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Frictions. Dialogues / Screenings

Direction: Pedro G. Romero, Santiago Eraso
Venue: Rectory of the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. Monastery of Santa María de las Cuevas. Isla de la Cartuja. Seville
Guest Speakers: Bernardo Atxaga, Enrique Vila-Matas, Juan Bonilla, Justo Navarro
Date: 15th - 17th December 2003




As Roberto Bolaño proposed, radical fiction is the only way to confront reality. There are many ways in which to approach this statement, which declares that what is "real" operates in the same way as what is "fictitious". Fundamentally, it is an observation of the transactions that connect language to the world. Isn't language the foundation of the world? Should its representations adhere to an impoverished scientific view of events? And isn't modern science what has freed us of our "logical" view of the world in an unprecedented explosion since logos prevailed over myth?

Some artists' calls for "fusion" between art and life foreshadow no more than a violent ingression of fiction into reality. This "fission" often causes friction. The meddlings of fiction in the world are numerous and varied: the remembrances of dreams, iconoclastic reaction, utopian projects, mental delirium. The crossings of phantoms through the world. Take the semiological ravings in writings like those of Raymond Roussel; can a world be built upon these?

Are we not witnesses to just that, when the primary economy of the planet is an industry in which fiction is the raw material of its products? Is this a battle of some fictions versus others? Augusto Monterroso's tale, Faith and the Mountains is well worth mentioning here:

"In the beginning Faith moved mountains only when absolutely necessary, and so the landscape looked like itself for thousands of years. But when Faith began to propagate and people took a fancy to the idea of moving mountains, all that the mountains did was change location, and it became increasingly difficult to find them in the place in which they had been left the night before, a situation that naturally caused more problems than it solved. The good people then chose to abandon Faith and now the mountains generally remain in their place. When, on the road, a landslide occurs under which various travellers expire, what has happened is that someone, far away or quite close by, has had a very slight glimmer of Faith."

Nowadays, to declare that what one writes is absolute fiction guarantees a clean fight. And we still ask, but is there any difference between fiction and reality? Doesn't a punch in the nose make you bleed, no matter what has punched you? Don't fiction and reality both make you laugh?

Maybe what we should be talking about is a paradigm of fiction, not of its essence but of its different representations. Discussing the radicalisation of fiction is perhaps the only way to pursue critical approaches to the world. Enrique Vila-Matas facilitates the way for us with a quote from Juan José Saer: "The truth is not necessarily the opposite of fiction".

The idea is to propose a discourse on fiction, conversations in pursuit of the friction of discussion, colloquies between Bernardo Atxaga and Enrique Vila-Matas, between Juan Bonilla and Justo Navarro. And to centre the subject, to engage discourse, we will screen Interview with W. G. Sebald, a conversation with the German author focused on the subjects of reality and fiction, novel and autobiography that was filmed for television shortly before his death in December, 2001, when a heart attack caused his automobile to crash into a lorry.



Austerlitz, W.G. SebaldMonday 15th December 2003
· 19:00 h.
Screening of two interviews with W. G. Sebald1, presented by publisher and literary critic Ignacio F. Garmendia

>> Interview with W.G. Sebald, Kamer met Uitzicht, VPRO TV (Netherlands), 12 July, 1998, 22 min, VOSC. Courtesy of VPRO TV, Netherlands

>> Max Sebald interviewed by Maya Jaggi, an extract of the St. Jerome Event filmed live at Queen Elisabeth Hall, London, 24 September, 2001, 6 min, VOSE. Courtesy of the South Bank Centre in association with the British Centre for Literary Translation, London>

Tuesday 16th December 2003
· 19:00 h.
A dialogue between Bernardo Atxaga and Enrique Vila-Matas, presented by Santiago Eraso

Wednesday 17th December 2003
· 19:00 h.
A dialogue between Juan Bonilla and Justo Navarro, presented by Pedro G. Romero

[All screenings and lectures will be open to the public]


1.-  Winfried Georg Sebald (Baviera 1944-2001), was a German author who arrived at the age of 26 to Norwich, England to teach classes at the University of East Anglia, where he chaired the department of European Literature from 1987. He founded and then directed the British Centre for Literary Translation until 1994. His first novel, Vertigo (1990) established the shape and scope of a narrative that led him to become a cult author. His literature combines genres, with such titles as The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn and Austerlitx, in a rich and complex mixture of essay, novel, travel and poetry that situates him among the highest order of international authors.



Bernardo Atxaga (Astesau, 1951)
Bernardo Atxaga, the pseudonym of Joseba Irazu, a poet and novelist who writes in Basque and Castilian. Ziutateak (The Cities), his first book of poetry, was published in 1976 followed by Etiopia (1978 Critic's Award) two years later. Atxaga has published over twenty books of children's and young people's literature, has written radio scripts and plays and has close ties with Basque music for which he has written numerous lyrics. His most outstanding novels, translated into several languages, are, Two Brothers (Dos Hermanos, 1985 Critic's Award), Obabakoak (1988 Critic's Award, Euskadi and National Literature Awards), The Lone Man (El Hombre Solo) and Esos Cielos.

Enrique Vila-Matas (Barcelona, 1948)
He is the author of an extensive narrative oeuvre, translated into sixteen languages, which has won him international recognition as one of Spain's most significant and inventive writers. He has published, among others, the following titles: La asesina ilustrada (The Illustrated Murderess), Impostura (Imposture), Historia abreviada de la literatura portátil (A Short History of Portable Literature), Una casa para siempre (A House Forever), Suicidios ejemplares (Exemplary Suicides), Recuerdos inventados (Invented Memories), Extraña forma de vida (A Strange Lifestyle), El viaje vertical (The Vertical Voyage, 2001 Rómulo Gallegos Award), Bartleby and Company (City of Barcelona Award, Prix Fernando Aguirre-Libralire and Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger), El mal de Montano (Montano's Malaise, 2003 Herralde Award and National Critic's Award), and París no se acaba nunca (Paris Never Ends).

Juan Bonilla (Jerez de la Frontera, 1966)
He is the author of books of poetry such as Partes de guerra (War Dispatches) and Belvedere; short story collections like El arte del yo-yo (The Art of Yo-yo), La compañía de los solitarios (The Company of Recluses) and La noche del Skylab (The Night of the Skylab); and newspaper articles and essays. He is most well-known for his novels among which stand out Nadie conoce a nadie (Nobody Knows Anybody) and Cansados de estar muertos (Tired of Being Dead). His latest novel, Los príncipes nubios (The Nubian Princes) has been awarded the Seix Barral publishing house's Biblioteca Breve Award.

Justo Navarro (Granada, 1953)
He studied philology in his home town of Granada. He began his writing career with the publication of two books of poetry: Los nadadores (The Swimmers) and Un aviador prevé su muerte (An Aviator Forsees His Death, 1987 Critic's Award), bringing him to be included in the most significant anthologies of Spanish poetry. From that point he focused on writing narrative and has published El doble del doble (The Double of the Double), Hermana muerte (The Dead Sister, 1989 Navarra Award), Accidentes íntimos (Intimate Accidents, 1990 Herralde Award), El alma de controlador aéreo (The Air Controller's Soul) and F.


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