Alex's Reviews > Cronopios and Famas

Cronopios and Famas by Julio Cortázar
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Feb 03, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: metafiction, 2011, favorite-reviews

There's no such thing as prose poetry because poetry is writing in short lines; that's the only thing that makes it poetry; if it's not in short lines it's not poetry. That's why I like the directions for microwaved pizza. But when people say prose poetry, this is what they mean.

I don't always understand what Cortázar 's banging on about, but it's pleasant anyway. And it's usually really funny, which is nice. That's also more evidence that it's not poetry: poetry is almost never funny. Poets are writers who are too overwhelmed by angst to write full sentences.

Except for the old-timey ones. They had to write in short lines because long ones hadn't been invented yet.

It's no coincidence that the guy who invented novels was kidding.

• Here are the three paintings referenced on pages 10-13:

Sacred Love and Profane Love by Titian
The official theme is the bride of the commissioner of the work; Cupid; and Aphrodite. There has been some debate over which of the two women is profane and which sacred.

Lady and the Unicorn by Raphael
It's unclear who the woman is. In 1958, only four years before the publication of this book, restoration work on the painting revealed that the unicorn was a later modification; the woman was originally holding a dog. If I paint a horn on my dog, will he be a unicorn? Only one way to find out.

Henry VIII by Holbein
Well, I think Henry VIII was a dick too.

• Instructions on how to Climb a Staircase
"Be especially careful not to raise, at the same time, the foot and 'the foot.'" (22)

Now I want to be an artist who makes impractical staircases.

• Given Cortázar's fearful loathing of watches - "They aren't giving you a watch, you are the gift, they're giving you yourself for the watch's birthday" (24) - I'd hate to hear how he might feel about cell phones.

• Well, now I'm overthinking the fact that I'm more or less lying on my back. Is this Kafkaesque? Sortof.

• "We were not really sure of our ability to lodge a tiger, and that was depressing." (46) Yes! That's what I always say! Borges was pretty sure he couldn't do it. It's unfortunate that this story has never been read by a single Zanesvillian.

• I plan to read the story on page 71 several more times. Either there's been a typo, or Cortázar has chosen to replace the title of the story with a paragraph fragment from the previous page, which also seems reasonable. (ETA: It's a publishing mistake. The title of the story is "The End of the World of the End.")

• "Established that ants are the true rulers of creation (the reader may take this as hypothesis or as a fantasy; in any case he will do well with a little anthropoescapism)." 80

• While reading Plan for a Poem you should, of course, refer to this image.


• Cronopios and Famas, the last section of the book, is typical of the whole. At first you're mystified: many of these are made up words, and the stories seem to lack internal consistency in any case. Before you know it, you find that some of them make sense after all, or else you've made sense of them, like The Public Highways (132) and Story (135). But some of them still don't, and some of them might have if you'd been paying better attention or were more of a cronopio and lass of a fama, and some of them are just Cortázar fucking with you.
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02/07/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Alasse Wow, you really are enjoying it! That makes me happy :D


Alex Dude, it's awesome!


message 3: by Zadignose (new) - added it

Zadignose I am interested.


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