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A Heart So White

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  4,946 Ratings  ·  475 Reviews
Winner of the IMPAC Dublin Award, and widely considered Javier Marías's masterpiece, A Heart So White is a breathtaking novel about family secrets that chronicles the relentless power of the past.

Juan knows little of the interior life of his father Ranz; but when Juan marries, he begins to consider the past anew, and begins to ponder what he doesn't really want to know. S
ebook, 304 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by Vintage (first published February 13th 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 15, 2012 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Kris
”Listening is the most dangerous thing of all, listening means knowing, finding out about something and knowing what’s going on, our ears don’t have lids that can instinctively close against the words uttered, they can’t hide from what they sense they’re about to hear, it’s always too late.”

Juan is trained to listen to people. He is a professional translator, so when he is listening to conversations it comes in his ears in one language and comes out his mouth in another language. He is the only
Helen Stavraki
Mar 22, 2017 Helen Stavraki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I have done the deed. Did you hear a noise"?

"Καρδιά τόσο άσπρη"..τι υπέροχη φράση για να γνωριστείς με έναν Ισπανό δημιουργό που σε γοητεύει συναισθηματικά και πνευματικά χωρίς ιδιαίτερη προσπάθεια.

Ο Χαβιέρ Μαρίας κατάφερε να με "γλεντήσει" χωρίς σταματημό και να με ικανοποιήσει αναγνωστικά με σπουδαία αφηγηματική τέχνη και φιλοσοφικό λόγο που με φυλάκισε εγκεφαλικά μέχρι το τέλος.

Είναι γεγονός τώρα πια και μπορώ να το δηλώσω:
Όλοι οι -Λατινοαμερικάνοι-Ισπανοί- Πορτογάλοι-συγγραφείς με
Steven  Godin
Feb 10, 2017 Steven Godin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, spanish
Masterfully intriguing and told using a seductive and challenging narrative, Javier Marias goes from sentence to dazzling sentence that reaches deep within the human psyche to reveal a family's past shrouded in mystery, where questions that are asked leads to unsettling hostilities, all the while exploring themes of love, desire and the good and bad side of marriage.

And it's marriage that sits somewhat uncomfortably in the foreground in 'A Heart so White'. Marias examines the commonplace yet pec
What do I wish to hear? About the present? The past, may be? Or a little tune on the waiting future? Do I wish to eavesdrop on my best friend to find out what she thinks of me when I am not around? Am I tempted to open a letter addressed to my partner with no overt allusion to my name or salutation on the envelope? Am I inclined to return to an unknown place just so I can hear a random conversation complete in my mind? Do I wish to pause a few seconds longer at the traffic so I can hear the bant ...more

My hands are of your color; but I shame
To wear a heart so white.
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Time keeps on moving at an indifferent pace and yet it keeps on changing; every second, every day, and every year. Since we all are busy living, we attach little importance to the things happened and the words spoken in the past as most of the times we are under the impression that it doesn’t hold the power to change our present or affect our future (not devastatingly at least). Certainly there are poeti
Jun 01, 2012 Kris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 1001, spain, favorites
There are so many layers to this book. You have to be willing to give it time, especially in the first third or so, when Marías writes long, intricate, sentences that fold back on themselves, with parentheses within parentheses. Through this style, Marías presents the thoughts and interpretations of the protagonist, Juan, a translator who describes himself as committed, almost addicted, to understanding all he hears, all he sees, everything around him. Juan has recently married another translato ...more
Stephen P
Dec 05, 2012 Stephen P rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of both eloquence and surprise
Recommended to Stephen by: Anything Marias Is Sent by M.Puma
Shelves: latin-american

A book about boundaries, both protected and invaded as well as about time. What is present already is diffused into the past and therefore cannot be known. One cannot know anything! At some point it will be long enough ago that it can be laughed at as though those laughing and remembering were not participants. There are secrets. He lives in a world of suspicions, trying to interpret, translate, so he is well defended, everything is in its place as when he returns from a trip and unpacks each th
Very unusual story about betrayal and confession.

