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Thus Bad Begins: A Novel
Thus Bad Begins: A Novel
Thus Bad Begins: A Novel
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Thus Bad Begins: A Novel

Evaluare: 3 din 5 stele



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Madrid, 1980.

Juan de Vere, nearly finished with his university degree, takes a job as personal assistant to Eduardo Muriel, an eccentric, once-successful film director. Urbane, discreet, irreproachable, Muriel is an irresistible idol to the young man. But Muriel's voluptuous wife, Beatriz, inhabits their home like an unwanted ghost; and on the periphery of their lives is Dr. Jorge Van Vechten, a family friend implicated in unsavory rumors that Muriel now asks Juan to investigate.

As Juan draws closer to the truth, he uncovers only more questions. What is at the root of Muriel's hostility toward his wife? How did Beatriz meet Van Vechten? What happened during the war?

Marías leads us deep into the intrigues of these characters, through a daring exploration of rancor, suspicion, loyalty, trust, and the infinitely permeable boundaries between the deceptions perpetrated on us by others and those we inflict upon ourselves.

A HighBridge Audio production.

Data lansării1 nov. 2016
Thus Bad Begins: A Novel

Javier Marías

Javier Marías was born in Madrid. His father was the philosopher Julián Marías, who was briefly imprisoned and then banned from teaching for opposing Franco (the father of the protagonist of Your Face Tomorrow was given a similar biography). Parts of his childhood were spent in the United States, where his father spent time teaching at various institutions, including Yale University and Wellesley College. His mother died when Javier was 26 years old. Marías's first literary employment consisted in translating Dracula scripts for his maternal uncle, Jesús Franco.[1][2] He was educated at the Colegio Estudio in Madrid. Marías wrote his first novel, Los dominios del lobo (The Dominions of the Wolf), at the age of 17, after running away to Paris. His second novel, Travesía del horizonte (Voyage Along the Horizon), was an adventure story about an expedition to Antarctica. After attending the Complutense University of Madrid, Marías turned his attention to translating English novels into Spanish. His translations include work by Updike, Hardy, Conrad, Nabokov, Faulkner, Kipling, James, Stevenson, Browne, and Shakespeare. In 1979 he won the Spanish national award for translation for his version of Sterne's Tristram Shandy. Between 1983 and 1985 he lectured in Spanish literature and translation at the University of Oxford. In 1986 Marías published El hombre sentimental (The Man of Feeling), and in 1988 he published Todas las almas (All Souls), which was set at Oxford University. The Spanish film director Gracia Querejeta released El Último viaje de Robert Rylands, adapted from Todas las almas, in 1996. Marías, however, later wrote that the film adaptation was not to his liking and this resulted in a permanent estrangement between him and the director and her father, Elias Querejeta, who had produced the film.[citation needed] His 1992 novel Corazón tan blanco was a great commercial and critical success and for its English version A Heart So White, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, Marías and Costa were joint winners of the 1997 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The protagonists of the novels written since 1986 are all interpreters or translators of one kind or another. Of these protagonists, Marías has written, "They are people who are renouncing their own voices."[3] In 2002 Marías published Tu rostro mañana 1. Fiebre y lanza (Your Face Tomorrow 1: Fever and Spear), the first part of a trilogy which forms his most ambitious literary project. The second volume, Tu rostro mañana 2. Baile y sueño (Your Face Tomorrow 2: Dance and Dream), was published in 2004. On 25 May 2007, Marías announced the completion of the final instalment, entitled Tu rostro mañana 3. Veneno y sombra y adiós (Your Face Tomorrow 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell). It was released on 24 September 2007.

