Special Sub-Topic: It's Never the Llama!
|The literary mode of magical realism is primarily associated with Latin American writers writing in Spanish, although it is not their exclusive domain. Which of these is NOT considered a feature of this kind of writing?|
simple and straightforward storylines. Although there is much debate as to who was responsible for coining the term magical realism, it has been widely used during the second half of the twentieth century to describe works in a number of art forms, including literature, which blur the lines between reality and magic, and use contrasting perspectives (between colonial and native societies, or between soldier and farmer, for example) as plot and character devices.
|The book "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (published in Spanish in 1967 as "Cien años de soledad") is often cited as a leading example of magical realism. Which Colombian author produced it?|
Gabriel Garcia Marquez. "One Hundred Years of Solitude" follows the history of the Buendia family over seven generations, during which time they are involved in many of the most significant moments of their country's history. The town which they established for themselves is the scene for many strange events and visitors, and the cyclic nature of time is a recurring theme. A bit of flying through the air, with or without a flying carpet, also occurs.
|The term 'magical realism' was first used in reference to the 1935 work "Historia universal de la infamia" ("A Universal History of Infamy") from an Argentine author who was later to share the inaugural Prix International with Samuel Beckett in 1961. Who was this seminal writer, who became blind in his mid-thirties?|
Jorge Luis Borges. In 1955 Angel Flores took the term magic realism that had been coined in the 1920s by Franz Roh in reference to an art movement of the time and applied it to an emerging literary form coming to prominence in South America. He identified Borge's 1935 work as the first to introduce the contradictory characteristics that typify magical realism. Borges wrote novels, short stories, essays and poems, as well as translating many works. A number of his works deal with common themes, including labyrinths, mirrors and animals (but not llamas, as far as I can ascertain). As well as the Prix International, he won the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society in 1971.
|The Chilean author Isabel Allende has included magical realism in some of her works, including her first novel, which told the family history of the Trueba family over a period of four generations. Which of these is the English title of her debut novel?|
The House of the Spirits. "The House of the Spirits" is often considered to be a roman a clef - a novel which thinly disguises real events as fiction. Allende's cousin Salvador Allende was involved in the political upheavals in Chile during the early 1970s, and is thought to be the real-life figure represented by The Candidate and The President. Whether or not the link is that direct, many events in the story were clearly inspired by the political situation in Chile while the book was being written. Do Clara's premonitions cause the events she predicts, is she capable of receiving messages from future events, or is it just coincidence? Maybe it's just fate working things out in its own convoluted fashion. Even without knowing enough details of the politics to appreciate the novel as roman a clef about the Pinochet regime, you can still enjoy a cracking tale of romance and intrigue.
|Laura Esquivel's first novel, "Like Water for Chocolate" (titled in Spanish "Como agua para chocolate" when published in 1989) focuses on the links between the natural and the supernatural that can be found in which room of the house?|
kitchen. Each chapter of the book starts with a Mexican recipe, and the explanation of how the dish is prepared is tied in with the events of the life of Tita de la Garza. Tita is 15 at the start of the book, and in love with neighbour Pedro, but she must remain unmarried and stay to care for her parents, as she is the youngest daughter. There are many complications, and the food Tita cooks seems at times to exert a supernatural influence on events. Naturalism vs the supernatural, romance vs tradition, power of the few and powerlessness of the many - a number of themes commonly found in works of magical realism are apparent in this book.
The full title of the book is "Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments With Recipes, Romances and Home Remedies". It may refer to the almost magical change that occurs when hot water is mixed with chocolate to produce a drink of hot chocolate, which is far more than the sum of its two parts.
|The Nobel Prize-winning Guatemalan author Miguel Ángel Asturias Rosales published "Hombres de maíz" ("Men of Maize") in 1949. The title comes from the "Popol Vuh" ("Book of the People"), a sacred text from the Guatemalan highlands that predates Spanish colonization. Which of these indigenous people compiled this set of stories describing creation, a flood, epic tales and genealogies?|
Maya. The Popol Vuh was originally written down by the Quiche Mayans, and was transmitted orally after the Spaniards destroyed the original codices, before being written down again in the middle of the 16th century. As a mixture of history and myth, it makes a nice reference for a work of magical realism.
