Interview with Javier Marias at the White Review

There is a lengthy and wide ranging interview with Javier Marias at the White Review that is worth checking out.

QThe White Review — A common accusation levelled at you is your not being ‘Spanish’ enough. It’s been said many times that you write as if in translation.

AJavier Marías — I was accused of that for many years. My second novel featured British characters and a strange expedition to the South Pole or the North Pole, I can’t remember which. That was published in 1973, titled Voyage Along the Horizon in English. My first two novels didn’t have anything to do with Spain or Spanish people or political issues, and some people started to say, this is an English writer who translated himself into Spanish. It was said that my Spanish is full of syntactical inaccuracies, and it’s true – I have forced the syntax in my language very much, not only because of my knowledge of English, but also because languages should be more resilient than some academic people allow them to be. So I had this foreign writer label – and it was very derogatory – but then I’ve had several different labels throughout my very long career. I was finally accepted as a good writer, but too ‘brainy’ or cerebral, too cold. I think my novels are not particularly cold – there are passages which are rather passionate or at least almost lyrical, I would say. Then for another period they said, ‘Yes, but he writes for women,’ as if that was something bad. But that’s not true, I have all kinds of readers, and then everyone has more female readers, because women read more than men. People who don’t like you try to label you with derogatory things, but when a label falls down by itself, then they look for another one. I don’t know why. In my own country I’ve felt in general more resistance than support from my colleagues, from the literary establishment, not all critics but many of them.