THE CAMPAIGN by Carlos Fuentes


Email this review


With this first volume of a projected trilogy about 19th-century revolutionary Spanish America, the prolific Fuentes (Constancia, 1990; Christopher Unborn, 1989; etc.) offers a baggy, robust tale about a political kidnapping and its human consequences. Baltasar Bustos, the son of a wealthy Argentine ranch owner, is influenced by Rousseau and the political anti-Royalist climate in 1810 to "turn books into action." He kidnaps the newborn child of a presiding judge of the Supreme Court, the Marquis of Cabra, but in so doing glimpses the Marquise, Ofelia Salamanca, and falls in love with her. Bustos then spends the rest of the story trying to redeem himself by searching first for the kidnapped child, sent away to live the life of a prostitute's child, and then searching for the Marquise when she too disappears. Against this backdrop, Fuentes offers a gallery of straw dogs and mouthpieces who speak for one side or the other as the absolutist Catholic empire of Spain struggles against both principled revolutionaries, who want to create "a rationalist, liberal, and perhaps Protestant freedom," and against various other factions--mestizos and various cutthroats. Meanwhile, Bustos, immersed in a "political and moral anguish" beyond "the immediate division between mine and yours," changes stripes frequently, either to survive or to disguise his true purpose--finding the Marquise--until his search becomes "celebrated" and an aura of myth accumulates around him and the Marquise, who, he eventually learns, is herself a revolutionary double-agent. Exasperatingly expository and episodic--but, still, Fuentes manages to persuade us of the Spanish-American rationale for a continuing revolution and to explore (very unsystematically) the "possibility of establishing a relationship with God through language.
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-374-11828-0
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991

CARLOS FUENTES, 1928-2012:

NonfictionTHE BURIED MIRROR by Carlos Fuentes
by Carlos Fuentes
FictionTHE ORANGE TREE by Carlos Fuentes
by Carlos Fuentes
FictionTHE CRYSTAL FRONTIER by Carlos Fuentes
by Carlos Fuentes
NonfictionA NEW TIME FOR MEXICO by Carlos Fuentes
by Carlos Fuentes


NonfictionTHE GREAT LATIN AMERICAN NOVEL by Carlos Fuentes
by Carlos Fuentes
FictionDESTINY AND DESIRE by Carlos Fuentes
by Carlos Fuentes
FictionHAPPY FAMILIES by Carlos Fuentes
by Carlos Fuentes