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Lands of Memory

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  192 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Lands of Memory presents a half-dozen wonderful works by one of the greatest yet least-known Latin 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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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  192 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Mar 02, 2010 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 03, 2011 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
Apr 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il verde che hai negli occhi

“Non solo non ero più un altro, ma ero più sensibile che mai: qualunque pensiero, persino l'idea di una brocca d'acqua, si presentava piena di tenerezza. Amavo le mie scarpe, che se ne stavano sole, slacciate e sempre una accanto dell'altra. Mi sentivo capace di perdonare qualsiasi cosa, perfino i rimorsi. Sarebbero stati loro, piuttosto, a dovermi perdonare”.

Per questo artista irregolare, il teatro del corpo e il gioco del pensiero intonano una melodia romantica e na
Héctor Genta
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una cinquantina d'anni fa, il critico letterario Ángel Rama pubblicò un elenco di scrittori sudamericani definiti raros, nel senso di "eccentrici", difficilmente inquadrabili in altre categorie. Credo che Felisberto Hernández possa essere considerato uno dei più rappresentativi della lista e questo libro testimonia in pieno la mia impressione.
Si tratta di tre racconti, i primi due Ai tempi di Clemente Calling e Il cavallo perduto, scritti nei primi anni '40 e quello che da il titola alla raccolt
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
May 29, 2008 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
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"I was sad in the afternoon. At first, I was as delighted with Colling's composition as a child with a present. But a gradual sadness overcame me. And I realized that the sadness was already starting even in my initial delight It was the sadness evoked, after the first moment, by certain toys that belong to other children, toys that you find quite ugly, but you see that the other child loves them very much. It was also the sadness of the worn out relic someone else is preserving."

The originality
Daniel Polansky
Apart from children’s fantasy and religious conflict I’ve been working through the lights of early 20th century South American literature, among whom Felisberto XX stands (I gather) in particular regard. In this selection of half a dozen of the man’s most beloved short stories, you can find a lot of threads of later authors – not only Borges’s obsession with memory and perspective, but also Bolano’s constant oblique expression of meance, and his preference for ending a story abruptly. The writin ...more
Miguel Lupián
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aunque se aleja del Felisberto raro y fantástico que todos amamos, este texto nos muestra esa otra faceta del autor: la de la crónica y el diario. En palabras de Leda Rendón (en el Seminario de Literatura Fantástica Hispanoamericana), de este texto (en sus diversas e inacabadas versiones) el autor tomó escenas para sus cuentos. Además, sintetiza lo que Felisberto buscaba en su literatura: la reescritura, la fragmentación, la teatralidad, la oralidad y el devenir. Lectura recomendable sólo si ya ...more
Matt Vickers
Dec 29, 2008 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
Jim Puskas
May 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Italo Calvino called Hernandez “a writer like no other” and I suppose that sums it up very well. Certainly I’ve not encountered any other writer with all of his peculiar qualities. He combines the introspective intensity of Borges; the droll personality portraits of a Leacock; and some of Calvino’s facility with the use of the absurd to manipulate the reader’s perceptions. And in the rapt celebration of his own fatalistic fecklessness, Hernandez is certainly sui generis.
The book is rich in quot
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Felisberto Hernandez, like many of his continental compatriots, has a talent for making stories out of fragmented memories. He is able not only to give small things meaning, but to give them life, often with expansive metaphors. (For example, a broken molar is called the "ruins of a village.") These stories are buoyed by a desire for deeper connections--to go beyond the ordinary realm of feeling and observation--to know the unknowable, which includes other people. His writing hypnotizes (not alw ...more
Marcia Letaw
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Dear Felisberto,
I have just completed reading Lands of Memory, a book which, now that you have become a part of the land of memory, you probably have no awareness of except as a shadow of yourself, for events and ideas have shadows as you have said, but does a memory possess a shadow? If it does, one could say that this collection of 4 short stories and two novellas first published in translation in 2002 is the shadow of the memory of you. But wait! If it is a memory, does it have anything to do
Maurizio Manco
"Lo sforzo fatto per afferrare i ricordi e lanciarli verso il futuro, somiglierà a qualcosa che mi mantiene in aria mentre la morte passa sulla terra." (Ai tempi di Clemente Colling, p. 43)

"Credo che in tutto il corpo abitino dei pensieri, anche se non tutti arrivano fino alla testa e si vestono di parole." (Terre della memoria, p. 135)
Emma Roulette
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Felisberto is one of my new favorite writers. He's an absent-minded professor: he does not claim to be wise but rather details his vices, mistakes, and weird impulses: "The palm of my hand had gone numb again because I'd been rubbing it against the embossed surface of a nearby chair," he suddenly adds between developments of a story, without any other explanation. They are the impulses of a child: borne out of some weird and satisfactory private observation, untethered to any one specialized for ...more
Jul 27, 2013 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
Matthew Talbert
Jul 25, 2015 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
Billy Dagger
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 06, 2013 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.'
Aug 30, 2009 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.
May 25, 2015 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.
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Besides the last story "lands of memory" I don't understand why this book is so highly rated.
Steven Felicelli
Nov 17, 2014 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.
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
the crocodile is one of my favorite short stories ever. Felisberto rules.
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Nov 11, 2014
Eddie Watkins
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May 04, 2010
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Jul 19, 2016
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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.