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.