At the age of 92, the well-known Chilean novelist and critic Jorge Eduards Valdés has passed away, leaving behind a narrative and critical legacy that made him one of the most important Latin American writers of the 20th century, known for his excellence in writing novels, memoirs and criticism, as well as his experience in journalism and diplomacy.
The Chilean novelist comes from a bourgeois family, which allowed him to study literature and law and get to know the most important political and literary faces in Chile, led by the poet Pablo Neruda, who summoned him immediately after he finished his university studies to work with him at the Chilean embassy in Paris, but he was soon forced in 1973 to leave diplomatic work following the coup led by Pinochet and moved to live and work in Spain, where he wrote his most important literary work ever "Guests of Stone" (1978), where he presented an accurate picture For the plight of a group of friends from the bourgeoisie during the military curfew.
His narrative book takes place at a birthday party in October 1973, which the author employs to deconstruct the vision of this social group from within, confronting the past and present, contradictions and schisms.
"Guests of Stone"
This book was so well received by critics and the public in Spain, that the first edition, which exceeded tens of thousands of copies, sold out very quickly, however, it was subjected to a barrage of criticism for its derogatory portrayal of the bourgeoisie in Chile, which he stated in one of his dialogues, saying, "The leftists attacked me because of this book, and the rightists accused me of promoting painful social feelings, because I mock the aspirations and aspirations of the Chilean bourgeoisie," but that did not stop the critical community from considering the book fascinating. Literary has allowed the discovery of Valdes' previous works, especially his 1973 novel "Person Ungrata", in which he examines his diplomatic experience in Cuba in the early sixties and beyond, and how he was expelled from the country due to accusations of involvement in a conspiracy against the Cuban government.
The book also examines fragments of his life in France and Spain and his relationships with writers, artists and politicians such as Jacques Lacan, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett.
In 1978 Jorge Eduards Valdés returned to Chile after years of self-imposed exile in Spain, to be appointed a member of the Chilean Language Academy for the following years. In the two years following his return, he published two of his most popular and controversial books, The Wax Museum (1981) and The Host (1987).
In his novel The Wax Museum, Valdés offers us a conscious example of reactionary thought in the form of relentless irony. The protagonist, Prince Vila Rica, the representative of the most traditional sectors of society in Chile, is a person who loves France and in the world of television and helicopters, living clinging to the past: "He comes out of his palace in a carriage, disguises himself in a long suit and uses a crutch with a silver handle, and seems to be away from Japanese electronics as well as from colonial bars and restaurants by the river."
As characters who share the wax museum in the same space in a way that is inappropriate for our time, 3 worlds are intertwined in this great crazy and comic novel. Valdés, in his usual satirical and elegant style, reinforced absurd social contradictions, bringing them to sarcasm, with a fictional and eye-catching vision of reality.
The "wax museum" is a narrative of the repercussions of the fall of a particular social class that does not fit into new times.
Chilean writer Jorge Edwards Valdés during a ceremony to store his personal legacy in the Letter Box safe of the Instituto Cervantes 2015 (Getty Images)
The Legend of Faust
In his novel The Host, Valdés reworked the Chilean myth of Faust with a story of a refugee in Berlin. The hero Faustino Joaquín, inspired by the evil demon Mephistoveli, moves to Chile in a strange machine called the "machine".
The events take place in the period of the consolidation of the dictatorship, and Faustino descends into hell in an exciting adventure, as critics unanimously agreed at the time of the novel's release that the owner of the "wax museum" went out of the ordinary in employing the myth when he preferred not to start the novel by talking about the human deal with the devil, like the traditional story of the legend, but preferred to narrate the adventures before the deal, unlike the legend.
In 1990, Valdés received the Comillas Prize from Tusquets for his manuscript on the life of the late poet Pablo Neruda, Goodbye, Poet.
He won the National Literary Prize in 1994 in recognition of his long career and contributions to Chilean literature, and published in the same year "Whiskey of Poets", which is a compilation of a large number of notes collected over many years during his various travels, but the book did not receive the expected welcome, a depression that did not last long, as he then released his last work "The Dream of History" inspired by the life of the architect of the Palace of La Moneda, "Joaquín Tuis", and this in the same year that he won the Cervantes Prize Literary awards in Spanish are considered by literary critics as the Nobel Prize in the Spanish-speaking world. In the same year, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos honored him with the Gabriela Mistral Medal.