Asturias and Arguedas

Posted by: | February 2, 2009 | Comments Off on Asturias and Arguedas

This week’s readings were the mythical stories of Miguel Angel Asturias, and “The Pongo’s Dream” by Jose Maria Arguedas. I had a bit of trouble understanding Asturias’ stories, mostly the first one, “Legend of the Singing Tablets”, because it was so wordy, and I was a little confused about what was going on. After I re-read a little bit, I started to really like it, because these stories are so different than the ones that we have been reading so far. The stories were really fanciful and full of unusual imagery, which made them very rich. I think Asturias represents Indigenous culture really well; the stories didn’t seem to show the culture as inferior or as an extreme oddity. Indigenous culture is shown in a sort of isolated, uninfluenced form in the “Legend of the Singing Tablets” as there is no Spanish influence. The next story, “Legend of the Crystal Mask” shows a little Spanish influence, as Ambiastro has fled into the mountains to escape the Spanish (at least that’s what I gathered…). Of course, “Legend of the Silent Bell” is set in the context of Spanish rule, so the changes in Indigenous culture in relation to Spanish conquest is evident. I especially liked “Legend of the Crystal Mask”, and Ambiastro’s obsession with creating little idols and things. My favourite thing is his smoking tube with the monkeys that play with the smoke…it’s so imaginative. The twist at the end when his creations are the cause of his demise is really clever. The idea that man’s creations and technology are taking over our lives (in a severe way, in this case) echoes a lot of today’s science fiction themes, a parallel that is very interesting. I really like how the writings of Asturias, although pieces of folkloric culture, still remain captivating today when the world has left little place for such ancient civilizations and mystical traditions.

I especially liked the second story by Arguedas. The treatment of the lord to the Pongo is appalling, and I found it interesting that the author, who is not fully Quechuan, but half, would show the Indian population as so gentle in comparison to the evil Spanish lord. It often seems that people of mixed race identify more with the race that is more oppressed, maybe due to the dominant race’s judgement of mixed-bred individuals as inferior. I’m sure this isn’t true for everyone, but I thought it is true of Arguedas, who I guess could have chosen to identify more with his European heritage instead. I liked how when the “little man” is telling the lord his dream, it kind of seems like the dream is going to show the lord as the better man. The twist at the end makes the entire dream make sense, and even a little comical. I like how in the midst of such unabashed exploitation and abuse of the Indian servants, one stands up against the lord. The way he does it is very clever, and he proves that even a “little man” can upset and disturb the arrogant lord’s pride.  



Comments are closed.

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

Spam prevention powered by Akismet