Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Paris. France’s capital city is Oliveira’s residence during the 1950’s. Julio Cortázar’s depiction of Paris focuses on the indolent, mostly nocturnal lives of a group of expatriate intellectuals and artists who call themselves the Serpent Club. They meet at the apartment of La Maga, Horacio’s lover, to drink, listen to jazz, and discuss philosophy and the arts. Within this cramped set of rooms, Horacio confronts the incongruity between his friends’ esoteric musings and harsh physical reality in the sudden death of Rocamodour, La Maga’s neglected infant son. Despite the group’s emotional intensity, Horacio regards his relationships with its members as transitory and contingent, as exemplified by his games of chance encounter with La Maga in the Parisian streets.

For Horacio, “Paris is one big metaphor,” which he tries to decipher as a means of attaining a new kind of clarity, the “heaven” associated with the novel’s recurrent game of hopscotch motif. Despite his efforts to focus single-mindedly on his existential project, the city sometimes throws random encounters in his path that force him to acknowledge his bond to humanity; for example, both the old man run down in the street and the pathetic pianist Berthe Trépat draw him out of his solipsism temporarily.

*Buenos Aires

*Buenos Aires. Argentina’s capital is Horacio’s native city, to which he returns after deciding...

(The entire section is 580 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Cortazar's fundamental mistrust of language expresses itself in various forms: in the spontaneous creation of melodramatic dialogues, in the...

(The entire section is 176 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The 1950s served to introduce Cortazar to the reading public principally as a writer of stories characterized by frequent and unexpected...

(The entire section is 1160 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Cortazar has been influenced by many philosophical, scientific, literary, and artistic theories: Bergson's "elan vital" and Sartre's...

(The entire section is 210 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Alazraki, Jaime, and Ivar Ivask, eds. The Final Island: The Fiction of Julio Cortázar. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978. Insightful reading of Cortázar’s novels and short stories in the context of the “boom” period in Latin American literature. Contains a bibliography.

Boldy, Steven. The Novels of Julio Cortázar. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1980. Offers an in-depth reading of Cortázar’s major novels, examining the author’s stylistic experimentation as a living process. Contains a bibliography.

Garfield, Evelyn Picon. Julio Cortázar. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1975. An excellent introduction to the major works of Cortázar. Contains biographical information on the author as well as a discussion of parody in his work.

Peavler, Terry J. Julio Cortázar. Boston: Twayne, 1990. In this thought-provoking overview and comprehensive treatment of Cortázar’s short stories and novels, the author places Cortázar’s work in a literary and historical context. Contains a chronology and bibliography.

Yovanovich, Gordana. Julio Cortázar’s Character Mosaic. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1991. Excellent study of characterization in Cortázar’s longer fiction. Discusses the lack of traditional treatment of character in Hopscotch. Also includes a bibliography.