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American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese

Author(s): Bradley A. Shaw
Review by: Bradley A. Shaw
Source: Hispania, Vol. 64, No. 4 (Dec., 1981), pp. 645-646
Published by: American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese
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Reviews 645

unreadable, exhausting, humorless, magical, unique, balanced by the heavy dialectical realism of other
greatly perceptive, compelling, audacious, breath- tales. Maria Luisa Bombal, though the only woman
taking, inventive, . . . a magnificent failure." On writer included, richly represents a certain female sen-
Fuentes himself we have a confusing statement: "(He sibility whose existence some critics acknowledge.
was) excluded from Mexico because of his own coun- Though there are no stories by Carpentier, Fuentes,
try's brutal repression of students .. ." Onetti or Garcia MArquez,the masters of the genre-
As a brief survey of the life and works of ten out- Borges, Rulfo and Cortazar-are there. The transla-
standing Latin American novelists, this work may be tions, done by a large number of individuals including
helpful to the uninitiated. However, should a reprint- Professor Menton, are unvaryingly smooth and ele-
ing be considered by the publisher, attention must gant, as flawless as a faithful translation can be,
be given to correcting careless mistakes. The text is making this text ideal for courses given in English.
plagued with numerous typographical and spelling Of the forty stories included, there is at least one
errors, both in English and Spanish; faulty word from each Spanish-speaking country with the largest
division; and improper documentation. number, for some reason, belonging to Mexico. All
JOEL HANCOCK the selections are distinguished to start with and gain
University of Utah immeasurably in being framed by Menton's incisive
introductions and commentaries.
Short Story: A Critical Anthology. Berkeley: Uni- Wellesley College
versity of California Press, 1980. ix + 496 pp.
$19.95. WOODs, RICHARDD. Reference Materials on Latin
Hispanists will rejoice at the availability of this America in English: The Humanities. Metuchen,
book in English. The unique feature of this rich and N.J. and London: The Scarecrow Press, 1980.
artful anthology, originally published in Mexico in xii + 639 pp. $32.50.
1964 in two paperback volumes as El cuento hispano- One of the by-products of increased scholarly
americano, is the analytical commentary which fol- research on Latin America is the need for compre-
lows each selection. The reader, rather than being left hensive and accurate reference works, arranged so
alone with the impact and in some cases the enigma that their information may be easily accessible to
of the work of art, is offered an "explication de the reading public they serve. A lack of uniformity
texte" which provides background, makes historical of style and coherent organization plagues too many
connections and transmits great sensitivity to narra- of the bibliographies which, for want of better re-
tive structure and style. Avoiding the foible of the search tools, librarians, and scholars must use as
"explication," namely indiscriminate praise of the best they can. This is true for reference works in
story being analyzed, Professor Menton, on the con- English as well as Spanish, Portuguese, or other
trary, criticizes forthrightly such things as "Romantic languages. Of course there are some notable excep-
defects," "artificiality," and technical imperfection, tions, among them Reference Materials on Latin
so that we may better comprehend the burgeoning America in English: The Humanities, by Professor
artistry of the genre. When identifying elements Richard B. Woods. The "state of the art" in Eng-
which may not be to the contemporary reader's liking, lish language works on Latin America is clearly evi-
he also makes allowances for the idiosyncratic literary dent through an examination of this carefully organ-
tastes of the period. izd and painstakingly annotated bibliography.
The excellence of the accompanying commentaries, Woods defines the scope and limitations of his
which follow no orthodoxy of current criticism, work to make the volume useful to virtually anyone
reminds one of T. S. Eliot's dictum "For there is no interested in Latin American studies. Basically, he
method except to be extremely intelligent." This is selects all types of reference works (including bibliog-
not to say, of course, that there is no underlying raphies, dictionaries, guidebooks, handbooks, direc-
focus, for indeed the critical eye is constantly trained tories, catalogs, literary histories, etc.) of monograph-
on the evolution of the genre, the literary canon, the ic length or as brief as a few pages which are pub-
gestation of national characteristics and the artistic lished as a self-contained unit. Works are totally or
merit of a given story. The question of national partially in English (only one exception, Geoghegan's
character in the artistic terrain is bound to be con- Obras de referencia de America Latina) and deal,
troversial and for some countries the question is for the most part, with Latin America, excluding
thorny, but one could argue that the value of such cultures derived from the British or Dutch. The only
determinations is at least heuristic. "general" works listed offer significant sections re-
The anthology, encompassing almost a century and lated to Latin America. Subjects are restricted to
a half of Spanish American short stories, affords those in the humanities as defined in practice by the
readers of English the opportunity of reading the editors of the Handbook of Latin American Studies.
best of the genre. It begins just after the Wars of Finally, all 1252 items are examined personally and
Independence with "The Slaughterhouse," ("El annotated according to purpose, scope, arrangement
matadero") and ends with the experimental "What's and control apparatus, and evaluation. The entries
Cool" ("Cudl es la onda"), written by Jose Agustin are indexed by author, title and subject. The sub-
in 1968. We are shown both the rapid literary evolu- ject index, formed with the aid of computer analysis,
tion of Spanish America and how we would deprive is extensive, and includes a large number of sub-
ourselves by adhering to twentieth-century literature headings, thus making it extremely easy to use.
alone. The refinement and delicacy of such stories as An examination of the volume finds a number of
"Unclaimed Watch" ("Reloj sin dueho") by Jose general reference works which may surprise, such as
L6pez Portillo or the gentle wit of Manuel GonzAlez Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, or
Zeled6n in "The 'Clipse'" ("El clis de sol") are The German Language Press of the Americas, 1732-

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646 Hispania 64 (December 1981)

