Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents) (Paperback)

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By Julio Cortazar, David Kurnick (Translator), David Kurnick (Afterword by)
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Staff Reviews

Imagine a future where books disappear and entire libraries are burned to the ground. Pretty well-worn territory, sure, but Cortazar starts from this horrible vision, encountered in a popular Mexican comic book (Fantomas, La Amenaza Elegante [Fantomas, The Elegant Threat]), and weaves one of the most delectably "meta-" fictions ever written. In this future of anti-intellectualism, when not only the books but the authors are being targeted by a massive global conspiracy, who can we turn to?

Well, Fantomas, the comic's white-masked hero, obviously. Cortazar re-purposes a special issue to feature lots of guest authors, including Moravia, Paz, Sontag, and even himself. In Cortazar's rendition we find that a superhero, with his singular focus and reckless disregard for the destruction of personal property, is exactly the kind of hero we don't need. What's more, a superhero is actually rather inept in the face of a global conspiracy whose arms are legion, who thrives when its crimes are known but permitted by the complacency of those around it. While decidedly tongue-in-cheek, the book is a desperate cry from the soul. Written in the despondent days after Cortazar's participation in the Second Russell Tribunal, Fantomas is Cortazar's attempt to call attention to the gross, and often ignored, realities of politics and foreign policy by using the mass appeal of pulp comics. -- Chris P.

— From February 2015


The first translation of Julio Cort zar's genre-jumping meta-comic/novella, featuring Cort zar himself, Susan Sontag, and Octavio Paz in a race to prevent international bibliocide.

Octavio Paz: "If you love art, do something, Fantomas "
Fantomas: "I will, you can depend on it."

First published in Spanish in 1975 and previously untranslated, Fantomas versus the Multinational Vampires is Julio Cort zar's genre-jumping mash-up of his participation in the Second Russell Tribunal on human rights abuses in Latin America and his cameo appearance in issue number 201 of the Mexican comic book series Fantomas: The Elegant Menace. With his characteristic narrative inventiveness, Cort zar offers a quixotic meta-comic/novella that challenges not only the form of the novel but its political weight in contemporary cultural life.

Needing something to read on the train from Brussels (where he had attended the ineffectual tribunal meeting), our hero (Julio Cort zar) picks up the latest issue of the Fantomas comic. He grows increasingly absorbed by the comic book's tale of bibliocide (a sinister bibliophobic plot to obliterate every book from the archives of humanity), especially when he sees the character Fantomas embark upon a series of telephone conversations with literary figures, starting with "The Great Argentine Writer" himself, Julio Cort zar (and also including Octavio Paz and a tough-talking Susan Sontag). Soon, Cort zar begins to erase the thin line between real-life atrocities and fictional mayhem in an attempt to bring attention to the human rights violations taking place with impunity in the country from which he was exiled.

About the Author

One of the most influential literary figures to emerge from Argentina in the twentieth century, Julio Cortazar is best remembered for his experimental 1963 counter-novel Hopscotch (Rayuela) and for his short story "Blow-up," on which the 1966 film by Michelangelo Antonioni was based. Cortazar was officially exiled by the Argentine junta in the 1970s and spent the rest of his life in France, where he died in 1984.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781584351344
ISBN-10: 1584351349
Publisher: Semiotext(e)
Publication Date: August 1st, 2014
Pages: 87
Language: English
Series: Semiotext(e) / Native Agents