Written Lives

Javier Marías (Author) Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)


Like Isak Dinesen (who "claimed to have poor sight, yet could spot a four-leaf clover in a field from a remarkable distance away"), Marías has a sharp eye. Nabokov is here, making "the highly improbable assertion that he is 'as American as April in Arizona, '" as is Oscar Wilde, who, in debt on his deathbed, ordered up champagne, "remarking cheerfully, 'I am dying beyond my means.'" Faulkner, we find, when fired from his post office job, explained that he was not prepared "to be beholden to any son-of-a-bitch who had two cents to buy a stamp." Affection glows in the pages of Written Lives, evidence, as Marías remarks, that "although I have enjoyed writing all my books, this was the one with which I had the most fun."

Product Details

New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
May 17, 2007
7.1 X 0.59 X 7.94 inches | 0.53 pounds
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About the Author

Javier Marías is an award-winning Spanish novelist. He is also a translator and columnist, as well as the current king of Redonda. He was born in Madrid in 1951 and published his first novel at the age of nineteen. He has held academic posts in Spain, the US (he was a visiting professor at Wellesley College) and Britain, as a lecturer in Spanish Literature at Oxford University. He has been translated into 34 languages, and more than six million copies of his books have been sold worldwide. In 1997 he won the Nelly Sachs Award; the Comunidad de Madrid award in 1998; in 2000 the Grinzane Cavour Award, the Alberto Moravia Prize, and the Dublin IMPAC Award. He also won the Spanish National Translation Award in 1979 for his translation of Tristram Shandy in 1979. He was a professor at Oxford University and the Complutense of Madrid. He currently lives in Madrid.
Award-winning translator Margaret Jull Costa lives in England.


A great writer.--Salman Rushdie
His prose demonstrates an unusual blend of sophistication and accessibility.--Wyatt Mason
It is difficult to be moderate about the charm of these brief portraits...Delicious, slyly ironic.... A delightful volume.--Michael Dirda
Reading these portraits is addictive; one keeps turning pages in anticipation of Marías' keen and amusing analyses.
They may be miniatures, but they're curious, addictive, and profound in their brevity.... The next thing Marías deserves is the Nobel Prize.
I am greatly impressed by the quality of Marías's writing.--W. G. Sebald
Javier Marías is in my opinion one of the best contemporary writers.--J. M. Coetzee
Mini-biographies of classic authors like Nabokov, Wilde, Rimbaud, Faulkner and Brontë written from the point of view of everything that went wrong in their lives. But funny! A must-read for any bibliophile.--Caroline Stanley