All Souls
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All Souls

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,005 ratings  ·  92 reviews
At High Table in an Oxford College, the pretty, young tutor, Clare Bayes attracted all eyes, not least to her fetching decolletage. No one's eyes were sharper, however, than those of the visiting Spanish lecturer, invited as a guest on this occasion. In due course, the two young people were lovers, unbeknown to Clare's husband, Andif.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 5th 1999 by Vintage/Ebury (a Division of Random (first published 1987)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,068)
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Ian Paganus
A Spaniard in the Works

I suppose you could say that not a lot happens in “All Souls”, but that would only be true if you don’t count looking, thinking, loving, remembering, even being:

"Oxford is a city in syrup, where simply being is far more important than doing or even acting."

Marias uses first person narration to tell his story, and for 210 pages I was firmly ensconced in the mind of this ostensibly charming man and lover, referred to (only once) as "the Spaniard".

The closest analogies I can...more
Mike Puma

Sometimes you know from the very first words in a novel: I’m gonna’ like where this takes me. Now, as I start All Souls (and this review), I’ve read over 1600 pages penned by Marías, and he never fails to catch me up immediately and run with me. In this novel’s case, by the narrator’s distancing of himself from the character he was at the time of the events he’s yet to reveal.

An unnamed Spanish professor at Oxford teaching contemporary Spanish literature and translation (during the classes for

...more
MJ Nicholls
I like to take recommendations from friends, read their favourite authors, then prove them illiterate schlemiels by showing how much better Gilbert Sorrentino and Lucy Ellmann are at writing things. Then I laugh at them. Hahahaha, I go. You FOOLS! Hahahahaha. OK, no I don’t. On this occasion, Mike’s recommendation was valorous and astute.

He was absolutely right in saying Marías is the middle point between Bolaño and Sebald (or words to that effect). Combining the long unspooling sentences of the...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 19, 2013 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
Beautifully written. The plot is thin but Marias' prose managed to make this very engaging. I particularly liked the way he interjected the thoughts going on inside his characters' minds. I've seen this technique in many other great works the last being Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies (5 stars). However, that book has a thick and historical plot so that is its advantage. This book, All Souls has only an illicit affair on Oxford (yes, that famous school for the rich and brainy kids) hallowed...more
Jonfaith
Periodically I am asked if I've been to Oxford. I glibly reply, yes, I've been to both. Perhaps my first sentence is an overstatement, but i have offered my response a few times in my life and mean it. I don't consider Square Books and Rowan Oak to be tantamount to the learned city on the Isis, but the southern locale is a cultural hub. My wife and i last went to Oxford, on the Thames, a few winters ago. It was a delightful cold and wet day. Our minds were occupied with Inspector Lewis and secon...more
Ben Winch
Strangely, I'm not exactly sure what I thought of this one. I mean, I liked it. I didn't love it though, except in places: the opening (the ancient porter who, memory ravaged, imagines himself in a different decade every morning); the hilarious 'High Table' dinner scene (in which I could almost imagine a half a boiled egg shooting from the throats of one of the Dons and lodging itself in the prominent cleavage of Claire Bayes (which I couldn't help reading as Claire Danes)); even, perhaps, the e...more
M. Sarki
Reading All Souls was like an easy stroll through Central Park, in no hurry, and mindful of all my surroundings. It was a sleepy tale for me and one that took longer than anticipated as I cared little for it to end and had no stake in if it continued. However, the relaxed pace of the writing of Javier Marías and the sophistication he brings to the page is quite delightful. It is similar to sitting in a professor's comfortable library listening to a respected teacher tell a story. It is difficult...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The plot is sparse: the narrator is a visiting Spanish lecturer in Oxford, a bachelor (good looks hinted), he mingles with the people there, those quirky dons, and--for a Spaniard like him-- experiences those strange English mannerisms and customs. He starts an affair with a pretty, but married (to a fellow professor) tutor. But this is no withering, whimpering love story. The two occasionally meet some place basically just to fuck. And mostly talk. So this is no porn. It's not in the fucking or...more
Stephen P

Welcome to the journey.

Marias spins us through time and isolation written in aquiline precise prose. The master of black comedy, his humor throughout much of the novel is tinged with a palpable sadness.

The novel opens with the narrator telling us that while at Oxford two of his colleagues died but that he is no longer the same person who taught there for two years. Entering his building each morning he passes the ninety year old porter, Will, who due to some unnamed form of dementia lives in dif...more
jeremy
the first of the soon eventually-to-be-crowned nobel laureate's works to be translated into english (being his sixth novel overall), all souls (todas las almas) is the tale of an unnamed professor tapped to teach spanish lit at oxford university for a two-year assignment (where marías himself assumed a post of similar duration). the lecturer/narrator soon finds himself entangled in an affair with a married colleague, for whom he pines and reservedly distracts himself from during her imposed abse...more
طَيْف
أكسفورد..."المدينة الجامدة والمحفوظة في الماء والسكر"...هي مدار حديث "مارياس"...حيث روح المدن وأرواح ساكنيها...ونظرة الغرباء إليها


