While casually reading A Heart So White (Marías) I stumbled on the term “palinschematic.” Marías parenthetically states that figures of art are palinschematic if “the surface or space they inhabit illustrates a complete story.”

Uh, not only did I not understand what Marías was saying but, after a bit of internet research, almost every reference to “palinschematic” led me back to this passage in the book. I have vowed to do further research into this word or concept and I promise not to try to link it in with the wild bunch from Wasilla.

Does anyone have any familiarity with this term that can stir my muddle and help me see?

(Unfortunately, I am reading Marías’s novel on my iPad so I cannot provide a hard page number but I calculate that it is about Page 127.)

3 thoughts on “Palinschematic

  1. palin = again & schematic = form. So palinschematic is likely a neologism meaning something like “reform” or repeat the form/figure. There’s a chance palinschematic is synonymous with mise en abyme.


  2. Bottom of page 110 in my Penguin Modern Classics. I take Marias’ definition on trust, that unlike the Rembrandt which infuriated Mateu with its incomplete story, the primitive paintings are more tableau like and iluystrative of a story with beginning and end? Rather than in medias res?
    A guess…


  3. Occurs on last page of chapter 7.In original Spanish. I think this is a neologism by Javier Marías. Prefix Palin – esquemático contracted to palinsquemático .
    Prefix seems to mean something like repetition of letters (C.f. palindrome) . Here, the complete story is repeated in its surface or something like that.


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