Set in the deeply catholic countries of Spain and Cuba, it argues that too much knowledge between lovers and spouses destroys love. I wonder if that is true. It reminds me of Jeanette Winterson's thoughts in The Passion, where she reflects on the theme that "between sex and fear, passion lies". Too much familiarity, trust and knowledge would thus by default make passion disappear. The same idea is repeated in Written on the Body, where boredom is
Jul 25, 2011 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spanish
Over beers with a friend, I was trying to articulate what it is about Graham Swift, one of his favorite novelists, that I didn't like. I meant to be gentle, not wanting to bruise his feelings, but he doubtlessly was prepared for another rant. After 30 years of friendship he well knows my attempts at persuasion and my underlying insistence on being right. (We spent a similar evening arguing with voices raised but without consequence over who was the most musically influential Beatle). But skills ...more
Nov 04, 2016 Γκέλλυ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
"Το ν'ακούς είναι το πιο επικίνδυνο", σκέφτηκα, "σημαίνει να ξέρεις, σημαίνει να πληροφορείσαι και να είσαι ενήμερος, τα αυτιά δεν έχουν βλέφαρα που θα μπορούσαν να κλείσουν ενστικτωδώς μπροστά σ'αυτό που ειπώθηκε, δεν μπορούν να φυλαχτούν απ'αυτό που προαισθάνονται ότι θ'ακούσουν, πάντα είναι πάρα πολύ αργά. Τώρα πια ξέρουμε, κι αυτό μπορεί να λεκιάσει τις τόσο άσπρες καρδιές μας, ίσως και να'ναι χλωμές και φοβισμένες, ή δειλές."

Bewitched, bothered and bewildered -am I. Και σίγουρα seduced από
Nora Barnacle
Jan 24, 2017 Nora Barnacle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sudeći po ovoj knjizi, Havijer Matijas je pisac – zavodnik, ali ne u značenju Latin lover, već pre zavoditelj, zavodilac – kako li se kaže.

Iza, naizgled, nesigurnog naratora, ispitivački zbunjenog pred životom i ljudima, on stoji zreo, stamen i vraški talentovan, odmeren, precizan, jasan. Rečenice su mu nešto duže, deskriptivan je, repetitivan, zgušnjava i detaljiše. No, to radi toliko perfidno i znalački da čitalac ne samo da ne pomišlja na “’ajde, više, reci, aman!”, nego i ne primeti ponavlj
“I did not want to know but I have since come to know that one of the girls, when she wasn’t a girl any more and hadn’t long been back from her honeymoon, went into the bathroom, stood in front of the mirror, unbuttoned her blouse, took off her bra and aimed her own father’s gun at her heart, her father at the time was in the living room with other members of the family and three guests.”

And so with the first sentence we dive into unknown depths.

The title of the book is from Macbeth, in the sce
Aug 07, 2013 Jonfaith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Listening is the most dangerous thing of all."

One of the benefits of a summer birthday is the marginalized chance of being ill on said day. Of course, as we age, the day becomes ever ambivalent. Today I found myself sick beyond preparation. It has been a rough week w/ viruses making rounds at work and my own sinuses self-immolating. That said, I was hoping for a reprieve today. It didn't happen.

Instead my wife and I perched in our living room and read. Art Tatum and Eric Dolphy contributed grea
Dec 08, 2011 Noce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ode agli stoici genitori dell’infante Javier.

Certo è, che Marìas da piccolo, non l’avrei voluto conoscere.

Mettiamo il caso che sia possibile usufruire di 5 minuti e prendere la macchina del tempo per tornare all’infanzia del piccolo Javier.

Eccolo lì, coi calzoncini corti, che vi aspetta sulla porta di casa perché voi lo portiate al parco.

Osservatelo mentre fiducioso vi dà la mano e vi incamminate assieme. Il tragitto scorre lento e sereno (il piccolo Javier è taciturno, ma questo vi assicuro, no
Dec 16, 2015 Hanneke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing book. It is impossible to read at a normal speed, you are forced to slow down as ideas pop up like little cartoon balloons in almost every sentence. You have to reflect on them, as they seem to remain hovering above the book and only drift away very slowly. The book does not have much dialogue and is written in a breathless voice. I cannot even say if I find that tone attractive or not, neither if I like the book very much. The book is about secrets; secrets kept and secrets revealed. ...more
Ben Loory
liked it, didn't love it, didn't really "really like it," found myself often sighing loudly towards the end-- JUST FRIGGIN SAY WHAT YOU'RE GONNA SAY ALREADY AND STOP SAYING IT EIGHTY TIMES IN A ROW-- but there's no doubt marias is an extremely talented writer, above all a great writer of scenes... there are scenes in this book-- many, many scenes-- that i will probably remember my whole life (bathroom, balcony, meeting of interpreters, post office, museum guard, wow there are a lot)... it's just ...more
Stephen Ford
Oct 08, 2007 Stephen Ford rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
This is one of the worst books I have ever read. Where shall I start? Its banal insights may just about justify a short story by a teenager; the dialogue is stilted, pretentious and postured; and no interesting events occur - nothing actually happens.

