Sunday, January 17, 2010

Asturias Strikes Back

I can safely say that my experience reading the second half of Leyendas was considerably more pleasurable than when I read the first half. This time I managed to let myself read through the text without obsessing about being able to understand every single word. It turned out to be quite a fruitful strategy since I managed to read the text at a steady pace while still retaining a good overall level of understanding. At the end of the day, I ended up feeling triumphant rather than overwhelmed when I finished the reading.

Logistical details aside, I found the content of the reading itself to be quite interesting and vastly different than the first half of Leyendas. In the first half of Leyendas, each individual "section" felt like it had its own unique identity and there was no sense of continuity, at least in my opinion, between the various stories. This is most certainly not the case for the second half of Leyendas. As one reads from Cortina to Cortina, it is impossible not to feel as though each section is carefully woven together. Consequently, I ended up feeling like the reading flowed together and was more like reading a chapters of a novel than individual cuentos. Furthermore, there was a great sense of consistency between each of the Cortinas due to the fact that they shared common characters and were linguistically very similar. For instance, unlike the first half, a great deal of dialog is present in the second half. One of the most distinct features that was common to the Cortinas was the presence of dialog. Incorporating dialog into the text added another layer of depth to the Leyendas. Portions of prophetic narrative were bolstered by dialog where one got the sense that the characters were chanting. In the case of the Cortinas, the sections of chanting gave me the sense there were strong religious undertones present in the text. Asturias definitely made it clear that in ancient Guatemalan society, nature was link between the realm of gods and the realm of man.

As a final note, I must say that as I was reading this half of Leyendas I definitely got a stronger taste of what we now lovingly refer to as "Magical Realism." The alking turtles and birds, coupled with a healthy amount of invisible people made me feel like I was on some sort of wicked acid trip. I really hope this is a sign of things to come, cause I want another hit.

1 comment:

  1. Asturias' description of life, nature and history is really conveyed to the next level. An abundance and array of colorful interpretations is what I can say is what describes his style. I never really understood what 'Magical Realism' was but after reading his work it definately has me curious.

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