Las Armas Secretas

ISBN: 846630360X
ISBN 13: 9788466303606
By: Julio Cortázar

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Argentina Favorites Fiction Latin America Latin American Literature Magical Realism Short Stories Spanish To Read

About this book

A young girl spends her summer vacation in a country house where a tiger roams...A man reading a mystery finds out too late that he is the murderer's victim...In the stories collected here -- including "Blow-Up;' on which Antonioni based his film -- Julio Cortazar explores the boundary where the everyday meets the mysterious, perhaps even the terrible. This is the most brilliant and celebrated book of short stories by a master of the form.

Reader's Thoughts

Rebekka Istrail

I grew tired of certain mystical themes (i.e., life repeats itself, and two individuals can be telepathically connected and can trade places). Also, certain stories I'm sure I didn't fully understand (e.g., "At Your Service"). My favorite stories in this collection were "End of the Game" and "Bestiary." I also found the following ones engaging: "House Taken Over," "Letter to a Young Lady in Paris," "The Idol of the Cyclades," "The Night Face Up," and "Axolotl."


Cortazar isn't easy to read but he's worth the effort. In this collection of short stories several stand out in my mind - Axolotl, House Taken Over, Bestiary, Blow-Up, End of the Game and The Pursuer.I was particularly surprised to find out that Cortazar was very knowledgeable about jazz. The Pursuer is a 65 page short story about a jazz musician named Johnny Carter. It soon becomes apparent that Cortazar is writing about jazz great Charlie Parker. Many of the principle characters are easily identifiable as people associated with Parker. The real life Countess Nica de Koenigswarter is Marquesa Tica. Chan Parker is Lan, Pree is Bee. Jazz aficionados will have no problem matching up the fictional names to their real life counterparts. The story’s action takes place in Paris and is narrated by an associate of Carter who has written a biography of the musician. We learn of a recording session where Carter can’t complete a take (due to his drug and mental problems). The song produced is entitled Amorous. This is a reference to the famous Lover Man session in LA where Parker couldn’t complete the take and later that day had a complete nervous breakdown, resulting in his spending six months in what was then called a sanitarium and we now call rehab. (In both fiction and real life the resulting record is released anyway over the objections of the artist.) At first we think the narrator is a good friend of Carter who understands his talent and problems but little by little he reveals himself as just another sycophant who benefits from his association with Carter without truly understanding the depth of his talent or personality . At one time he wishes for Carter’s death and by the end he tells us Carter is “…a poor sonofabitch with barely mediocre intelligence, endowed like so many musicians, so many chess players and poets, with the gift of creating incredible things without the slightest consciousness…”

Antonio Rocha

Hechos triviales transformados en historias excepcionales. Cortázar es capaz de tomar cualquier suceso cotidiano (una carta, una propuesta, una fotografía, una cita) y agregarle un toque fantástico para hacer que estos cuentos sean excelentes. Estos cinco relatos hablan de una realidad en la que siempre hay algo escondido, algo que no puede verse ni tocarse, que apenas puede percibirse pero que, llegado el momento, se manifiesta violentamente y jode todo lo que se ponga enfrente.Así, una simple (y perturbadora) confusión en las cartas que envía una madre a su hijo se convierte en el detonante de una crisis matrimonial. En otro de los cuentos una fotografía de una pareja en un parque se transforma en una obsesión que cobra vida. O una cita amorosa se altera hasta convertirse en el peor de los miedos, uno que pareciera regresar del otro mundo. Un jazzman prodigioso pero jodido por la marihuana y unas extrañas ideas sobre el tiempo que no dejan de atormentarlo.Una vez más, la magia de los cuentos está en lo que no se dice, lo que no se hace y lo que no se ve. Al leerlo uno tiene que esforzarse en unir los puntos, descifrar las pistas que Cortázar nos va dejando y seguir leyendo, con la seguridad de que nos espera un final que nos dejara transtornados e impactados.Mis cuentos favoritos:Las babas del diabloEl perseguidorLas armas secretas


