August 1, 2021

The writers and dedications, by Homero Carvalho Oliva

The dedications can be nostalgic, melancholic, enigmatic, cryptic, declarations of love, hate, revenge and even literary revenge. Photography: Library of the IES Mar de Alborán (Estepona, Málaga)

They say that if traditions do not exist, we must invent them because they are necessary to give meaning to our lives; in literature there is a tradition of dedications. I don’t mean the ones we write when signing autographs, I mean the ones on the first pages of books of any genre. Writers have made them an act of faith in friends, family and / or people who had to do with the creation or publication of our novels, poems or storybooks. A few days ago I read, in the supplement Babelia from the newspaper The country, from Madrid, an interesting article by Laura Ferrero entitled “Dedicated to those who do not read the dedications”, in which she points out that they “tell a secret history of literature”, and that most of the time we do not pay attention to them when we open book.

The dedications can be nostalgic, melancholic, enigmatic, cryptic, declarations of love, hate, revenge and even literary revenge. There are everything and for everyone like literature itself. In my case, most of the dedications in my books were written for the people I love: “To Carmen, naturally”, and in another I repeat myself with my eldest daughter: “To Brisa, of course”, “To Luis Antonio and Carmen Lucia, for teaching me to love ”; as well as dear friends and friends. I have never regretted any of those intimate tributes despite the fact that, some time after the book in question was published, the friendship or love has ended. The dedication reflects a moment in our lives that was beautiful while it lasted. I have dedicated books to friends who disappeared in the dictatorships, to others who were lost in the night hallucinated: “For the friends who burned their ships in the desolate dawns”; in some of my books I have distinguished great writers who became my teachers, whose words prompted my fools, my ship / delirium, which has been sailing for decades through the oceanic sea of ​​writing, wonderful beings that sometimes showed me the Southern Cross and sometimes taught me to pilot the stories compass in hand.

Ferrero recounts some extraordinary dedications: “In So strong so close, Jonathan Safran Foer stamp at the beginning: ‘For Nicole, my idea of ​​beauty’. Nicole Krauss, his wife at the time, responds in the dedication of The love story: ‘For my grandparents, who taught me the opposite of disappearing. And for Jonathan, my whole life ‘(…). Or this fun and accurate Gillian Flynn in Dark places: ‘What can I say about a man who knows how I think and still sleeps next to me every day with the lights off?’ Then it refers to a dedication of Camilo José Cela with which he opens Pascual Duarte’s family: “I dedicate this edition to my enemies who have helped me so much in my career.” This “poisoned candy”, as Ferrero defines it, brought me the memory of a dedication by my father, Antonio Carvalho Urey, who in one of his books wrote: “There are certain people who, when I publish something, become poisoned with rage. As a gift to them is this new book. I’m sorry that death is coming ”, and my father’s lapidary dedication reminded me of a phrase by Augusto Monterroso who, in an interview, stated that every time he publishes a new book, he imagines the faces of his enemies when they read the news in the newspaper, then I imagine those subjects and their repeated pilgrimages to the bathroom and not necessarily to bathe.

According to Tan Castillo in “The best dedications of great writers”: “Many times, the dedication has to do with the support or resentment that emerges from friends, lovers, relatives or even strangers who were involved in this process. For example, EE Cummings had a collection of poems that was rejected by various publishers; Finally, tired of this, he borrowed $ 300 from his mother and published the book under the name: No, thanks, and dedicated it to the 14 publishers that had rejected it, forming a calligram with their names “.

Just for fun here are some dedications:

  • The beautiful dedication of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in The little Prince: “I apologize to the children for having dedicated this book to an older person. I have a serious excuse: this older person is the best friend I have in the world. But I have another excuse: this older person is capable of understanding everything, even children’s books. I still have a third excuse: this elderly person lives in France, where he is hungry and cold. It has, therefore, a great need to be comforted. If all these reasons weren’t enough, then I want to dedicate this book to the boy who was this older person long ago. All seniors have been children before. (But few of them remember it). I therefore correct my dedication: To León Werth, when he was a child ”.
  • Jorge Wagensberg, ideas about world’s complexity: “Dedicated to the constantly new, to methodical doubt, to defiant shyness, to always is now bad that despite later, to complexity, in short, dedicated to Alicia.”
  • Robin Hobb, The ships of magic: “To caffeine and sugar, my companions in many long nights of writing.”
  • Javier García Sánchez, She, Dracula: “To Susana, who knew how to refute me, one after another, the five compelling reasons that I gave her for never writing the novel.”
  • Fernando Aramburu, Life of a louse named Matías: “I dedicate this story to the dear people where I live.”
  • Mark Z. Danielewski, The house of leaves: “This is not for you”.
  • Shannon Hale, Austenland: “For Colin Firth, you’re a great guy, but I’m married, so I think we should just be friends.”
  • Tobias Wolff, This boy’s life: “My first stepfather used to say that a book could be filled with what I don’t know. Here it is”.
  • Rubén Bonifaz Nuño, The mantle and the crown (poems to an unrequited love): “Your name should be here.”
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The wind’s shadow: “For Joan Ramón Planas, he deserves better.”
  • Charles Bukowski, Postman: “This is presented as a work of fiction and is not dedicated to anyone.”
  • Neil Gaiman, Anansi’s boys: “You know how this works. You pick up a book, jump to the dedication, and discover that, once again, the author has dedicated his book to someone other than you. It won’t be like this this time. Because we haven’t met yet / we haven’t had a chance to take a look / we’re not crazy about each other / it’s not like we haven’t seen each other in a long time / or that we’re related in any way / maybe we’ll never see each other , but I trust that, despite all this, we think a lot about each other … This is for you. With what you already know and probably already know why ”.

And so on until eternity …

Homer Oak Olive
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