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Alvaro Mutis (1923–2013)

Teoksen The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll tekijä

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Tietoja tekijästä

Álvaro Mutis Jaramillo was born in Bogotá, Colombia on August 25, 1923. He spent part of his early years in Brussels, Belgium, where his father served as Colombia's ambassador. His first volume of poetry, The Balance, was published in 1948. He moved to Mexico in 1956. He worked as head of public näytä lisää relations for the U.S. Multinational Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. He was accused of embezzlement and spent 15 months in Lecumberri prison in Mexico City. He wrote about his experience in prison in Diary of Lecumberri, which was published in 1959. His other works include Elements of the Disaster, The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll, The Manor of Araucaima, and The True Story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. He received several international honors including the Xavier Villaurrutia, Prince of Asturias and Cervantes Prizes. He died on September 22, 2013 at the age of 90. (Bowker Author Biography) näytä vähemmän


Tekijän teokset

The Snow of the Admiral (1986) 134 kappaletta
Ilona Comes With the Rain (1988) 113 kappaletta
Abdul Bashur, soñador de navíos (1992) 63 kappaletta
Un bel morir (1989) 58 kappaletta
The Mansion (1978) 40 kappaletta
Amirbar (1990) 37 kappaletta
Tríptico de mar y tierra (1993) 27 kappaletta
Diario de Lecumberri (1975) 17 kappaletta
Relatos de mar y tierra (2008) 13 kappaletta
Storie della disperanza (2003) 11 kappaletta
La Muerte del Estratega (1988) 9 kappaletta
Antologia (2000) 8 kappaletta
El Último rostro (1990) 7 kappaletta
Herve Di Rosa: Mexico (2002) 7 kappaletta
De lokroep van de zee (1993) 5 kappaletta
Obra literaria (1985) 5 kappaletta
Caravansary (Tierra Firme) (1981) 3 kappaletta
Los elementos del desastre (1953) 3 kappaletta
Los Trabajos Perdidos (2009) 3 kappaletta
LA MANSIÓN DE ARAUCAIMA (1996) 2 kappaletta
OBRA POETICA (1993) 2 kappaletta
De mis libros. (2014) 2 kappaletta
Un homenaje y siete nocturnos (1987) 2 kappaletta
Antología Personal (1995) 2 kappaletta
NIEVE DEL ALMIRANTE, EL (2013) 1 kappale
UN BEL MORIR 1 kappale
Poemas 1 kappale
Álvaro Mutis 1 kappale
OBRA POETICA 1 kappale
Antología 1 kappale
La balanza (2013) 1 kappale

Associated Works

Sadan vuoden yksinäisyys (1967) — Johdanto, eräät painokset44,670 kappaletta

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Group Read, July 2022: The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll, 1001 Books to read before you die (heinäkuu 2022)


Reason read: Reading 1001, 4th q 2023.
Well, I am glad to have finally read this book that has been on my virtual shelf since 2012. I was intimidated by the size of the book and the font size but overall I found it easier to read that I had anticipated. At times I was reminded of such books as Don Quixote. I also noted the mention of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The other is definitely a part of the story and in his way is showing how he developed this character. It is a collection of novellas but it does work to make them one novel. It is hinted that Maqroll has died but I don't think the author actually gave us details so like Sherlock Holmes he could be resurrected. Fate and death are strong themes of the book. I felt the male and female characters were treated equally. It will not be a book that I want to reread.

The book setting feels like it is in the past but it really isn't. It often is on boats or in ports or rivers. The character travels over the world. It explores friendship, romance and deception, and poverty. Gaviero is the ship’s lookout, the sailor tasked with sitting atop the masts scanning the horizon. Maqroll is always looking out on the future. He is surrounded by various friends that he loses through death.
… (lisätietoja)
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Kristelh | 19 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 22, 2023 |
Der Matrose Gaviero Maqroll strandet mittellos und ohne Aussicht auf Heuer in Panama. Glücklicherweise verschlägt es auch seine alte Freundin Ilona Grabowka an den Isthmus. Gemeinsam entwickeln die beiden Lebenskünstler eine schlüpfrige Geschäftsidee, welche ihnen genügend Geld, beschaffen soll, um ihre Schulden zu begleichen und das mittelamerikanische Land wieder verlassen zu können.

Mutis' Roman ist einer von sieben Erzählungen, welche sich mit dem Leben seines fiktiven Helden, des reisenden Abenteurers Gaviero Maqroll, welcher zahllose Abenteuer besteht, beschäftigt. Voller Phantasie und in bunten Farben fabuliert Mutis als Ich-Erzähler vom Leben des mittellosen Matrosen, der nie die Hoffnung verliert und an einen guten Ausgang glaubt. Die lebensbejahende Abenteuergeschichte ist kurzweilig, voller Melancholie und trotzdem heiter und läd zum Träumen ein.… (lisätietoja)
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schmechi | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 18, 2023 |
I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer. Nietzsche

(Otherwise: Yes-Philosophy; otherwise, again, Amor Fati)


The Snow of Admiral is the diary of Maqroll’s journey on Xurando` river towards a sawmill.
Everything is real but could be otherwise: as Don Quixote and the windmill, or the quest for Dulcinea.

