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Horacio Oliveira is an Argentinian writer who lives in Paris with his mistress, La Maga, surrounded by a loose-knit circle of bohemian friends who call themselves "the Club." A child's death and La Maga's disappearance put an end to his life of empty pleasures and intellectual acrobatics, and prompt Oliveira to return to Buenos Aires, where he works by turns as a salesman, a keeper of a circus cat which can truly count, and an attendant in an insane asylum. Hopscotch is the dazzling, freewheeling account of Oliveira's astonishing adventures.
The book is highly influenced by Henry Miller’s reckless and relentless search for truth in post-decadent Paris and Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki’s modal teachings on Zen Buddhism.
Cortázar's employment of interior monologue, punning, slang, and his use of different languages is reminiscent of Modernist writers like Joyce, although his main influences were Surrealism and the French New Novel, as well as the "riffing" aesthetic of jazz and New Wave Cinema.
In 1966, Gregory Rabassa won the first National Book Award to recognize the work of a translator, for his English-language edition of Hopscotch. Julio Cortázar was so pleased with Rabassa's translation of Hopscotch that he recommended the translator to Gabriel García Márquez when García Márquez was looking for someone to translate his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude into English. "Rabassa's One Hundred Years of Solitude improved the original," according to García Márquez.