5 nouvelles, 5 contes, 5 voyages... Le quotidien, l'illusion, l'irrationnel, le songe, l’imaginaire, le fantastique, ce côté comédie humaine parfois attachant (Bons et loyaux services), parfois effrayant (Les armes secrètes)... On longe cette fine frontière entre la réalité et l’illusion. D’ailleurs, l'une des nouvelles a inspiré Blow-Up d'Antonioni (Les fils de la vierge) tandis qu’une autre s'inspire de la réalité, celle de la vie de Charlie Parker, tant en y ajoutant sa part de fiction (L'homme à l'affût). Et il est important de noter que cette dernière est une avancée majeure dans l'œuvre de l'auteur: se pencher sur un personnage, sur sa conscience, relater une errance entre deux mondes, entre deux temps, entre la réalité et la folie, au nom du jazz. Les personnages ne sont pas ici des outils ou des fonctions à remplir au nom du conte. Il s'agit ici de relater une existence, l'essence d'une existence en quelques pages où Cortázar semble dialoguer avec son personnage, comme on pourrait dialoguer avec son double.Quelque chose germe dans chacune des nouvelles de Cortázar, pourtant il ne nous révèle rien, ou presque rien. On connecte les fragments parsemés avec une minutie diabolique et on en ressort troublés, hantés. Quelque chose s'immisce en nous lecteur. Comme ce moment entre le rêve et le réveil, ce stade où le songe nous habite encore, palpable, mais à mesure que le focus se fait sur la réalité, il se dissipe dans un brouillard plus ou moins épais, ne laissant que son fantôme. Le fantôme d'un rêve, qui peut surgir dans la journée, ou même le surlendemain. Les nouvelles de Cortázar, c'est vivre dans cet entredeux, dans ce processus de focus entre le songe et l'éveil. Mais se réveille-t-on vraiment?Mon admiration pour Cortázar ne cessera jamais de croitre à mesure que je découvre son œuvre, je ne cesserai d'être ébloui tant par le créateur, le conteur, l'écrivain, que par l'homme lui-même, aussi essentiel que Borges.

Nick Anderson

A man drinks himself to death because he became the first mortal by killing his doppelgänger, ending his lineage. A woman dreams of a Hungarian peasants life at night, goes on her honeymoon there and the Hungarian takes her life away after they meet. Vivid dreams of an Aztec sacrifice after a motorcycle accident become true. A mans greatest shame is that he coughs up rabbits.Just a sample of what to expect from this volume. Every story is just as strange as the last. It is fantasy in the greatest sense, totally alien to our expectations. The title story Blow Out turns the awkward sight of a public tryst between an older lady and a young man to be part of a sinister plot, discovered by enlarging a photograph. Of course I got the volume because of the lim Blow Out. Every story in here holds on its own. Fortunately or not Blow Out the movie is the only way I can across Cortazar. The only issue is that the syntax can be a little off since it is a translation.

Colin N.

"Blow-up" is a collection of quite bizarre surreal short stories. Most of these tales involve identity in some way - transformation from one identity to another, strange connections between individuals that blur the distinctions between identities, the destruction of identity and self through interactions with others. The stories are often violent, there is death and horror everywhere. Cortazar creates an often nightmarish landscape where things are not as they seem and the otherworldly appears an ordinary part of existence. Stylistically Cortzar explores some very unconventional storytelling. Which often makes these stories a bit confusing. In some instances I had to just continue reading for a number of pages before I could figure out what was going on. Cortzar is also sometimes intentionally vague, and we are never quite sure what exactly has occurred. Nevertheless many of these stories have some really interesting ideas and are worth the struggle.A good read.


