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Lands of Memory

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  127 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Lands of Memory presents a half-dozen wonderful works by one of the greatest yet least-known South American writers of the twentieth century. Felisberto Hernández's extraordinary stories have been always greatly prized by other writers, and the two novellas and four stories collected in Lands of Memory show why. "Lands of Memory" and "In the Times of Clemente Colling" are ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published June 17th 2002 by New Directions (first published 1983)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 15, 2013 Jimmy rated it it was amazing
Look, Felisberto, I'm not gonna lie. You're no good at this short story thing. You might as well give it up now. Your 'stories' are like the slow kid in the back of the room who stares out of the window at the ballfield and gets hit by spitballs when the teacher's not looking. All the other stories are gung-ho, raising their hands, answering questions with purpose, drive. But your story is still lost in thought, he's barely aware that he's in class.
And the rails would spend all their time waitin
Ben Winch
For a long time I've wondered what it is about literature in translation. Why does so much of it read so well? I swear, judging by Esther Allen's work on this title, Felisberto Hernandez is, line for line, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, and his is not the only example. Thomas Bernhard - is it he or his translators who have revolutionised narrative, the sentence, the parenthesis? Or is it teamwork? Is it the extra read-through with fresh eyes, the final draft started from scratc ...more
Sep 07, 2011 Greg rated it it was ok
Felisberto Hernandez is another writer I 'discovered' in Bartleby & Co. (review maybe forthcoming). He's another of writers who make up the literature of No. In this case he's not an author who refuses to write but an author who refuses to finish what he writes. That feeling is sort of here in these stories, but it's not in the meta-fictional vein where endings are subverted for theoretical reasons, here the stories just sort of peter out, but not in a totally unpleasant way, the stories don ...more
Tom Lichtenberg
Felisberto Hernandez is a Uruguayan writer of the mid-twentieth century, often cited as a major influence by other South American writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Julio Cortazar. I heard of him through 'Bartyleby &Co' by Enrique Vila-Maltas. Felisberto (as he is known) was primarily a musician, a pianist who performed throughout Uruguay and Argentina, and many of the stories in this collection feature a first-person narrator who is also a touring pianist. Like many writers, his nar ...more
Jun 12, 2008 Tait rated it it was amazing
Felisberto Hernández draws on the influence of Rilke and Proust, and in turn influenced Marquez, Calvino, and Cortazar, in order to craft this wonderful gem of short "fictions:" semi-autobiographical memories of his own childhood and early adulthood as a piano player for silent films. I was reminded of a use of magically real events similar to that of Bruno Schulz's "Street of Crocodiles," which allow the author's themes of music and obsession to jump off the page. While many critique Hernández ...more
Matt Vickers
Jun 07, 2009 Matt Vickers rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned
I'll be frank: this pretty much bored the hell out of me. As sentences drifted into emotional reflection after emotional reflection that piled up on one another like the free associations of a mental patient, I found my mind wandering off despite any effort I made to keep it focused on the work. I wonder whether Hernandez's stories lose something in translation but I suspect not: he's just extraordinarily neurotic. Inventive, but neurotic all the same.

There were occasional moments of brilliance,
Jacob Wren
From the introduction:

In a 1954 letter to Reina Reyes, his fourth wife, Felisberto Hernández outlined a story he had just “discovered”: Someone has had the idea of changing the Nobel Prize so as to give the writer who wins it “a more authentic happiness,” and prevent the fame and money currently attendant upon it from disrupting his life and work. The new idea consists of not revealing the identity of the winner even to the winner himself, but using the prize money to assemble a group of people
Billy Dagger
Feb 25, 2016 Billy Dagger rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matthew Talbert
Sep 03, 2015 Matthew Talbert rated it really liked it
Wow, what an interesting book. I'm convinced the author had some sort of synesthesia, some weird way of processing images in particular. His descriptions of people very often fail to see them as complete people and see certain body parts and relate them to various other phenomena, in ways that most people would not. And yet, in each of us, certainly in me, there is this thing that happens when you space out, withdraw from the real world, where things don't make sense in the normal way, and every ...more
Sep 04, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it
Restarting another book I've tried to read a few times. Supposedly, he's one of the most underrated geniuses to come from South America, so fingers crossed this is finally the right moment for me to be reading him.
Ok. So I can understand why I'd stopped in the middle before. The short stories are only marginally stories in the traditional sense--i.e. they're not exactly plot-driven--and are really more like reflections on the relationship between memory and external reality. This was pretty m
Steven Felicelli
Nov 20, 2014 Steven Felicelli rated it really liked it
Hernandez does much with a farrago of phenomena, intimation, recollection, interpretation, etc.

Lands of Memory is an inside look at the machinations and miseries of a straining/straying mind.
Nov 17, 2013 Mike rated it it was ok
I hate to give low ratings to something that is clearly of strong influence in the literary world, but I did not enjoy this collection. There were perhaps two stories that had some kind of plot and one of them was already in Piano Stories. After reading two collections of Felisberto's writings, they all tend to seem autobiographical and intermingling, like cobbled together notes to form a very vague narrative.

That being said, there are brilliant passages that remind me of the great Russian novel
Machado Drummond Amado Rosa Coelho
Another one of the rare strangers to enter the canon of the smallest men in the world. Their insignificant shadows never overlapped each other and yet they follow the same flow in harmony. A canny loser whose comicality reminds us that life is not a mere bad joke.

The opening lines of the novella that gives the book its name:

'I'm tempted to believe that my first acquaintance with life began at nine o'clock one morning on a train. I was twenty-three years old.'
Nov 05, 2015 Mary rated it it was ok
Besides the last story "lands of memory" I don't understand why this book is so highly rated.
Oct 05, 2014 Dan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
the crocodile is one of my favorite short stories ever. Felisberto rules.
Aug 30, 2009 Phinehas rated it it was amazing
A master. Hernandez is criminally unknown in the United States. Of the same milieu as Robert Walser and Bruno Schultz, I give both of his books available in English my highest possible recommendation.
Dec 31, 2015 iarXiv rated it liked it
Shelves: a-english
Lots of magical thoughts, maybe a little less than in his other book Piano Stories, but still worth the read. Especially before bed to help send you on your way to an interesting dreamworld.
Joshua Potter
Jan 15, 2013 Joshua Potter rated it really liked it
Detailed review at Potter's Book Blog:
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Writer and pianist.
Considered to be the forefather of fabulism, predating writers such as Gabriel García Márquez, Italo Calvino and Julio Cortázar, who all note Hernández as a major influence.
More about Felisberto Hernández...

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