THE AUTUMN OF THE PATRIARCH

When first seen at his second death, the solitary despot who has lived for a conjectural 107 to 232 years, lies in his dungheap "house of castaways," vultures pecking at his body while a cow appears on the balcony where he delivered his pronunciamentos. His "autumn" lasted a long time after his first death—that of his lookalike—and he became a "sunset old man" anxious to leave the world of untruth and brutality he had created. Created, to be sure, with the help of foreign powers—Marines are stationed in the harbor. Cut down in size or years, he might remind you of real Caribbean lookalikes—perhaps Papa Doc or Trujillo. But then Garcia Marquez' patriarch is mythical, having sired 5000 children and grown a third set of teeth at the age of 150. Story follows story of his regime, a "stew of destruction," and of those closest to him: his favorite, the General, who ended up on a silver tray stuffed with pine nuts and herbs; or his mother mourned until his own dying—that innocent peasant mother who painted bird pictures, orioles; or his only spouse, Leticia, the novice he kidnapped from a convent and imported in a crate marked "fragile. . . this side up." Leticia educated and refined him and was destroyed, with their son, by killer dogs. The vertigo of images and scenes matches the momentum of those sentences, those ever-ongoing sentences, pages at a clip, which suggest an eternity of days and years. Read it as a magnification of fable, or as violent grand guignol, or as political allegory of a world which defies and stops time, much as the patriarch attempted to; read it as a canticle to the "miseries of glory" and mortality, remembering that "the most feared enemy is within oneself"; read it as a dazzling work of imaginative conjure; read it. . . .

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 1976

ISBN: 0060882867

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1976

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

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