Most importantly, the style is pedestrian, repetitive, circumlocutary. For instance: "Carefully, very carefully (but not that carefully) I crossed the room." So which is it, Marias? Carefully, very carefully or not that carefully? And why should I c
Sep 20, 2013 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“My hands are of your color; but I shame to wear a heart so white.”
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Uma mulher mata-se com um tiro no coração. Eu queria muito saber porquê. No entanto, ao longo das páginas, sou enredada e enfeitiçada por histórias, pensamentos, divagações, com conteúdo e apresentação, de tal forma hipnotizantes, que se me torna irrelevante saber porque se matou Teresa.
Segredos. O que se deve dizer e o que se não deve; o que queremos saber e o que não queremos. O que não sabemos mant
Apr 28, 2017 Gorkem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marias'ın ciddi anlamda beyin hücresi olmak istiyorum.En Giriş kısmından sonuna kadar temponun sürekli arttığı bir düşünsel ve edebi şölen.

Büyük konuşuyorum, Mariası sevmeyen ve sevmiyorum diyen bir edebiyat okuru ya edebi anlamda daha olgunlaşmamıştır ya da düşünme eylemini geri plana atmıştır.

Bu kadar övdükten, konu çok kısa olarak içinde bulduğumuz anlarda istemeden kulak misafiri olduğumuz kulak röntgenciliğinin gidebileceği son durum. Ana karakterimiz bir çevirmen. Karısının Balayı esnası
mai ahmd
Aug 30, 2015 mai ahmd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: روايات
عادة ما تكمن الصعوبة في البدايات وخافيير في هذا النص كان بارعا في تكثيف مشهد افتتاحية النص فأن تبدأ الرواية بمشهد انتحار عروس وبهذه التفاصيل المثيرة فإن ذلك كفيل بأن يجعلك تقرأ بدون توقف لعلك تصل إلى الأسرار أسرار النص وأسرار الحياة فمن منا لا يجب الأسرار ، ربط ماتياس خيوط النص ببعضها بتكوين رائع وبشكل دائري يقف فيه بطل النص بشكل مباشر في الوسط ليعود كل مشهد ويرتبط بخوان ، خيوط تجمع
!الولاء والحب والأسرار في كفة واحدة

أسرار الماضي دائما ما تحاصر الإنسان بل إنهاأحيانا تقتله وخوان بطل الرواية مح
May 19, 2016 Χρήστος rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Πυκνό, πολύστροφο και σπειροειδές μυθιστόρημα για την επικοινωνία, τον γάμο, τη συντροφικότητα, τον λόγο και τον χρόνο. Εντυπωσιακά στημένες πολλές σκηνές, ιδίως η εναρκτήρια, με ένα υποδόριο μυστήριο να διαποτίζει τις σελίδες και να ενισχύει το αίσθημα της απειλής. Αν και σε αρκετά σημεία ένιωσα ότι έκανε κοιλιά και ότι ο λόγος των χαρακτήρων ήταν περισσότερο διδακτικός και αποφθεγματικός από όσο έπρεπε, πρόκειται για ένα έργο δεξιοτεχνικό, ευφυές και υποβλητικό που παρά την ισχνή πλοκή δεν σε ...more
Nov 09, 2014 Roberto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marías scrive senza regole, senza attenersi a nessun copione, abbandonandosi ad una fiume di pensieri vagando apparentemente senza una metà precisa. Sembra non conoscere il punto d’arrivo e neppure il peso che i personaggi hanno nella narrazione. I personaggi, nella loro ambiguità, si sovrappongono, si identificano, fino a confondersi, i fatti accaduti in momenti differenti si incastrano con tempismo perfetto. La costruzione del romanzo è perfetta, niente è lasciato al caso.

“Le mie mani sono del
Camille Stein
Oct 15, 2013 Camille Stein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A veces tengo la sensación de que nada de lo que sucede sucede, de que todo ocurrió y a la vez no ha ocurrido, porque nada sucede sin interrupción, nada perdura ni persevera ni se recuerda incesantemente, y hasta la más monótona y rutinaria de las existencias se va anulando y negando a sí misma en su aparente repetición hasta que nada es nada ni nadie es nadie que fueran antes, y la débil rueda del mundo es empujada por desmemoriados que oyen y ven y saben lo que no se dice ni tiene lugar ni es ...more
Miloš Kostić
Oct 18, 2016 Miloš Kostić rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Obično me mrzi da pišem prikaze ali sa ovom knjigom je nagon da je preporučim prejak. Sjajna knjiga! Sjajna!
Bojim se da će previše otkrivanja pokvariti užitak tako da ću se maksimalno uzdržati od detaljisanja. Jer, ovaj suptilan roman je sav u detaljima. Mnoge teme se ponavljaju i iznova obrađuju, naročito pri kraju romana. Utisci koji se izvlače su krajnje subjektivni, mada ovo važi i za mnoge druge romane. Ovde je to ipak malo više izraženo.
Glavni lik i narator je simultani prevodilac i tuma
Jan 02, 2015 Hugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this a lot, but it is not an easy book to summarise. Loosely it is a book about family secrets, communication and relationships, with a long-hidden tragedy at its core, and focuses on a son's attempts to understand his father's past and come to terms with the psychological effects of his recent marriage, written in a rich language with a lot of sudden changes of focus, and occasional repetitions. Trying to break it down like that doesn't convey how rewarding the read is.
Marcello S
Jan 05, 2015 Marcello S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Le mie mani sono del tuo stesso colore, ma mi vergogno di avere un cuore così bianco”

