Recommended by Josiah, City Lights Bookseller
Delicately crafted, intensely visual, deeply personal stories explore the nature of memory, family ties, and the difficult imbalances of love.
"Silvina Ocampo is one of our best writers. Her stories have no equal in our literature."––Jorge Luis Borges
"I don't know of another writer who better captures the magic inside everyday rituals, the forbidden or hidden face that our mirrors don't show us."—Italo Calvino
"Silvina Ocampo's prose is made of elegant pleasures and delicate terrors. Her stories take place in a liquid, viscous reality, where innocence quietly bleeds into cruelty, and the mundane seeps, unnoticed, into the bizarre. Revered by some of the masters of fantastic literature, such as Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges, Ocampo is beyond great—she is necessary."—Hernan Diaz, author of In the Distance and Associate Director of the Hispanic Institute at Columbia University
"Like William Blake, Ocampo's first voice was that of a visual artist; in her writing she retains the will to unveil immaterial so that we might at least look at it if not touch it."—Helen Oyeyemi, author of Gingerbread
In this, Silvina Ocampo's first book of stories, we discover the purest form of what would become her signature style over the years: lyrical, oneiric, and menacing—and an atmosphere, both mundane and mysterious, bordering on the fantastical.
Forgotten Journey takes its title from the story of a girl who struggles to recall the events of her birth in order to remember her identity. Another story follows a friendship between two girls, one poor and one wealthy, who grow up to appear identical to one another, enabling them to trade lives and families. In "The Enmity of Things," a young man begins to suspect that his mundane possessions are conspiring against him. When he flees to his rural childhood home, the silent countryside proves only more sinister and mysterious.
This collection of 28 short stories, first published in 1937 and now in English translation for the first time, introduced readers to one of Argentina's most original and iconic authors. With this, her fiction debut, poet Silvina Ocampo initiated a personal, idiosyncratic exploration of the politics of memory, a theme to which she would return again and again over the course of her unconventional life and productive career.
Praise for Forgotten Journey:
"Silvina Ocampo's fiction is wondrous, heart-piercing, and fiercely strange. Her fabulism is as charming as Borges's. Her restless sense of invention foregrounds the brilliant feminist work of writers like Clarice Lispector and Samanta Schweblin. It's thrilling to have work of this magnitude finally translated into English, head spinning and thrilling."—Alyson Hagy, author of Scribe
"The Southern Cone queen of the short-story, Ocampo displays all her mastery in Forgotten Journey. After finishing the book, you only want more."—Gabriela Alemán, author of Poso Wells
"Ocampo is one of those rare writers who seems to write fiction almost offhandedly, but to still somehow do more in four or five pages than most writers do in twenty. Very little seems to happen and you are quickly lulled to relax, which makes the way these stories creep up behind you even more surprising. Before you know it, the seemingly mundane has bared its surreal teeth and has you cornered."—Brian Evenson, author of Song for the Unraveling of the World: Stories
"There is literature that takes the known world (a dinner party or a walk with a dog, first love or a visit to friends) and shows it in a way we've never seen before; there is literature that takes us to a place we've never been (early twentieth-century Buenos Aires or adrift in the middle of the ocean) and makes it somehow familiar. The marvel of Silvina Ocampo's fiction is that it does both things simultaneously, its deepest context the confluence of the things of this world ('a heavy wool dress embroidered with flowers, the sleeves poorly attached,' 'a big box full of nails, newspaper clippings and old pieces of wire,' 'vanity tables without legs . . . old pharmaceutical flasks . . . chess pieces, chandeliers, minatures') and the ineffable mystery of mortality ('I close the windows, shut my eyes and see blue, green, red, yellow, purple, white, white. White foam, blue. Death will be like this, when it drags me from the little room of my hands.')"—Kathryn Davis, author of The Silk Road
"Readers will delight in this whimsical and fantastical collection of short stories by Silvina Ocampo. Forgotten Journey, her first published collection now in English, is superbly translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Katie Lateef-Jan. Through these fantastical tales the narrator explores the life of young girls, their friendships, their inner solitudes, as well as the constant quest to understand the duality of life and the imagination. These stories transport you to a place that perhaps you have known in dreams. Now you can enter them through the lucid and fantastical world and words of Silvina Ocampo."—Marjorie Agosin, author of I Lived On Butterfly Hill
"Silvina Ocampo's richly textured world shimmers with childhood sweetness and sorrow. Her narrator's hyper-observant gaze travels through the multiplying interiors of houses, mirrors, dresses, adult giants, dream figures, and nimble acrobats, in search of love stolen by bad magic. Ocampo inhabits and brings to life a hyper-real, surreal, and resolutely feminine world ruled by unapologetic beauty and pervading sadness. She is a close kin of Remedios Varo and Frida Kahlo, weavers of the magical Latin American art that bewitches us time after time. This beautiful translation fully renders that magic."—Andrei Codrescu, author of No Time Like Now: New Poems
"This translation opens up the wonderful sepia-tinted strangeness of Ocampo's complete first book of stories to a readership that may already know her fiction from Daniel Balderston's anthologies, Leopoldina's Dream (1988), and Thus Were Their Faces (2015), which presented two stories from Forgotten Journey including the title story and 'A Strange Visit.' Suzanne Jill Levine and Katie Lateef-Jan's vivid translation of the whole of Forgotten Journey captures well Ocampo's unsettlingly topsy-turvy world, peopled by precocious children who act with the self-possession of adults, and adults cowed by the fears and phobias of childhood. In their carefully crafted version, Ocampo's idiosyncratic governesses, servants, circus performers and children act out intense dramas, influenced by the palpably malignant force of the objects surrounding them. Loss of innocence is a perpetual threat and the translation savours this pervasive unease. With stories like 'The Dead Horse' and 'The Two Houses of Olivos' the reader can place Ocampo in relation to other key figures in Argentinian literature in translation, such as Julio Cortázar in his 'End of the Game', or Jorge Luis Borges and Cortázar's fascination with doubles."—Fiona Mackintosh, author of Childhood in the Works of Silvina Ocampo and Alejandra Pizarnik