الراوي "جامع الكتب النادرة" والمدرس الجامعي...يحكي تفاصيل حياته لسنتين في المدينة الجامعية...حيث كان مدرسا للترجمة...ويصف برتابة وحيادية أخلاقية حياته هناك وعلاقاته بمن حوله...متحدثا عن نفسه كأجنبي يُنظر له دوما بعدم الثقة وعن عدم ثقته بمن حوله وعن محاولات تأقلمه مع البلد الغريب...كاشفا الكثير من الأسرار والحكايات المخبوءة داخل المدينة ذائعة الصيت مما يعري الصورة الم
...more
Abailart
Literary tricks galore, and I fear I have noticed little of the allusions, clever internal referentiality and most especially the play between characters, especially that of the narrator, with a most pointed context of actuality. The narrator, by the way, is not a pleasant person so fits in perfectly with all the others.

The humour is belly-stretching and gives concord to the crude lusts depicted within the pages, leaving a tense indigestion. Incessant talking, loveless sex, gluttony, competitio...more
Justin Evans
There's a small group of authors whose works should be read in chronological order (e.g., Pynchon), and I'm now certain that Marias is one of them. Many of the characters in this book show up again in Your Face Tomorrow; more importantly, I think you'll appreciate this book more if you read it without thinking to yourself "well now, this is different, Marias doing Beckettian farce," or "ah, this is the start of his wonderful style" or "a lot more happens in this book than in his later works, but...more
Lynda
Superb, probably one of the best books I have read this year. In a deliciously gossipy manner Maria's draws the reader into the ludicrously eliteist world of Oxford and the Dons. The narrator like Maras himself was a visiting lecturer at Oxford for two years and as such ruthlessly dissects the rather esoteric codes and customs of the much revered place. His description of the protocol of High Table is particularly memorable. This is an emotional novel full of fluctuating passions both hilariousl...more
Abdullah
كانت لي تجربة أكثر من رائعة مع دار نوفل و التي تقوم بترجمة كتب أجنبية بطريقة أكثر من جيدة و كانت المرة الأولى مع " شتاء في لشبونة " و قد كانت تجربة هائلة خصوصاً على صعيد اللغة و بما أني فكرت أن الجرّة قد تسلم كل مرة قمت بابتياع هذا الكتاب بعد أن قررت أن أحسم أمر اقتنائي من عدمه من خلال قراءة سطر واحد و قد كان السطر التالي :

"عندما يكون المرء وحيداً و يعيش بمفرده و بخاصةً في الغربة يعير سلة المهملات انتباهاً خاصاً لأنها قد تصبح الشيء الوحيد الذي لديه علاقة ثابتة به .. "

توقفت هنا و حمدت الله على ف...more
Iris
Javier Marias manipulates wit and the first-person to proffer a thesis about how times and people organize themselves chronologically.

His account of high table lunch at an Oxford college is so fine and funny I couldn't put it down once, not even while preparing a hot café crème with homemade bittersweet chocolate sauce.

More than just a wry, bittersweet story, "All Souls" is phenomenological. Each character evoked in the book inhabits a lineage, closely bookended by their own predecessors and su...more
Bruce
The contemporary Spanish novelist Javier Maríes published Todas las lamas in 1989. His protagonist and first person narrator is a Madrid professor who teaches at Oxford University in England for two years, the novel’s title (translated in its English edition as All Souls) referring not only to All Soul’s College at Oxford but also to all the people the narrator encounters there, both living and dead.

The narrator lives a somewhat isolated existence during those two years, an existence as an essen...more
Joshua
All Souls by Javier Marias is an astoundingly good book and the best I have read in quite some time.

Marias' prose style, while not inaccessible, admittedly takes some getting used to, but as the novel progresses the author's style becomes increasingly rhythmic and intoxicating. It seems that Marias' long winding sentences (broken frequently by multiple parentheses) are as much about the maintenance of a certain cadence as they are about the gradual process of pulling together individual strands...more
Becky
Having spent three years in Oxford, I've been eagerly looking forward to reading All Souls since I picked it up in a second hand about a year ago. Heralded as a great Oxford novel, and witty to boot, it sounded pretty enticing.

What a disappointment it was. For Oxford, all the cliched bases are covered, but to be honest, the City really seems like a bystander. There's none of the inspiration, none of the light. Just drunk wardens, pompous gay tutors, and cheap girls in the local clubs where acade...more
Isil
Voilà encore un roman dans lequel il ne se passe pas grand-chose. Le début n’est qu’une suite d’anecdotes, de réflexions et de descriptions de moments de vie à l’université d’Oxford. Les phrases sont parfois longues et légèrement alambiquées, avec beaucoup de parenthèses et parfois des redondances. Il y a même une phrase assez ridicule dans laquelle le narrateur écrit qu’il y a deux personnes, quatre jambes et se sent obligé d’expliquer que ça fait deux jambes par personne (un littéraire qui co...more
Teresa
So yeah... this book. Uhm. I don't know what led me to read it. Actually, I do! A friend of a friend recommended it to me – basically because the novel is set in Oxford, and apparently an anglophile like me (or at least someone who's trying) should be mad about it. The other reason is that for a very long time – I think that since I learned to read – that I've avoided reading novels by writers from Spain, with whom I share a mother-tongue and a culture. (Poetry is the exception, and the reasons...more
Lorenzo Berardi
I read this book in the right time and in the right place. As it was a present coming from a dear friend of mine, thumbs up for Giulia!

