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.