Saturday, March 17, 2007

Cien Anos de Soledad (so far)

I was sitting here trying get caught up on One Hundred Years of Solitude and was just stuck by a few things. Since I missed so many classes about it I am completely at loss when it comes to the basic themes of the book. Keeping track of all those names is hard to do. I'm sure some of you have complained about that already since I think Marquez meant for it to be that confusing as the lives of characters often mirror each other in some ways.

What I was pondering over was modernidad. I noticed that in this book and all the others we've read there's a link between modernidad and a loss of innocence. In Cumanda we see the Indigenous people as innocent and close to nature. The hatred that characters like Tongana experience are a result of contact with a more modern world. In Memorias de Mama Blanca we see the peace of the girls world interrupted usually when made to ocme in contact with the modern world (and their eden like happiness destroyed when taken out of their home and placed in the city). Now with One Hundred Years of Solitude. The peace is disrupted when Macondo is visited by the outside world. Knowledge it seems is a poison of sorts. Jose Arcadio Buendia is the first character that portrays the solitude that characterizes the entire text. But from where does this solitude come from? I think you can trace it back to Melquiades. That gypsy was the one who introduces Jose to alchemy and kick starts the man's obsession with knowledge. Because of this obsession with science and invention he ends up so isolated. Seeing as things always seem to go bad for those who come in contact with the modern world why not just stay ignorant isolated and happy?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Las Hortensias

Cuando empeze a leer las Hortensias me parecio un libro cualquier. No porque era mal escrito es que no me agarro desde las primera paginas. Mientras lei mas y mas me di cuenta de era simplemnte un cuento sobre un loco. Desde hay me empezo a gustar pero es una desgracia que mas de la mitad del libro me la pase completamente perdida y confundida.

No entendi a Horacio y sus amores y obsesseiones con esas munecas. Even before the book revealed the full extent of his love for Hortensia and his desire to convert her into his lover I suspected something wasn't quite right. The way he perceived the dolls, the machine's noises he claimed to hear, and so on. Perhaps one of the most bizarre things in my opinion was the stories he would make up about the dolls. On example that particularly caught me for a moment was the doll surrounded by the sponges because of her supposed desire to cleanse her sins. I almost believe that Horacio as projecting his own desire to be cleansed but truth be told I'm not sure. The story was simply to bizarre for me to form concrete opinions.

Even if sometime in the text someone comments on how a sculptor could fall in love with his own sculpture (perhaps alluding to Horacio and the dolls) how could he transfer the love for Maria that seemed to genuine to an inanimate object? It seemed he had a desire to make the dolls ore human (specially with the hot water) but I just don't understand why?

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Since I don't have the poem packet I had to find the poems on the internet. While searching I stumbled upon a website that not only showcased said poems but featured recordings of Neruda reading them. These recordings left me dumbfounded. He sounded so...miserable. Not just miserable but his tone was so passionless in comparison to his actual writing.

Misery and a constant loneliness seem to be themes of the majority of the poems. Prior to the class the only work of Neruda's I knew well enough was Cien Sonetos de amor which are dedicated to Matilde Urrutia. In contrast, in Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada the lover is never named. It could be simply that the lover created in these poems is more of a collective figure or more accurately an object. She is an object that seems to evoke constant loneliness he even goes as far to say that "[se] pareces a la palabra melancolia". She is a quiet figure brought to life in the works through imagery linked with the physical. This very physical imagery in turn is often linked to nature.

I have to admit comparing the work I had read before and veinte poemas I find myself liking Neruda's first work much more. Cien sonetos has a resolved and positive note (he ends the 100th sonnet with the line eternidad de un beso victorioso) but the sadist in me could not resist the morose nature of the veinte poemas. To me they're not love poems in the typical sense. Love seems to be a crippling "enfermedad del alma" caused by wanting to possess, possessing, and above all losing what he once had. In the end I wasn't sure who's fault all this pain was. Was it Neruda's for "wanting an object and not the road that leads to it" and liking the woman when she is "callada porque esta como ausente" or is it hers because "siempre [se] aleja"?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cumanda Ending

I was actually fairly surprised by the novel's end. Throughout the book things were predictable for the most part. When it came down to the realization that Cumanda was Julia, ever since Julia was mentioned in passing, the idea was placed into my mind. The ending was surprising since it kept the family fragmented. I had figured that even if Cumanda was Julia and the love affair with Carlos became an incestuous one the lack of a female figure in the family would be made up by the reappearance of Julia.

The ending puzzled me in that the death of Cumanda seemed to suggest that the Indigenous people and Spanish settlers could not coexist. Since Cumanda was of white decent but raised as a native she was a bridge of sorts between the two cultures.

Another way in which traditional fixed roles seemed to be blurred in respect to Cumanda is how in 3 different cases Carlos was saved by her. Carlos is also a blend of roles. He not only encompasses female and male traits, like Cumanda, but as a poet in a very Romantic way he has a certain connection with nature. This makes his like the natives in a way since they are presented as a more uncultivated society that places heavy emphasis on nature.

The religious theme in the text I didn't enjoy much. Catholicism most likely played a large role in Mera's life and the work sees to reflect this, but the tone take is one of ethnocentrism. It seems the uncultivated natives must be guided to the light of god. This establishes catholic religion as the correct one and implies that the spanish posesses a more advanced and desirable culture. Even if Mera in parts of the novel highlights the advantages of the native's culture in the end it seems these people are child like and wild and must be helped by the Spanish in other to become civilized.

Overall the book was almost too much for me. Those long winded descriptions were a part of the entire novel. I'm looking forward to Neruda (who's intricate descriptions I actually enjoy).

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Even if I admit to harboring a secret love of some romanticism and their long winded descriptions, Cumanda proved too much for me. It may just be that I'm not used to such lavish descriptions in spanish or simply that making it through pages upon pages of descriptions was by no mean an easy feat. It wasn't all bad, of course. I almost enjoyed reading a few parts. Although I struggled with the vocabulary, the first chapter made those Ecuadorian jungles strangely appealing. It was like a travel account of sorts, reminded me of The Travels of Marco Polo with its descriptions of foreign lands and the people who inhabited them for the amusement of the curious and inexperienced reader. Particularly in the beginning it seemed to me like looking at a national geographic picture or some sort of display. Rather than feeling like I've become somewhat familiar with the indigenous people described they became more exotic almost.

I find it terrible that in order for me to truly love and enjoy a book I have to be almost in love with one of the characters. This was not the case with Cumanda. Neither Carlos or Cumanda seemed appealing to me and their love story was almost too over the top for me. The whole forbidden love ordeal gained no sympathy from me this time around (a rare occurrence).

It seemed by making this love story Mera wasn't simply tying together two individuals from different backgrounds, but uniting certain concepts that were tied to the cultures. Opposites like civilization and savagery placed together created harmony and a happy medium. From what I've read the solution to the indigenous problem and the confusion of races was to assimilate and create unity.