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Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo

Pedro Páramo (original 1955; edition 2010)

by Juan Rulfo

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1,631384,440 (4.02)80
Title:Pedro Páramo
Authors:Juan Rulfo
Info:Suhrkamp Verlag GmbH (2010), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:2013r, mexico, realismo mágico, comala

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Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo (1955)


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It is often said that this work is the prototypical magical realist novel of Latin America, and that is with good reason. It is filled with ghosts, to the point where corpses listen for gossip in their graves and every character is portrayed as a wandering soul. If not that, the swirl around death like pebbles circling a drain. Further, the narrative is altogether nonlinear, and in way that at least for me made it hard to keep track of characters and events, even though I have read a good share of nonlinear novels. Despite that, I would still recommend the book for its haunting language alone. It's one of those novels that exudes poetry and holds a magnificent trove of images. ( )
1 vote poetontheone | May 26, 2016 |
do yourself a favor. read this book. ( )
  Noel_A | Jan 24, 2016 |
do yourself a favor. read this book. ( )
  Noel_A | Jan 24, 2016 |
Dreamy, meditative and disjointed, Pedro Páramo tells the story of several generations living in a little Mexican village through fleeting encounters with the ghosts of former inhabitants.

This is one of those books that are made not by the story but by the telling. The non-chronological novella makes frequent hops back and forth between generations (and storylines), each illuminating the others, and the precise progression of events only becomes clear gradually. Rulfo douses the poverty and the harsh, unforgiving landscapes with introspection and love for the forgotten everyman. In some ways, this feels like a reverse Western: Rulfo takes the perspective of a sleepy Mexican village and squarely focuses on the relationships and the low-level generational grudges that the lone gunmen, outlaws, or even lawmen of traditional Western movies would not even notice. The people’s ghosts cry out for remembrance, for relevance, for a continued existence, vicarious though it may be.

Pedro Páramo will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but working through its intricately constructed narrative ends up delivering a rewarding experience. It’s one of those little books that open themselves up more at every reread. ( )
1 vote Petroglyph | Jul 23, 2014 |
"I came to Comala because I had been told that my father, a man named Pedro Páramo, lived there." So begins this brief, complex novella, originally published in 1955, that is said to have been hugely influential for the Spanish-language literature that followed it. The speaker has made a deathbed promise to his mother to return to her hometown, of which she has nothing but poetic memories, and seek out his father, who she feels didn't give them their due. But the Comala the speaker finds is nothing like the the Comala his mother remembered; it is literally a ghost town, inhabited only by the dead who clearly are not resting easily in their graves, as they roam around the town and also talk to each other while in their graves. And what they talk about is what they would have talked about while living -- curiosity about who is saying what about whom.

The narrator, whose name we learn is Juan Preciado, is not the only speaker in this book. Other characters speak about the past (largely in the third person), and it is not always clear, especially at first, who is who and what is happening when. This book bears careful reading. So, from the murmurings of the restless spirits, both the reader and Juan Preciado piece together the history of the town, and the rapaciousness of Pedro Páramo, who became the the town's biggest (only?) landowner through theft, murder, and rape, characteristics which he apparently inherited from his father and passed down to the one son he recognized, a son who was killed while riding his beloved horse. He had one love, a woman who was mad by the time he finally brought her to live with him, but otherwise was obsessed with his own interests. In the opening paragraph, in which the narrator quotes his mother, she says "Some call him one thing, some another." One of those names is surely the devil; it is often remarked how hot it is in Comala and in one sense it is hell, or at least purgatory. (The local Catholic priest plays a conflicted and not very honorable role.)

It rains a lot in this novella, and Rulfo includes many descriptions of the rain's impact on the earth. There are some lovely descriptions of the natural environment too, although death always seems to intrude. As the father of the mad woman Pedro Páramo loves says, "The world presses in on every side; it scatters fistfuls of our dust across the land and takes bits and pieces of us as if to water the earth with our blood. What did we do? Why have our souls rotted away?"

In the introduction to my edition, Susan Sontag quotes Rulfo as saying, "In my life there are many silences. In my writing, too." It is those silences that challenge the reader to figure out all that Rulfo has included in this compelling work.
5 vote rebeccanyc | Jul 19, 2014 |
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I came to Comala because I had been told that my father, a man named Pedro Páramo, lived there.
Vine a Comala porque me dijeron que acá vivía mi padre, un tal Pedro Páramo.
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Chaque soupir est un souffle de vie dont on se défait.
Moi, je ne crois qu'à l'enfer
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802133908, Paperback)

Dentro de su brevedad, determinada por el rigor y la concentración expresiva, Pedro Páramo sintetiza la mayor parte de los temas que han interesado siempre a los mexicanos, ese misterio nacional que el talento de Juan Rulfo ha sabido condensar por medio de los cotidianos habitantes de Comala, región inscrita ya en la mitología literaria universal.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:53 -0400)

Deserted villages of rural Mexico, where images and memories of the past linger like unquiet ghosts, haunted the imaginations of the author. In one such village of the mind, Comala, he set his classic novel Pedro Paramo, a dream-like tale that intertwines a man's quest to find his lost father and reclaim his patrimony with the father's obsessive love for a woman who will not be possessed, Susana San Juan.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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