MEN OF MAIZE by Miguel Angel Asturias


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With its epic-poetic, winding sentences and its here-and-there rambling folk logic, this new translation of the late Guatemalan writer reflects Asturias' reputation as a seminal figure in the cultivation of an indigenous, non-Europhilic South American literature. Men of Maize was first published in Buenos Aires in 1949 and predates his Nobel-prize winning banana republic trilogy. This is not so much an indictment of institutions like United Fruit as it is a mythic history of the white man's arrival in Indian America. Specifically of the misfortunes that befall the children and grandchildren of a certain apothecary responsible for the poisoning of the warrior chief Gas. par Ilom, the last line of resistance to the greedy ""maizegrowers"" who burn the forests, then exhaust the soft. Asturias brings together half a dozen legends -- of Machojon, who turns into a star on the day of his engagement; of the death and rebirth of the Curer/Deer of the Seventh Fire/firefly wizard; of the curse on the army colonel who led the raid on Gaspar; of blind Poppa-Possum, deserted by his wife; and the Coyote-Postman similarly abandoned-into the kind of big story-telling novel fabricated equally for pain-killing entertainment and for symbolic explanation of why the Bad Times came. Asturias' cross-fertilization of cultures make. s an impressive contribution to our understanding of the people of that other America where the social transition from primitive to modern is ongoing and devastating--the source of some of the most powerful social novels being written today, since Asturias opened the way.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Delacorte