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Het huis met de geesten by Isabel Allende
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Het huis met de geesten (original 1982; edition 2012)

by Isabel Allende, Saskia Otter

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9,926157286 (4.09)415
Member:L.Pyncket
Title:Het huis met de geesten
Authors:Isabel Allende
Other authors:Saskia Otter
Info:Amsterdam Wereldbibliotheek 2012
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:None

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The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (1982)

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English (126)  Spanish (8)  Dutch (6)  Italian (6)  German (2)  Danish (2)  French (2)  Portuguese (1)  Hebrew (1)  Catalan (1)  Lithuanian (1)  All languages (156)
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
Okay, I have to get a bit outside of my head in order to write this review. In the midst of a rather antagonistic blare and bash conga line of Neruda quotes, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges comparisons, and every factoid I've ever consumed concerning magical realism - the view of what I've just read is getting a bit murkily manic.

In Neruda's The Sea (bear with me), he opens with, "I need the sea because it teaches me." In simplicity, I believe readers need magical realism and the authors that employ it magnificently, like Allende, because they teach us.

As written in Spirits, "memory is fragile and the space of a single life is brief, passing so quickly that we never get a chance to see the relationship between events; we cannot gauge the consequences of our acts, and we believe in the fiction of past, present, and future,..." Because of my experience in reading Allende and other authors, I think magical realism often offers a looking glass that people can't always connect to as easily in other works of fiction. One that provides an external yet simultaneously introspective gauge that fleshes out our personal view of our lives and the world around us.

I felt that gauge sharpen for me while reading Spirits. I can't say I pin it on a particular character or scene. More that the rhythm of Allende's commix of heavier fabulism in the beginning and the chaos of reality in the end was able to open up a thought process within me that surpassed the identification with, judgement of, or enjoyment of characters. Just as I'm a sucker for any book that prompts further reading and/or learning, I adore those that lead to the expansion of individual thought. The great thing being that Allende's Spirits triggered such while offering a wealth of character, cultural, and political dynamic as well.

Conga line sum up: I'm left feeling inspired and intrigued and a million more words on the technicalities of magical realism or the "who're ya gonna call" list of the authors at the forefront of the genre would lead me right back to the exact same statement. On a personal level, this was a brilliant book. On a reviewer level, I recommend Allende as a writer that will make you think and experience.

“She felt that everything was made of glass, as fragile as a sigh”

( )
  lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Clara del Valle has paranormal powers and keeps a detailed diary of her life. Using her powers, Clara predicts an accidental death in the family. Shortly after this, Clara's sister, Rosa the Beautiful, is killed by poison intended for her father who is running for the Senate. Rosa's fiancé, a poor miner named Esteban Trueba, is devastated and attempts to mend his broken heart by devoting his life to uplifting his family hacienda, Las Tres Marías. Through a combination of intimidation and reward systems, he quickly earns/forces respect and labor from the fearful peasants and turns Tres Marías into a "model hacienda". He turns the first peasant who spoke to him upon arrival, Pedro Segundo, into his foreman, who quickly becomes the closest thing that Trueba ever has to an actual friend during his life. However, he rapes many of the peasant women, and his first victim, Pancha García, becomes the mother of his bastard son, who would eventually become Esteban García.

Esteban returns to the city to see his dying mother. After her death, Esteban decides to fulfill her dying wish: for him to marry and have legitimate children. He goes to the del Valle family to ask for Clara's hand in marriage. Clara accepts Esteban's proposal; she herself has predicted her engagement two months prior, speaking for the first time in nine years. During the period of their engagement, Esteban builds what everyone calls "the big house on the corner," a large mansion in the city where the Trueba family will live for generations. After their wedding, Esteban's sister Férula comes to live with the newlyweds in the big house on the corner. Férula develops a strong dedication to Clara, which fulfills her need to serve others. However, Esteban's wild desire to possess Clara and to monopolize her love causes him to throw Férula out of the house. She curses him, telling him that he will shrink in body and soul, and die like a dog. Although she misses her sister-in-law, a passive and dreamy Clara finds happiness in developing her psychic powers. Spirits, artists, and spiritualists flock to the Truebas' house.

