Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Cortázar, Julio

(1914-1984) Belgian-born Argentine writer, in Argentina 1918-1951, thereafter moving to France, where he lived the remainder of his life. He began to publish early, with a volume of poems, Presencia ["Presence"] (coll 1938) as by Julio Denís. His first work of fantasy interest was Los Reyes ["The Kings"] (1949), a long narrative poem constituting a meditation on the role and fate of the Minotaur in his Labyrinth. Labyrinths, as with his older contemporary, Jorge Luis Borges, constantly appear in JC's work, either literally or transformed into linguistic puzzles or games – like that which governs his most famous novel, Rayuela (1963; trans Gregory Rabassa as Hopscotch 1966 US), a tale which engages with the Fantastic rather than with fantasy as such. A typical JC story begins in the mundane world, then introduces fantastic elements with an effect both deadpan and Uncanny: for JC, the fantastic represents a saving violation of the rules of the real world, and allows through that violation some loosening of the Bondage of mere Reality.

JC's novels of fantasy interest include his first, Los premios (1960; trans Elaine Kerrigan as The Winners 1965 US), in which an ocean liner stranded in port becomes a Ship-of-Fools microcosm of the world-order, and 62: Modelo para armar (1968; trans Gregory Rabassa as 62: A Model Kit 1972 US), which carries on from Hopscotch the use of linguistic games to shape the lives of the protagonists who – unwittingly or unwillingly – play them. In this case, the game rules; various characters shuttle from a mysterious Zone and the City according to Godgame-like instructions they cannot understand or disobey; Vampires and other supernatural intrusions appear.

It may be that JC's short stories will remain his central legacy. Tales from Bestiaro ["The Bestiary"] (coll 1951), Final del juego ["End of the Game"] and Las armas secretas ["Secret Weapons"] made considerable impact on their appearance as End of the Game and Other Stories (coll trans Paul Blackburn 1963 US; vt Blow-Up and Other Stories 1967 – the title change occurring when Michelangelo Antonioni turned one of the tales into his movie Blow-Up 1966). Further collections, some overlapping, include: Historia de cronopios y de famas (coll 1962; trans Paul Blackburn as Cronopios and Famas 1969 US); Todos los fuegos el fuego (coll 1966; cut trans Suzanne Jill levine as All Fires the Fire and Other Stories 1973 US); Alguien qu anda por ahí (coll 1977; trans Gregory Rabassa as A Change of Light and Other Stories 1980 US); and Queremos tanto a Glenda (coll 1981; cut trans Gregory Rabassa as We Love Glenda So Much and Other Tales 1983 US). Every volume includes some fantasy.

Some of the essays and fantasias assembled in La vuelta al día en ochenta mundos (coll 1967; cut trans Thomas Christensen as Around the Day in Eighty Worlds 1987 US), which includes excerpts from Ultima Round ["Last Round"] (coll 1969), are of interest; Fantomas contra los vampiros multinacionales: Una utopí realizable ["Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia"] (1975) is a nonfiction study. [JC]

Julio Cortázar


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.