David Markson: This Is Not a Novel (2001)


David Markson: This Is Not a Novel. Counterpoint, 2001.

David Markson (1927-2010) desarrolló un género propio con sus cuatro últimas novelas Reader’s Block (Dalkey Archive Press, 1996), This Is Not A Novel (Counterpoint, 2001), Vanishing Point (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004) y The Last Novel (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2007), acerca de la cual ya he escrito en este blog.

El vestido de noche, 1954. Bruselas, colección privada.
Magritte: El vestido de noche, 1954. Bruselas, colección privada.

Como puede verse en la portada, el programa estético de Markson remite directamente a las paradojas de la representación que ideó Magritte. Esta obra se titula La robe de soirée (Vestido de noche) y, sin embargo, lo que vemos es un desnudo. This Is Not a Novel tampoco es una novela en ningún sentido habitual del término. Pero es, a pesar de todo, una novela, como no dejan de ser un hermoso vestido de noche, mar, cielo y luna.

La traición de las imágenes, 1929. Los Ángeles, County Museum
Magritte: La traición de las imágenes, 1929. Los Ángeles, County Museum

El título de la novela de Markson, This is not a novel, tiene su origen en La traición de las imágenes de Magritte. En esta obra expone una paradoja algo más retorcida que en Vestido de noche. El dibujo de la pipa no es una pipa porque, de entrada, no podemos usarla para fumar. Es la representación de una pipa. Sin embargo, como diría Hume, sólo tenemos acceso a nuestras ideas de las cosas. Si lo pensamos detenidamente, estamos atrapados en un mundo de palabras e imágenes que nos niegan el acceso a las cosas mismas. Esta es la traición que inspira a Magritte, y a Markson. 

El texto de Markson tiene como narrador a un escritor indefinido, al que llama simplemente “Writer”. Este va exponiendo poco a poco las características de este nuevo género que, no siendo una novela, tampoco deja de serlo. No podemos salir fuera del lenguaje. O, como diría Wittgenstein, los límites del lenguaje son los límites del mundo.

Writer is pretty much tempted to quit writing. Writer is weary unto death of making up stories.

Writer is equally tired of inventing characters.

A novel with no intimation of story whatsoever, Writer would like to contrive.

And with no characters. None.

Plotless. Characterless. Yet seducing the reader into turning pages nonetheless.

Actionless, Writer wants it.

Which is to say, with no sequence of events. Which is to say, with no indicated passage of time.

A novel with no setting. With no so-called furniture. Ergo meaning finally without descriptions.

With no social themes, i.e., no picture of society. No depiction of contemporary manners and/or morals. Categorically, with no politics.

This is a novel if Writer or Robert Rauschenberg says so.

This is even an epic poem, if Writer says so. Requiring no one’s corroboration.

This is even a disquisition on the maladies of the life of art, if Writer says so.

Art which is not propaganda is not art, said Diego Rivera. Writer’s arse.

Nonlinear. Discontinuous. Collage-like. An assemblage. Self-evident enough to scarcely need Writer’s say-so.

Obstinately cross-referential and of cryptic intercon-nective syntax.

This is also a kind of verbal fugue, if Writer says so. If still perhaps less than self-evident to the less than attentive.

Or even his synthetic personal Finnegans Wake, if Writer so decides.

Básicamente, “Writer” se dedica a recopilar anécdotas sobre la locura, la muerte o los errores de juicio de filósofos, artistas y escritores del pasado. Una especie de tratado sobre los grandes males de los “maestros antiguos”. Algunas breves historias sobre la muerte de algunos muy conocidos:

Bertolt Brecht died of a stroke. Terrified of being buried alive, he had pleaded that a stiletto be driven through his heart once he was declared legally dead. An attending physician did so.

Paul Celan’s body was not found for eleven days after he stepped off the Pont Mirabeau. Nelly Sachs died on the day of his funeral.

Hypatia, who was battered to death by Christian fanatics. Tantum religio potuit suadere maloram, Lucretius said. Such are the evils that religion prompts.

Eight people appeared at Robert Musil’s funeral.

Only one person, his secretary, attended Liebniz’s funeral. One.

A brother of Walt Whitman’s died mad. Another was a lifelong imbecile.

Longevity all too often means not a long life, but a long death. Said Democritus.

Acerca de los abundantes y llamativos errores de juicio de los más sabios:

Martin Heidegger, in 1933: The Führer, and he alone, is the sole German reality and law, today and in the future.

Voltaire, in an amiable mood about Jews: A brigand people, atrocious, loathsome, whose law is the law of savages, and whose history is a tissue of crimes against humanity.

William Blake lived and dressed in inconceivable filth, and virtually never bathed. Mr. Blake’s skin don’t dirt, his wife Catherine contributed.

Blake’s insistence that at the age of four he had seen God watching him through a window.

Michelangelo. Piero di Cosimo. Guido Reni. Pontormo. Tintoretto. All of whom wanted no one anywhere near them when working. Piero and Pontormo becoming pathological about it.

A good-natured man of principle. Pablo Neruda called Stalin.

A saint and a martyr. Ezra Pound called Hitler.

Jean Genet was a paid informer for the Nazis in World War II.

As late as in 1874, Jacob Burckhardt felt licensed to dismiss Jan Vermeer as inconsequential: Women reading and writing letters and such things.

Rousseau was categorically convinced of the existence of vampires.

It took Eliot forty years to allow that the word Jew in Gerontion might be capitalized.

Hemingway, on Ezra Pound’s indictment for treason: If Ezra has any sense he should shoot himself. Personally I think he should have shot himself somewhere along after the twelfth canto although maybe earlier.

According to Herodotus, Xerxes literally ordered that the Hellespont be given three hundred lashes when a storm washed away a bridge he had only then constructed for his invasion of the West. And as an incidental afterthought also ordered his chief engineers beheaded.

Nebuchadnezzar. Who razed Jerusalem. And went mad. And ate grass.

Creo que David Markson resume muy bien su texto en esta sentencia: Plotless. Characterless. Yet seducing the reader into turning pages nonetheless. 

Tuve noticia de esta novela en el excelente blog de Lector Mal-herido.

4 comentarios en “David Markson: This Is Not a Novel (2001)

  1. Eugenio, me siento mal después de criticar negativamente a un escritor o a una novela. Esto no me ocurre con el cine ni con la pintura o la música. Parece que necesito echar fuera lo que siento sobre un novelista que me parece infame, pero luego me arrepiento. ¿Qué puedo hacer? Sócrates podía criticar lo malo sin sentir remordimientos, ¿es eso bueno?

  2. Gracias, Eugenio. El dualismo es muy fuerte y no me dejaba pensar. Necesitaba hablar de ello. Tienes razón, tengo que valorar más esas tres frases interesantes que casi siempre hay en las novelas.
    Un abrazo.

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