Clara gives birth to a daughter named Blanca and later, to twin boys Jaime and Nicolás. The family, which resides in the capital, stays at the hacienda during the summertime. Upon arriving at Tres Marías for the first time, Blanca immediately befriends a young boy named Pedro Tercero, who is the son of her father's foreman.

During their teenage years, Blanca and Pedro Tercero eventually become lovers. After an earthquake that destroys part of the hacienda and leaves Esteban injured, the Truebas move permanently to Las Tres Marías. Clara spends her time teaching and helping peasant children, while Blanca is sent to a convent school and the twin boys back to an English boarding school, both of which are located in the city. Blanca fakes an illness so as to be sent back to Las Tres Marías, where she can be with Pedro Tercero. Life runs smoothly until Pedro Tercero is banished from the hacienda by Esteban, on account of his revolutionary communist/socialist ideas.

A visiting French count to the hacienda, Jean de Satigny, reveals Blanca's nightly romps with Pedro Tercero to her father. Esteban furiously goes after his daughter and brutally whips her. When Clara expresses horror at his actions, Esteban slaps her, knocking out her front teeth. Clara decides to never speak to him again, reclaims her maiden name and moves out of Tres Marías and back to the city, taking Blanca with her. Esteban, furious and lonely, blames Pedro Tercero for the whole matter; putting a price on the boy's head with the local corrupt police. At this point, Pedro Segundo deserts Esteban, telling him he does not want to be around when Trueba inevitably catches his son. Enraged by Pedro Segundo's departure, Trueba begins hunting for Pedro Tercero himself, eventually tracking him down to a small shack near his hacienda. He only succeeds in cutting off three of Pedro's fingers, and is filled with regret for his uncontrollable furies.

Blanca finds out she is pregnant with Pedro Tercero's child. Esteban, desperate to save the family honor, gets Blanca to marry the French count by telling her that he has killed Pedro Tercero. At first, Blanca gets along with her new husband, but she leaves him when she discovers his participation in sexual fantasies with the servants. Blanca quietly returns to the Trueba household and names her daughter Alba. Clara predicts that Alba will have a very happy future and good luck. Her future lover, Miguel, happens to watch her birth, as he had been living in the Trueba House with his sister, Amanda. They move out shortly after Alba's birth.

Esteban Trueba eventually moves to the Trueba house in the capital as well, although he continues to spend periods of time in Tres Marías. He becomes isolated from every member of his family except for little Alba, whom he is very fond of. Esteban runs as a senator for the Conservative Party but is nervous about whether or not he will win. Clara speaks to him, through signs, informing him that "those who have always won will win again" – this becomes his motto. Clara then begins to speak to Esteban through signs, although she keeps her promise and never actually speaks to him again. A few years later, Clara dies peacefully and Esteban is overwhelmed with grief.

Alba is a solitary child who enjoys playing make-believe in the basement of the house and painting the walls of her room. Blanca has become very poor since leaving Jean de Satigny's house, getting a small income out of selling pottery and giving pottery classes to mentally handicapped children, and is once again dating Pedro Tercero, now a revolutionary singer/songwriter. Alba and Pedro are fond of each other, but do not know they are father and daughter, although Pedro suspects this. Alba is also fond of her uncles. Nicolás is eventually kicked out by his father, moving, supposedly, to North America.

When she is older, Alba attends a local college where she meets Miguel, now a grown man, and becomes his lover. Miguel is a revolutionary, and out of love for him, Alba involves herself in student protests against the conservative government. After the victory of the People's Party (a socialist movement), Alba celebrates with Miguel.

