Javier Marias, you said in the beginning,
there is a small warning in your book,
you say that you're starting a novel without really knowing what you're going to write about,
but often, it's just through an image.
Yes, that's indeed true.
That's something that's always happened to me,
to not really know, when I start writing a sentence in the book,
to know precisely what's going to happen,
who the characters will be and all that,
but let's just say that it's an image,
I think that it's something that happens to a lot of writers.
For example, I remember that Faulkner said, at the beginning of one of his novels,
that it was because he saw a little girl in a tree,
and that, that was the beginning of "As I Lay Dying", I think, for example.
And you, it's about a woman in a train?
Yes, partially, a woman that I saw sleeping for 3 hours in a train from Venice.
Well, I saw this woman for 3 hours,
she was asleep.
What I must say, is that I didn't mention it in the preface,
this woman, she wasn't a stranger, she was travelling with me.
That wasn't in the preface.
But then, I saw her, let's just say, in a new way
because I saw her sleeping, for 3 hours
and this image gave me a few ideas for this novel.
Besides, the narrator is a tenor who happens to be Spanish
and who comes back to Madrid to play Verdi's Othello at the Zarzuela theatre,
and he meets a trio, a strange trio.
And the tenor is Belgian.
A Belgian banker, but he seems authoritarian, he doesn't seem friendly.
His wife, she is rather melancholic.
Yes, you could describe it that way.
Also, there is a strange accompanist.
Of course, there is...
We didn't just randomly decide to play Verdi's Othello
since it's not an adaptation, of course, but let's just say that it wasn't unintentional,
because we could say that the narrator could be a sort of Cassius,
and of course, the accompanist could be an Iago, etc...
But the most important thing, well, there's also this item, yes.
And so our tenor joins the trio and falls in love with the woman,
but he doesn't know that between the husband, the Belgian banker and his wife,
there is a financial agreement, meaning that they never...
Let's just say that there's a past between this woman and her banker husband.
There's a past reminiscent of the 19th century, meaning that this woman,
you could say that she was sold, like it might have also been customary to do in the beginning of the 20th century.
And so, let's just say that in this case, since the action, it takes place now, in the present, currently,
in this case, let's just say that the problem that interested me, which we talk about a bit in the preface of the French version,
it's that, this man, the banker, bought this woman one day, so to speak,
he's a man that sunk, precisely because he didn't exactly correspond with what his wife wanted,
he sunk into an imaginary world.
So he's living this love affair while waiting...
He hopes that one day she will love him.
And the sensitive man here, despite what we might think, is him.
We could also say...
we could also have called him "the wild man"
since, in the end, he reacts in a way that is more savage than sensitive.
Right now, for me, in our society, I think it would be considered savage,
since nobody usually, these days, I think, reacts like this man does to love affairs that end.