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La mala hora by Gabriel García…

La mala hora (original 1962; edition 2010)

by Gabriel García Márquez

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1,268129,125 (3.57)20
Title:La mala hora
Authors:Gabriel García Márquez
Info:México : Diana, 2010.
Collections:Your library

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In Evil Hour by Gabriel García Márquez (1962)

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13. In Evil Hour by Gabriel García Márquez
published: 1962
translation: from Spanish by Gregory Rabassa, 1979
format: 183 page paperback
acquired: March
read: March 9-11
rating: 3.5

This is maybe a really good short little novel you don't need to read. It's Marquez's first novel, but he left it in a suitcase and it wasn't published for a couple years (may have been written in 1955), and then when it was published it wasn't even as Marquez wrote it. The Spanish was altered to "proper Castilian" in the 1962 first edition. But it sets up an atmosphere and character set that would lead to several of his important short stories and later works and that's maybe where its main value lies.

The novel itself is enjoyable. It has a soft plot and seems to mainly be an exploration of a small fictionalized town (outside his fictional town of Macondo). The era is after a lot of violence in Columbia. The town is run by a mayor who led the military campaign to crush a revolt in the town. And characters in the town live in what felt to me a series of provocative power plays. The mayor trying to enforce a peace on the town he decimated, while manipulating his own fortunes. He works oddly with officials he appointed and the curious town priest, Father Angel, who lives a simple life of balanced compromise, which he takes out mostly on the movie purveyor. Each of these characters has his own dealings with the wealthy town families, who have their balancing acts effected by their own personal failings. And then there is the doctor, the movie purveyor, the circus master, the talkative barber, the curious town dentist, and the completely powerless Syrian merchants. The barber and the dentist are sympathetic with the revolt and the mayor has a toothache.

One top of all this is are the slanderous "lampoons". Individuals dark secrets, real or rumored, ridiculous or spot on, are written up and pasted on doors. The lampoons have riled up sleeping controversies, and marital jealousies and violent tendencies are surfacing. One missing aspect is that thing we kind of expect, the magical realism.

I never minded reading this and also never fully understood the direction and point as it's all unspoken and feels open to interpretation. Recommended for Marquez fans who have already read his later short stories and novellas. ( )
  dchaikin | Mar 18, 2018 |
A solid story with a claustrophobic, hot atmosphere; but to understand this you need to really understand a lot more about South American politics than I do to get the satirical thrust. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Jul 3, 2016 |
A short novella for any fan of [a:Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez|13450|Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1397938106p2/13450.jpg].

Not really my favorite work of his. Or perhaps it was the translation? I don't know. I understood what was happening at a very basic level, but I think somewhere along the way the prose just didn't get to me. I found myself just reading the words rather than understanding the complexity of layers the builds upon one another. It's a story about a town, about the people, about history and violence, and about human nature. But that's all I can really say, since this text didn't speak to me as much as I had hoped it would. ( )
  jms001 | Jun 14, 2015 |
After reading Liam Howley’s The Absurd Demise of Poulnabrone I felt the sudden (if not completely inexplicable) urge to read a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, an author I’ve been wanting to read more of for quite some time, and as I’m a sucker for chronology, I grabbed his first published novel, In Evil Hour (only to find out later that he had published two novellas before that… ah well).

It is a very short novel but has a felt two dozen protagonists, so it is not always easy to keep everyone apart, and reading it is likely to require more attention than its language or structure might otherwise warrant. With that many characters in such a small space, you wouldn’t expect them to be fleshed out much, and indeed, they aren’t: Marquez is obviously not so much interested in portraying individuals but instead wants to give the collective portrait of a village, each inhabitant part of a whole rather than something in and of themselves.

The village itself is never named, which suggests that, just like he is not describing individual persons, Marquez’ is not to write about a specific village. Using the regional to portray the general while still staying true to regional idiosyncrasies is a method William Faulkner has perfected, and his influence is very, very noticeable here, not just in the way local peculiarities and wide-ranging allegory are folded into each other, but also in the way In Evil Hour never seems to be tackle its supposed subjects directly, but has a strange, and to me at least very Faulknerian way to write around them. The ostensible subject of the novel, what its claims its plot to be about and what keeps evens moving is a deluge of slanderous notes pinned to house walls the village is being plagued by. (The translator renders the Spanish word as “lampoon” which did seem a bit off to me, as the contents of the notes appears to be gossip rather than the satire the English term would imply.)

In Evil Hour starts off with a (literal) bang as the notes claim a first death (which will not be the last), and the main part of the novel shows how the village’s authority figures – the mayor (who, like the village, is never given a name), the judge and the priest – attempt to deal with the perceived threats to the village’s peace, attempts that lead to a downwards spiral of violence and oppression until the village finally slides back into the dictatorship it originally claimed to have left behind for a more enlightened and humane regime. While all this happens, we never get to see a single one of those notes (the only one that actually shows up is immediately torn into small pieces without the reader being told anything about its specific content), they are only referred to by others, and – of course – we never get to find out who actually posted them. The latter in particular seems to have infuriated quite a few readers, but I think it actually works in the novel’s favour, lending it a slightly off, unreal atmosphere, as if we were watching a dream unfold, a dream that inexorably descends into a nightmare.

So while there is nothing blatantly magical about In Evil Hour, it’s not simply realistic either – there is a pervasive sense of unreality shrouding the characters and events in the novel; it never really manifests itself but is felt all the more keenly precisely because of its intangibility. Even the characters themselves seem to be aware of that some times, it is like one of them occasionally lifts his or her head, wondering what it is they are doing, on the cusp of waking – only to sink back into the dream again an instant later. And here lies what appears to me to be a bit of an issue with In Evil Hour: It is undoubtedly an immensely political novel, offering what I think is a valid analysis of how power structures persist even after the circumstances and reasons that give rise to them have disappeared. But the political impetus would have to be one towards change, and for that the dreamlike quality of the novel which tinges everything with an air of fatalistic necessity seems very counterproductive. In Evil Hour demonstrates that change is necessary, while at the same time suggesting that it is impossible, thus getting in its own way and lessening its impact – although, of course, one also might read it as a profoundly bleak novel about the futility of political endeavour.
1 vote Larou | Mar 11, 2015 |
I keep trying to read GGM novels because I think they MUST be good! He must be a GREAT author. He MUST be amazing. Or he is great, but just for people smarter than me. I'm still not sure what happened in this story and I finished it! There were notices being put up on people's doors about affairs. Someone got shot. There was a mayor/police chief/military officer person...he didn't like the dentist. And there was a priest who rang a bell when he didn't want people to go see a movie. And the church had mice. Honestly though, nothing was resolved! I am so confused! If someone can explain this book to me...PLEASE do! ( )
  melissarochelle | Apr 13, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (37 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gabriel García Márquezprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cicogna, EnricoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morino, AngeloForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rabassa, GregoryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schalekamp, Jean A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Padre Ángel si sollevò con uno sforzo solenne. Si stropicciò le palpebre con le ossa delle mani, scostò la zanzariera di tulle e restò seduto sulla stuoia spelacchiata, assorto per un attimo, il tempo indispensabile per rendersi conto di essere vivo e per ricordare la data e il suo riscontro nel martirologio. "Martedì quattro ottobre" pensò; e disse a voce bassa: «San Francesco d'Assisi».
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060919647, Paperback)

Written just before One Hundred Years of Solitude, this fascinating novel of a Colombian river town possessed by evil points to the author's later flowering and greatness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:48 -0400)

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Written just before "One Hundred Years of Solitude," this fascinating novel of a Colombian river town possessed by evil points to the author's later flowering and greatness.

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