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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Down and out in Paris and Buenos Aires, 5 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Hopscotch (Panther) (Paperback)
Oliveira is a disenchanted Argentine intellectual, who goes to Paris in search of 'the centre' which will cure his metaphysical angst. He spends his time with a group of similar spirits, who call themselves The Serpent Club, but his destructive behaviour splits the group forever and results in his being sent back to Argentina. Once in Buenos Aires, he meets an old friend and progresses through a circus and a mental asylum on the way to a tense ending in which he finds meaning through a ball of string, several buckets of water and a staple gun.
Cortazar's acclaimed masterpiece represents his attempt to redefine both the novel form and the Spanish language. This is a novel whose chapters can be read in any order, although the author does suggest a preferred sequence which leads to the shattering climax described above. Rabassa's superb translation recreates all the vibrance and verve of the Spanish original, allowing English readers to glory in Cortazar's sublime world.
This is not an easy novel to read; Cortazar explicitly dismisses the passive reader, and in this text makes it impossible for him/her to understand what is happening. The effort required is well worth it, however, as the depth behind this, the quintessential 'Boom Novel', is incredible, and it will keep you coming back for years.
The best intellectual work-out I have yet experienced; give it a go!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique book, 2 Feb 2010
This review is from: Hopscotch (Pantheon Modern Writers) (Paperback)
The story is fundamentally and simply about Horacio and his life and love for La Maga. There are two key locations Paris in the 1950s and later Buenos Aires. The book has many many references, erudite name dropping, and certain elements of surrealism, existentialism and plain fiction.

This is a novel to savour, remember and dig down through its layers and narrative styles. This is the sort of deep novel that is unusually constructed, as detailed by other reviews in that it can be read in a least two chapter orders, in a way that reflects the onion layers and different perspectives presented - you even get comment from Morelli, the old author in hospital, who appeared to me to be Cortazar explaining his ideas about writing the book itself. If you want to read a `readable' book written in an alternative style then this is definitely worth finding.

However I would like to highlight some issues I had with the book which did reduce my enjoyment: I chose to read the suggested chapter order taking all the book (except chapter 55) I can imagine most people would do it this way: The additional chapters which you read interspersed with 1-56 didn't really seem to do `anything' or add an additional light it was just more of the same i.e. I suppose I expected the extra chapters to `change the story' or reveal something new - similarly chapter 55 wasn't special so as to leave it out; thus overall the playing with chapters seemed like a missed opportunity. I wondered if the physicality of my bookmark (woe betide you loose your place!) seemingly randomly moving within the pages (and loosing the sense one gets of the approaching end of the story you normally get) added anything - I don't think it did (since the story doesn't really build to a conclusion anyway). Finally there is an awful lot of untranslated French - there could have at least been some footnotes (but perhaps this was just my Signet pb version which incidentally actually got the chapter order wrong too!)

