Javier Marías was a cultured and Anglophile writer of novels, short stories, essays and newspaper articles, and he left behind a body of work that is often autobiographical in which he explores the nature of truth and violence in titles such as Your Face Tomorrow, Corazón tan white’ or ‘Tomorrow in battle think of me’.
With prose full of digressions, Marías began publishing (and translating) at a very young age, and at the age of 20, the first of his 16 novels, Los dominios del lobo (1971), was released in bookstores, followed by ” Travesía del horizon” (1972) and “The Monarch of Time” (1978).
Here are some of the more notable books he wrote, often returning to earlier plots and characters:
HEART SO WHITE (1992)
It was his first major success, published in 44 countries and translated into 37 languages. A novel in which some of the themes that preoccupy him emerge: secrecy, suspicion, silence, and how white hearts lose their purity.
“I didn’t want to know, but I did know that one of the girls, when she was no longer a girl and had recently returned from her honeymoon, went into the bathroom, stood in front of the mirror, opened her blouse, took off her bra and looked for her heart with the gun …” he writes as the first paragraph of the novel.
TOMORROW AT BATTLE THINK OF ME (1994)
Another phrase from Shakespeare, as in the previous one, for the title of a novel and another memorable opening: “No one ever thinks that he can go to meet a dead woman in his arms, and that he will no longer see her face whose name he remembers “.
Starring a “ghost writer” who finds himself in the bedroom of a dying woman when they are about to cheat, this novel won awards such as the Rómulo Gallegos International Novel, Fastenrath, Fémina Étranger and Letterario Internazionale Mondello-Città di Palermo. .
BLACK BACK IN TIME (1998)
Written as a flipside to Todas las almas (1988), which tells the story of a Spanish professor who teaches at Oxford – something Anglophile Javier Marías did between 1983 and 1985 – this novel turns into fiction what in the first era was real.
“A bogus novel,” said the writer, who mixed fiction, autobiography and reflections on turn-of-the-century literature. It appeared in “Reino de Redonda”, which years later gave its name to a publishing house founded by Marías.
YOUR FACE TOMORROW (2002-2007)
Considered a masterpiece by Javier Marías. A trilogy of novels consisting of Fever and Spear (2002), Dance and Dream (2004) and Poison, Shadow and Farewell (2007). An ambitious work in three volumes that can also be read separately, which follows the adventures of Jacques or Jaime or Jacobo Deza, a spy in the English secret service.
The plot unfolds with the slowness and static that Marías cultivates, halfway between spy novel, literary essay, and autobiographical artifact. Your Face Tomorrow explores the nature of truth, selfishness and violence with a plot largely set in Oxford.
THE CRUSHES (2011)
Her first novel with a female narrator (Maria Dolz) explores love, its phases and consequences as a tragic and mysterious event unfolds. He reflects on issues such as impunity, randomness and truth in the context of the literary and publishing world, to which he makes some criticism.
It won the Tomasi di Lampedusa Award and was a finalist for the Best Book of the Year by the National Circle of Literary Critics in the United States.
BERTHA ISLAND (2017)
“For a while she wasn’t sure if her husband was her husband. Sometimes she believed she was, sometimes she believed she wasn’t, and sometimes she decided not to believe anything and continue living her life with him or this man like him, older than him. But she also grew old alone, in his absence, she was very young when she married.”
The last two novels of Javier Marías tell the story of a couple, Berta Isla and Thomas Nevinson. In this first one, in Berta’s voice, it tells how they met very young in Madrid and decided to get married. Years later, she discovers that he has been arrested by the British Secret Service.
Pretense, resentment, and hope populate a work in which Bertha must survive and protect herself during her husband’s prolonged absences.
THOMAS NEVINSON (2021)
Nevinson’s point of view and new adventures are the main characters of the last novel Marias published in his lifetime. In this case, his work moves to Spain, in a northwestern city, where he must identify an IRA terrorist who worked for ETA.
In this work, between reminiscences of recent history, Marías reflects on means and ends, on how much greater evils must be avoided, and on the nature of evil with phrases such as “What a short distance between everything and nothing, between fierce life and death , between panic and regret”.