"Men of Maize" uses maize as a metaphor for opposing forces - the indigenous people believe that corn is sacred, as their ancestors were made from corn; the professional growers want to clear the land and plant lots of maize to sell for profit. This sacrilege necessarily causes conflict. The themes of fire, water and grain unite the disparate sections of the book, whose fragmented structure is probably in imitation of the structure of the "Popul Vuh".
|"The Kingdom of This World" (published in Spanish as "El reino de este mundo" in 1949) is a novella about Haitian life at the end of the 18th century and at the start of the 19th century, the time of the revolution which established the Haitian Republic. What is the nationality by which its author, Alejo Carpentier, identifies himself? (Remember, this is a quiz about Latin American literature.)|
Cuban. Alejo Carpentier y Valmont was born in 1904 in Lausanne, Switzerland, but grew up in Havana, Cuba, and strongly identified himself as Cuban. The family moved to Paris in 1912, but Carpentier returned to Havana for university studies in 1921. From 1928 until 1939 he was in voluntary exile in France due to his political activities, before returning to Havana. He spent time in Haiti and Cuba before again entering exile to Venezuela in 1945. He returned to Cuba following the revolution in 1959, moving to Paris in 1966 as the Cuban ambassador. He died there in 1980, and is buried in Havana. Through all his peregrinations, he identified himself as Cuban.
"The Kingdom of This World" was translated into English in 1957. Based on material collected during Carpentier's time in Haiti, it incorporates many of the typical features of magical realism, including the conflicts inherent in colonialism, the cyclic nature of time, and the ease with which reality and unreality can be blended in one's perceptions.
|José Donoso Yáñez (1924-1996) was a Chilean author considered to be a leader in the development of magical realism. Which of these, considered by many to be his most significant work, makes use of the Chiloe Island myth of the monstrous Imbunche?|
The Obscene Bird of Night. "The Obscene Bird of Night" is the only one of these written by Donoso - the others come from the pen of Luis Sepùlveda, another Chilean author who is also well known as a film director.
The Imbuche is a lovely image to use in a work of magical realism. According to the myth, a human child was abducted and bound in such a way that its orifices are all shut, and its limbs are completely immobilized in a way which grossly disfigures it. In the novel this symbol of childhood fears (based on physical danger from monsters) also becomes a symbol of adult alienation and inability to communicate. In the novel we witness the disintegration of the personality of Humberto, the narrator and protagonist, until he eventually becomes Imbunche. This process allows the use of two disparate narrative perspectives from the same character.
|Which of these is the English title of a novel by Gabriel García Márquez which was made into a 2007 film starring Benjamin Bratt as Dr Juvenal Urbino, Giovanna Mezzogiorno as Fermina Urbino, and Javier Bardem as Florentino Ariza?|
Love in the Time of Cholera. "Love in the Time of Cholera" was originally published in Spanish in 1985 with the title "El amor en los tiempos del cólera". Fermina and Florentino are in love when they are young, but forced to stop seeing each other by her father, and she marries Urbino for the security he can provide. Ultimately, Fermina and Florentino are reunited, so this can be seen as a love story, but it involves a more complex deconstruction of the meaning of love in various forms, and the difference between appearance and reality.
The English translation of cólera as cholera underlines the theme that love is a disease; it could also, potentially, be translated as anger or rage, emotions which are seen in Florentino's attitude to the Urbino marriage, and in the social background of the book. The story is set roughly between 1880 and 1930, a time when Colombia was involved in a number of internal and international wars.
|Juan Rulfo was a leading Mexican exponent of magical realism. Which of these (disappointingly for me) is the English translation of his collection of stories, "El llano en llamas"?|
The Burning Plain. No, it is never the llama. Llamas is Spanish for flames, so "The Plain in Flames" is a literal translation for the title "El llano en llamas". The English publisher chose to use the equivalent title "The Burning Plain".
Mexican author Juan Rulfo is considered to have been a significant contributor to the genre of magical realism, despite having a relatively small output. "El llano en llamas" (first published in 1953) consists of 17 short stories (only 15 of which were included in the English translation), most of which are highly realistic. It was the novel "Pedro Páramo" (first published in 1955) which established his significance. It tells the story of Juan Preciado's trip to the Comala, hometown of his recently-deceased mother, which he discovers to be a ghost town - literally a town of ghosts, including that of his father, Pedro Páramo. The second half of the novel takes us back to the time when a youthful Pedro Páramo is responsible for the death of Comala.
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