Sunday, September 23, 2007

An Extract From The Savage Detectives

Here follows this delightful extract from Roberto Bolano's The Savage Detectives, narrated by one of the numerous narrators in this great novel. I will write about this savage novel soon.


All literature could be classified as heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. Novels, in general, were heterosexual, whereas poetry was completely homosexual; I guess short stories were bisexual, although he didn't say so.

Within the vast ocean of poetry he identified various currents: faggots, queers, sissies, freaks, butches, fairies, nymphs and philenes. But the two major currents were faggots and queers. Walt Whitman, for example, was a faggot poet. Pablo Neruda, a queer. William Blake was definitely a faggot. Octavio Paz was a queer. Borges was a philene, or in other words he might be a faggot one minute and simply asexual the next. Ruben Dario was a freak, in fact, the queen freak, the prototypical freak.

Freaks were closer to madhouse flamboyance and naked hallucination, while faggots and queers wandered in stagger-steps from ethics to aesthetics and back again.Cernuda, dear Cernuda, was a nymph, and at moments of great bitterness, a faggot, whereas Guillen, Alexaindre and Alberti could be considered a sissy, butch, and a queer respectively. As a general love, poets like Carlos Pellicer were butches, while poets like Tablada, Novo, and Renato Leduc were sissies. In fact, there was a dearth of faggots in Mexican poetry, although some optimists might point to Lopez Velarde or Efrain Huerta.

Anyway, the poetry scene was essentially an underground battle, the result of the struggle between faggot poets and queer poets to seize control of the word. Sissies, were faggot poets by birth, but who out of weakness or for comfort's sake lived within and accepted - most of the time- the aesthetic and personal parameters of the queers. In Spain, France and Italy, queer poets have always been legion, he said, although a superficial reader might never guess. What happens is that a faggot poet like Leopardi, for example, somehow reconstructs queers like Ungaretti, Montale , and Quasimodo, the deadly trio.

In the same way, Pasolini redraws contemporary Italian queerdom. take the case of poor Sanguinetti. Not to mention France, great country of devouring mouths, from Villon to our beloved Sophie Podolski, have nurtured, still nurture, and will nurture with the blood of their tits ten thousand queer poets with their entourage of philenes, nymphs, butches, and sissies, lofty editors of literary magazines, great translators, petty bureaucrats, and grand diplomats of the kingdom of letters. and the less said the better of the faggotry of the Russian revolution, which if we are to be honest, gave us just one faggot poet, a single one.

Mayakovsky? No
Esenin? No
Pasternak? Blok? Mandelstam? Akhmatova?
There was only one but he was the real thing, a steppes-and -snow-faggot, a faggot from head to toe: Khlebnikov.

And in Latin America how many true faggots do we find? Vallejo and Martin Adan. period. New paragraph. Macedonio Fernandez, maybe? The rest are queers like Huidobrio, fairies like Alfonso Cortes, butches like Leon De Greiff, butch nymphs like Pablo De Rokha, sissies like Lezama Lima, a misguided reader of Gongora, and along with Lezama, all the poets of the Cuban revolution. In Nicaragua most poets are fairies like Coronel Urtecho or queers who wish they were philenes, like Ernesto Cardenal.

Gorostiza's death without end, alongwith the poetry of Paz, is the Marseillase of highly nervous and sedentary Mexican Poetry. More names: Gelman, nymph; Benedetti, queer; Nicanor Parra, fairy with a hint of faggot; Westphalen, freak; Enrique Lihn, sissy; Girondo, fairy; Nuno, fairy butch; Sabines, butchy butch; and back to Spain, back to the beginning, faggots. End of story. And now, some differences beween queers and faggots.............................


Anonymous said...

I laughed. Great. Faggots and Sissies. But I wonder why he does not contemplate the androgynous, - or does he contemplate it through the lense of gayness?

Kubla Khan said...

You are so right.....this narrator (out of the many in this novel) is gay actually.

Anonymous said...

nice. I am scared of large novels, sometime I feel a certain urgency to finish the book. But the more I read about Savage Detective more I want to read it...not enough time.

Kubla Khan said...

you must try to read this is a really great novel.

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