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Thread: Juan Rulfo: Pedro Páramo

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    Mexico Juan Rulfo: Pedro Páramo

    A great book, one of the best novels I've ever read. It's very short, yet it contains, as they say, a whole world, the history of that world and its dead. It's a historical novel, no it's a ghost story, no it's a love story, no it's... It's a very complex novel, much written in dialogue, full of incredibly evocative and rich descriptions. After you've read it it's as if you've seen a movie. The images conjured by Rulfo stay with you for a very long time. The influence of Rulfo on lesser writers such as M?rquez is clear.

    Wikipedia
    Juan Rulfo (16 May 1917[1] ? 7 January 1986) was a Mexican novelist, short story writer, and photographer. One of Latin America's most esteemed authors, Rulfo's reputation rests on two slim books, the novel Pedro P?ramo (1955), and El llano en llamas (1953, The Burning Plain), a collection of short stories that includes his admired tale "?Diles que no me maten!" ("Tell Them Not to Kill Me!"). He was named alongside Jorge Luis Borges as the best Spanish-language writer of the 20th century in a poll conducted by People Magazine .

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    Default re: Juan Rulfo: Pedro P?ramo

    I had the pleasure of reading Pedro Par?mo a few years ago, shortly after finishing The Burning Plain. It was depressing to realise there was nothing else by this writer to read.

    This novella was a blueprint for One Hunded Years of Solitude: both describe the decline of a family along with the town they lived in. Both mix fantasy with realism. Both have a fragmented narrative. Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez has acknowledged this influence, putting Rulfo alongside Kafka as his major literary inspirations.

    Curiously enough, Rulfo's novella has many similarities too with Edgar Lee Masters' 1915 Spoon River Anthology, a collection of poems recited by the dead people of Spoon River, many of which overlap, creating sometimes a narrative and shedding new light on previous poems.

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    Default re: Juan Rulfo: Pedro P?ramo

    I read it yesterday, and confess it took me a bit of time to push through its 122 pages, mostly because of how disorientating its narrative is.

    However, having gone straight back to page one, I'm reading it through again. Already it's making much more sense, becoming more of a pleasure. I'm sure I'll have more to say once I'm done with this second reading.

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    Default Re: Juan Rulfo: Pedro P?ramo

    The longer cut:

    Although he wrote few works in his lifetime, namely a thin volume of short stories (The Burning Plain and Other Stories) and a single novel, the name of Juan Rulfo is well respected in Latin American letters. His novel, Pedro P?ramo (1955) broke from the traditional realist novel and with its unique narrative ushered in magical realism, popularised in the Latin American Boom by the likes of Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez and Carlos Fuentes.

    Why he only wrote one novel - he died in 1986 - will perhaps remain unknown, however Susan Sontag, in her introduction, takes a guess, observing that “the point of a writer’s life is to produce a great book - a book which will last - and that is what Rulfo did.” A small body of work is of course no barrier to greatness, with Rulfo being named, following a poll conducted by Editorial Alfaguara, alongside Jorge Luis Borges as the best Spanish-language writer of the 20th Century.

    It begins with the narrator, Juan Preciado, heading to his mother’s home town of Comala, because his father, Pedro P?ramo, lives there. Long before, not long after their marriage, Pedro P?ramo had sent Preciado’s mother away to live with her sister. Now, on her deathbed, she makes a final request: “Make him pay, son, for all those years he put us out of his mind.”

    To his mother’s mind, Comala is a boon for nostalgia. In his head echoes of her memories stir, talking of “a beautiful view of a green plain tinged with the yellow of ripe corn” and “the savor of orange blossoms in the warmth of summer.” However, on the road down to the town, Preciado meets a man, claiming also to be a son of Pedro P?ramo, who says,
    “That town sits on the coals of the earth, at the very mouth of hell. They say that when people from there die and go to hell, they come back for a blanket.”
    In Comala, things take a turn for the strange. Preciado meets a woman, Eduviges Dyada, who claims that she hasn’t had much time to prepare for him as his mother, despite dying a week before, had only just informed her of his trip. From here we begin to see just how far Rulfo’s novel meanders from the traditional structure as the narrative begins to play host to other, seemingly unrelated stories. Voices come and go, uncredited, and tenses change. Where first we were reading Preciado’s account, we find ourselves faced with a third person narrative.

