The Novel of Independence

By Diaz, Hector Pena | Americas (English Edition), November-December 2010 | Go to article overview

The Novel of Independence


Diaz, Hector Pena, Americas (English Edition)


La perniciosa incertidumbre, Memorias de Fermin Donaire (Pernicious Uncertainty: The Memoirs of Fermin Donaire) by Alfredo Arango and Juan Lara is a novel that leaves readers certain of one thing: the uselessness of war and the frequency with which the failure of ideas is justified by appealing to violence. The story follows the rear guard of Simon Bolivar's armies and the trail of blood spilled in the name of independence; it is told through the eyes of the wounded and the gravediggers, people living on the line between life and death. The novel reminds us that every battle has invisible stories and that war is led by officers but fought and suffered by the rank and file, soldiers recruited from the heart of society. In the historic birthing of our republics, a countless number of these stories have yet to be told; the memoir of Fermin Donaire is just one of them.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Donaire, a lawyer who narrates the story, is the private secretary and fellow conspirator of Don Antonio Narino. His memoirs describe the epic saga of our nations' emergence into independent life. A second character who stands as a counterpoint to the erudite writer is Cayetano, the healer who is a witness to the suffering and death of soldiers on both sides.

Fermin Donaire--as author Juan Lara suggests--knew and interacted with almost all of the great figures of the independence movement, but he always kept a low profile so as not to compromise his mission of reveal his name. His memoirs, written from the last years of his retirement on his estate in Guaduas, contain surprising testimony about the dark and passionate episodes in his life and in the lives of his cohorts. Meanwhile, the second author of the book, Alfredo Arango says, "Through Donaire's story we [also] learn about events witnessed in horror by a gifted nurse who followed the patriotic army in the company of gravediggers, healing wounds and burying the dead. …

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