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Julio Cortazar by Harold Bloom

By Harold Bloom

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LR 57). The general affirmation from the time of Rayuela is still basically valid: ‘Historical results like Marxism or whatever you like may be achieved, but the Yonder is not exactly history’ (R 509). What Fuentes has called the ‘tragicomic’6 case of Padilla constitutes an important crisis in Cortázar’s theoretical position. Padilla was arrested in 1971 by the Cuban authorities for anti-revolutionary attitudes: pessimism, escapism, individualism, etc. His autocrítica brought a strong reaction from left-wing writers in Latin America and Europe.

To begin with, as Cortázar himself has emphasized on many occasions, his Ariadne gives Theseus the clew only in order to free the Minotaur, once the monster has killed the hero. ”7 Instead of a triumph, Cortázar’s version offers a mutual defeat: Theseus’s quest leads not to heroic distinction, but to indifferentiation. The Minotaur, who would represent such indifferentiation and thus be the victor, is dead. Theseus’s pursuit of individuation is thwarted from the start: he constantly recognizes himself in others, not only in the Minotaur, but also in Minos.

It is, of course, at the center of that maze that Marcus and the Nubian retiarius stage their combat. As in Los reyes, there is no victory at the end of “All Fires the Fire,” but rather a mutual annihilation. The fight between the Nubian retiarius and the gladiator is resolved when both fall dead upon each other in the sand. The mutual killing and the sand, which suggests the desert, prefigure the fire that kills everyone at the end, the fire that destroys the arena and which also levels the apartment building where, centuries later, Roland and Irene have fallen asleep on each other, like the dead gladiators, after making love.

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