The author of 12 novels and four books of short stories, he also published two volumes of essays and two books of poetry. He was the son of Syrian immigrants to Argentina, born in a small village in the northern province of Santa Fe in , but lived in Paris from Although he spent the major part of his adult life outside Argentina, the fictional world he invented, populated by characters who reappear from book to book, draws closely on the area of northern Argentina known as El Litoral. As a young man growing up in the provinces, he was a voracious reader of everything he could lay his hands on: he was translating Keats at the age of
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A young sailor on a Spanish ship in the sixteenth century survives an attack from an Indian tribe and spends ten years with his captors. Not really understanding at first why his captors spared him, he becomes the witness of the tribe's way of life, with its many incomprehensible habits.
Upon his return to 'civilization', he sets out to live a more 'normal' life, and ends up writing his story. This was an enjoyable surprise;. This was an enjoyable surprise; the story is very well written, at times poetic, at times philosophical. You can feel hints of Borges in some of the descriptions or some of the philosophical reflections.
The narrator tells his tale in a very objective and thorough manner; this almost makes accept some of the atrocities being described. A very interesting exploration about cultural differences, cultural identity and the wavering nature of memory. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
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Return to Book Page. Margaret Jull Costa Translator. In sixteenth-century Spain, a cabin boy sets sail on a ship bound for the New World. An inland expedition ends in disaster when the group is attacked by Indians. The Witness explores the relationship between existence and description, foreignness and cultural identity.
Juan Jose Saer was born in Argentina in and is considered one of Argentina's leading writers of the po In sixteenth-century Spain, a cabin boy sets sail on a ship bound for the New World. Juan Jose Saer was born in Argentina in and is considered one of Argentina's leading writers of the post-Borges generation. He died in Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published June 1st by Serpent's Tail first published More Details Original Title. Rayos globulares 1.
Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Witness , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Witness. Feb 03, Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing. Faraway lands… Strange customs… Ships returned from there loaded down with spices, bruised and battered, after drifting over unknown seas.
People in the ports talked of little else and at times the topic fired their faces and conversations with a crazed intensity. The unknown is an abstraction; the known, a desert; but what is half-known, half-seen, is the perfect breeding ground for desire and hallucination. The hero of the novel is rather a witness of the world and humankind than a witness of history.
Every life is a well of loneliness that only grows deeper with the passing years. Being an orphan, I am more conscious than most of coming from nothing and grew up wary of the illusion of companionship which the family offers.
But that night my already great sense of solitude suddenly became immense, as if the bottom of that gradually deepening well had suddenly given way and plunged me into blackness. I lay down on the ground and cried inconsolably.
There are two worlds: the world of civilization and the world of barbarism… Abducted by Indians the protagonist becomes stuck between two worlds… The story is very colourful and, despite its briefness, it shows great philosophical profundity. The world of artifice and the world of nature… The world of pretence and the world of naturalness… An Indian once tried explaining all this to me and what I understood him to say was this: the world is made up of good and evil, of death and birth; there are old and young, men and women, winter and summer, water and earth, sky and trees.
All this must always exist; if at any time one thing were missing, then everything would crumble. The best world for every one of us is the one we are accustomed to live in. A brilliant little novel, thankfully reissued by Serpent's Tale hopefully they will reissue The Event as well.
The plot revolves around a cabin boy who is captured and who spends the next ten years living with a tribe of man-eating Indians in South America in the 16th century, but this vague and admittedly shocking description gives only an approximation of what Saer is doing in this work. It is a fine psychological portrait of estrangement and a meditation on how reality can often feel the le A brilliant little novel, thankfully reissued by Serpent's Tale hopefully they will reissue The Event as well.
It is a fine psychological portrait of estrangement and a meditation on how reality can often feel the least substantial thing in the universe. In many ways, I think of it as the antidote to Robinson Crusoe. May 06, Ben Winch added it Shelves: latin-american , argentine.
