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AURA

5 Jan

I read this in the original Spanish, and then in a bilingual (Spanish-English, facing pages) version. This short novel, or novelette,  of Carlos Fuentes, is a jewel. It is packed with the feeling of an unbreakable, relentless destiny in store for a young man in Mexico City. Felipe Montero, a public school teacher, answers a want add in the newspaper because the description of the person being sought for a much higher-paying job seems to be an exact description of Montero, as though it were specifically reaching out to him and no one else. The feeling of implacable fate, expressed symbolically in many ways, is backed even by the grammar: the story is told in the present and the future. A statement like, “You will move a few steps…” in the future tense makes one feel it has to happen, there is no choice. (Unfortunately, this feature is lost in the English translation of the facing bilingual edition I’ve read.)

His employer is an extremely old woman (Consuelo) in a very old mansion sandwiched among modern buildings and businesses. It seems out of place in the commercial district of downtown Mexico City. There are no electric lights in the house, the drapes are always drawn, so that the house, even at noon, is in a deep darkness. Except for the old woman’s bedroom which is lit by multiple candles.

Felipe does not want to live in that house, but it’s part of the deal. He is about to refuse, it seems, when Aura, a beautiful young girl appears. He stays.

An unusual technique used in Aura is the point of view of the second-person singular. The constant use of TU (YOU)as the subject draws the reader into the fictional world, or conversely, pulls the fictional world out into the reader’s world. The reader –with the suspension of disbelief– becomes Felipe Montero, the protagonist, and carries out and will carry out, is fated to carry out, the action of the plot.

For anyone who has read a great deal of Carlos Fuentes, it will be apparent that one of his recurrent themes, almost obsessions, is represented in this work: the heavy hand of Mexican history, of Mexico’s past, weighs on modern life in Mexico. The plot itself carries this symbolism, as do so many other facts and events.

The novel is filled with highly poetic, metaphorical language as well as symbolism, especially color symbolism, with magic and sexual passion. Depending on one’s interpretation, the novel may contain witchcraft and magic, or hypnotism or transmigration of souls. Whichever the explanation you choose, it is a fast-moving, page-turning, fascinating book.

Hello world!

11 Dec

Welcome to WordPress.com! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.I’m going to review books on this blog. Below is one of them.The Guns of August The Guns of August by Barbara W. TuchmanAs always, Barbara W. Tuchman delves deeply into the historical subject matter. This book is about the First World War, its causes, the conduct of it, and the results. I see that what I’ve just written in the preceding sentence doesn’t sound inviting; it comes off as dry and uninteresting. But this book is anything but that. It is actually exciting in its description of the progress of the war, and the various armies. It is also fascinating to burrow into the causes and the intrigue involved. It seems almost like a thriller. Ms. Tuchman, Pulitzer Prize winner, as always, does exhaustive research before tackling a book, totally familiarizes herself with the facts and comments, give a deep analysis of the events, the how and why and when, and who, describes in vivid detail the events and their consequences, shows great insight about the facts, and, perhaps best of all, writes in a manner that makes history as exciting as an adventure story. For me, it was a page-turner.

via Hello world!.

Hello world!

19 Oct

Welcome to WordPress.com! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

I’m going to review books on this blog.  Below is one of them.

The Guns of August

      The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman
As always, Barbara W. Tuchman delves deeply into the historical subject matter.  This book is about the First World War, its causes, the conduct of it, and the results. I see that what I’ve just written in the preceding sentence doesn’t sound inviting; it comes off as dry and uninteresting.  But this book is anything but that.  It is actually exciting in its description of the progress of the war, and the various armies.  It is also fascinating to burrow into the causes and the intrigue involved.  It seems almost like a thriller.  Ms. Tuchman, Pulitzer Prize winner, as always, does exhaustive research before tackling a book, totally familiarizes herself with the facts and comments, give a deep analysis of the events, the how and why and when, and who, describes in vivid detail the events and their consequences, shows great insight about the facts, and, perhaps best of all, writes in a manner that makes history as exciting as an adventure story.  For me, it was a page-turner.  We delve into the personalities that brought about the war, and their manner of prosecuting it.  We learn, in addition to all the important matters relating to this war, interesting tidbits as well, such as the fact that an army on the march can be smelled for some distance, since there are so many men together, and since they haven’t had a chance to take a bath or change clothes for some time.  Fascinating reading.

Happy blogging!