ROBERTO GONZÁLEZ ECHEVARRÍA


Cien años de soledad:
The Novel as Myth and Archive

To most readers the Latin American novel must appear to be obsessed with Latin American history and myth. Carlos Fuentes's Terra Nostra ( 1976), for instance, retells much of sixteenth-century Spanish history, including the conquest of Mexico, while also incorporating pre-Columbian myths prophesying that momentous event. Alejo Carpentier's El siglo de las luces ( 1962) narrates Latin America's transition from the eighteenth century to the nineteenth, focusing on the impact of the French Revolution in the Caribbean. Carpentier also delves into Afro-Antillean lore to show how blacks interpreted the changes brought about by these political upheavals. Mario Vargas Llosa's recent La guerra del fin del mundo ( 1980) tells again the history of Canudos, the rebellion of religious fanatics in the backlands of Brazil, which had already been the object of Euclydes da Cunha 's classic Os Sertões ( 1902). Vargas Llosa's ambitious work also examines in painstaking detail the recreation of a Christian mythology in the New World. The list of Latin American novels dealing with Latin American history and myth is very long indeed, and it includes the work of many lesser known, younger writers. Abel Posse's Daimón ( 1978) retells the story of Aguirre, the sixteenth-century rebel who declared himself free from the Spanish Crown and founded his own independent country in South America.As the title of the book suggests, Posse's fiction centers on the myth of the Devil and his reputed preference of the New World as residence and field of operations, a theme that had been important in two

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From MLN 99, no. 2 ( March 1984). © 1984 by the Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore/ London.

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