The Infatuations

The true main character of the story, Miguel Desvern, never appears in the pages of this metaphysical mystery novel, other than through the choices he made in life.

The Infatuations, Javier Marías, Penguin, 2014, pp. 352.The Infatuations, Javier Marías, Penguin, 2014, pp. 352.


Miguel is killed by a beggar one sweltering Madrid afternoon, for no apparent reason. All he leaves behind are his ties with his wife, his children and his best friend.

An attentive observer, Maria Dolz, thus sets out to reconstruct the threads of his life, shedding light on Miguel’s relationships with each of the survivors, and investigating the truths – apparent and hidden – behind the tragic murder that cut him off from his loved ones.

What does Marías’ novel teach us?

That our origins are the reason we are what we are. It is pointless to wonder what our lives would have been like had this or that event not taken place: we would be an altogether different person whose identity would be foreign to us.

After a fashion, however much we may find a certain incident in our lives despicable, annoying or even horrifying, rejecting it would be impossible, because it would mean negating oneself. The facts, however tragic they may be, condition, define and characterise us.

The author reveals how sometimes the pain we feel for the end of an “infatuation” leads human beings to overcome the dissolution of things through a new infatuation – for life.

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