El último lector by Ricardo Piglia

By Ricardo Piglia

«De entre l. a. legión de escritores hispanoamericanos que se han alzado a
los hombros del precursor Borges, es Ricardo Piglia quien tiene las
mejores vistas sobre los paisajes y territorios de los angeles literatura
universal.» Süddeutsche Zeitung

¿Qué es un lector? ¿Quién es? ¿Qué le sucede mientras lee? La
literatura, advierte Piglia, da un nombre y una historia al lector. De
don Quijote a Hamlet, de Bartleby al lector inventado de Borges, de Emma
Bovary a Philip Marlowe, asistimos a una variedad infinita de lectores:
el visionario, el enfermo, el compulsivo, el melancólico, el traductor,
el crítico, el escritor, el filósofo y #¿por qué no?# el propio autor,
Piglia como Piglia y como Renzi. ¿Qué es un lector? l. a. respuesta «es un
relato: inquietante, singular y siempre distinto».

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The second, more indirect reference occurs at the 29 Cambridge Companions Online © Cambridge University Press, 2006 anne fuchs beginning of chapter 2 where he arrives at the conclusion that without his uncle’s intervention the American immigration officials would probably have sent him straight back to Europe without any regard to the fact that he no longer had a home. The implication here is that his parents dispatched him to the United States without a proper visa. From the very beginning he is thus an unwelcome outsider with neither a stable identity nor secure rights.

He liked strong, independent women: Bauer was ´ his second great correspondent, a pioneer in her profession; Milena Jesenska, an alumnus of the famed Minerva Girls High School in Prague, the first Gymnasium in Central Europe to teach girls the classical humanist syllabus and one of the first to grant them equality with boys by awarding them the Abitur. Kafka supported his younger sister Ottla in her bid to ‘marry out’ and defy the wishes of their parents. It is little wonder that identity and cultural dislocation, gender and politics feature so strongly in many of the chapters to follow in the Companion.

That this absence gives shape to Karl’s presence is also alluded to in the novel’s title: announcing the hero to be a missing person, Kafka not only prefigures Karl’s fate but, more importantly, highlights his and – by implication the reader’s – relationship to time past: the title is a figure of inversion which produces Karl Roßmann as a presence in the reader’s life. As long as we read about him he has not gone missing. However, on the other hand, this presence is always predicated upon a significant absence, a pervasive lack for which the suitcase is a powerful image.

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