Sunday, April 11, 2010


I can hardly beleive the semester is over, even harder to beleive, is that I found the time to read all that literature...I have to say that my favourite was El Reino de este mundo. This book helped me to better understand magic realism and the way it is used. I think this book was also the perfect length for a lit reading. It's so hard to crush a book like Cien Anos de Soledad into a few weeks of reading. I personaly am a very slow reader, even in english. I would have prefered longer to work on that book.

I do feel that I learnt a lot about the importance and significance of magic realism. I think I like it now more then ever. I dont really understand the purpose of our wiki project and how it fits into the course... I spend more time trying to figure out that thing then I do actually contributing to it. I hate to be negative but I also dont like wasting time when there are so many things going on. I would have like to focus entirely on the books we were reading.

I do like the blog entries. I think they are beneficial to our learning and reflection about the things we have read. It kind of forces you to think about the books bit by bit rather then just racing through them and not really knowing or wanting to know what is going on. I found it difficult to comment on others blogs. I felt like I was forcing it out.

That all being said, I am glad I took this course, I feel more confident when reading books or short stories involving magic realism and I hope that what I have learnt in 365 will be benefial to the readings I will being doing in the future. I wish everyone the best and hope you all have a great summer!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wrap up of all three books!

There's no doubt that all three books were very interesting and that all three books were worth reading and educational. "Leyendas de Guatemala" was interesting because at times I felt like a fly on the wall, sitting amongst the natives, listening to them tell there tails. It's always a bonus when you get to see things from someone elses point of view. So many books and stories seem to be written from the "white man's" point of view and I found this collection of stories to be a breath of fresh air.

What I like most about Las Leyendas is learning about the philosophy and belief systems of the maya. I find their view of time as cyclical fascinating and such a contrast to my own life and my day to day routines.

"El Reine de este mundo" was a very powerful novel and quite timely considering what happened to the people of Haiti shortly after the semester began. I like the fact that through fiction I was able to learn a lot about Haiti and how it came to be. I learnt about Haitian mentality and its roots. However, the fact that Haiti has not been able to escaped many of the problems brought forward in this book I find very depressing. The novel takes place so long ago, yet Haiti is still in such turmoil. It was kind of a reality check of the consequences of slavery and colonialism.

Lastly is "Cien años de soledad"...Great book, but it felt rushed. The book is so long, dragged out and complicated that I don't think I was able to really enjoy it for what it is. I would have preferred to have read it someone relaxing on beach or in a hammock...I just don't know if such a book can be properly analyzed and reviewed in such a short time, especially for those who aren't native Spanish speakers. Not to mention it was extremely depressing as well.

So all in all, I liked all the books. Don't really know if I was ready for "Cien años de soledad" but I can recognize the benefits of a good challenge. Although they were for the most part all depressing I still thought they were unique and unlike one another. I hope in the future to re-read them all with more time and less on my mind.

I wish everyone good luck on their exams and a great summer vacation! :o)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Death and Solitude

If can't believe we are nearing the end of this book. It seems so big and intimidating at first, then intriguing, and now It appears like things are just get worse and worse with no end in sight. They just can't seem to catch a break. Things are constantly happening in the town of Macondo and yet everyone is left completely empty. It is as if they are meant to be alone, as if loneliness and sorrow is their destiny.

Death is always a factor but never is at as prominent as in this last bit of reading. Death seeks them all in the form of solitude which like death separates them physically, psychologically, and emotionally from those around them. Colonel Aureliano Buendia and Amaranta both die in this section and slowly the Buendia family is fading away.

Meme is now mute because of Mauricios paralysis. Everything that happens has a negative consequence and leaves more people in solitude. There is a massacre and no one even can remember it going on?....

But Jose decides to go into "solitude" or seclusion to try and remember the 3000 who lost their lives. Its kinda of ironic, even the few who try and remember end up alone. Again, its as if they are all doomed.

I really can't see this ending with anything but loneliness and sorrow and a lot of dead bodies. Its a vicious circle of time, violence and suffering that can't be escaped. I guess I will soon find out. Hopefully I can make it through the novel without me myself falling into a state of insomnia...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cien anos de soledad - strange things are happening

I have the ancient version of this book so I'm not 100% sure what page 200 is in my book...I hope I've read all of the same stuff as the rest of class. Insest, masacres, thoughts of suicide...very unpleasant and very troubling. What a novel...