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  • Evaluare: 4 din 5 stele
    Andere schrijvers zouden een verhaaltje als dit wellicht afgehaspeld hebben op 150 bladzijden, Marias doet er ruim drie keer langer over, maar toch is bijna geen enkele zin er teveel aan. Oh, hoe hou ik ervan meegezogen te worden in zijn eindeloze, meanderende zinnen, zijn crue, voyeuristische en soms zelfs platte beschrijvingen en de onophoudelijke, nodeloos complexe mijmeringen van zijn hoofdpersonages. Niks is eenvoudig bij deze man, maar dat is het echte leven ook niet. Vergeleken met zijn meesterwerk, de trilogie “Jouw gezicht morgen”, is dit verhaal veel minder spectaculair en gelaagd, maar het is alleszins homogener, geloofwaardiger en consistenter dan “De verliefden”. Er zijn de vaste ingrediënten zoals: het voyeuristisch kijken, spioneren, en het daaraan gekoppelde onophoudelijk beschouwen, verdenken, verschonen; een geheim uit het verleden ontsluieren of dat vervolgens bedekt proberen houden; de vele cinematografische referenties, enzovoort, enzovoort. En zoals altijd bij Marias speelt de nawerking van de Spaanse Burgeroorlog een hoofdrol, juist omdat die de verhoudingen tussen mensen zelfs decennia nadien nog op scherp stelt, zeker in moreel opzicht. Voor deze roman – die rond een slecht huwelijk draait – heeft hij bovendien een uiterst geslaagd catch22-dilemma uitgewerkt, dat zelfs in zijn epiloog nog een perverse wending krijgt. Heerlijk. Af en toe betrapte ik mezelf op de bedenking: “dit heb ik al eens eerder gelezen bij hem, die beschouwing doet me denken aan wat hij in dit of dat ander boek schreef”, maar wat dan nog: Javier Marias, ik kan verdrinken in jouw oeverloze verhalen, voor mij mogen ze nog eindeloos veel langer duren.
  • Evaluare: 5 din 5 stele
    Madrid in 1980 is still in its most hedonistic "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" phase, with everyone who is young enough and has the money partying through the night, every night, to make up for the lost decades of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. But there's also the worrying certainty that the next right-wing coup attempt can't be very far away, and a dangerous sense of moral vacuum because of the general amnesty for political abuses during the civil war and dictatorship and the resulting reluctance to talk openly about anyone's recent past. The narrator, Juan de Vere, has just graduated and found his first job, working as secretary/researcher for the well-known B-movie director Eduardo Muriel. He often has to stay overnight in Muriel's Madrid flat, and thus gets to know the family rather well. It's not long before he realises that there is something very wrong with Eduardo's marriage to Beatriz - although he behaves impeccably toward her in public, within the family sphere he refuses her any kind of intimacy and addresses her with insults that seem to have the same sort of forced and stagy quality as those that Hamlet addresses to his mother in the scene Marías is referring to with his title (e.g. when he accuses her of lying "in the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,/ Stew’d in corruption, honeying and making love / Over the nasty sty"). It appears that Beatriz has done something a long time ago that Eduardo considers he should not forgive, and he persists with his rejection even though he's clearly doing her serious damage and hurting himself as well. The two of them seem unable to separate. Divorce doesn't exist yet in Spain, as Juan reminds us several times, but even if it did, they seem to be so tied up in each other that it's difficult for Juan to imagine them living apart.Whilst he works his way gradually towards discovering what it actually is that caused the rift, Juan discovers that there are some other shadows over Beatriz's life as well, and begins to investigate the past of one of the members of Eduardo's entourage, a shady paediatrician called Van Vechten who specialises in blackmailing women into granting him sexual favours.As usual in a Marías novel, it takes a long time for the narrative to wind its way towards the unlocking of the mystery. As well as the usual philosophical digressions about the nature of time, the mysterious process of growing-up and the ways it changes our perception of the world - or fails to - justice and whether it really exists, and much else, we also get plenty of real-world detours, in the course of which we find out a lot we didn't know we didn't know about Shakespeare, B-movies, Harry Alan Towers, Mariella Novotny, the Profumo affair, Casanova's brother the painter Francesco Giuseppe, Harley-Davidsons in cinema, and the "Movimiento apostólico de Darmstadt". It all seems to be fairly reliable information, except for the last of these, where Marías or his publisher obviously decided they couldn't get away with portraying the real-life Schönstatt Movement (well-known for its influence in Chile) as a mere front for undercover Pinochet supporters, and therefore gave it some mischievously incongruous Bauhaus overtones...One very characteristic feature of a Marías novel is the way the narrators admit to being unable to avoid thinking about sex at particularly inappropriate moments, especially when they find the (equally characteristic) dead or injured female character. This time Marías overdoes himself by taking a heterosexual male narrator who is at a stage in his life where he apparently does 98% of his thinking with his genitals (he's supposed to be describing these events thirty-something years later, so perhaps it would be more accurate to say that 98% of what he remembers is sex-related....). During most of the book, Marías gets Juan to describe the male characters from the neck up and the female characters from the waist down. Only Beatriz, the most important female character, actually has a face, but whenever Juan gets around to looking at it, either the eyes are closed, or it's obscured behind a frosted glass door. At other times, even