Lo real maravilloso

Posted by: | January 25, 2010 | Comments Off on Lo real maravilloso

I just kind of wanted to add my thoughts from friday’s class before I delve into Alejo Carpentier’s novela. I’ve been considering the idea of storytelling, myth, magical realism and other themes we have discussed in class. When we look back at the things created, thoughts and theories conceptualized, and struggles overcome by humans, they are difficult to comprehend when taken out of context. Political and intellectual revolutions for example, are products of their time. Generally speaking they do not simply occur but are the result of political and social agitation, suffering, and stimulation. The stories of our origins are even more difficult to believe the farther we grow from our roots. In the Maya culture, stories about their beginnings, – steeped in nature – were passed down from generation to generation; each storyteller adding emphasis and elaboration to what they found interesting and to keep their audience listening. So, hundreds of generations later, how are we to distinguish what is real and what is magical? As words take on new meaning, is it possible to make this distinction? Maya leaders dressed in quetzal feathers or the skin of a jaguar could have been named quetzal or jaguar in a story. Isn’t it possible that myth and legend only became categorized as such as we separate ourselves from our past with time? I would like to think that whether we call a story “magical” or “real” should depend not as much on our interpretation of the story but by contextualizing it within its culture and history. [b.t.w. i am not talking about contemporary magical realism but the kind in Leyendas]

As for El reino de este mundo, I am just getting into this story which so far I am enjoying. Bit by bit I am coming to understand the genre of lo real maravilloso (or at least I think I am). Told in chronological order, El reino de este mundo follows the story of Ti Noel, a black slave. Unlike the Leyendas de Asturias, this novela doesn’t have singing flowers or guacamayo bird as the protagonist. The genre created by Carpentier in this story is based loosely on the very real revolution in Haiti and (as wikipedia so nicely informed me) includes some historical characters as well, such as Mackandal. His character is based on the rebel leader of the same name. At this point in the story there is definitely as aspect of lo maravilloso although it is nothing I can specifically pin-point. Could the voodoo interests of Mackandal qualify? Mackandal seems to me to be a very unlikely candidate to be a leader. He is one-armed slave who busies himself with collecting mushrooms and other natural remedies and poisons for his brujería. I think there is more to the maravilloso genre than voodoo but I’m still figuring it out.


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