In this last chunk of reading it seemed there were many changes to the city of Macondo. There are many battles going on amongst the people, El Colonel Buendia dies and everyone is in mourning. After his death GGM writes that it begins to rain down yellow flowers in his memory. I've heard about this scene before reading this book, from what I know its one of the most famous examples of Magic Realism. I myself found it quite moving, picturing beautiful flowers falling from the sky, creating a blanket of hope and sorrow over a city in mourning.

Death seems to be a common theme and before his death, El Colonel seems to be marked by it. He becomes like many soldiers, destroyed by war, losing his ability to feel emotion. So far the whole story has just been filled with sadness and tragedy. Not only El Colonel, but rather the entire town seems to be numb from all the killings. There is so much cruelty and pain, and despite how eloquently it all is portrayed, it's very depressing to read. It's no wonder he tried to commit suicide...the world around him is turning to shit right before his eyes. When he no longer has the ability to escape through happy memories of the past, then there is no escaping the pain and suffering. It makes sense that he feels the only way to stop the suffering would be through death itself.

Rebeca however uses memories to escape human interaction, and Amaranta rejects all men who you desire her. Arcadio, the dictator just makes things worse. In this part of the novel, its title becomes more and more fitting as everyone seems to be falling into a life of complete solitude. Everyone is alienated. It seems to go from the towns suffering to the peoples suffering as they all suffer alone. Ursula's husband now only speaks in messed up is that. The town is divided into individuals who suffer under the same circumstances but who suffer alone.

So really any hopes for a happy ending have flown out the door...this novel is very troubling but I guess that's the point. We are so lucky to not be living under a dictatorship... :S

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cien anos de soledad

I know that my post is late, but this book is suppppppper hard for me to read and if I actually wanted to understand the first 200 pages, I needed to take my sweet time. Although the book is excellent, it does not take a very straightforward approach to telling its version of history. The concept of time seems to be just as confusing in this novel as in some of our other readings. Things are not told in the order which they happen. The evolution of the town of Macondo and the Buendia family are hard to keep track of.

The very first couple of pages demonstrate this confusion. In the same part we learn of the gypsies who bring with them new technologies that seem to fascinate the old world, we are reading about an event taking place in the future at the execution of the Colonel, which is carried out by firing arms. GGM is so talented to be able to merge these two events together so flawlessly with the concept of a far away memory that the Colonel is having while facing his inevitable demise. So at his point I was very confused about where the story would be taking place historically for the majority of the book, would it be in the past, during his childhood, or would it be someone elses story in the future long after his death?

They way the reader gets lost in between memories, history and the magic of the story reminds me a lot of our previous readings. People seem to live forever in this book. So far this one has successful smashed my brain to much and to me is the perfect example of Magic Realism at its finest. In this novel reality seems to disguisse itself as a memory or as a fantasy, everythin is very distorted.

So far the pages seem to be jam packed full of emotions and have me on a sort of rollercoaster ride. I will have to read the english version next because I worry that I am missing some of the brilliance of GGM's writing. I hope that I will be able to make it to the end of the book on time...It's just a lot of work to wrap your head around this book when your own life is so out of control. Stil, I am glad to reading Cien anos de soledad and I look forward to experiencing it in its entirety as I have begun and abondoned it many times in the past few years.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thoughts about Magic Realism and the semester so far~

I think most of us have a prior knowledge of magic realism and its founders, but it's nice to have a class which focuses on this literary technique in such detail. This course so far has helped me to understand the many ways in which magic realism can be implemented into a story. I feel that the most important thing that I have learnt so far is that magic realism is not indented to define Latin America as a place where the people are childlike and believe in magic, but rather a place that itself is magical, a place where "lo real maravilloso" es lo real. In these works the native and popular beliefs are presented as true knowledge rather than as foreign, unbelievable folklore.

I believe that these writers attempt to bring the past back to life to show the reader that the past is a vital part of human beings. If were want to understand a people, we need to understand their history.

For me this belief in the unbelievable, is just another way of looking at the world that surrounds you. Moreover, I myself had to attempt objectivity when reading these texts. I had to accept the marvelous within the story as reality, otherwise I would not be capable of experiencing the magical. Magical realism is just a different approach to looking at things.

