“Antarctic Notebook”, a book that enchants

Oscar Barrientos Bradasic is a solid prose writer and an excellent storyteller, so “Cuaderno Antártico” confirms its special condition. It is a surprising book, which enchants with its fantastic and erudite pen, which seduces with the combined magic of the wildest imagination and the coldest reality.

Although initially presented as a travel report, we find much more along the way. It’s a wise journey through history, mythology, literature, culture and imagination. It is a journey both real and mythical, conceived with the utmost care and wisdom, so that it is pleasant, dreamy and incites the wildest speculation.

On his journey we meet writers and corsairs, interspersed with stories in which we lose the sense of a reality that in itself surpasses us. What’s more fantastic than a frozen and remote continent, dreamed up before being discovered by brilliant and deranged minds? Called Terra Australis Ignota, a fictional continent conceived in remote classical Greece; from there the author begins his reflection and his profound cognitive journey. Like any literary work that prides itself on being one, in the way we read it we go deeper into human nature; over Antarctica, penetrating into human nature

Barrientos Bradasic displays in-depth knowledge of maritime issues, which agrees with an important part of the theme of his chronicles, novels and short stories, including “The Skeleton Ship”, “Paganas Patagonias” and “Saratoga”, all of which are extraordinary. and recommended reading experiences, where the sea is an omnipresent element.

In Chilean literature, the sea is a significant subject given our long coastline; among its greatest exponents we can mention the complete work of Francisco Coloane, “Boats in the bay” by Manuel Rojas and many other authors among which we can mention Nicomedes Guzmán, Juan Marín, Franklin Quevedo, Rubén Azócar, Diego Muñoz Espinoza (my father ). Oscar Barrientos vigorously assumes this narrative assignment, honoring and enriching it.

The hypothetical remote southern continent should be inhabited by all kinds of monsters and ghostly beings. As if the feverish imaginations of the best talents had been prepared for that task: men with dog heads or horse hooves, gigantic cyclops, even the Kraken himself, sea serpents and mermaids. It is a journey into unknown territories, inhabited by the strangest monstrosities conceived by the imagination.

Chilean literature furrows these pages with joy, quoting Pablo de Rokha to allude to the sublime and gargantuan gastronomy that animates the journey.

The extreme fable has humorous moments, expertly conducted by the author; necessary to balance this great accumulation of stories, knowledge and fantasies.

Utopias also have a place on the mythical continent, sought after and lost by dreamers, as in the case of Megapatagonia, the fruit of the imagination of one of the many discoveries in this fascinating book: Restif de la Bretonne. In Megapatagonia the principles that inspired our lost constitutional project prevail, for example: “we are equal among equals”, “each must work for the general good”, “each must participate in the general welfare”.

The reader will find unique treasures in this book: dazzling adventurers of the seas or of the imagination, strongly motivated writers and artists from the frozen lands, among them Poe, Lovecraft, Verne (who takes us to Antarctica in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea). . , thanks to the good offices of Captain Nemo, at the helm of the unforgettable Nautilus).

Oscar Barrientos Bradasic performed a precious literary act of sovereignty with Antarctica; After reading his excellent pages, the reader will feel more in control of those distant and wonderful places that are an inseparable part of our national identity.

Data sheet

Antarctic Notebook, Oscar Barrientos Bradasic, Tusquet Editores, 2022, 170 pp.

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