‘Really fine flowers’

An anthology of Spanish cuentos
by
August 2021, no. 434
Buy this book

The Penguin Book of Spanish Short Stories edited by Margaret Jull Costa

Penguin Classics, $55 hb, 400 pp

‘Really fine flowers’

An anthology of Spanish cuentos
by
August 2021, no. 434

One of my favourite characterisations of the short story comes, unsurprisingly, from Jorge Luis Borges. In a 1982 interview with Fernando Sorrentino, Borges attributes the short story’s strength to its economy; to its muscular form, trimmed of all fat. A three-hundred-page novel, he says, ‘necessarily contains a certain amount of padding, pages whose only purpose is to connect one part of the novel to the other. In a short story, on the other hand, it is possible for everything to be essential, or more or less essential, or – at the very least – to appear to be essential.’ One might say the same about a good anthology: there is no space for filler, no room for error; every story must be essential, or – at the very least – must appear to be essential.

Alice Whitmore reviews 'The Penguin Book of Spanish Short Stories' edited by Margaret Jull Costa

The Penguin Book of Spanish Short Stories

edited by Margaret Jull Costa

Penguin Classics, $55 hb, 400 pp

Buy this book

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Comment (1)

  • The best literary anthologies reflect a vision, or perhaps the rethinking of a vision. This anthology brings together many 'fine flowers', but the presentation does not clear a path; at least it seems haphazard. Not all good translators are finely tuned literary critics or anthologists. When they are, they should be commended, and when they are not, they should have the intelligence to recognise their limitations.
    Posted by Suzanne Jill Levine
    10 August 2021

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