Critical Context

The Spanish edition of The Winners was Cortázar’s first novel, published in Buenos Aires in 1960, but it did not appear in English until after the appearance of the very successful Hopscotch. Although it is not as great a novel as Hopscotch, it is a witty and intriguing treatment of the themes of the later novels and is particularly relevant to the study of Cortázar’s development as a novelist. It treats for the first time the major themes of Cortázar’s long fiction and shows him struggling with the question of form as well. The sections in which the narrator expresses Persio’s meditations in a radically experimental style are perhaps not convincingly integrated into the body of the narrative. On the other hand, Cortázar’s gift for imitating voices and for recording in a way that always rings true the variety, richness, and frequent silliness of human consciousness is already well developed in this work.

The Winners may be seen as an early contribution to the body of Latin American literature that began to invade the North American and European literary consciousness in the 1960’s. Written, like many other books of the period, by an exile from a country in political turmoil, it reacts boldly but ironically, with humor and without ideology, creatively and wittily in such a way that the whole world can identify with its central dilemmas.