5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
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There are explorations that take us to new worlds, and the explorers come back ready to tell us of all the strange people and artifacts they saw. There is also the exploration of a familiar world in a new way, and that this can be just as enlightening, and entertaining, is the message of _Autonauts of the Cosmoroute_ (Archipelago Books) by husband and wife Julio Cortázar and Carol Dunlop. Cortázar was a fiction writer and Dunlop a writer, translator, and photographer, and they had planned for years to get away from the demons of Paris. The demons included various ills of modern life, like the telephone and even cutlery: "When we asked of the knives only that they cut a peach or the cheese, they arranged to bite us and, while we did acrobatics to avoid their teeth, their friends the forks came from below to jab us." It was not the South Seas that drew them away, or the Amazon, but a stretch of freeway they had traveled many times before, but no one had traveled it the way they were going to. The 465-mile Autoroute du Sud gets drivers from Paris to Marseilles in just a few hours, but they would make an expedition of it, staying on the autoroute while they stopped at every rest area along it, at the rate of two rest stops a day, a trip that would take just over a month, starting in May 1982. They wrote this book about it shortly thereafter, and it has just now been translated into English by Anne McLean. I can't say anything about the fidelity of the translation, but the words are full of whimsy and magic, and they fit the theme perfectly.
Cortázar and Dunlop may have had a light and whimsical view of the outing, but they took it very seriously, which simply increases the sense of fun they report here. Provisions were planned with care, as were the re-supply caravans from friends who met them along the route. Mock-seriousness pervades the expedition, among whose rules are that the explorers will "carry out scientific and topographical studies of each rest area, taking note of all pertinent observations". Most nights are spent in their red Volkswagen minibus with a roof that expands upward, a minibus christened Fafner, and referred to as "he" throughout the book, and also regarded throughout as a protective dragon. In the rest areas they write, mostly, and plenty of the pictures here (yes, photographic documentation of the expedition) show Cortázar at his typewriter. The scientific observations have to do with slugs and insects, agreeable creatures that the explorers welcome, except for the ants. Weather was generally good, but finding shade in which to put Fafner was often a trial. Some of the rest stops were full of trees and beauty, but one is designated "sinister" and another "Hideous rest stop, especially after the last one." They are amazed by all the tourists who turn the more active stops into international cities. They listen to the news about the Falklands war, and they make themselves comfortable in their hideous lawn chairs, the "Floral Horrors". They find evidence of witches; it turns out that the construction cones are their hats. They make love while highway lights flash through Fafner's windows "like doing it in a kaleidoscope."
It is fully silly and fully charming, and the book stands as a tribute to a wonderful relationship between the two intrepid explorers. It represented, as Cortázar summarizes toward the end of the book, an "advance in happiness and love from which we emerged so fulfilled that nothing, afterwards, even admirable travels and hours of perfect harmony, could surpass that month outside of time, that interior month where we knew for the first and last time what absolute happiness was." And so it is sad to come to the postscript, which Cortázar had to finish alone, for Dunlop died at age 36 only a few months after the expedition; he was to follow her only a couple of years later (their illnesses are only lightly hinted at in the book). This was to be his last book. The reader finishes it with gratitude; these were two imaginative and funny people, and it is generous of them to have had us along for the ride.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
R. M. Peterson
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The "autonauts" are Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar and his third wife Carol Dunlop. In May 1982, they embark on an expedition down the L'Autoroute du Sud, the freeway from Paris to Marseilles. Most drivers manage that trip in a day. But not "el Lobo" and "la Osita" (their pet names for one another). The trip takes them over thirty days - because, by design, they visit each and every rest area along the way, staying the night at every second rest area (except when forced by exigencies to make small exceptions to that rigid routine). They therefore drive only about twenty minutes per day and they complete the Paris-Marseille journey without ever leaving the freeway. Their vehicle is a red Volkswagen Combi Van, which they dub "Fafner" ("the Dragon"). Fafner carries a fridge and provisions and libations, their typewriters and lawn chairs, as well as a bed where they can sleep and make love.
AUTONAUTS OF THE COSMOROUTE is their joint documentation of their madcap expedition. It consists largely of reports on what they discovered at the various rest stops along the Autoroute, as well as numerous flights of fancy conjured up during their trip. There also are brief logs for each day of the expedition; black-and-white photographs, most of which were taken by Carol and almost all of which, at least as reproduced in this edition, are sadly blurry; and charming drawings of the rest area layouts ("ex post facto cartography") supplied by Carol's fourteen-year-old son based on the autonauts' reports and photographs.
A propos of a work by Julio Cortázar, AUTONAUTS OF THE COSMOROUTE is slightly zany, sly and witty, and utterly sui generis. Originally published in 1983 (in simultaneous French and Spanish editions), it was the last of Cortázar's works published during his lifetime. He died in 1984. Carol Dunlop died in November 1982. At the time of their trip, both Julio and Carol were suffering from what turned out to be terminal leukemia, so the "Cosmoroute" of the title takes on a poignant extra dimension. The book, shot through and through with a zest for life, is a valediction like few others.
There are many brilliant notions and conceits in the book. A recurring one is a series of five letters from a mother to her son, reporting on her curmudgeonly husband, the death of Aunt Héloïse, and the bizarre coincidence of repeatedly encountering this strange couple camped out in and around a red van at different rest areas along the freeway over a three-week span. Another one is a brief adult fairy tale about motel sex. And there are many stunningly original passages, of which the following one about being surrounded and buffeted by trucks while driving on the freeway is representative:
"Up till now we've always been David against Goliath: What can a Renault 5, or even a tremendous Porsche, do when a tractor-trailer precedes it, and another follows ten metres behind and sticks its enormous threatening giant's face in the rear-view mirror, while a third overtakes, making space itself tremble and letting out horrendous snorts? This is how users of the freeway soon develop a complex little studied by Freud, acute truckophobia, which can only be cured by buying a truck to join the enemy's ranks (this is known as transference in psychoanalytic terms) or by taking the train."
That paragraph, incidentally, is also indicative of what surely is a brilliant piece of translating by Anne McLean.
Alas, like every long-distance expedition faithfully recorded, there are more than a few boring stretches. And some of el Lobo's and la Osita's fancies don't tickle my intellectual funny bone. Though to do so might have violated the spirit and structure of the original undertaking, judicious editing or abridgement by the authors would have made for a more consistently enjoyable book.