But let's suppose that I crushed into "All Souls" just a couple of years ago when I was far from Oxford and completely unaware of going to settle up there in a few months time.

Well, in that case, I would have thought that this novel was well written and Marias certainly got brains, but would not praise much else.

For "All Souls" is a sort of diary, a personal ac...more
Diego
Este libro fue como adentrarse en las páginas de un diario ajeno, el diario del narrador de esta historia, y pasearse por lo que le pasó en Oxford. Los acontecimientos que ocurren aquí no dejaron huella en el protagonista, fueron solo una perturbación en su vida, pero sin embargo como él comenta, fueron acontecimientos que merecen ser contados "al menos una vez".
El narrador cuenta cómo el tiempo pasa asfixiantemente lento en Oxford, un lugar en donde parece que no le acontece nada a nadie, pero...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
A multi-layered novel of a Spanish academic adrift in Oxford, which he finds, is a town outside time, frozen in treacle. It is from the perspective of a man who has since moved on, whom 'time has caught up with' that he looks back on his intrigues, affairs and obsessions in the ancient university town. More than just a novel on academic life in many ways, among them the brilliant analysis of the source of Arthur Machen's unique horrors, the juxtaposition of two ideas which taken seperately are n...more
Lauren
Disappointing, disjointed, banal. I didn't care about or understand the characters. Marias has no talent for slapstick, despite several attempts (including an excrutiating and neverending "ironic" dinner scene which is physically and temporally impossible) and despite the fact that a degree of successful slapstick is the hallmark of an Oxford novel. Unfortunately, Marias's tragic climax, in which a character recalls a loved one's death, is similarly slowed and strangely paced. Maybe it's the tra...more
Denise
This is a very strange book. At times, i was caught up in the narrative and particularly recognising the Oxbridge world. However, it suddenly changed direction when Marriott arrived and talked about second hand books. Although this eventually fitted into the plot with Clare, it felt plonked into the novel. There were some beautiful lines and ideas in this but I never really cared about any of the characters, whether they were lovers or dying.
Katie Grainger
I think the fact that I have worked in Oxford for five years meant I liked this book less. I didn't think it was very witty, if anything the characters our unnamed narrator met depressed me. The scenes other readers thought were witty I found slightly puerile especially the high table scene. The plot is thin, I didn't feel any empathy for the characters, all in all I thought this one was a miss rather than a hit.
Mat
Read in translation. Incredibly well written. Story set in Oxford, England (around the college of the title) is more of a remembrance than an overly plotted story -- call it a novel based on ideas -- yet the novel's progression is entrancing, as are its characters and its "England as seen by a restless Spaniard of a certain young age" perspective.
Maryann
The visiting professor from Spain is attracted to Clare the first time he sees her, and in Oxford, where it's more important to "be" than to "do", her married status is immaterial. Their affair is central to the book, though not in the way you'd expect. The book is our unnamed main character's reflection on his time at Oxford after he's returned to Spain and resumed a normal life. It's very cerebral, non-linear, and mostly interesting. It's just over 200 pages, so it doesn't require a large time...more
Mauro Javier
This short novel, written eighteen years before Javier Marias’ three volume 1,242-page magnum opus, Your Face Tomorrow, which I read twice for a review , felt like a Sunday afternoon treat.
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71956
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...
A Heart So White Los enamoramientos Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me Your Face Tomorrow, Vol. 1: Fever and Spear Your Face Tomorrow, Vol. 2: Dance and Dream

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“Everything that happens to us, everything that we say or hear, everything that we see with our own eyes or we articulate with our tongue, everything that enters through our ears, everything we are witness to (and for which we are therefore partially responsible) must find a recipient outside ourselves and we choose that recipient according to what happens, or what we are told or even according to what we ourselves say. Each thing must be told to someone—though not necessarily to the same person—and each thing will undergo a selection process, the way someone out shopping might scrutinize, set aside, and assess presents for the season to come. Everything must be told at least once, although...it must be told when the time is right, or, which comes to the same thing, at the right moment, and sometimes, if you fail to recognize that right moment or deliberately let it pass, there will never again be another.” 0 likes
“Me mõistame end alati hukka selle pärast, mida ütleme, mitte selle pärast, mida teeme. Selle pärast, mida ütleme või mida ütleme end tegevat, mitte selle pärast, mida ütlevad teised või mida me tõesti teinud oleme.” 0 likes
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