An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter
|Cover artist||Johann Moritz Rugendas|
Published in English
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|LC Class||PQ7798.1.I7 E6513 2006|
An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter simultaneously navigates the territories of history, philosophy, and fantasy to offer less a biography of German painter Johann Moritz Rugendas (1802-1858) than a surreal account of his journeys through Latin America. At the prompting of explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, Rugendas travels to Argentina, Chile, and Mexico to paint their landscapes with a sense of what Humboldt calls "physiognomic totality," an understanding of each work as a portrait of the environment as a whole. In Argentina, Rugendas' adventure into the Pampas almost costs him his life when he is struck by lightning while riding his horse and then dragged through the Pampas as his horse flees. This leaves him horribly disfigured. As Rugendas struggles to recover physically he now sees the landscape with an altered vision. Aira's themes include the persistence of the artist and the sustaining power of his will to continue painting.
An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter has been hailed as "thrilling" (The New York Sun) and "utterly astonishing" (San Francisco Chronicle), a "memorable performance...whose tone and oddly compelling vision are distinctly [Aira's] own" (The Los Angeles Times). In his San Francisco Chronicle review, critic Ilan Stavans places this work alongside that of Roberto Bolaño as a modern Latin American novel likely to endure beyond its present moment.
- "Latin Americans Still Tweaking the Novel," by Ilan Stavans, San Francisco Chronicle, July 16, 2006.
- "An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter," by Carlos Amantea.
- "César Aira," by Maria Moreno, Issue 106 Winter .
- "An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter" at Complete Review. Includes links to many reviews.
1. "Latin Americans Still Tweaking the Novel." San Francisco Chronicle. July 16, 2006. <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/07/16/RVGVPJQP0T1.DTL>.
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