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.