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The Truce by Mario Benedetti

The Truce (original 1960; edition 1969)

by Mario Benedetti, Benjamin Graham (Translator)

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3921427,329 (4.05)5
Title:The Truce
Authors:Mario Benedetti
Other authors:Benjamin Graham (Translator)
Info:New York, Harper & Row [1969]
Collections:Wishlist, Connections-Recommendations
Tags:fiction, literature-Uruguayan, translation, Spanish, literature-20th c., literature-1960s, literature-South American, CG PQ7000-8999/PM, Uruguay, novel, ≥40 global ratings

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The Truce by Mario Benedetti (1960)



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Spanish (11)  English (3)  All (14)
Showing 3 of 3
El único libro que me ha hecho llorar en toda mi vida, es muy bueno, uno literalmente puede leer el dolor de Santomé, uno puede sentir el dolor del hombre, uno entiende todo lo que siente, esta muuy muy muy cabrón, pero muy muy muy bueno, también se la rifa. ( )
  Atenas | Aug 26, 2013 |
The other day I was killing a bit of time at the end of the day searching for used books on the internet. There's a really great Spanish-language publisher called Cátedra that prints "scholarly" editions of modern and classic Spanish and Latin American literature, with introductory studies and generous footnotes included in each book. I really appreciate the introductions, because they help me understand the context and the meaning of the books I read. Their books are also very durable: Not only are they the perfect size to fit in one's front pocket, but they are able to withstand the wear and tear that results from being carried around in one's pocket during multiple readings. I pretty much buy the Cátedra version of any book that I like if it costs less than $5 with shipping included, so I recently upgraded to a Cátedra edition of Mario Benedetti's La tregua. I had been meaning to re-read this book after the author's death last year anyway, so it was a very satisfying purchase and read.

Martín Santomé works in an office in Montevideo and is about to stop working at the ripe old age of 50, the age at which people in Uruguay in the late 1950s used to retire. He's decided to keep a diary of his last year before retirement, because he considers himself a decent writer and he wants to write while he still has things worth documenting. When he retires and stops commuting to the office every day, he feels that his day-to-day experiences will be greatly reduced and he will find little motivation to keep journaling. He's got three children, Esteban, Jaime and Blanca. His wife died shortly after the birth of Jaime, and his experience with women during the quarter century after her death has been limited to brief and fleeting sexual encounters that he once describes as "hygienic." He writes about his job and the Montevideo that he sees around him, he writes about his few friends and his interactions with them, and he writes about his up-and-down relationship with his children. Most of all, though, he writes about his relationship with a younger woman named Laura Avellaneda who starts working in his office early in the year. He has a growing admiration for her, and is able to create a casual encounter where he expresses his desire to be with her, along with his concerns about impinging upon her liberty due to her youth and his old age. To his relief, she's into him too, and they have a nice relationship. His last journal entry is written just before he retires from the office, about a year after he started writing.

I really enjoyed reading this book for the second time. Knowing what happens as the story progresses made it a sadder book, and added a lot of importance to words, thoughts and journal entries that I might not have thought so much about the first time without knowing how the story ends. Santomé's struggle to find meaning in the mediocrity of his middle-aged office and home life was very compelling, and I found him to be an astute and humble observer of both the world that surrounds him and the people who inhabit it. I was happy to be taken back to a very real and tangible Uruguay, and I loved encountering a Spanish vocabulary that I once had contact with on an everyday basis when I lived and studied in Buenos Aires. I found some points of relation between this book and the books I had just read (like Conversazione in Sicilia, La tregua was grounded in the reality of everyday life in a very specific place and time, with Montevideo and the small country of Uruguay in the late 1950s replacing 1930s Sicily; like L'élégance du hérisson, a person whose partner had died many years ago finds unexpectedly finds new love) , and also between La tregua and a steadily-growing number of existential novels I have read in the past two years. Santomé is constantly interrogating himself about the meaning of life and the existence of God in the world of insignificant aging men who work insignificant jobs in offices, and the truce that gives title to book refers to a fleeting resolution to some of these issues that he finds during the year preceding his retirement from the working world.

I thought that the secondary focus on the state of the Uruguayan nation at a time of stagnation and civic and political unfulfillment was really fascinating as well, especially in relation to the United States that I live in today. I related to the characters' feelings about a nation that wasn't moving forward and their frustration with a society where systemic corruption has reached the extent where bribes have become necessary in public life for both illicit and, increasingly, licit ends. The characters' sentiments in the book sounded a lot like those that I read in the newspaper every morning in the local and national news stories and opinion pages. Perhaps the collapse of the Uruguayan system that occurred in the years following this book's publication does not bode well for the future of America, considering how much of our contemporary political culture I saw in their feelings about their small country and the direction in which it was heading.

The additional material in the Cátedra edition, as usual, was nice to have. I didn't really like the editor's personal touch (I thought he was kind of anti-United States and sometimes I didn't quite agree with his more subjective commentaries), but he did provide a lot of biographical details about Benedetti, as well as some footnotes that brought my attention to a number of special words and phrases of the Argentine-Uruguayan lexicon that I thought were worth highlighting. Another five dollars well-spent! ( )
2 vote msjohns615 | Sep 28, 2010 |
A forgotten treasure, most certainly. This novel, published in a first English edition in 1969 translated from Spanish, is set in Montevideo by a well known Uruguayan author and is perhaps his least well known work. The book is a first person narrative in the form of journal entries by a corporate accounting supervisor and widower approaching fifty years old. It is at once a philosophical treatise, ruminations of his marriage, a story of his parenting and engaging with his three children, and an unexpected love story. The romance is pared down to a palatable and undiluted simplicity. It is evocative, romantic, and heart-wrenching while expressing so many life truths without ramblings. A concise masterwork best read by women under forty and men over forty. ( )
  shawnd | Dec 6, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mario Benedettiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bourgonje, FleurTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graham, BenjaminTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Lunes 11 de febrero...Sólo me faltan seis meses y ventiocho días para estar en condiciones de jubilarme.
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"Tiene lindas piernas. Todavía no trabaja automáticamente así que se fatiga."
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Do not combine La tregua by Mario Benedetti and La tregua by Primo Levi. They are different books by different authors.
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Martn Santome, a middle-aged widower with three grown children, begins to write his journal as he nears retirement. His life is dull and unfulfilling until one day he meets Laura Avellaneda, a new employee in his office.

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