Cortazar, a mi entender, es un autor que aporta mucho mas a los lectores de inteligencia superior (caracteristica que, lamentablemente, no se aplica a mi). Para el comun de los mortales, sus cuentos a veces dejan un aire de posibilidad, de "que paso?". Las personas de imaginacion desbordante (como Cortazar), pueden completar sus cuentos de mil maneras distintas. Las posibilidades son, francamente, inagotables. Ejemplo perfecto es el segundo cuento del libro -"Los Buenos Servicios"-. Uno da la vuelta a la pagina esperando una respuesta, pero solo se encuentra con mas preguntas. Y dos paginas despues, lo mismo. Cortazar es prueba, en otros cuentos, de que la forma es tan importante como el fondo. Historias triviales se elevan para convertirse en obras llenas de reflexiones de dos lineas, de dialogos que lo hacen a uno pensar. "El Perseguidor" es un buen ejemplo. El cuento me gusto bastante, pero un hecho central le resto muchisima credibilidad: en teoria, los desvarios del protagonista, sus locuras, su esquizofrenia y descontrol, se atribuian casi enteramente al uso de mariguana.


after reading Hopscotch...and reading it some more I figured I'd continue hanging out in Julio's alternate universe for awhile...though I understand that in English he is "more intense."


Cortazar's craft as a short story writer is staggering. Even when I wasn't completely engaged by the characters and situations, it was hard not to be blown away by his sinuous, rhythmic way of turning sentences. Like Borges, he operates in a territory where time and memory bleed in and out of each other, where reality flirts with the surreal, the magical and the menacing but is still grounded by the concrete, charmed details of everyday existence. I can't think of many things as utterly mesmerizing as "axoltol" or "continuity of parks" and even the longer ones, while not quite as mysterious or fabulistic, are still beautifully odd and evocative. It's not Hopscotch, but at its best these are still mostly wonderful.

Lora Grigorova

Тайните оръжия:Когато Хулио Кортасар говори, аз мълча. Когато Хулио Кортасар пише, аз бягам от удобната структура на ревюто, за да се настаня удобно в нелогичното словоблудство, което ми е така любимо. Когато Хулио Кортасар разказва, пред мен се разгъва една въртележка от чувства, емоции и мисли, която може да бъде предадена единствено от една въртележка от думи. Когато Хулио Кортасар дълбае в човешката душа, аз се мъча да разровя своята с надежда да открия нещо там. А когато Хулио Кортасар е в ръцете ми, тогава трите часа път до университета и обратно, по Ваше време, са минути в безкрайността – по мое време.Прочети повече:


To quote another review, "Cortazar displays throughout his stories the ability to elevate them above the condition of those gimmicky tales which depend for effect solely on a twist ending. His genius here lies in the knack for constructing striking, artistically 'right' subordinate circumstances out of which his fantastic and metaphysical whimsies appear normally to spring." (--Saturday Review)These tales deserve a place alongside the canonical short story greats. Imagine, if you will, that James Joyce had written The Garden of Forking Paths, or that Jorge Luis Borges had written The Dead. Metaphysics, illusion, suspense, imagination...he crafts an excruciating balance between the utterly mundane and the unbearably surreal, all seasoned with that Nabokovian ex-pat flavour of human detail and scenic artistry. Personal favourites are Letter to a Young Lady in Paris, House Taken Over, the title piece, and At Your Service, though the entire collection is a balanced and thoroughly well conceived work.

Alin G.

