Cortázar’s Short Story, Letter to a Young Lady in Paris

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Cortázar’s short story “Letter to a Young Lady in Paris,” is a seven-and-a-half page long letter from a young man to his young female friend who has allowed him to house sit for her while she is away in Paris. The letter was written over several days, which shows his dedication to their relationship; very few men would write that much, or with such candidness to anybody. In a similar light, very few women would allow males into their apartments when they are present, much less when they are away and thus unable to keep a keen watch over whatever is happening. Andrea, the woman whom the anonymous narrator is writing to, actually had a maid who could have easily looked after the house by herself. These details lead me to think that these two people are not mere friends—that there is something deeper about their relationship. The man, it is shown, is practically willing to kill himself because of this girl—he is that deeply in love with her. Our unnamed narrator begins his letter by telling her that he did not want to come here, but only because her living space was too beautiful and it only hurt him to be there. What he means to say is that he does not want to be here alone and that if she were here, it would be less awkward and much more enjoyable for him. His frequent compliments about how artful she is are devised to inform her that he admires and respects her, as deeply as she trusts him by allowing him into her apartment when he was not needed there. He describes the scenic apartment so vividly, as if he does not want to let go of this memory. The time he spent living in her apartment, even without her, was a golden era to him—just complete bliss. Allusions to a famous musician, obscure artist, uncommon architectural feature,... ... middle of paper ... ... about his virility and her fertility—he believes them to be a perfectly productive couple and is just scared of overwhelming and overextending their resources, time, patience, etc. Although he concludes his letter by saying that the bodies of eleven babies could be splattered all over the pavement along with his own, he does not really mean that he will commit suicide or kill his offspring who are so dear to him. At the beginning of this letter, he asserted that after she returned to Buenos Aires, “perhaps” he would be off to some other house. “Perhaps” also implies that he may be staying at her apartment permanently so he can fulfill his dream of having many children with her. All he is saying is that he loves her so deeply that his heartstrings are about to break with the strain of longing and he is having delusional thoughts because he is blinded by her love.

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