    More and more voices enter the fray, providing distilled snapshots, into a narrative that becomes disorientating. As the fragmented stories abound, they start to come together forming a patchwork that illustrates the people of Comala. Only, what makes it more interesting, is that they are all dead. All that remains is the essence of the people, each whispering their thoughts, secrets, and reliving moments over and over. Such is the force of all this trapped experience that when, halfway through the novel, Preciado announces his own death (”The murmuring killed me. I was trying to hold back my fear. But it kept building until I couldn’t contain it any longer. “) the book continues on, unraveling more and more.
    “This town is filled with echoes. It’s like they were trapped behind the walls, or beneath the cobblestones. When you walk you feel like someone’s behind you, stepping on your footsteps. You hear rustlings. And people laughing. Laughter that sounds used up. And voices worn away by the years.”
    The main thread of the novel is the titular, Pedro P?ramo. “Living bile”, as the stranger Preciado meets at the start labels him. P?ramo is the son of a rancher who, after his father’s death, “flourished like a weed”. Considered a lost cause by his father, P?ramo became an opportunist, stealing land from others and populating it through the rape of the woman working his land. Indeed, P?ramo’s marriage to Preciado’s mother only came about as she was his largest creditor - after the wedding properties were made out in both names.

    P?ramo’s story is the most linear within the novel, weaving in and out of his rise from hopeless child to vengeful old man. In creating such a vile character it’s easy to make him completely evil and deny him his humanity, and Rulfo ensure’s no moralising over the man’s actions here. In fact, to balance his ruthless nature we are regularly shown the unrequited love he feels for Susana San Juan, who even in marriage never loves him.
    He had thought he knew her. But even when he found he didn’t, wasn’t it enough to know that she was the person he loved most on this earth? And - and this was what mattered most - that because of her he would leave this earth illuminated by the image that erased all other memories.

    But what world was Susana San Juan living in? That was one of the things that Pedro P?ramo would never know.
    One of the biggest achievements Rulfo manages with Pedro P?ramo is that such a slight volume can feel so epic. Years come and go in whispers, the story dancing back and forward between them. From the Mexican Revolution through the Cristiada we see lives lived and torn apart. As readers we are encouraged to fill in the blanks and join the dots of the story, a task that doesn’t come easily, thanks to the scattered narrative, the first time round, but is more than cemented with a second reading. There’s probably more in a third and fourth reading - who knows what in a fifth.

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    Default Re: Juan Rulfo: Pedro P?ramo

    I should reread this novella again soon. There's so much symbolism that I've forgotten. Many of the names have specific meanings: Preciado can mean valued, esteemed but also proud; P?ramo is the bleak, treeless plain in the Andes; and Comala is a cooking surface placed over fire. The novella can be read as a surreal ghost story, or as an allegory for a journey to Hell.

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    Default Re: Juan Rulfo: Pedro P?ramo

    Quote Originally Posted by Heteronym View Post
    I should reread this novella again soon. There's so much symbolism that I've forgotten. Many of the names have specific meanings: Preciado can mean valued, esteemed but also proud; P?ramo is the bleak, treeless plain in the Andes; and Comala is a cooking surface placed over fire. The novella can be read as a surreal ghost story, or as an allegory for a journey to Hell.
    Your posts make me want to brush up on my Spanish and/or learn Portuguese. BASTARD

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    Default Re: Juan Rulfo: Pedro P?ramo

    As a Mexican I can say that Pedro P?ramo is by far, the most influencing mexican piece of literature. I've read it three times and I can tell that every time you read it, you discover a new meaning, a new message, it's like if you would read it for the first time. Time and space barriers are broken in 125 pages, creating a new dimension where the living and the dedad coexist.
    In spanish the choice of words is amazing. Rulfo style is very simple and straightforward with very little description. He was a man of a few words and his ouvre it is as well. However he has the exact amount of words for everything. There are a lot of regional words, spoken in the state where I live, Jalisco, and only in rural villages. However it's incredible how a book depicting one region can be as universal as Pedro P?ramo is.
    It's really a shame he did not write anything else. El Llano in Llamas it's also fabulous.

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    Default Re: Samuel Beckett

    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart View Post
    Hey, I was about fourteen and devouring horror novels at the time.
    It happens, schools are terrible to assign proper literature works for young people.
    Here in Mexico, most of the students have to read Pedro Paramo in junior high. This is ridiculous, because altough it's an amazing novel, it's pretty complex for the majority of 14 year old guys.

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    Default Re: Samuel Beckett

    I agree, Daniel. Where can we talk about that?

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    Default Re: Samuel Beckett

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    Here in Mexico, most of the students have to read Pedro Paramo in junior high. This is ridiculous, because altough it's an amazing novel, it's pretty complex for the majority of 14 year old guys.
    I disagree completely with this. Pedro P?ramo is certainly highly complex, but there is every reason why kids in their early teens should read this book. They won't understand everything of course, but their reading will be guided and things will be explained. Understanding that literature is complex is a very healthy thing, and helps to teach them that there's far more to it than just telling stories. Kids love challenge, and are bored by simplicity.

