LA ZONA FANTASMA

A MONTHLY COLUMN

by Javier Marías
“RUN, EVERYONE, RUN!”

Last year, amid the somewhat premature flurry leading up to the insufferable celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of the publication of Don Quixote (the first part, at least), I wrote an article entitled “Run, Cervantes, Run!” which annoyed a number of people who were anxiously waiting to take advantage of the festivities, most especially one novelist with a particularly pathetic destiny: so determined to be more like Cervantes than any other writer, the poor man was blissfully unaware that everything that flows from his pen is about as fresh-smelling as a pair of old plaid bedroom slippers or the casino of a derelict city lost somewhere in the provinces. In any event, the year of Don Quixote has come and gone, and many people have ended up feeling more or less as I predicted: fed up with that splendid novel, to say nothing of its extraordinary characters, the region of La Mancha, and poor Miguel de Cervantes himself, who lived a difficult life and who is undoubtedly not resting in peace. In the end, though, there was at least some level of justification—a nice, even number—for organizing all those trivial events that only trivialized the book, bewildering and manhandling the author who, being dead, had nowhere to run. Dead people, as we all know, are so defenseless, the most defenseless among us.

Translated from the Spanish by Kristina Cordero

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Javier Marías was born in Madrid in 1951. English-language translations of his books include All Souls, A Heart So White, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, and the short-story collection When I Was Mortal. This month Believer Books will publish his second novel, Voyage Along the Horizon.

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