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The Old Gringo by Carlos Fuentes

The Old Gringo (1985)

by Carlos Fuentes

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6901513,798 (3.44)1 / 63



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English (13)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Even though this novel came to me as a highly recommended modern classic, I didn't appreciate it that much. This may have more to do with me & my state of mind, however, than the book itself. The novel is a highly atmospheric portrait of Northern Mexico in 1914 at the time of the Revolution. The prose is dense & circular. Two gringos, a 71 year old man (purportedly the journalist Ambrose Bierce) & 31 year old woman, Harriet Winslow, cross the U.S/ Mexico border for differing reasons (the Old Gringo has come to Mexico to die, the younger woman to teach English to the children of Hacienda owners). These landowners have fled, however, in advance of the arrival of a contingent of Pancho Villa's troops commanded by General Arroyo. The rebels burn down all but the Hall of Mirrors ballroom. Arroyo grew up on this hacienda, son of an indigenous woman raped by one of the sons of the landowning family. The "action" takes place mostly as interior monologue or in conversations between and among the characters, Old Gringo, Harriet & the General. We also hear the tale of the Moon Woman, Arroyo's "woman." As the back jacket blurb suggests, the novel can be read as a meditation on death, love, the burden of history, border crossing, suicide, patricide etc. It just didn't enrich my thinking on any of these large subjects in any significant way. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
Ambrose Bierce, an American short story writer, went into Mexico in 1914 to cover the Mexican Revolution by finding and traveling with Poncho Villa. He disappeared without a trace. Fuentes has written this novel in which he suggests what may have happened to Bierce.

Not the easiest read as Fuentes infuses the narrative with much philosophical meandering the slows the story. ( )
  lamour | Feb 5, 2014 |
a Sad book, but trying to deal with the relationship of USA - Mexico. The essential mystery of what happened to Bierce, the noted misanthrope remains unsolvable, so it is a good beginning for this meditation on unequal relationships. Stands up well to a reread. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Sep 22, 2013 |
Reads too much like an essay -- a lot of abstract narrative, not much fictive involvement (not sure how else to put it). The writing kept me at a distance from the story, and I lost interest in it. Picked up this copy at a library book sale. ( )
  BobNolin | Aug 24, 2013 |
First line:
~ Now she sits alone and remembers ~

This was an odd book.

I found the writing lyrical, poetic and, as a result of that, really enjoyed it. It read like a fairy tale a lot of the time. However it was an odd book.

I appreciated the depiction of the culture of the Mexican revolution and the cultural differences of the two Americans in the story. I was thoroughly caught up in the story of Ambrose Bierce and the fact that he was a real person who, virtually disappeared into Mexico and was never heard from again.

I did find some it confusing and so that is why I am not giving it a higher rating. Enjoyed it though! ( )
  ccookie | Jul 21, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carlos Fuentesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Peden, Margaret SayersTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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But who knows the fate of his bones
or how often he is to be buried?
--Sir Thomas Browne
What they call dying
is merely the last pain.
--Ambrose Bierce
To William Styron whose father included me in his dreams of the American Civil War.
First words
Now she sits alone and remembers.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374530521, Paperback)

One of Carlos Fuentes's greatest works, The Old Gringo tells the story of Ambrose Bierce, the American writer, soldier, and journalist, and of his last mysterious days in Mexico living among Pancho Villa's soldiers, particularly his encounter with General Tomas Arroyo. In the end, the incompatibility of the two countries (or, paradoxically, their intimacy) claims both men, in a novel that is, most of all, about the tragic history of two cultures in conflict.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:51 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"The Old Gringo tells the story of Ambrose Bierce, the American author, soldier, and journalist, and of his last mysterious days in Mexico living amoung Pancho villa's soldiers - particularly his encounter with one of Villa's generals, Tomas Arroyo, as well as with a spirited young american woman named Harriet Winslow. In the end, the incompatibility between Mexico and the United States (or paradoxically, their intimacy) claims both Bierce and Arroyo, in a novel that is, most of all, about the tragic history of these two cultures in conflict."--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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