The Man of Feeling

Fiction

Javier Marías
translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Marías's riveting novel about an opera singer and an extramarital affair is now a paperbook.

Narrated by a young opera star, The Man of Feeling opens as he recalls traveling on a train from Milan to Venice, silently absorbed for hours by the woman asleep opposite his seat. In the measured tones of memory, the novel revolves on the twin poles of anticipation and recollection. Our protagonist's peculiar rarified life -- a life of rehearsal and performance and luxury hotels and constant travel -- and his resulting almost ghost-like detachment adds a deeper tone to Marías's weave of desire and distance. As the author remarks in a brief afterword, this is a love story "in which love is neither seen nor experienced, but announced and remembered." Can love be recalled truly when it no longer exists? That twist will continue to revolve in the reader's mind, conjuring up in its disembodied way James' The Turn of the Screw. Beautifully translated by Margaret Jull Costa, this fascinating and eerie early novel by Javier Marías bears out his reputation for being "a true genius of literary subterfuge" (Village Voice) and "dazzling" (TLS). "There is nothing," The New York Times commented about The Man of Feeling, "quite like it in fiction today."