[Review in romanian]In general opera lui Cortazar se axeaza pe cateva teme fundamentale – jocul si trecerea dintr-o realitate in alta, cu precadere din realitatea cotidiana intr-una fantastica (elementele trecerii fiind aproape de fiecare data insesizabile). Ei bine, aceste teme sunt ceva mai subtile in cele cinci povestiri pe care le prezinta volumul de fata.Cartea debuteaza cu o povestire pe care o mai citisem si intr-unul din volumele de la Polirom, insa nu m-a deranjat sa o recitesc. Intitulata Scrisori de la mama, prezinta realitatea unui cuplu de argentinieni care traiesc in Paris din momentul in care scrisoarea obisnuita de la mama pomeneste intr-o fraza numele fratelui mort, ca si cum acesta este inca in viata. Realitatea aceasta se schimba atunci cand numele lui Nico persista si in scrisorile urmatoare, pana in momentul in care este anuntata sosirea acestuia la Paris.In La dispozitia Dumneavoastra trecerea de la o realitate la alta nu este atat de usor de sesizat, in prim plan aflandu-se elementul social. O femeie este angajata pentru o petrecere, insa la fata locului constata ca slujba ei este aceea de a pazi niste catei. La scurta vreme dupa petrecere este contactata din nou de aceleasi persoane care doresc sa o angajeze pentru a juca rolul unei mame la inmormantarea unui personaj din viata mondena. Realitatea se modifica in momentul in care femeia realizeaza ca de fapt nu joaca un rol si ca este singura persoana care il plange de fapt pe cel decedat.Funigei este povestirea din care s-a inspirat Antonioni pentru filmul Blowup. Mai mult decat atat, este un exemplu ideal al metalimbajului narativ, asa cum descinde inca din prima fraza – “Nu se va sti niciodata cum trebuie povestite toate acestea, la persoana intai sau la a doua, folosind a treia plural sau nascocind la nesfarsit forme care nu-s bune de nimic.”Urmaritorul este un omagiu adus lui Charlie Parker si de ce nu, genului muzical jazz. Este cu siguranta cea mai impresionanta povestire a intregului volum, si poate una din cele mai bine structurate nuvele pe care le-am citit. Firul narativ urmareste ultimele zile ale saxofonistului Johnny Carter prin ochii biografului sau. Povestea lui Johnny trece de la scipiri de geniu la momente de dezolare aduse de dependenta de droguri a acestuia, insa nuvela lui Cortazar este un regal adus muzicii, care merita citita (cum altfel) pe ritmurile lui Charlie Parker sau Dexter Gordon.Ultima povestire din volum, Armele Secrete este ceva mai intunecata decat celelalte, analizand intr-un fel trairile interioare ale unui cuplu tanar, incapacitatea de comunicare intre cei doi si un final neobisnuit pentru o povestire de acest gen.


"Las Armas Secretas" es un libro que reúne 5 historias: Cartas de Mamá, Los Buenos Servicios, Las Babas del Diablo, El Perseguidor y Las Armas Secretas. Podría empezar diciendo que con el simple hecho de que Cortázar los haya escrito, ya es garantía. Pero para aquellos que aún no lo conocen, este libro bien podría ser una fantástica manera para empezar a enamorarse de él. Encuentro su forma de escribir suave, como si fuera un océano tranquilo que nos va llevando poco a poco mar adentro, hasta que nos hunde y nos asfixia dulcemente con esos sentimientos que transmite en cada palabra. Tiende a describir muy bien cada situación en que se encuentran los personajes, pero jamás se pierde en las descripciones, éstas no se tornan aburridas. Más bien, describe las situaciones siempre centrándose en el sentimiento que quiere transmitir. Nos deja percibir lo que hay alrededor pero sin apartar la vista y la atención de lo que está pasando. Algo que me gustó de cada cuento, es que los finales no concluyen totalmente la historia, nos deja ese espacio para pensar en la vida del personaje, nos da tiempo para divagar un rato, para imaginarnos en la historia y así, continuarla y concluirla nosotros mismos. Mi historia favorita fue "Las Armas Secretas", tal vez porque hay actitudes que comparto con Michèle, tal vez porque me enamoré de Pierre. Es un cuento que contiene grandes sentimientos y pasiones que no llegan a nacer del todo.


I cannot for the life of me get through this.

Quinn Slobodian

A while ago Molly was going to lend this book to me. Then she changed her mind and kept it. I had to wait until she left for Spain to read it. I thought this was strange at the time, a bit selfish, out-of-character, but I understand now. Looking at it lying on my bed after I finished it just now, I thought, that's it? Now I just slip it back into the row of other books? Make do with the memory and not the material of it? No. I want it out a little longer. It's like a talisman somehow. I want it in miniature zipped into a secret pocket through the winter. The stories make that same superstitious move, the headfake with reason. This collection is notorious for containing the story that inspired Antonioni's Blow-Up but I think the 60s director was wrong. It should have been Chris Marker. There's the same dream motility of La Jetée, the O. Henry punch line, the forced recognition again that the imaginary premise can be that much more painful than the real.

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