Still, I am aware that since I am born of Haitian decent or Aztec decent, that I will never be able to fully understand or experience this approach. I admire it, but it is not my reality.

I think that magic realism is a wonderful thing, sometimes very confusing, but non the less beautiful. However, I do see some danger of it being abused. I have learnt in other courses that some see it as a hindrance to Latin America rather than I help. If people do not understand its purpose, it can work against the people and make them appear to be naive and uneducated.

So to conclude, I think this course is very important. Considering the fact that magic realism is such a huge part of Latin America and its literature, and many of us are Spanish majors or minors, it is vital to have a solid understanding of magic realism and its purpose.

Hope everyone had a good weekend! One more week guys!!!! :O)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

El reino de este mundo

Although I am sure I missed a lot of important points due to my lack of Spanish vocabulary, I think I got the gist of things. I would definitely enjoy the English version of the book seeing that I wouldn’t always be pausing to look up a word. From what I did understand, I found to be extremely discouraging and depressing.

Poor Ti Noel, even though the French are no longer in power, his people still suffer. Ti Noel had such high hopes for the future and for Haiti. I would have thought that the end would have been a happy one but it really wasn’t. Things are still the shits and now it is their own people who are exploiting the poor and defenseless Haitians, sexually assaulting them, and beating them.

Ti Noel is a witness to all this pain and suffering. After his escape he returns to Haiti as a free man. His people are being taken advantage of by a corrupt regime full of false promises and people who have no real intention of bettering the lives of those who suffered so greatly under the power of the French. This Christophe guy really pisses me off…

It’s such a same that there continues to be a great divide in Haiti between the rich and the poor. Few are very well off while so many are starving and unemployed. It is nearly impossible to read this book, especially the end, and not reflect on the things going on in the world today.

I hope the people of Haiti are still able to see “lo maravilloso” as something that exists in their world and not only something that is used to describe or narrate it. I hope that the world is able to see it too, as people from around the globe help to rebuild Haiti. I wonder what the characters of this book would say if they could see Haiti now? If I learned anything from this book, it’s that the people of Haiti are fighters, and I am confident that they will once again rise and battle for there people.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Comment for svetlana_sp365 in regards to her most recent post

I couldn't get it to allow me to leave a comment so I'm writing one on my blog :P

I like how you pointed out that phrase in the text. I too think it demonstrates one of the biggest differences between the Haitian people and the European mentality. I think that for the Haitians they and the animals, or nature, work together as one force. It's almost as if the animals had a willingness to assist them and were not simply being "used".


Sunday, January 24, 2010

El Reino de este mundo

I feel kind of silly not knowing this, but I wasn't aware of much Spanish influence in Haiti until this book. I guess this is sorta of a history lesson for me as well then. So far I am very intrigued. The way Haiti and it's people are discribed is somewhat troubling yet at the same time fascinating. It is so sad to think that a world discribed as such could still exist and infact is in more trouble than ever.

My initial thoughts about Haiti in regards to magic were very dark. I thought about vodoo or black magic. In many ways Haiti is the best place to write about using "el real maravilloso" or magic realism because magic is so ingrained into Haitian mentality and life, that it's hard to make the divide between what is actually occuring to people and what is exaggerated or transformed.

A common theme continues in this novel which is the link between people and nature. "la magia de la vegetación tropical, la desenfrenada creación de formas (p.14)." In Haiti and in latin-america nature has a spirit and a purpose that is recognized by the people of these lands. I have the impression that this is not something that can be taught, and that it can only be felt.

It seems like for Carpentier Haiti represents something that is so very unique and cannot be found in Europe. A connection between the living, nature and the supernatural can only be described at magical. "Y es que, por la virginidad del paisaje, por la formación, por la ontología, por la presencia fáustica del indio y del negro, por la revelación que constituyó su reciente descubrimiento, por los fecundos mestizajes que propició América está muy lejos de haber agotado su caudal de mitologías (p.17)"

I'm looking forward to continuing this reading and hopefully learn more about the characters as individuals and not only as part of a story. One thing I am enjoying is the chronological ordering of events. It is much easier to put the peices of a story together with a bit of guidance from the author. Las Leyendas de Guatemala had me getting dizzy. Allthough the language in this book is quite rich, and I have the dictionary at hand at all times, I seem to be following along a lot better than I was with Las Leyendas de Guatemala.

