Julio Cortázar (1914-1984), the Argentine writer, was born in Belgium.
From 1951 he lived in Paris. Much of his writing is a surrealist depiction of the outside world as a phantasmic maze from which one must escape.
One of his earliest works, “Los Reyes” (The Kings, 1949), is a prose poem dealing directly with the legend of the Minotaur. The labyrinth theme continues in “The Winners” (1960), a novel about a nightmarish cruise won by a group of lottery players.
Hopscotch (1963), which attracted worldwide attention, involves the reader in “hopscotching” about its erratically arranged chapters, making order and, in a sense, sharing in the creation of the novel.
Among Cortázar's other works are short stories, their element of fantasy greatly influenced by his compatriot, the writer Jorge Luis Borges. The title story in “Blow-Up and Other Stories” (1956) was made into an English-language film by the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni.
Unlike Cortázar's other novels, an overtly political, humanist theme marks “A Manual for Manuel” (1973).