when he's prompted to look up, he doesn't get beyond chest-height. Even Ian Fleming would probably realise that Marías is trolling the "male gaze" here! (Incidentally, there's a brief cameo appearance at one point in the book by one of the most famous Bond girls, the gold-painted Shirley Eaton, to make sure we spot that the Ian Fleming way of looking at the world is relevant here.)Another classic Marías tic that is very evident in this book is the problem he has getting his characters across thresholds. It's not quite as bad as the famous doorbell in Your face tomorrow (where an entire volume intervenes between the bell ringing and the door opening), but there are several points where a chapter or two of digressions passes in between the pushing of the door handle and the door opening. And the wonderful scene where three characters are rushing to rescue Beatriz who, they fear, may have made a suicide attempt in a hotel room. Before Juan gets into the room, he's imagined, in considerable detail and with plenty of variations and alternatives, three possible scenes that they might find inside; just as the door opens it occurs to him that there is a fourth possibility, the scenario in which Beatriz has done nothing yet and will decide when she sees the door opening whether or not to jump off the balcony.Something else he enjoys is teasing us with the non-event - we get pages and pages of foreplay, but very little sex; there's a big lead-up to the set-piece dinner-party with a whole slew of interesting real-world guests that's clearly going to be the centre-piece of the narrative - but then it's cancelled at the last minute. And so on. You never quite know where you are with a Marías narrative - is he going to come back to that point, or did we blink and miss it?Although Marías is always on the side of his female characters and makes sure that we understand that the bad things that happen to them are the result of wrongs done to them - deliberately or negligently - by male characters, and although you would have to be very obtuse to take his narrators as moral guides, I always have a little bit of a problem with his books because he does so frequently portray women as mere victims, and because his male characters - and implicitly, presumably also his male readers - so often get an illicit sexual thrill from seeing their suffering. Very rewarding, beautiful writing, mostly very enjoyable but occasionally frustrating, sometimes just a little bit annoying...
  • Evaluare: 4 din 5 stele
    This is a book about secrets and how refusing to face them can lead to much worse. Indeed, Marias’ choice of a quote from Hamlet for his title is particularly apt: "Thus bad begins and worse remains behind." He sets his novel in the flat of a couple, with a severely broken marriage during a particularly interesting period in Spanish history. Franco is gone and his followers have been forgiven. No one faces any consequences for despicable acts committed during the regime (Remind you of anything? Hint: the bankers who cratered the US economy in 2008.) “Spain is full of bastards large and small, individuals who oppressed and plundered, who flourished and took advantages of others, or who, at best, were merely accommodating.” Now the people rejoice in their newfound freedoms. The story is a metaphor for the conscious decision by the Spanish government not to seek closure in favor of an open society. Juan de Vere, the novel’s narrator sums up the period as follows: “…denouncing someone for what they had done during the dictatorship or during the [Civil] War was unthinkable”Marias explores how truth can be manipulated under such conditions and how this can poison relationships with cruel punishments and revenge, acts of deceit, and unacknowledged hypocrisy. Juan de Vere is a 23-year-old who accepts a position as a personal assistant to Eduardo Muriel. Juan tells the story from the vantage of age and maturity, but recognizes that he was curious and earnest at the time, but also naïve. He obviously idolized Muriel, a film director who had seen better days, now forced to fund his projects by demeaning himself. Yet he displays an irreproachably urbane persona. Marias even gives him an Errol Flynn-type moustache and an eye patch. Marias tells the story using two plot lines. In one, Muriel asks Juan to spy on an old family friend, Jorge Van Vechten, a prominent doctor who was a Franco loyalist. Muriel tells Juan, “According to what I’ve been told … the doctor behaved in an indecent manner towards a woman or possibly more than one.” Muriel inexplicably refuses to hear what Juan eventually discovers however. His response sums up the state of play in post-Franco Spain, “It doesn’t matter if what I was told is true.” The second plot line involves Juan’s curiosity about the origins of the Muriels’ marital unrest. Beatriz seeks to reconcile with her husband for a youthful deception but is brutally rebuffed. She is a mysterious, ghostly presence in the household, who is endlessly fascinating to Juan. Murial’s hypocritical refusal to forgive Beatriz while accepting the doctor’s transgressions is a potent image of what Marias sees as a flaw in post-Franco Spain. In addition to hypocrisy, Murial peppers his story with plenty of “bad” and “worse.” On the one hand, we have, misogyny, lying, debauchery, threats and manipulation, while on the other he gives us extramarital relations, spying, brutality, and depression. Of course, Juan manages to get too close to all of this depravity, thus initiating his own secret that must never be revealed.Marias’ approach to storytelling is complex and sophisticated. However, he tends to wander aimlessly into long meditative digressions using long sentences with numerous subordinate clauses. One needs to re-read many of these passages to resurrect their original intent. These unnecessarily slow the narrative and detract from what is otherwise a well told, taut and suspenseful story with clear historical implications.