End of the Game is the title of one of the most famous books by the accomplished writer, Julio Cortázar, a native of Argentina. Originally published in 1956, it has several editions that vary the number of fantastic and sensitive stories that the book is composed of, which this wonderful author shows us in his work.
Defying as usual the use of conventional narrative, intertextuality and the use of colloquial takes on a whole new meaning, immersing the reader in a very particular world, where nothing is what it seems.
In its first published edition we can find the following nine stories:
- The mobile
- Night backs
- The Maenads
- The condemned door
- The band
- Game over
More in a later edition than the first, they decided to add nine other stories that were written approximately between the years 1945 and 1962, which are:
- Continuity of Parks
- dont blame anybody
- The river
- The idol of the Cyclades
- A yellow flower
- The friends
- Story with a background of water
- After lunch
Summary and Synopsis
The following is a summary of some of the most symbolic stories in the book.
Continuity of Parks
He is a high-class man, very well-off, but who lives mired in his work. He always sits down after working in a comfortable green velvet chair to read a novel that he has been trying to finish for days, but always ends up leaving for his work. He thinks that working is much more important than reading.
So whenever he reads, he does it superficially, seeing the characters and the scenes, but without taking a deep interest in what is happening in the plot, he only reads by distraction. But what he does not yet realize is that in that story his own murder is narrated.
Don’t blame anybody
A man trying to put on a shirt begins to have trouble putting it on. He gets impatient, because his wife is waiting for him because they are in a hurry. He can’t find a way for his arms to go into the sleeves and he feels lost since his face is inside the shirt. Little by little, he begins to feel distressed and no longer knows how to put on or take off his blessed shirt.
When he finally manages to get one of his arms out of his sleeve, he realizes that the same arm is trying to kill him, as if he had taken on a life of his own, without obeying the orders that he sends him and he only tries to assassinate him. Finally trying to defend himself with the other arm, he pushes himself towards a nearby window, falling from a 12th floor.
A yellow flower
A man, a common and ordinary thinker, one day discovers the seeming nonsense of life, death, nothingness, leading him to feel empty. Suddenly, he sees something that changes his life and the perception of everything around him.
On a bus in Paris he sees a young man who awakens within him something difficult to define, something indescribable that he does not understand, so he chases him and goes home. He manages to become her friend and they discover that you have thousands of things in common, but even more than this, he tells her that he feels that they have been united since the beginning of time.
The young man, one day begins to get sick and ends up dying. Then the other man begins to feel sad and lonely again. As he has been all his life, as he feels that all the people in the universe are. The feeling of emptiness overwhelms him again. As you walk you notice a simple yellow flower on the street, but this reveals all the mysteries of beauty and how immortality works.
A man has a habit of visiting the aquarium every day to see the Axolotl. Until one day, it ends up becoming this Mexican fish. At this point, the story becomes a dual narrative where it is spoken from both perspectives, presenting life from the point of view of the animal, or presenting it from the point of view of the human.
But the trick is, that Cortázar does not give us any sign of when the perspective is changed from human to animal or from animal to human. This is trying to tell us that art is a form of perspective that can help people connect and end their introspection.
A man has an accident while riding his motorcycle and is rushed to a nearby hospital for surgery. While he is recovering, he has a dream where he is part of an ancient indigenous tribe that is persecuted by Aztec warriors.
Finally the Aztecs manage to catch it and it is taken to be used in a ritual of sacrifice to the gods. He wakes up only to feel in a dream again, which gives us to understand that it may be that he is really an indigenous person and the accident on the motorcycle is a vision he is having or a dream.
End of the Game
The story stars a girl who lives in a house with her mother, her aunts and sisters, Holland and Leticia. Leticia has a problem in her back so she cannot move too much. However, at the time of the afternoon nap, the girls go out to play at the door that opens near the railroad tracks.
They invent this game called “Statues and Attitudes” in which they decide who will be the statue and who will fake an attitude. And they find it very funny that the people who pass by on the railroad stare at them.
But everything takes on a new meaning when a stranger starts throwing papers from the train towards the girls. In one of them he says that the weakest (Leticia) is the most beautiful. However, he does not know that she is like that because of her condition.
Endgame is a compilation of masterfully narrated stories. With soft, simple and realistic prose, he moves us into a world where fiction and reality merge easily making us accept what he says.
Although they are much longer and deeper than we are used to when we hear the word “story”, they are still just that they make the reader think a little more, breaking with the conventionalities of stories. For example, in many of the stories there is a continuous play with the voices of the narrative, avoiding the ever-used omniscient narrator.
This storybook breaks with much of the most used schemes in storytelling. We wanted to present a collection of stories, as if they were for children, but by carefully reading each one of them, we can find nuances where postmodernism and social prejudice are criticized. Even aesthetic and metaphysical dissertations, things that are obviously not for children.
It is a quite rich and complete book. With a double reading that can be enjoyed, that of the simple story as fantasy mixed with reality or as a vision of the world disguised as fantasy to make us understand what surrounds us in an indirect way.