José Zuleta Ortiz pays a tribute to another author called Adolfo Bioy Casares in his story “Un perrito color té claro”. Casares is a great inspiration behind the story I have translated. Both authors used similar themes in their work, for example memories, childhood and adolescence. Ortiz decided to name the main protagonist of his short story after Casares. As a part of my translation I have decided to translate a piece about Adolfo Bioy Casares to introduce the readers to the inspiration behind “Un perrito color té claro” as I believe it is essential to educate ourselves and read about the background of authors and other aspects involved in writing a text, whatever text it may be. There has been a few English websites with information about Adolfo Bioy Casares, however I wanted to translate some information from a Spanish website.
The original biography of Adolfo Bioy Casares in Spanish is available at: https://www.biografiasyvidas.com/biografia/b/bioy.htm.
Adolfo Bioy Casares (Buenos Aires, 1914 – 1999) Argentinian writer, one of the most outstanding authors of universal fantasy literature. Member of a family of Buenos Aires’ landowners, in 1929 he wrote the Prologue, a manuscript that his father revised and sent to print. His early vocation was stimulated by his family and in 1933 he published the volume of stories called Diecisiete disparos contra lo porvenir.
He soon became culturally linked to the cosmopolitan circle of the magazine Sur; his friendship with Jorge Luis Borges would be decisive in his literary career. In 1932 he met Borges at Victoria Ocampo’s house and also his sister Silvina Ocampo, who became his wife in 1940. The close friendship with Borges lasted until his death in 1986 and gave rise to a series of written works in collaboration and signed with the pseudonyms of B. Suárez Lynch, H. Bustos Domencq, B. Lynch Davis and Gervasio Montenegro: Seis problemas para don Isidro Parodi (1942), Dos fantasías memorables (1946), Un modelo para la muerte (1946), Crónicas de Bustos Domencq (1967) and Nuevos cuentos de Bustos Domencq (1977).
The same year of his wedding he published La invención de Morel (1940), his most famous work and classic of contemporary literature. Narrated in the first person and sen on a desert island, the plot is intertwined with delirium, amorous passion and the idea of immortality. A fugitive, whose name is not known, arrives at an island where Faustine lives, a woman he falls in love with, although he limits himself to observing her hidden in the sunsets. There, the scientist Morel has invented a machine capable of reproducing the impressions of all the senses, but in order to recreate a human being, he must die beforehand. The fugitive starts the machine and is recorded for seven days next to Faustine. As he was sentenced, the protagonist dies, although he will be immortal in the eternal reproduction of his image.
By then Bioy Casares has renounced his previous writings, among them the narratives La estatua casera (1936) and Luis Greve, muerto (1937). In the fruitful decade of the 1940 he published volumes of stories; Las vísperas de Fausto (1949), in addition to the novel; Plan de evasión (1945), which is about a diabolical proposal of Dr. Castel, governor of Devil’s Island and disciple of William James, consisting of practicing on prisoners a new theory of perception. In collaboration with his new wife, he wrote the detective novel; Los que aman, odian (1946), he co-directed the prestigious collection of the genre El Séptimo Círculo with Jorge Luis Borges and the three combined the Anthology of Fantastic Literature( Antología de la literatua fantástica, 1940).
In the decade of the fifties he published the stories of prodigious history ( Historia prodigiosa, 1956) and Guirnalda con amores (1959). El sueño de los héroes (1954), perhaps his best novel, tells how a gang of friends travels the suburbs of Buenos Aires during the three days of the carnival of 1927 in search of adventure and entertainment; years later the protagonist, Gauna, tries to return to the past, ignoring the fact that the trip can originate the unfolding of previously avoided possibilities.
In this work, the geography of Buenos Aires neighborhood is immersed in an amazing climate that is again found in Diario de la guerra del cerdo (1969), in La Guerra de los jóvenes contra los viejos and in Dormir al sol (1973), focused on the report that Lucio Bordenave writes in a psychiatric sanatorium in which he has been confined. Humor, irony and parody appear in the stories of El lado de la sombra (1962), El gran Serafín (1967) and El héroe de las mujeres (1978). On the other hand, Breve diccionario del argentino exquisito (1971) is an observation about language.
Later works of Bioy Casares are the novels La aventura de un fotógrafo en La Plata (1985) and Los cuentos de Historias desaforadas (1986) and Una muñeca rusa (1991). In the nineties he published the novel Un campeon desparejo (1993); books about memories. Infancia, adolescencia y cómo se hace un escritor (1994) and De jardines ajenos (1997) and the volume of stories Una magia modesta (1998).
Together with Jorge Luis Borges and the writers most associated with the “Boom” of the 60s (Julio Cortázar, Ernesto Sábato), Adolgo Bioy Casares has been justly appreciated as one of the most relevant authors of twentieth century Argentine literature. His narrative work earned him several awards, such as Gran Prize of Honor of the Argentine Society of Writers in 1975 and the Cervantes Prize in 1990. He was distinguished as a member of the Legion of Honor of France (1981) and Illustrious Citizen of the City of Buenos Aires (1986). They were taken to the movies El perjurio de na nieve (with the title of El crimen de Oribe), Diario de la guerra del cerdo (directed by Leopoldo Torre Nilsson) and El sueño de los héroes (directed by Sergio Renán).
The narrative of Bioy Casares is characterized by a calculated rationalism and desire to geometrize his literary compositions. The counterpoint to this computer eagerness is given by a constant use of paradox and by an exaggerated sense of humor. For Bioy, the world is made of infinite sub-worlds, in the manner of Russian dolls and the barrier between truth and appearance is extremely weak, as is revealed especially in the aforementioned works La invención de Morel (1940), Plan de evasión (1945), La trama celeste (1948) or El sueño de los héroes (1954).
The publication of La invención de Morel immediately placed Bioy Casares, among the first, who in Argentina masterly approached the fantastic genre; in fact, that novel acted as an unavoidable reference for the following generations of writers, who were interested in knowing and deepening gender strategies. La invención de Morel is a love story in which lovers live incompatible lives, taking place in different contexts and times. One of them, the fugitive, is a real man of flesh and blood; the other, Faustine, is a ghost, the repertoire of woman’s appearances engraved by Morel’s machine and projected continuously. Years later, in La trama celeste, Bioy will insist on engaging curious relationships between incompatible realities, drawn on a fabric of parallel spaces and times.
In general, in the novels and stories of Bioy, the rules of the spatial and temporal order are questioned in an obsessive and recurrent manner. His characters appear trapped by phantasmagorical plots, forced to figure out the complex structure of perceptions, in which the mysterious combinations between reality and appearance rule their daily existence. In addition to a skillful and exquisite handling of humor and irony, the prose of Bioy Casares is often considered one of the most refined and elegant that Latin American literature has given.