So far I really enjoy this book. It feels strange reading this at a time where Haiti is experiences such horror. Whether or not I am more interested due to current events taking place in Haiti as I write this blog is irrelevant. I think what matters is what I take from this book moving forward. I hope that it will help shed some light on the situation in Haiti and help me to better understand its people.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Leyendas de Guatemala - Second half

These readings made me think of a couple of guys sitting around a fire getting drunk, contemplating the meaning of life. I found the comparison of a woman's breast to a birds nest quite interesting. On the one hand a nest is a save place, a place of nurture and warmth, but on the other hand they stories also refere to birds as something rather evil. Coincidence? Maybe... or maybe not. Overall, it seemed like women were of less importance then men, and although the role of a birds nest is quite important...there didn't seem to be much use for them in the story other than for sexy and making babies.

I felt that in these readings magic realism was quite prominent, and I noticed it here more than in the first half of the readings. This might be something to do with language, but non the less I found it quite poetic and full of insight. Again these texts try to relate Mayan thought and Mayan beleifs to nature and its cycles, this time with a great focus on the the sun.

A difference between the first half of the readings and the second half is that in the second half the details and description of what is going on is mostly found within dialogue. This made a bit harder to figure out exactly what was going on. What I did like about it is that I could break the stories down converstation by conversation rather than trying to decipher a giant paragraph filled with greatly detailed run on sentences.

The idea of days and of time being broken up into colours with a focus on the cyclicle journey of the sun is interesting. I like how each story focused on a particular time of day and a particular colour. The references to these colours were both obvious and suttle. I am still a bit confused about the significance of the drunk guys tooth ache...hopefully we talk more about this and the story line in class. Also, the significance of the arrow.

Although interesting, I have to admit I felt a bit depressed reading parts of this. The stories talk about the sun and the changes from day to night as being the only real things that exist. It made me and my life seem very small in the scheme of things...but still, a good read. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My first thoughts on "Leyendas de Guatemala" by Miguel Angel Asturias

I find this reading equally as baffling as it is engaging. The use of the Spanish language is extremely impressive. There are a vast amount of adjectives, metaphors and poetic language throughout the entire text, although in some stories more than others. For example the following, “ni nada pasa realmente en la carne de las cosas sensibles” (14). The stories themselves seem to get lost in all the detail. There is so much description going on that my mind was going a bit crazy just trying to wrap my head around all the language.

In the beginning in the section titled “Guatemala”, there is a lot about rituals and of the sacrificing of virgins. The area that is described seems to be full of riches and colour. “El trópico es el sexo de la tierra.” Much of the language suggests to me, a romanticizing of rituals and the sacrifices of virgins.

I had a hard time creating any sort of timeline. “El Cuco de los Sueños va hilando los cuentos” (20). The readings are like a big mix of stories, dreams and memories. Many of them are a mix of cultures and worlds. There is the world of nature and man and the rituals which bring them together, as well as the world of the Catholic Church.

Since every story is so different it’s hard to tell who the narrator is, and if that even carries any significance. The “Leyendas del volcán” remind me of reading the Popol Vuh. The distinction between human being and nature is distorted the magic of the story line. It’s as if all aspects of nature, including man kind are working together towards a greater objective.

The next story is the “Leyenda del cadejo” which I found very different from the previous story. There are references to Latin, the devil and to hell. This seemed like a story touched by the Spanish where as the other seemed pure and similar to the stories of old Mayan texts such as the books of the Chilam Balam and the Popol Vuh. I don’t know much about this book so I could be way off; these are only my first reactions to the text as we move forward.

So far I am enjoying these readings but at times I feel a bit lost. I look forward to learning more in class in regards to the text, the author and the role they play in Latin-American literature and in the world.


Monday, January 4, 2010


Hola, me llamo María. Estoy en mi cuarto año en UBC. Estoy estudiando español y alemán. Soy de Delta y he vivido en Canadá toda mi vida. Tengo un amor profundo para las idiomas y me da placer aprender más sobre el realismo mágico.