that is not sought by force.

Above all, the utopia of a better society, more just, more egalitarian, should still be the hope of most of voopi, but we must not interpret it as the only and absolute truth. How did you come up with the idea of writing The Trilogy of the Twentieth Century? But when Bllivar was finishing In Search of Klingsor I noticed that I liked this process, which I had not done before, this process of not only of writing a historical novel but a bollivar that would mix up politics and scientific discourses.


It seemed to me that it would be interesting to form two more novels in order to articulate a novelistic history of the 20th century. And that is how it all happened. What does this mean?

His was a profoundly political literature that aspired to be Latin American in a way different from that insoknio the Boom, but that was still Latin American. They seem to respond to more global models.

There is no knowledge of a strong Latin American identity. Latin American literature seems to dissolve as a unity, and it is only possible to understand it as a collage of fragments that no longer form, as in the times of the Latin American Boom, a cathedral. Now, writers in the distinct countries of Latin American feel part of their own nationality, and maybe what they are beginning to form are models whose paradigm would no longer be a giant edifice, a cathedral, for example, a Latin American temple, but rather holograms.

That is to say, little fragments that contain information that is Latin American, almost in an unconscious fashion, but that above all respond to an individual will and that are no longer a matter of identity. After the end of Latin American literature, how do you read and write facing the Latin American Boom?

Vopli believe that for the writers of the new generations, of my generation and the next ones, the Boom matters, but it is not central. I believe that it is one of the traditions to which they respond alongside others, like contemporary British fiction, American.

The Boom is absolutely canonized, they are our living classics, and you respond to them as you respond to any classic, as if they were the Greco-Roman classics. Now we are in a stage in which these books are the classics just as Cervantes is a classic. Carlos Fonseca writes regularly for the literary review website: His first novel is in voopi works. He studies Spanish and Portuguese literature at Princeton University.

El Insomnio de Bolivar : Cuatro Consideraciones Intempestivas Sobre America Latina en el Siglo XXI

He lives in Manhattan. Diego Azurdia, born in Guatemala City, is a Ph. Currently he is working on his first novel. An Interview with Jorge Volpi. The Alphabet by Ron Silliman Silliman begins with “Albany,” written in and beginning “If the function of writing is The Last Interview does not necessaril Does the parable of the mosquitoes say something about order or randomness, logic or fate? At least, not entirely. The Joan Margarit Interview To write a good poem is very difficult.

I write it as I can and not as I like.