Monday, April 12, 2010

Better Late than never?

I just realized that I never wrote a blog last week, so I will be writing one today (over a week late). The blog I wrote yesterday was more focused on the McOndo reading, so this one will be a relection of the class. As I said earlier, the class went quickly! Where'd the time go?? All of a sudden our wiki projects are due, we have an essay due on monday, there's no more class . . . ahhh! It's kind of crazy to think about.

This class was interesting. I had never read any of magical realism works, and it is a genre which has always interested me, mostly because I know that it is such big part of Latin American history, especially as it pertains to literature. The Boom and the authors that were made famous during the Boom (such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Alejo Carpentier, Carlos Fuentes, etc) were, from my understanding, the first to legitimize Latin American literature in the eyes of the rest of the world. I think that Cien Anos de Soledad may be one of the most famous pieces of contemporary literature, and I finally was able to read and analyze this work. It was about time!

I found magical realism difficult to interpret and understand at first. I had a hard time deciphering what was magic vs myth vs reality vs fiction, etc. I thought that magical realism as a genre was used in a specific manner- as if the magic had one intended meaning. After reading Leyendas de Guatemala, I assumed that the use of magical realism was a coping mechanism and spiritual belief of the indigenous people, and that would be the use of magical realism in all of the other texts as well. As it turns out, I was completely incorrect. Carpentier used magical realism as a religous aspect of African culture which was very real in Haiti at the time. In fact, from what I have read, even whichever Doc was in power of the country at the time had all the black dogs killed because it was said that the M guy (I can no longer remember his name from the story) had turned into a black dog. Marquez on the other hand used magical realism to reinforce the idea of the absurdity of the reality of the actual history of Latin America, specifically Colombia.

Anyway, it was nice to finally read some of the most important literature of Latin America and to learn something new.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I think it's pretty funny how these blogs have become little mini-updates of our lives. I don't actually know most of the people in the class, but I know what everyone is doing! I'm as shocked as everyone that the term is almost over . . . unbelievable. With all of the breaks and what-not, it feels like the semester never actually happened. But I sure had some fun and learned some cool stuff along the way! Yay!

Now down to business. No surprise here, but I half-assed my readings, so this will be a little iffy. I think it's interesting to read the critical perspective of Cien Anos de Soledad. It's true not only of Cien Anos, but of almost all of the novels we have read, that these works reinforce an "othering" of Latin American people and culture in that they have been portrayed as primitive (and at times naive or incestuous, etc). Although they provided an interesting perspective, I do not feel as though I got a realistic grasp of what Latin American culture (to homogenize many cultures as one) really is or how the people of the countries which we studied live. Most of the texts we covered were set in the past and did not touch upon many of the current events or social problems being faced by the people of Latin America.

One issue that was left out of Cien Anos de Soledad that strikes me as very odd is that Garcia Marquez left out any mention of the United States war on drugs. This "war" has had an enormous impact on not only Colombia, but many South American countries, and the ramifications still exist today. In Colombia alone the war on drugs caused much violence within the country and took a toll on its economy as well in terms of not only drug production and sales, but also tourism and investment from other countries. I know also that the war on drugs has had a major impact on the economy of Bolivia because coca is their major cash crop, and with the US and its allies in opposition of its production, Bolivia has suffered. Again, it just seems like such a huge and well known piece of Latin American history to leave out of a text like Cien Anos de Soledad.

That being said, I would like to thank everyone, especially Jon, for a great semester and I wish you all the best!