Metaphysical question, and some answer:
‘The best thing is to let everything happen as it must. That’s right. It’s not a question of resignation. Far from it. It’s something else, something to do with the distance that separates us from everything and everybody. One day we’ll know.’ (page 45)

‘How many wrong turning in a labyrinth where we do everything we can to avoid the exit, how many surprises and then the tedium of learning they weren’t surprises at all, that everything that happens to us has the same face, exactly the same origin.’ (page 62)

‘A woman’s body under the rush of a mountain waterfall, her brief cries of surprise and joy, the movement of her limbs in the rapid foam that carries red coffee berries, sugarcane pulp, insects struggling to escape the current: this is the exemplary happiness, that surely never comes again.’ (page 17)

Eventually Maqroll comes to the sawmill:
‘And again, in the fading afternoon light, the enormous metal structure was surrounded by a golden halo that made it look unreal.’ (page 70)



Ilona comes with the rain, and goes with the fire.

‘Somewhere in his soul he bore the mark of the defeated that isolated them irremediably from other men.’ (page 105)

The adventures (and misadventures) of Maqroll this time are set in Panama City.
As always in Maqroll’s life, when the bottom is very close, he meets an old friend, Ilona: so Maqroll’s adventures start again.

Maqroll and Ilona start a business of ‘stewardesses’. After a while, of course, they become bored of this way of life and also another woman, Larissa appears to remind them about finitude of life.

Maqroll’s adventures are always mixed with the idea of humankind without borders, distances, as a world waiting for this character to start running its soul.


(or A Beautiful Death)

Un bel morir tutta la vita onora (Francesco Petrarca)

‘I imagine a Country, a blurred, fogbound Country, an enchanted magical Country where I could live.
What Country, where? …
Not Mosul or Basra or Samarkand. Not Karlskrona or Abylund or Stockholm or Copenhagen. Not Kazan or Kanpur or Aleppo. Not in lacustrian Venice or chimerical Istanbul, not on the Ile-de-France or in Tours or Stratford-on Avon or Weimar or Yasnaia Poliana or in the baths of Algiers.’ (page 286)

The Gaviero takes lodging in La Plata and finds a room in the house of a blind woman. Under his room, the river: ‘The room resembled a cage suspended over the gently murmuring, tobacco-colored water …’ (page 193)
Quiet living is not for the Gaviero, so he is hired to transport supposed railway materials upriver. The job turns out to be very dangerous, and ‘His wide-open eyes were fixed on that nothingness, immediate and anonymous, …’ (page 294)

The Gaviero’s question, where ‘I could live?’, has only one answer: everywhere, and always with water (a river or the ocean) which faces and leads to another place.



Alvaro Mutis tells about his ‘meetings’ with a dying tramp steamer, the Halcyon, all around the world.
‘The tramp steamer entered my field of vision as slowly as a wounded saurian. I could not believe my eyes. With the wondrous splendor of Saint Petersburg in the back ground, the poor ship intruded on the scene.’ (page 301)

The tramp steamer as a talking soul suggests to Alvaro Mutis about ‘the world of dreams and fantasy’.
But ‘Life often renders its accounts, and it is advisable not to ignore them. They are a kind of bill presented to us so that we will not become lost deep in the world of dreams and fantasy, unable to find our way back to the warm, ordinary sequence of time where our destiny truly occurs.’ (page 302)

The bill is presented to Alvaro Mutis in form of the Halcyon’s captain; who recounts his love affair with Warda, and the Halcyon.

Warda is the sister of Abdul Bashur, close friend of the Gaviero.
Abdul Bashur warns the Halcyon’s captain: ‘What you two (Warda and the captain) have will last as long as the Halcyon.‘ (page 349)

Alvaro Mutis needed to know Halcyon or the idyllic time of the past.



'Not even the ocean could give back to me my vocation for dreaming with my eyes open; I used that up in Amirbar and received nothing in return.' (page 363)

Maqroll leaves the ocean environment to go into Colombian Andes, during the Gold Rush.
Maqroll's experience in Amirbar's mines will marks his life for ever.

'When I'm on land, I suffer a kind of restlessness, a frustrating sense of limitation verging on asphyxia. It disappears, though, as soon as I walk up the gangplank of the ship that will take me on one of those extraordinary voyages where life lies in wait like a hungry she-wolf.' (page 380)

'You must be wondering what appealed to me in mines so far from the sea. Well, it's very simple: it was a final attempt to find on land even a tiny portion of what I always receive from the ocean.' (page 380)

'We ate and went to bed. Before falling asleep, the word I had heard at the mine passed through my mind, and now I could make it out with absolute clarity. It was Amirbar. ... It came from the Arabic Al Emir Bahr, which tranlates as Chief of the Sea and is the origin of the word almirante, or admiral.' (page 408)

'Maqroll the Gaviero, without country or law, who submits to the ancients dice that roll for the amusement of the gods and the mockery of mortals.' (page 444-5)



