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On Heroes and Tombs Paperback – 8 Feb 1990

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; New edition edition (8 Feb. 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224027980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224027984
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 3.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,239,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Ernesto Sabato was born in Buenos Aires in 1911. He has published three novels - The Tunnel, On Heroes and Tombs and Abaddon el Exterminador, which won the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger - and many volumes of essays. His work has been highly praised by both Albert Camus and Thomas Mann. In 1985 he won the Miguel de Cervantes Prize (equivalent ot the Nobel Prize for literature in Hispanic languages) 'for four decades of literary endeavour'.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
On Heroes and Toms 7 Feb. 2000
By Martin Fortunato - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have never read a book that touched me as much as this one. It is a must read for lovers of compex stories and dense psychology. One of the finest gems of Latin American literature that can not be missed. Read it once, and you'll be changed for life.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
way more than a novel 9 Jun. 2004
By florencia - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is not only a masterpiece, but a sort of encyclopedia almost indispensable to understand the nature of us, the argentinians. Our love to the neighbourhood and its carachters, the bohemian Buenos Aires, our introspection and constant dissatisfied and melancholy. This hugh writer (one of those that are born once in a lifetime)couldn't had been born somewhere else but here. Anyway, it doesn't matter where you are from, you shouldn't let this book pass. I don't have much else to say, a good piece of art always talks by itself.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant 19 Nov. 2008
By Matko Vladanovic - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
On heroes and tombs

One reads much and one is always astounded when he finds the great book amongst the novelist he hasn't even heard of. Ernesto Sabato is Argentinian writer, and up until now, my only view inside literary Argentina was trough the works of JL Borges, so one could easily say that my view was somewhat clouded by the mixture of facts and fantasy, mixture by which Borges became known outside of his own country. This magical realism, feeling that all of the facts in the world that we're looking upon trough the literature, don't need to be explained, feeling that things just happen and that there is some kind of magic, or some kind of sick or paradoxical logic behind it, feeling that became the unique point in understanding of literature and it's part in the world of today.
Whether you like Marquez, Saramango, Borges or Sabato, whether you're a scholar doing research on postmodern thoughts in fiction or you're just some kind of aficionado for everything Spanish, sooner or later you will stumble upon this phenomenon and you'll have to make your opinion about it.
As every style in literature, magical realism had it's golden days, it's peak - period inside which the bests works were created. Everything after that is some kind of poor implementation of supposed rules set by predecessors. When magical realism becomes the goal for itself it looses the touch with the world outside the fictional one, and with that it loses it's magic and sense of purpose.
Sabato's "On heroes and tombs" is fully aware of this fact, and he rarely goes to the extremes of postmodern storytelling, though his protagonists (his subjects) are somewhat demented, strange and disturbing individuals who live and work inside a strange and disturbing country. Everyday politics, everyday talks about soccer, fishing, local legends hand in hand with deep recollection of anarchism, political philosophy, suphragette movement, or aestethics are appearing throughout this book. Every page is filled with some kind of recollection, some kind of symbol, with allusive language of protagonists, fatalistic characters who live and die by the whim of their time, and every densely written page is a small novel of it's own accord.
To many, this may seem pretentious, and may look like a complete failure. Many of those who understand literature as a straightforward fiction in which there is always something that is happening, in which there are strong, dominating characters that know their goals and are working to attain them without so much fuss about it, many of those will be disappointed. "On heroes and tombs" doesn't care much for such a feeling. It's carefully layered structure has plans of it's own, it's pace is a pace for those who take joy in the act of reading and listening to one's own mind, it's narration is complex look into Argentinian history and building itself on it, a complex look into the history of the world. It's allegorical, it's fantastical, it's biographical and it's true on many levels. In a way, considering it's style, it's outdated and unpopular, but that is the way to look upon literature that I really don't care about. "On heroes and tombs" is a modern classic, a book that every radical political activist out there should read, and, supprisingly enough, it won't hurt anyone else who try to do the same.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
work of a genius 5 Mar. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
An incredible dense and complex masterpiece, it delves into dark and unexplored crevices of the human mind and soul with unbelievable style and intensity. The middle part of the book "Report on the Blind" is a mindbending tour-de-force. One of the best novels of the 20th century.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Does Hell Lie Under Buenos Aires City? 8 Jan. 2008
By Maximiliano F Yofre - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This very good translation of Sabato's book will allow English speaking readers to appreciate an outstanding book, do not miss this opportunity!

I first read "On Heroes and Tombs" when it was just edited, almost 40 years ago. It was an overwhelming experience at that time. I've recently reread it and still stand as a major work, resisting the acid test of time.

Mr. Sabato has written up to day only three novels: "The Tunnel", "On Heroes and Tombs" and "The Dark Angel" and a score of sociological essays. With the present novel he has won a well deserved place into the best Latin-American writers of the XXth century.

This is a complex and dark novel staged in three levels: one the love affair between Martin and Alejandra situated in 1955's Buenos Aires; second the recount of a fleeing party of defeated Unitarians soldiers, carrying the corpse of their fallen leader, General Lavalle, in 1840's during the Civil War; third the "Report on Blind People" staged in a fantastic underworld that coexist with the "real and normal" world.

The three narrative layers are intermixed and connected to each other with Alejandra as a fulcrum.
Alejandra's character is very complex and mysterious. It remind me of Justine, described in the first volume of Lawrence Durrell`s "Alexandria Quartet". Both are women in distress, searching love and protection, but at the same time rejecting lover and protector. They are torn by tragic experiences, and the lover to be can't penetrate their souls and cringes in desperation.

Martin is the desperate & frustrated lover; nevertheless he won't quit and defies all dangers & mysteries to try to save Alejandra.

It is a great novel with touches of "magic-realism" and some echoes of Borges' and Cortazar's tales.

I wholeheartedly recommend it!!!!

Reviewed by Max Yofre.
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