Still, it seems a funny kind of vision to have dwelt on so intently, an over-inflated short story or novella, vivid but claustrophobic, a too-long exposition of a too-narrow concept, which threatens to explode from its own internal pressure.
Then he forgets Borges, becomes himself again, breathes new life into it and resumes. I can see it clearly, the village of the cannibals, encroached on by unreality and a lone truth-seeing witness. Jan 18, Lauren rated it really liked it Shelves: sa-argentina , own , spanish-language-lit , translated-works. Twenty, thirty, sixty, or even ten thousand years of past life are of the same duration, the same reality But there is in every life one decisive moment, which is, no doubt, also pure illusion, but which nonetheless gives us out definitive shape.
To be. Ontological meditations as an old man remembers when he was captured and held by an indigeous tribe for ten years in an unknown unnamed land.
You jump ri "No human life is longer than those last seconds of lucidity that precede death. You jump right in to the depths, following along with the vivid and violent descriptions - is this truly happening? There were some passages in this book that made me pause and re-read, so much to ponder. The second half of the book, the musings on the language and customs of the indigenous people was particularly beautiful.
I am holding on to this one, as it begs a re-read. Just like the narrator, it may be one to revisit when I am older. Parsing out meaning, experiencing, and receiving wisdom.
What does it truly mean to be primitive, like those now mostly vanished peoples of the Americas whom we displaced? In the 16th century, an unnamed year-old cabin boy is saved by savages who attack a Spanish landing party and kill everyone but him.
He is carried along by the Indians, who also carry with them the bodies of the Spanish who had fallen. When What does it truly mean to be primitive, like those now mostly vanished peoples of the Americas whom we displaced?
When they arrive at a village in the interior, the bodies of the Spanish are butchered and eaten, while the narrator watches in horror. What follows is a strange orgy in which the Indians go at one another, irrespective of age or kinship. No one harms the narrator, who is treated rather indulgently for ten years.
During this time, he sees the cannibalism and orgiastic frenzy ten times. When a larger party of Spanish is sighted, the Indians send the narrator down river in a canoe, where he is picked up by conquistadores and entrusted to a priest. He is taken to Europe and taught to read and write. This analysis is among the most powerful sequences in 20th century literature. At one point, he describes the death of one of the tribe members: And that morning I learned from the battered man, now scarcely breathing, that virtue cannot save us from the surrounding blackness.
Even if we have the courage to find our way through one night, a little way of another longer night awaits us. In vain he had, in calmer days, striven to be good; the gaping mouth over which he danced, innocent and poised, devoured him anyway. Our lives are lived in a place of terrible indifference which recognizes neither virtue nor vice and annihilates us all without compunction, without apportioning good or evil. Unforgettably, the novel ends with the memory of a lunar eclipse, which troubles the tribe until the light slowly returns and re-establishes the tenuous existence of their world.
Saer died in after having written many books that are largely unknown to the Anglo world. View 2 comments.
Two notable quotes from this book there are several : "The memory of an event is not sufficient proof that it really happened. Overall this book did not fail to have an impact on me. Some images are so strong they will stay with me for along time.
A young sailor on a Spanish ship in the sixteenth century survives an attack from an Indian tribe and spends ten years with his captors. Not really understanding at first why his captors spared him, he becomes the witness of the tribe's way of life, with its many incomprehensible habits. Upon his return to 'civilization', he sets out to live a more 'normal' life, and ends up writing his story. This was an enjoyable surprise;. This was an enjoyable surprise; the story is very well written, at times poetic, at times philosophical.
Thanks to a scholarship, he moved to Paris in where he taught at the University of Rennes. He had recently retired from his position as a lecturer at the University of Rennes, and had almost finished his final novel, La Grande , which has since been published posthumously, along with a series of critical articles on Latin American and European writers, Trabajos In the year , a first installment of his previously unpublished working notebooks were edited and published as "Papeles de trabajo" by Seix Barral in Argentina. A second volume soon followed, which was the result of five years of editing work by a team coordinated by Julio Premat, who wrote the introduction of the first volume.