“We know that Abdul was always restless. He was never resigned to accepting what life offered in the way it was offered. Still, he was not moved by a genuine yearning for adventure or a longing for uncommon experiences. He was practical and methodical in his endless desire to modify the course of events, to amend what he always considered the unacceptable arbitrariness of a few people, the same ones for whose sake the rules and regulations governing everybody else’s behavior are made. His favorite phrase was ‘Why don’t we try this instead?’ and then he would propose the radical transgression against what had been presented to him as immutable law. (472-3)

Maqroll was a voracious reader especially of history and the memoirs of illustrious men, liking in this way to confirm his hopeless pessimism regarding the much vaunted human condition, concerning which he held a rather disillusioned and melancholy opinion. Abdul nor only never opened a book but did not understand what possible use such a thing could have in his life. (491)

As they passed the Thorn, Abdul stared at it. “Another ship slips through my fingers,” he thought. “What a strange curse pursues me. Or perhaps destiny insists on saving me from some deadly thing that lies hidden in these dinosaurs from another time.” (531)

As time passed, Abdul Bashur, without Ilona’s loving but subtle vigilance, tended more and more to follow the Gaviero, adopting his senseless wandering and his propensity for accepting fate without calculating the extent of its hidden designs. (538)

“Don’t worry, Abdul,” the Gaviero would console his friend. “These people understand nothing about Islam, and the worst of it is that their arrogant ignorance has not change since the Crusades. They always pay for it dearly in the end, but they can’t understand the warning and persist in their wrongheadedness. It’s hopeless. They’ll never change.” (541)

Let’s see if I remember: “A caravan doesn’t symbolize or represent anything. Our mistake is to think it’s going somewhere, leading somewhere. The caravan exhausts its meaning by merely moving from place to place. The animals in the caravan know this, but the camel drivers don’t. It will always be this way.” (567)
(Holzwege - Heidegger)

« desesperanza significa non cadere nella trappola dell’attesa illusoria di “qualcosa” e credere invece nella possibilità di effimere, probabili gioie, e quindi nell’amore, nell’amicizia, nella natura, negli animali...» Alvaro Mutis

«La loro (delle donne)verità del mondo all’uomo manca», diceva Mutis. E Maqroll: «La donna, come le piante, come le tempeste nella selva, come il fragore delle acque, si nutre dei più oscuri disegni celesti. È meglio saperlo fin da subito. In caso contrario, ci aspettano sorprese desolanti».



He alluded to these events with sibylline phrases, the most frequent was: “I’ve travelled at the edge of chasms compared to which death is a puppet show.” (579)

Now, the unsettling thing is that if you bring in a cat from another country and set it loose in the port of Istanbul, that same night the newcomer unhesitatingly follows the ritual path. This means that cats all over the world retain in their prodigious memories the plans of the noble capital of the Comnenos and the Paleologos. (610)

A poet from my country, who would have been a good friend of yours and an ideal companion in breaking open bottles of the densest alcohol in the most unbelievable taverns, used to say: ‘Ah, all those ignorant people always expressing their opinions!’ But that’s another story. (624)

“The Gaviero,” he said, “is a born anarchist who pretends not to know that about himself, or to ignore it. His vision of the human journey on earth is even more ascetic and bitter than the one he reveals in his ordinary dealings with people. The other day I heard him say something that astounded me: “The disappearance of our species would be a distinct relief for the universe. Soon after its extinction, its ominous history would be totally forgotten… (635)

“The Gaviero,” he said, “is like those crustaceans that have a shell hard as a rock to protect their delicate flesh. He hides that inner, sensitive area so carefully, it’s easy to think he doesn’t have one. Then come the surprises, and in his case they can be revelations.” (669)

“You remember in the diary I kept on the Xurando’ River, when I was looking for those damned sawmills that vanished into nightmare. I mention the moments in life when we think that the corner we’ve never turned, the woman we’ve never seen again, the road we left in order to follow another, the book we never finished, all merge to form another life, parallel to our own, which in a certain sense belongs to us too! (673)

What the boy had learned was astonishing. I had to tell him all over again how you dock at night in Port Swettenham and how you travel by land from there to Kuala Lumpur, what the schedule of the tides was at Saint-Malo, what information a whaler has to give to the harbor officials at Bergen, the speed at which you maintain the engines in order to enter the bay of Wigtown and anchor across from Withorn when you visit Alastair Reid, the three words you must say to have the locks opened at Harelbeke, which birds sit for the longest time on the masts of a sailing ship or the aerials of a freighter, the name of the sailor who carried the lifeless body of Captain Cook back to the ship, the days and occasions when it is not advisable to say Mass at sea, the brand of diesel engine that gives the best service, the number of times you must sound the bell when a body is buried at sea… (694)

As he so frequently said: “ If it exists at all, the pity of the gods is indecipherable or comes to us when we breathe our last. There is no way to free ourselves from their arbitrary tutelage.” (700)
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
NewLibrary78 | 19 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jul 22, 2023 |
Quanto è bella la Colombia. Forse un giorno me ne stancherò. Non credo.
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AsdMinghe | Jun 4, 2023 |



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