The OF Blog: World Cup of Fiction: June 21 Matches

Sunday, June 20, 2010

World Cup of Fiction: June 21 Matches

Since I have provided country strengths and weaknesses for each side participating in the real and literary World Cups, I'm going to vary things a bit by having pictorial representations of the opposing sides most famous literary figures (if such can be found).  I think this might provide a more light-hearted feel to the second and then final round of group play:

Group G

Portugual:  Today's chosen literary star is the recently deceased José Saramago, who is Portugal's only Nobel Prize in Literature laureate.  Saramago perhaps is also Portugal's best known member of its Communist Party.

Saramago wrote stories that fused elements of speculative and mimetic fiction in order to cover issues of philosophical and/or social import.  Saramago's writing was (in)famous for his use of extremely complex clauses and indirect quotations in lieu of traditional sentence/paragraph format, but his style fit his fictions very well.  Saramago's most famous works include (all titles in English translation, despite my having read virtually all in only Spanish or Portuguese):  Baltasar and Blimunda, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, Blindness, All the Names, Seeing, Death's Interruptions.

Saramago perhaps is one of the few people who could manage to give Communism a good name.

North Korea - The North Koreans are represented by their de facto leader Kim Jong Il.  He totally rocks the literary, political, and military wings of the Communist leadership of North Korea.  He also has mad skills that would make Chuck Norris cry, if Chuck Norris could cry tears.

It would take ages to type out all of Kim Jong Il's famed exploits, so just click on this link to learn some fascinating things that he has apparently done and written.  Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, even if that fiction is the words of Kim Jong Il.

Prediction:  Saramago didn't need to claim that he shot 38 under par to prove that he was great.  He easily wins the Best Communist of the 21st Century award and this helps Portugal to an easy literary victory over North Korea.

Group H

Chile - Chile's literary star of this match will be the late, great Roberto Bolaño.  Although he left his native country in his adolescence and rarely returned, he still is considered to be one of the best writers to ever come out of Chile and many of his fictions reflect his troubled history with his homeland.

 Bolaño's works include (English titles):  By Night in Chile, Distant Star, Nazi Literature in the Americas, The Savage Detectives, 2666, and The Third Reich.  Although his fame outside the Hispanophone countries didn't begin until after his 2003 death from liver failure, Bolaño today is considered to be one of the best writers of the past 20 years.

Switzerland - The Swiss are represented by children's/adventure writer/minister Johann Wyss, who wrote The Swiss Family Robinson originally to please his young children.  Unlike the treacly 1960s Disney version, Wyss's original fiction (which was amended later by another writer, to whom Wyss gave his permission) did not contain pitched battles with pirates.

Although Wyss pretty much was a one-hit literary wonder, The Swiss Family Robinson is still an enduring classic today across the globe.

Prediction:  Bolaño smokes books (and pirates) for breakfast and he smokes Wyss easily, without need for an after-smoke cognac.  Chile wins easily.

Spain - The Spanish literary side is represented by Miguel Cervantes, who is most famous for his early 17th century work, Don Quijote/Don Quixote.  This tale of a crazy-as-a-loon wannabe knight errant is still at the top of several literary Best Of Lists four centuries after his knight launched his devastating assault on the windmills.

Cervantes' best work is a classic and perhaps will still be read as such when windmills may replace coal plants for generating much of the world's electricity.

Honduras - The Hondurans are represented by 20th century short fiction writer Augusto Monterroso.  Although Monterroso lived very little of his life in Honduras (his father was Guatemalan and he grew up there, before being forced into exile for his political views later in life), he is still counted by some as a Honduran writer.

Monterroso wrote several short fictions, some of which utilized apocalyptic or strange imagery to convey truths about the plight of average Latin Americans under the juntas that made those governments uncomfortable.  Some of his stories are available in English translation or will be coming out in a new translation in the near future.

Prediction:  Don Quixote is crazy enough to take a lance and charge at windmills.  Monterroso only seems capable of taking an umbrella and thrusting it up in the sky against the rain.  Lance>Umbrella.  Spain rolls to victory here, as long as Sancho Panza can make sure Don Quixote doesn't go off wandering on his own again.


Gabriele Campbell said...

Wow, how did that scary looking photo of Kim Jong ever made it into the internet. ;)

Looking forward to who you'll pick to represent Germany.

Lsrry said...

If I want to be mean, it'd be Hitler in Lederhosen. If I want to be nice, it might be Schiller or Goethe.

Gabriele Campbell said...

Heh, I wouldn't consider Mein Kampf literature. ;)

You couuld also use Günther Grass, Siegfried Lenz or Thomas Mann. Or even Marcel Reich Ranicki; he's a writer as well as a reviewer and his authobiography Mein Leben (The Author of Himself) is very much worth a read.

Lsrry said...

Or I could use Ranke. After all, Ranke influenced Friedrich Meinecke, who in turn taught Hans Rothfels, who then taught my grad advisor, and then me. A sort of Apostolic Succession in Historicism, although I never was really in the Historicist camp :P

Gabriele Campbell said...

What about the Song of the Nibelungs? Hagen could give the Ghana team a run for their money. :)

Heh, that could actually be some fun: an Epic Heroes tournament, pairing team Illiad with team Beowulf and such.

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