Fearing a Communist dictatorship, Esteban Trueba and his fellow politicians plan a military coup of the socialist government. However, when the military coup is set into action, the military men relish their power and grow out of control. Esteban's son Jaime is killed by power-driven soldiers along with other supporters of the government. After the coup, people are regularly kidnapped and tortured. Esteban helps Blanca and Pedro Tercero flee to Canada, where the couple finally find their happiness.

The military regime attempts to eliminate all traces of opposition and eventually comes for Alba. She is made the prisoner of Colonel Esteban García, the son of Esteban Trueba's and Pancha Garcia's illegitimate son, and hence the grandson of Esteban Trueba. During an earlier visit to the Trueba house, García had molested Alba as a child. In pure hatred of her privileged life and eventual inheritance, García tortures Alba repeatedly, looking for information on Miguel. He rapes her, thus completing the cycle that Esteban Trueba put into motion when he raped Pancha García. When Alba loses her will to live, she is visited by Clara's spirit who tells her not to wish for death, since it can easily come, but to wish to live.

Esteban Trueba manages to free Alba with the help of Miguel and Tránsito Soto, an old friend/prostitute from his days as a young man. After helping Alba write their memoir, Esteban Trueba dies in the arms of Alba, accompanied by Clara's spirit; he is smiling, having avoided Férula's prophecy that he will die like a dog. Alba explains that she will not seek vengeance on those who have injured her, suggesting a hope that one day the human cycle of hate and revenge can be broken. Alba writes the book to pass time while she waits for Miguel and for the birth of her child. ( )
  bostonwendym | Jul 12, 2016 |
I probably would have given this book 5 starts if My interest hadn't waned a bit at the end. Allende is a great writer and the translation is well done so it is allways a pleasure to read one of her books. This family was odd from the start, there was no way their story would be anything else but a little strange and over the top, just the kind of dynamic I like to read. ( )
  janismack | Jul 4, 2016 |
This one took awhile to grow on me - at first it seems to wander pointlessly, but by the end it reveals itself as truly grand in scope. ( )
  Darth-Heather | May 31, 2016 |

House of the Spirits - Allende
4 stars

As a debut novel this is an incredibly impressive book. Shelfari lists 56 characters, and the time frame of this family saga is nearly a century. The characters were very colorful and the historic setting was richly described and interesting. Allende never calls the country Chile, nor does she identify any historical character by their real name. But we all know where and when this story took place.

The magical components of the book are mostly in the hands of the women, especially Clara the Clairvoyant. I liked the way La Casa de Los Espiritus always connected the surviving family members to the past. But I was annoyed that Clara’s ability to predict the future made her seem passive in the face of brutality. There were so many vivid, unique characters in this family. Their individual stories are fascinating, but in some way they seemed disconnected to each other. It was only at the end, when Alma identifies herself as the second narrator, that I could see how she was “assembling a jigsaw puzzle in which each piece had a specific place.” As I was reading the book with its 30 to 40 page long chapters, I was interested in the events and characters of each chapter, but I never felt terribly compelled to start the next chapter. It took a long time to finish the book. And, I will probably be thinking about it for a long time.

I’ve had this book on my list for a very long time. I was living in Caracas in 1980 when, apparently, Allende was living there, writing this book. Twentieth century Chilean history is very painful. Twenty first century Venezuelan history is looking to be same story, different location. Minor variations on a theme, but as Alma says at the end of this book, the pattern seems to repeat itself. I truly wish I’d been able to read this book in Spanish. I tried, but although I can read Jorge Curioso to a group of young children, this book was beyond me.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
Primera novela de Isabel Allende, La casa de los espíritus narra la saga de una poderosa familia de terratenientes latinoamericanos. El despótico patriarca Esteban Trueba ha construido, con mano de hierro, un imperio privado que empieza a tambalearse a raíz del paso del tiempo y de un entorno social explosivo. Finalmente, la decadencia personal del patriarca arrastrará a los Trueba a una dolorosa desintegración. Atrapados en unas dramáticas relaciones familiares, los personajes de esta portentosa novela encarnan las tensiones sociales y espirituales de una época que abarca gran parte de este siglo.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia
 

