Hopscotch is a book written by Julio Cortázar in 1963. Here the author breaks the traditional scheme of the novel and offers different ways of reading as a game. In this way it provides innovative elements within the narrative and adds playful elements. Therefore, it is cataloged as a masterpiece within the Latin American Boom.
The main character is Oliveira, who is an Argentine who tells of his experiences with La Maga and his friends at the Club; We also find other secondary characters of great relevance such as La Maga, who is from Uruguay and who maintains a relationship with the central character; Rocamadour, is the young son of La Maga. Tráveler and Talita who are two friends of Oliveira who are in Buenos Aires.
On the other hand, there are also characters like Etienne, a Franco-Argentine painter; Ronald: American jazz pianist, and boyfriend of Babs; Babs, was an American potter; Ossip Gregorovius, a Romanian intellectual, falls in love with La Maga; Wong, a friend of Chinese origin; Perico Romero, a Spaniard who was fascinated by literature; Morelli is a fictional novelist well recognized by the Snake Club. It also represents the alter ego of the author Julio Cortázar; Guy Monod, a friend of Etienne; Pola was Oliveira’s French mistress. Gekrepten girlfriend of Oliveira in Argentina.
Summary and synopsis of the work
First, the reader of this book receives a warning before beginning to read it. The author offers him a game, where the novel can be read in two different ways. You can do a linear reading that contains 56 chapters, where a story is told. The other way to read it is from chapter 73, jumping from fragment to fragment. In this sense, the work has a three-part structure: “On the side over there”; “On the side of here” and “From other sides”, in which Julio Cortázar shows us the possibility of jumping from one painting to another such as on a hopscotch.
On the side over there
Firstly, the novel takes place in Paris. Here the narrator tells us about the story between Horacio Oliveira, who was an Argentine intellectual who works as a translator, and Lucía, known as “la Maga”, who was Uruguayan, and mother of her young son Rocamadour. Oliveira had a Club called Snake, in which a group of intellectuals met to talk about various topics related to art and literature, especially Morelli, a highly esteemed fictional writer.
But La Maga feels isolated since she does not know about these issues, and she does not feel comfortable. On the other hand, the presence of the baby Rocamadour interferes in the development of the relationship between her and Oliveira. In this first part of the work the first crisis of the central character of the story occurs.
On the side here
As for the second part of the plot, it takes place in Argentina, since Oliveira returns there after separating from La Maga and searching for her without being able to find her in Montevideo, Uruguay. On the other hand, Oliveira is in Buenos Aires, with Tráveler and Talita, who were close friends of him. But Oliveira’s life changes constantly, first she worked in a circus and in the end in a psychiatric clinic. So this character presents a second crisis that will lead him to the doors of suicide.
From other sides
Finally, in the third part, “the expendable chapters” titled by the author Cortázar himself, the narrator shows us not only details of the story, but also provides us with clues and data to be able to decipher the message of the story. Furthermore, this last part represents the author’s literary theory, where he puts into practice the meaning of this chapter.
Analysis of the book
“Hopscotch” is a work that breaks the linearity of the narrative discourse. For which many have classified it as an anti-novel. This book is presented as a game material, where the reader has the possibility to make various readings and find out the best way to decipher the author’s implicit message.
This work also represents the complex world that surrounds us, where various oppositions can be made, which in turn are related as reason vs. madness, success vs. failure, female vs. masculine, abstract vs. symbolic thought, content vs. shape. In this way, this “Hopscotch” book is the way to find the meaning of existence from a metaphorical point of view, where different worlds with different destinies can be shown, in which the reader must choose the way of reading history.
On the other hand, the author through this book invites the reader to read alternate chapters, presents texts by other authors, reflects on various topics such as art, music and literature, violates spelling, invents quotes, with the purpose of make us complicit in their game. Finally, this work presents us with characters immersed in the world of culture in general, where a sentimental relationship develops between La Maga and Oliveira, who feels trapped by this strange woman. It also involves us in the world of jazz, of literature, where different topics of great relevance are presented.
“But in jazz as in any art there are always a lot of blackmailers. Music is one thing that can be translated into emotion and another emotion that pretends to be music ”.
“Our possible truth has to be invention, that is, writing, literature, painting, sculpture, agriculture, fish farming, all the ways of this world. Values, tures, holiness, a ture, society, a ture, love, pure ture, beauty, ture of tures “.
“It’s only fair that you tell a man how he lived, if he wants to. I’m talking about you, not Ossip. You could tell me about your friends or not, but I had to tell you everything. You know, it’s the only way to make them leave before they start wanting another man, the only way for them to go to the other side of the door and leave us both alone in the room. ”
“I touch your mouth, with a finger I touch the edge of your mouth, I draw it as if it came out of my hand, as if for the first time your mouth was ajar, and it is enough for me to close my eyes to undo everything and start again, I give birth every time the mouth that I desire, the mouth that my hand chooses and draws on your face, a mouth chosen among all, with sovereign freedom chosen by me to draw it with my hand on your face, and that by chance that I do not seek to understand exactly matches with your mouth that smiles below the one that my hand draws you ”(Extract from Chapter 7).