After-dinner Conversation: The Diary of a Decadent

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University of Texas Press, 2005 - 260页

Lost in a shipwreck in 1895, rewritten before the author's suicide in 1896, and not published until 1925, Jos Asuncin Silva's After-Dinner Conversation (De sobremesa) is one of Latin America's finest fin de sicle novels and the first one to be translated into English. Perhaps the single best work for understanding turn-of-the-twentieth-century writing in South America, After-Dinner Conversation is also cited as the continent's first psychological novel and an outstanding example of modernista fiction and the Decadent sensibility.

Semi-autobiographical and more important for style than plot, After-Dinner Conversation is the diary of a Decadent sensation-collector in exile in Paris who undertakes a quest to find his beloved Helen, a vision whom his fevered imagination sees as his salvation. Along the way, he struggles with irreconcilable urges and temptations that pull him in every direction while he endures an environment indifferent or hostile to spiritual and intellectual pursuits, as did the modernista writers themselves. Kelly Washbourne's excellent translation preserves Silva's lush prose and experimental style. In the introduction, one of the most wide-ranging in Silva criticism, Washbourne places the life and work of Silva in their literary and historical contexts, including an extended discussion of how After-Dinner Conversation fits within Spanish American modernismo and the Decadent movement. Washbourne's perceptive comments and notes also make the novel accessible to general readers, who will find the work surprisingly fresh more than a century after its composition.

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作者简介 (2005)

Jos Asunci n Silva (1865-1896). Colombia. A excepci n de algunas breves temporadas en el extranjero -en Par s, Suiza y Londres;y en Venezuela, como secretario de la Legislaci n de Colombia-, Silva vivi en el ambiente cerrado y nada estimulante del Bogot del siglo xix. Fue un hombre inconforme y desajustado, y su existencia estuvo marcada por el fracaso y las frustraciones: continuas ruinas en sus empe os comerciales, intentando preservar los negocios de su familia;la muerte de su hermana Elvira (a quien dedica su Nocturno ), el naufragio de un barco en el que perdi seg n sus propias palabras: lo mejor de mi obra ;la hostilidad de una sociedad estrecha (lo apodaban Jos Presunci n ) que lo oblig a no mostrar su vocaci n literaria. La primera edici n de su obra po tica, muy adulterada, apareci en Barcelona en 1908, tras su suicidio (con un pr logo vehemente de Miguel de Unamuno). Su poes a contiene tres referencias privilegiadas: El libro de versos, que l mismo orden y titul ;Gotas amargas, que quiso mantener in dito;y Versos varios, compendio del resto de su obra. N jera no parece atra do por el parnasianismo y a n menos por el preciosismo propio de los inicios de la d cada del 1890 (v ase su s tira Sinfon a de color de fresa en leche ). Influido por Poe, B cquer, y el Mart de Ismaelillo, Silva es considerado un poeta simbolista.

KELLY WASHBOURNE is Assistant Professor of Spanish TranslatiKELLY WASHBOURNE is Assistant Professor of Spanish Translation at Kent State University in Ohio. on at Kent State University in Ohio.

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