» Add other authors (59 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morino AngeloTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piloto Di Castri, SoniaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bogin, MagdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Botond, AnnelieseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hitchens, ChristopherIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juan, AnaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lappi-Seppälä, JyrkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KjellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thompson, MichelleCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Николаева, СусаннаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
How much does a man live, after all?
Does he live a thousand days, or one only?
For a week, or for several centuries?
How long does a man spend dying?
What does it mean to say "for ever"?

Pablo Neruda
Dedication
To my mother, my grandmother,
and all the other extraordinary women
of this story.
First words
Barrabás came to us by sea, the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy.
Quotations
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Esteban hatte Chinchillas auf seinem Gut herumhuschen sehen. Gelegentlich schoß er sie ab, weil sie die junge Saat fraßen, war aber nie auf den Gedanken gekommen, daß sich diese unscheinbaren Nagetiere in Damenpelzmäntel umwandeln ließen. Jean de Satigny suchte einen Kompagnon, der das Kapital, die Arbeit und die Gehege stellte, alle Risiken übernahm und den Gewinn fünfzig zu fünfzig mit ihm teilte.
(Kapitel 6, Hardcover Seite 187)
"Fast in allen Familien ist irgendein Blöder oder Verrückter, Alba", versicherte Clara, die Augen starr auf ihr Strickzeug geheftet, weil sie in all den Jahren nicht gelernt hatte, zu stricken, ohne hinzuschauen. "Manchmal bekommt man sie nicht zu sehen, weil die Angehörigen sie verstecken, als ob es eine Schande wäre. Sie sperren sie in die hintersten Zimmer, damit Besucher sie nicht zu Gesicht bekommen. Aber in Wirklichkeit braucht man sich ihrer nicht zu schämen, auch sie sind Werke Gottes."
"Aber wir haben keinen in unserer Familie", gab Alba zu bedenken.
"Nein, bei uns ist die Verrücktheit auf alle verteilt, und es ist nicht genug übriggeblieben, daß auch wir unseren Verrückten haben."
(Kapitel 9, Hardcover S. 288 f.)
Das Land füllte sich mit Uniformen, Kriegsmaschinen, Fahnen, Hymnen und Paraden, denn die Militärs kannten das Bedürfnis des Volkes nach eigenen Symbolen und Rhythmen. Senator Trueba, der diese Dinge grundsätzlich haßte, begriff, was seine Freunde im Club meinten, wenn sie sagten, der Marxismus habe in Lateinamerika nicht die geringste Chance, weil er die magische Seite der Dinge außer acht ließe. "Brot, Zirkus und irgendwas zum Verehren, das ist alles, was sie brauchen", schloß der Senator und bedauerte im stillen, daß das Brot fehlte.
Kapitel 13, Hardcover S. 392)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553273914, Mass Market Paperback)

Here, in an astonishing debut by a gifted storyteller, is the magnificent saga of proud and passionate men and women and the turbulent times through which they suffer and triumph. They are the Truebas. And theirs is a world you will not want to leave, and one you will not forget.

Esteban -- The patriarch, a volatile and proud man whose lust for land is legendary and who is haunted by his tyrannical passion for the wife he can never completely possess.

Clara -- The matriarch, elusive and mysterious, who foretells family tragedy and shapes the fortunes of the house of the Truebas.

Blanca -- Their daughter, soft-spoken yet rebellious, whose shocking love for the son of her father's foreman fuels Esteban's everlasting contempt... even as it produces the grandchild he adores.

Alba -- The fruit of Blanca's forbidden love, a luminous bearty, a fiery and willful woman... the family's break with the past and link to the future.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:53 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The Trueba family embodies strong feelings from the beginning of the 2 through the assassination of Allende in 1973.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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