Thus Were Their FacesSelected Stories
by Silvina Ocampo, introduction by Helen Oyeyemi, a new translation from the Spanish by Daniel Balderston, preface by Jorge Luis Borges
An NYRB Classics Original
Thus Were Their Faces offers a comprehensive selection of the short fiction of Silvina Ocampo, undoubtedly one of the twentieth century’s great masters of the story and the novella. Here are tales of doubles and impostors, angels and demons, a marble statue of a winged horse that speaks, a beautiful seer who writes the autobiography of her own death, a lapdog who records the dreams of an old woman, a suicidal romance, and much else that is incredible, mad, sublime, and delicious. Italo Calvino has written that no other writer “better captures the magic inside everyday rituals, the forbidden or hidden face that our mirrors don’t show us.” Jorge Luis Borges flatly declared, “Silvina Ocampo is one of our best writers. Her stories have no equal in our literature.”
Dark, gothic, fantastic, and grotesque, these haunting stories are among the world’s most individual and finest.
She lived a little in the shadow of her sister Victoria on the one hand and of her husband Bioy Casares and Borges on the other. She was an extravagant woman when writing her stories, short and crystalline, she was perfect.
Ocampo wrote with fascinated horror of Argentinean petty bourgeois society, whose banality and kitsch settings she used in a masterly way to depict strange, surreal atmospheres sometimes verging on the supernatural.
Few writers have an eye for the small horrors of everyday life; fewer still see the everyday marvelous. Other than Silvina Ocampo, I cannot think of a single writer who, at any time or in any language, has chronicled both with such wise and elegant humor.
Silvina Ocampo is one of our best writers. Her stories have no equal in our literature.
—Jorge Luis Borges
Silvina Ocampo is, together with Borges and Garcia Marquez, the leading writer in Spanish.