Overall a very worthy, different read which really didn't need the quirky chaptering
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Hope belongs to life, it's life defending itself.", 13 Sep 2005
This review is from: Hopscotch (Panther) (Paperback)
It has taken me years to sit down and finally make a serious commitment to read Julio Cortazar's "Hopscotch/La Rayuela." I cannot think of a better companion to devote a few weeks to, maybe even longer - hey, whatever it takes! It depends on your reading speed and the time you take to truly savor the poetry of the author's language. So, be willing to make a small personal investment in this very special novel, and the reward you reap will be a worthy one. Julio Cortazar will take you to places you have never been before in literature, and may never experience again. I read "Hopscotch" over this past summer, after a thirty year delay. I can be very stubborn about putting off what is good for me!! The author's imagination is boundless, his prose rich and luminous, his wit and sophistication rare, the dialogue brilliant, the plot...I won't attempt to describe that with a few adjectives. Wander through the extraordinary labyrinthine plot on you own - the way is yours to discover. I promise, you won't get lost!
I was introduced to "La Rayuela" about thirty years ago, when a close friend, with similar reading tastes, gave me the book. Enthused after just reading the novel, he told me that I reminded him of one of the characters, La Maga. (What a compliment...I think!). I was living in Latin America at the time. With personal interests at stake and much curiosity, I bought a copy in Spanish, which I read with some fluency back then. After experimenting with which way to approach the novel, and trying both ways, I gave up...and just read the parts about La Maga. I had little patience at that point in my life, and needed to acquire some, and to read slower, with more of a sense of play and participation. Cortazar wants his readers to participate - to make reading his book an interactive experience, not a passive one. I was and still feel touched when I remember my friend's comments regarding La Maga. She is a magnificent character and Cortazer's prose, his language, (Spanish), is exquisite. So, about a year later, I thought I'd give it another try, in English, perhaps with better results. None! I just wasn't ready, I guess. That happens to me with fiction occasionally. I have to be open to the experience. Yet, after all these years, I still thought of Horacio Oliveira and La Maga from time to time. And why not? They are truly unforgettable. As I wrote above, I did make time, at last. For an adventure of a lifetime, I recommend you do the same.
When Julio Cortazar published "La Rayuela" in 1966, he turned the conventional novel upside-down and the literary world on its ear with this experiment in writing fiction. He soon became an important influence on writers everywhere. "Hopscotch" is considered to be one of the best novels written in Spanish. The work is interactive, where readers are invited to rearrange its text and read sections in different sequences. Read in a linear fashion, "Hopscotch" contains 700 pages, 155 chapters in three sections: "From the Other Side," and "From This Side" - the first two sections are sustained by relatively chronological narratives and so contrast greatly with the third section, "From Diverse Sides," (subtitled "Expendable Chapters"), which includes philosophical extrapolation, character study, allusions and quotations, and an entirely different version of the "ending."
The book has no table of contents, but rather a "Table of Instructions." There, we learn that two approved readings are possible: from Chapter 1 through 56 "in a normal fashion", or from Chapter 73 to Chapter 1 to... well, wherever the chapters lead you. The instructions are all in your book and are extremely clear. At the end of each chapter there is a numeric indicator to lead the reader to the next chapter. One never knows where one will be lead. Due to its meandering nature, "Hopscotch" has been called a "Proto-hypertext" novel. Cortázar probably had this work in mind when he stated, "If I had the technical means to print my own books, I think I would keep on producing collage-books."
Horacio Oliveira, our protagonist and sometimes narrator, is an Argentinean expatriate, an intellectual and professed writer in 1950's bohemian Paris. He and his close friends, members of "the Club," do lots of partying, drinking, and intellectualizing, discussing art, literature, music and solving the world's problems. Oliveira lives with and loves La Maga, an exotic young woman, somewhat whimsical, at times almost ephemeral, who leaves behind her, like the scent of a light perfume, a feeling of poignancy and inevitable loss. La Maga refuses to plan her encounters with Oliveira in advance, preferring instead to run into each other by chance. Then she and Oliveira celebrate the series of circumstances that reunite them. Eventually, he loses La Maga, who loses her child. With her absence, Oliveira realizes how empty and meaningless his life is and he returns to his native Buenos Aires. There he finds work first as a salesman, then a keeper of a circus cat, and an attendant in an insane asylum.
As Oliveira wends his way through France, Uruguay and Argentina looking for his lost love, "Hopscotch's" narrative takes on an emotionally intense stream of consciousness style, rich in metaphor. Back In Argentina, Oliveira shares his life with his bizarre double, Traveler, and Traveler's wife, Talita, whom Oliveira attempts to remake into a facsimile of La Maga.
The game of hopscotch is only developed as a conceit late in the narrative. It is first used to describe Oliveira's confused love for La Maga as "that crazy hopscotch." The theme develops as a metaphor for reaching Heaven from Earth. "When practically no one has learned how to make the pebble climb into Heaven, childhood is over all of a sudden and you're into novels, into the anguish of the senseless divine trajectory, into the speculation about another Heaven that you have to learn to reach too." The variations on the children's game are described as "spiral hopscotch, rectangular hopscotch, fantasy hopscotch, not played very often." The allusions continue and include some beautiful passages.
"Hopscotch" is much more than a novel. Ultimately, it is best left for each reader to define what it is for himself/herself. Pablo Neruda in a famous quote said, "People who do not read Cortazar are doomed. Not to read him is a serious invisible disease." I don't know whether I would go so far. Remember, I put off the experience for many years. But this is one novel that should be read during one's lifetime. It is brilliant and it is fun!
JANA
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A challenging but worthwhile read, 7 Feb 2004
This review is from: Hopscotch (Pantheon Modern Writers) (Paperback)
Hopscotch, by Argentinian writer Julio Cortazar, is a rare treat of a novel. Although clearly inspired by Borges, Cortazar is far less cerebral and more humane. Hopscotch is an intriguing novel. The reader is invited to read Hopscotch straight through and them, on a second reading, to read alternate chapters in a given 'journey' for an entirely different take on the story. This is a novel to treasure and enjoy for its multi-layered narrative.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a book of tenderness and complexity, 4 Nov 2004
This review is from: Hopscotch (Pantheon Modern Writers) (Paperback)
This novel can be rated alongside a host of other modern novels made of a complex texture such as 100 years of solitude or life a users manual or invisible cities among a host of others. However, i believe this novel possesses qualities that others don't: that of a unique and abiding tenderness which although we definitely find in these other novels seems to be more prominent here and thus it is a secret popping out of the heart like proust which one mustn't talk of but which provides a secret little warm nest to sit in when the world is an evil old hag - not escapism or sentimentalism- but a true intimacy or a warm glow and laughter, but i suppose there are many novels like this but this is one of them
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5.0 out of 5 stars perfect, 30 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Hopscotch (Pantheon Modern Writers) (Paperback)
A dream of a transaction!-everything went smoothly and the book which is a present is in better condition that described-thank you
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hopscotch, 22 Feb 2010
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This review is from: Hopscotch (Pantheon Modern Writers) (Paperback)
Ordered this book to read alongside Spanish version. Good prompt service and book (secondhand) in good condition
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Hopscotch (Pantheon Modern Writers)
Hopscotch (Pantheon Modern Writers) by Julio Cortazar (Paperback - 1 May 1991)
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