Per quanto ho letto finora, mi pare si possa dedurre che i libri di Marías non poggiano tanto sull’azione quanto sulla riflessione.
Gli avvenimenti importanti sono pochi e sfuggenti. Il resto è fatto di domande, dissertazioni, del tentativo di fare chiarezza.

Se il buon Javier può dire qualcosa in due pagine di certo ne impiegherà almeno dieci. E’ così, mettetevela via.
Poi, dipendentemente dal libro che state
Dec 06, 2016 Sonya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"دست های من همرنگ تو هستند اما شرم دارم از داشتن قلبی به این سپیدی"
مکبث، شکسپیر
در این کتاب سخن از "زبان" است، زبان تن و اشاره، زبان گفتاری و کلمات، زبان موسیقی و حتی زبان بصری و تابلو ها، در کنار ماجرای پر کشش رمان راوی با سوالهایی که مطرح کرده و افکاری که به نگارش در آورده است مطالبی فراتر از رمان بیان می کند.
در این داستان مانند خود زندگی انسان ها با چرایی ها عکس العمل ها و پیامد های حوادث و رفتار ها مواجه هستیم.
،گوش ها یی که ناخواسته می شنوند و ناتوان از "ندانستن" هستند
. تکیه دادن به سینه ک
Oct 21, 2016 César rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Deixa-me uma raiva enorme quando um livro que toda a gente - que eu respeito - adora é uma completa desilusão. Achei uma completa seca.
MAIS GRAVE: o início do livro é, muito provavelmente, o mais brilhante que já tive oportunidade de ler. Mas depois... meu Deus.
O narrador é uma seca tão grande de complicadinho e atrofiado, a dissecar e a complicar à exaustão tudo que é simples com belas frases, que me dá vontade de o abanar.
Talvez o defeito seja meu.
Dec 27, 2010 Justine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
This novel by acclaimed-Spaniard-who-has-yet-to-be-recognized-in-the-US was given to me by my boyfriend, who strongly prefers books that tell you a story and let you make your own judgment, rather than stories that are too morally guided. Reading a story for the story is all well and good, but when you buy your girlfriend a book, expect her to read into things and to take things at least a tad personally (especially if it involves a man thrice widowed and a stranger threatening to kill his wife) ...more
Vit Babenco
Jun 01, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Recounting an event distorts it, recounting facts distorts and twists and almost negates them, everything that one recounts, however true, becomes unreal and approximate, the truth doesn't depend on things actually existing or happening, but on their remaining hidden or unknown or untold…”
A Heart So White is in a way an anatomy of wedlock – a scrupulous analysis of man and wife relations in general and discovering a family secret in particular. A secret as grand and dramatic as in Jane Eyre and
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Javier Marías was born in Madrid. His father was the philosopher Julián Marías, who was briefly imprisoned and then banned from teaching for opposing Franco. Parts of his childhood were spent in the United States, where his father taught at various institutions, including Yale University and Wellesley College. His mother died when Javier was 26 years old. He was educated at the Colegio Estudio in ...more
More about Javier Marías...

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“It's always the chest of the other person we lean back against for support, we only really feel supported or backed up when, as the latter verb itself indicates, there's someone behind us, someone we perhaps cannot even see and who covers our back with their chest, so close it almost brushes our back and in the end always does, and at times, that someone places a hand on our shoulder, a hand to calm us and also to hold us. That's how most married people and most couples sleep or think they sleep, the two turn to the same side when they say goodnight, so that one has his or her back to the other throughout the whole night, when he or she wakes up startled from a nightmare, or is unable to get to sleep, or is suffering from a fever or feels alone and abandoned in the darkness, they have only to turn round and see before them the face of the person protecting them, the person who will let themselves be kissed on any part of the face that is kissable (nose, eyes and mouth; chin, forehead and cheeks, the whole face) or perhaps, half-asleep, will place a hand on their shoulder to calm them, or to hold them, or even to cling to them.” 38 likes
“Listening is the most dangerous thing of all, listening means knowing, finding out about something and knowing what’s going on, our ears don’t have lids that can instinctively close against the words uttered, they can’t hide from what they sense they’re about to hear, it’s always too late.” 36 likes
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