The third volume of Asturias' ""banana"" trilogy (The Green Pope, published here in 1971, and Strong Wind, 1969) and the...



The third volume of Asturias' ""banana"" trilogy (The Green Pope, published here in 1971, and Strong Wind, 1969) and the apotheosis of his saga of third-world expropriation and defeat by American capital. It is now World War II; American allies, ""blond drunkards,"" demoralize the banana republic with insults and dollars while the newspapers improvise submarine threats to keep the workers in their place. George Maker Thompson, the Green Pope, is dying of throat cancer in Chicago, but his empire is secure, thanks in part to the backfired reforms of another rich gringo, Lester Mead, who inadvertently created a class of native owners. Thanks also to abortive rebellions (their battle cry, ""chos moyon con,"" still echoes in secret places) which left most of the fighters dead. Nonetheless, a small opposition has survived to learn from failure; and when Juan Pablo Mondragon, alias Octavio Sansur, alias Tabio San, emerges from volcanic catacombs with his face transfigured by a cactus potion and his body coated with the dust of the ash and lime pits, it is a parable of emerging political consciousness. It is also an image of resurrection. The plot describes the gradual rallying of the masses and their victory through organization in a general strike; but this correct theoretical moral is enveloped and distended with myth, metaphor, prefigurations, dreams, ghosts, folklore, jokes, all the manifold expressions of a native voice. It is a rich mixture and the basis of Asturias' reputation -- what the Nobel Prize committee called his ""volcanic vehemence"" in their 1967 award statement. Here it makes for an implacable sluggishness, protracted, redundant, digressive and diffuse, which gives first a sense of process but finally overburdens the suspense. The conception is grand -- a sort of dialectical synthesis of the trilogy -- but the book itself is merely huge and Asturias' vast, baroque lyricism is more than ever a special taste.

Pub Date: April 1, 1973


Page Count: -

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1973