    And you're right - it is an amazing novel.

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    Default Re: Samuel Beckett

    Quote Originally Posted by johnr60 View Post
    I agree, Daniel. Where can we talk about that?
    I think we can create a post about mandatory readings for different countries. It must be really interesting to see what young people is reading in every country, and if to see what people think about it

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    Default Re: Samuel Beckett

    Quote Originally Posted by mansaturday View Post
    I disagree completely with this. Pedro P?ramo is certainly highly complex, but there is every reason why kids in their early teens should read this book. They won't understand everything of course, but their reading will be guided and things will be explained. Understanding that literature is complex is a very healthy thing, and helps to teach them that there's far more to it than just telling stories. Kids love challenge, and are bored by simplicity.

    And you're right - it is an amazing novel.
    I understand your point, and maybe you're right, but I'm totally sure this has not to be the first encounter of kids with literature.
    In Mexico it happens that for a lot of young people, Pedro Paramo is their first read. This is nonsense. You cannot start reading something as complex as Pedro Paramo, otherwise you'll think literature is difficult and boring because they won't understand at all. It's great if young people can read Rulfo or Cortazar at a young age, but if this denies them the opportunity to go step by step discovering literature, then it must be removed or at least moved to high school.

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    Default Re: Juan Rulfo: Pedro P?ramo

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    I think we can create a post about mandatory readings for different countries. It must be really interesting to see what young people is reading in every country, and if to see what people think about it
    I somehow managed to avoid the US version, Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. I've got the Italian one, Manzoni's The Betrothed, idling on the shelf.

    But somehow the subject line seems to have shifted to Samuel Beckett.
    sempiternally offtopic: Stochastic Bookmark

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    Default Re: Juan Rulfo: Pedro P?ramo

    Quote Originally Posted by nnyhav View Post
    But somehow the subject line seems to have shifted to Samuel Beckett.
    Yes, the Samuel Beckett discussion veered off to Pedro Paramo, so I used all my surgical skills to separate them.

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    Default Pedro Paramo

    I have read Pedro Paramo in my local tongue. But I want to read it from my mail in English. Who can help me?

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    Default Re: Pedro Paramo

    Quote Originally Posted by lenz View Post
    In English, Pedro Paramo is call The Burning Plain. It is available to buy from Amazon or other internet book sellers. I haven't read it yet, but it looks very interesting. Good luck!
    oh don't mislead the poor man.



    it's not true. the burning plain is the english version of el llano en llamas

    pedro paramo is called just that, pedro paramo.

    you can buy it here
    Amazon.com: Pedro Paramo (9780802133908): Juan Rulfo, Margaret Sayers Peden, Susan Sontag: Books

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    Default Re: Pedro Paramo

    Quote Originally Posted by Mirabell View Post
    oh don't mislead the poor man.



    it's not true. the burning plain is the english version of el llano en llamas

    pedro paramo is called just that, pedro paramo.

    you can buy it here
    Amazon.com: Pedro Paramo (9780802133908): Juan Rulfo, Margaret Sayers Peden, Susan Sontag: Books
    Sorry. I read the wikipedia entry too quickly.

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    Default Re: Juan Rulfo: Pedro P?ramo

    Rulfo is proof that you don't have to write a lot to earn a tremendous reputation. I had to try a few different times before I could appreciate "Pedro Paramo" but it was certainly worth the effort. "The Burning Plain" is also first rate. I've treasured these books for years.

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    Default Re: Juan Rulfo: Pedro P?ramo

    I am halfway through reading Pedro P?ramo and I wanted to get insight on opinions concerning the narrative so I came on here and found this thread. With that said, love the Pedro P?ramo and have to admit that I was deprived considering I am just now getting to it, Juan Rulfo, among other greats such as Cort?zar, thanks to my Spanish literature course. I was wondering if there was thread dissecting the themes and meanings in Pedro P?ramo...

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    Default Re: Juan Rulfo: Pedro P?ramo

    Quote Originally Posted by naty_forty7 View Post
    I am halfway through reading Pedro P?ramo and I wanted to get insight on opinions concerning the narrative so I came on here and found this thread. With that said, love the Pedro P?ramo and have to admit that I was deprived considering I am just now getting to it, Juan Rulfo, among other greats such as Cort?zar, thanks to my Spanish literature course. I was wondering if there was thread dissecting the themes and meanings in Pedro P?ramo...
    My only advice is go slow on this novel. Although it's a short novel it's quite complex in many aspects. I can say I fully appreciated and enjoyed it by the third time I read it, so take your time and enjoy.

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