cortázar’s language of love: rearticulating sex as semantic & phonetic action

Here’s Beatriz Sarlo on Cortázar’s Hopsotch, in Franco Moretti’s massive and mandarin The Novel, Volume Two: Forms and Themes: “The romantic encounters . . . create a poetic environment that is achieved through a linguistic representation of the erotic. How does sexuality fit into phonetic and semantic material? Cortázar gives an experimental reply to this question. The erotic language of Hopscotch de- and re-articulates fragments of words, moving syllables and inventing new words with sounds that evoke sexual contact; the marks of sex on the body; and the humors, orifices, and material noises of the physical encounter . . .  This language of love strengthens the exceptional, extraordinary nature of true passion, something that the novel states repeatedly, attributing to eroticism a potential for knowledge. There is no doubt that Cortázar, a meticulous reader of Bataille, belongs to a tradition that groups sexual climax together with the religious and death . . .”



As soon as he began to amalate the noeme, the clemise began to smother her and they fell into hydromuries, into savage ambonies, into exasperating sustales. Each time that he tried to relamate the hairincops, he became entangled in a whining grimate and had to face up to envulsioning the novalisk, feeling how little by little the arnees would spejune, were becoming peltronated, redoblated, until they were stretched out like the ergomanine trimalciate which drops a few filures of cariaconce. And it was still only the beginning, because right away she tordled her hurgales, allowing him gently to bring up his orfelunes. No sooner had they cofeathered than something like a ulucord encrestored them, extrajuxted them, and paramoved them, suddenly it was the clinon, the sterfurous convulcant of matericks, the slobberdigging raimouth of the orgumion. (chap. 68)

—Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch, trans. Gregory Rabassa (New York: Pantheon Books, 1966)