1968, among others. The range of subjects extends to pompous sounding names and contrasting nicknames,
disease, military terms, Jewish history, and coins, gives the collection its principal internal cohesion.
even backpacking in the Andes and childbirth. Ex- The author's macrocosm are Brazil's favored mec-
cept in the case of personal copies or works from cas of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia, where
private collections, the full bibliographical data in- mostly white collar males struggle more to maintain
clude the name of a holding library (for purposes of their sanity than their sliding living standard. Tech-
inter-library loan). nological advances trigger a series of paradoxical
The outstanding feature of the work is the extensive and symbolic confrontations between man and ma-
annotation of each entry. These are invaluable, espe- chine, some with grisly results. The title story, for
cially because of the fact that often bibliographers example, ends with the cyclist-protagonist's first
have published incorrect information about works be- and last ride.
cause they failed to examine them to determine con- All these selective views of urban tragicomedy,
tent and scope. Reference Materials on Latin America while universal in nature, exude a particularly Bra-
in English: The Humanities, however, is the result of zilian flavor in their caricaturized exaggeration. Plots
thorough, professional scholarship, and serves as a and characters seem to rush ahead almost obsessively,
model for works of its kind. irrespective of consequences, much like the nation's
BRADLEY A. SHAW rapid industrialization-or like the audaz motoqueiro.
Kansas State University Herberto Sales captures both the charm and the flak
of modern, pulsating Brazil, and produces one of
SALES,HERBERTO. Armado Cavaleiro o Audaz Moto- the stylistic highpoints amid the plethora of post-
queiro. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Civilizagao, 1980. 1964 satirical prose.
The author, born in northeastern Brazil in 1917, has San Diego State University
so far published four novels and as many short story
collections, all written with uncommon meticulous- CABALLERO CALDERON, EDUARDO. Manuel Pacho.
ness. Cascalho (1944) and Alim dos Marimbus (1961), Edici6n de Myron Lichtblau. Bogota: Editorial
his earlier novels, are embued with the stark realism Kelly, 1980. 244 pp.
of the Bahian interior, be it prospecting in the former Should anyone doubt the value of reading authors
or timber extraction in the latter. Such telluric bonds outside the publishing "Boom" or the technically
give way to an urban and increasingly cosmopolitan innovative "new narrators," let him or her attempt
atmosphere in Sales' later pair of novels. Dados this novel, first published in 1969. The Colombian
Biogrdficos do Finado Marcelino (1965) and O Fruto (Boyaca) Eduardo Caballero Calder6n is described by
do Vosso Ventre (1976) offer, respettively a nostalgic Professor Lichtblau in his preliminary study as one
vision of bourgeois complacency and the drastic whose personal strength comes from "su inalterable
excesses of Orwellian futurism. With the obvious ex- fe cristiana y de la creencia en el valor . . . del indi-
ception of O Lobisomem e Outros Contos Folcl6ricos viduo" and who excels artistically in "sinceridad
(1970), the fictionist's short story collections echo literaria, preocupaci6n por la suerte del hombre
tendencies laid bare in his more recent novels. Histd- desventurado, fluidez lingtiistica y, quizis lo mis
rias Ordindrias (1966) and Uma Telha de Menos importante, la captaci6n de la tenue linea que separa
(1970), as well as his newest work, humorously focus la realidad objetiva y la visi6n est6tica de ella." But
on diverse aspects of contemporary life and the re- to read and to respond to Caballero's novel is a more
sulting alienation in habits and customs to be found complex process than these words seem to predict.
in any consumer socity. Indeed, the very title of Ar- It is to the realm of tough and sinewy naturalism,
mado Cavaleiro o A udaz Motoqueiro epitomizes the with its emphasis on excretion, masturbation and
disparity between traditional and modern attitudes. other natural functions, that the author lowers his
Externally, Sales' latest collection is divided into focus to create Manuel Pacho. But he descends armed
three progressive sections, of which the initial two with a well-honed experimental technique quite differ-
differ somewhat in thematic direction (i.e., the youth ent from the straight third-person narration of El
cult vs. ostensibly adult machinations). Both are com- Cristo de espaldas, for example. There is no counter-
posed of short narratives, one in the first section vailing "magical realism" in Caballero's naturalistic
(the title story) and twelve in the second or middle tales. Nor is there any romantic idealization of the
section-clearly the body of Armado Cavaleiro. The countryside setting (despite the fact that images of
last section, like the first, contains a single narrative, plants, animals and insects abound). If there were to
but one whose length, if not theme, sets it apart from be a contest between the more chilling episodes in
the rest. The overall design provides a cyclical sym- Cien a#hosde soledad (take, for example the arrival
metry into which the author weaves a symbiotic mix- in Macondo of the rotting corpse of Fernanda del
ture of satirical elements. Carpio's father, or the almost culinary preparation of
The prevalence of a jocose viewpoint, be it an ob- Jose Arcadio's body for burial) and those of Manuel
trusive omniscient narrator or an equally uninhibited, Pacho, there is no question that Caballero's descrip-
ironic narrator-character, ensures at times an almost tions fulfill the conditions of the aesthetic of the
picaresque levity in even the most morbid of situa- grotesque far more completely than those of his com-
tions. Often, Sales resorts to the framed tale, its patriot: the casual dismemberments, the prevalence
intrinsic spontaneity in harmony with the dependence of abnormality and ambivalence, and in general, the
on colloquial dialogue evident throughout every expression of estrangement and alienation.
story. These verbal interchanges, in turn, display Manuel Pacho tells the story of a slow-witted son's
the folksy polemics and anecdotal humor of the response to witnessing the violent killing of his moth-
Brazilian cr6nica. The resulting parodic tone, but- er, father and household servants, carried out in
tressed by familiar bourgeois mouthpieces with front of his own eyes and how he singlemindedly

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