NEW ISLANDS And Other Stories by Maria Luisa Bombal

NEW ISLANDS And Other Stories

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These five slim stories come with an introductory paragraph of endorsement from Jorge Luis Borges--and since Chilean storyteller Bombal (1910-1980) wrote mostly about forms of fumey mysteriousness in curio-shop style, the Borges connection is plausible. But the true flavor of Bombal's work doesn't seem to strain through in translation: in English, as presented here, these baroquely knotted stories--of loveless marriage, imaginary erotic obsessions, and earth-and-water primal correspondences--most often recall that excessive yet faintly anemic narrative style which runs from George Sand through Joyce Carol Oates. As tales, they are rarely involving--with a woman's frustration as the usual subject matter (frequently due to a marriage she's contracted with a much older man, often a friend of her father's). As prose, the mood is largely somnambulistic: ""Some years ago, perhaps, it might have been reasonable to destroy in one rebellious impulse all the vitality accumulated inside me to avoid watching it languish and die for want of an outlet. But an implacable destiny has stripped me even of the right to search for death, has instead led me slowly and cruelly to an old age devoid of passion, of memories. . . of a past."" Disappointing work, then, possibly of interest to specialists in feminist and/or Latin American literature.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux