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Stefanie's SPAN 365 Blog

Friday, April 20, 2007

11:38PM - SPAN 365 Final Comments

In a total contrast to the SPAN 490 course, this course studies well known ‘good’ literature. I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed with any of the readings. I particularly enjoyed “las hortensias” (I don’t know why, I think it’s because it was so disturbing that it was intriguing), and “la piedra callada” was also fun. Like some other people complained about earlier, I kind of wish we could have spent more time analyzing some of the works in depth, but I understand that it was a pretty short term and we didn’t have time. I think it was important that we studied “cien anos de soledad” in such detail since it is arguably the most important modern hispanic novel. I personally really enjoy literature classes where we simply read selective works from different authors, discuss them in class, and analyze them in essays. Call me a lit nerd, but that’s pretty much my dream spanish class – without all the worries of grammar and vocab, and just really feeling immersed in the literature and culture of the hispanic world. Besides all the chosen texts in this class, I also enjoyed the format of the course. It was definitely fun to read a certain amount of pages, and then discuss a relevant point of it in small groups, rather than in front of the class. Like I also mentioned already in my span 490 blog, I surprisingly ended up enjoying the blogs we had to write. Seeing that I’ve never done that in any class, it was an interesting experiment, as I think it allows the students time to think about the texts, and express them for others to read and comment on. In general, this was a really fun class and I really enjoyed it!

11:37PM - SPAN 490 Final Comments

So, for our last blogs we’re supposed to write our general comments about this class. I honestly had no idea what to expect when I signed up for this class, because it’s such a strange idea to actually “study” bad literature. In a way, I’ve always thought of that general issue that you should only study good literature because it’s worth studying, and there are important things to take out of it. On the other hand, I think this is an excellent course, because much in the same way, bad literature should be studied, giving students concrete evidence / reasons for what constitutes a bad author, or badly written novels. Nonetheless, I still maintain my general reasoning that ‘bad’ and ‘good’ are in the opinion of the beholder. It’s a very difficult thing to argue because it is so subjective. For example, I remember reading “como agua para chocolate” in high school, and I remember thinking it was such a good book because it was so original in the storyline of mixing this dramatic plotline with the emotions of cooking and recipes, etc. I never really stopped to think about the style of writing, or the fact that it was really such a simple novel which embraced every aspect of magical realism – too much. With a book like “los siete locos”, I admit I was very surprised that this would be included in the course, because normally, it would be obviously crappy books like R.L. Stein, but being that this book is so serious and questions important issues like economic situations or underground problems, I thought it would be in the ‘good’ literature column. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading the books with a different outlook, since we already know every book we’re reading is supposed to be bad, it changes the way you read them. Normally when you start a book, you expect it to be good (or at least I do) until it is proven otherwise. All in all, I really liked this course, I liked the blogs, I enjoyed the humorous and amusing classes, and I would definitely recommend it to other students.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

11:39PM - “10 anos con Mafalda”

I remember when I first flipped through this book, and saw that it was in comic form, I was really excited to read it! Even though it’s part of our bad literature course, you have to give Quino credit that it’s quite unique, in terms of its style and format. Furthermore, I did actually enjoy some aspects of it. For example, I thought the stories were charming in their simplicity, and the illustrations reminded me a lot of Snoopy. Of the chapters I read, I liked the one on “el colegio” the most, when Mafalda goes to school. When considering the characters, in my opinion, Mafalda is a typical, annoying child, constantly asking random questions to her parents and driving everybody crazy. At the same time, in her innocence and lack of tact, so to speak, she always manages to insult people without necessarily trying to, whether it be complete strangers or her parents. I guess one of my complaints is that Mafalda can be a pretty annoying protagonist, and the content or narration of the book makes it a little formulaic and redundant at times. Like in each chapter, her curiosity leads her to some new sort of preocupation, and this spans another several pages of questions and adventures from Mafalda and her friends. When I think about the basic discussions we had in class about what makes ‘good literature’, one that stood out to me was that it teaches the readers something, or perhaps, offers them insight into universal themes or something like this. In this definition, “10 anos” definitely doesn’t teach the readers anything; at least not in my opinion. It seems to me to be a book meant solely for light, comical entertainment (even though Mafalda often approaches universal issues like politics, world peave, and humanity). However, since these issues are addressed in her point of view, they are therefore represented as questions of curiosity that turn into comical discussions due to her lack of understanding of the various situations. In the chapter “Mafalda y la sopa”, one could definitely argue that this chapter doesn’t offer any kind of depth or ‘profundity’ to the world of literature; it’s more or less meaningless, since it just talks about Mafalda hating soup. Nonetheless, I thought it was really fun to read, but that’s mainly because I’ve never read anything in this graphic novel format, but I still wouldn’t consider it ‘good literature’; and to be honest, I wouldn’t even call it literature, really.

3:16PM - “One Hundred Years of Solitude” – Part III

I’m not exactly sure up to which page we’re supposed to read, so I’m just gonna write my thoughts about what I have read so far. Even though this is a pretty heavy book, and a very confusing one at that, I am really enjoying reading it. It’s quite interesting how it’s simply the story of the creation of a town, or a family’s history, and it seems like each character (well, each major character) seems to represent some kind of quality. For example, Jose Arcadio Buendia is arguably the most solitary of all the people in the book, and he perhaps represents the bridge between the ancient world and the modern inventions of civilization, as he is a natural explorer. And interestingly, Ursula is in some ways like a typical house wife, in that she takes care of all the matters at home (creating a presentable household, open to visitors, and raising children, like Rebeca), but at the same time, she lives the longest, she sees several generations of the family, and she has a lot of control over her family, since her husband sinks deeply into insanity and solitude. One thing that continues to surprise me is the theme of incest within the novel. I keep wondering how many different characters are going to be paired together. As bad as cousins or brothers and sisters are, I was still pretty shocked at Arcadio lusting after his own mother. It makes me question the purpose of Marquez creating so many characters with similar names (why don’t they each have their own identities?), and the reason for this continuous incest among seemingly everybody. Nonetheless, the parts of the book I enjoy most are the relationships. For example, even though I thought it was pretty disturbing how Remedios was SO young, that seemed like the most genuine relationship; their family embraced her, she even vowed to raise the illegitimate child as her own, and I was pretty sad when she died mysteriously. Probably my only complaint is, I wish there wasn’t so much focus on the war stuff (liberals versus conservatives etc.); I have to admit I wasn’t particularly interested in that, and I kind of found parts of that a little boring. But besides that, this is definitely an amazing book that seems to cover every topic (death, memory and nostalgia, power, love, lust, incest, solitude, war).

Monday, March 12, 2007

11:25PM - Marquez – “Cien Anos de Soledad” Parte II

De toda la literatura que hemos leido, “Cien anos de soledad” es definitivamente la mas compleja y dificil de leer. Aunque es un libro muy bella, todavia tengo problemas de enfocarme sobre solamente estas paginas. Quizas es debido al estilo de la lenguaje, o tal vez es porque se necesita usar mucha concentracion para recordar y organizar los varios personajes en el libro. En clase, discutimos la dificultad de los mismos nombres – por supuesto complica todo cuando parece que todos los personajes comparten el mismo nombre. Sin embargo, me parece interesante la cuestion de nombres y la importancia de identidad. Como describe Marquez en la primera pagina del libro, era una epoca de modernizacion y creacion, como se estaba descubriendo los nombres de todas las cosas, y uniendolas con las definiciones. Sin embargo, es un poco extrano que la mayoria de la familia buendia tiene la misma nombre. Puede ser Jose Arcadio, Aureliano y los 17 aurelianos, y mas y mas. Ademas, lo encuentro intrigante que, de nuevo, vemos como la esctructura de familia mas o menos normal cambia y los papeles de cada miembro de familia puede convertirse en otro. Por ejemplo, cuando discutimos en clase sobre “Las Hortensias” y las transiciones y papeles cambiantes de la familia. En esta situation, empieza con el agregar de un objeto para reemplazar la falta de un exponente significativo – el de la hija. En la obra de Marquez, no obstante, vemos tantos ejemplos de incesto en la historia de las generaciones de la familia Buendia. En vez de simplemente agregando un miembro de famlia, un miembro se convierte a otro tipo; a veces como una tia a una amante y muchos mas ejemplos. Para mi, es especialmente interesante cuando pienso en el tema principal de este curso – familia; y como en las obras de literatura que hemos estudiado, cada obra muestra una situacion diferente de la estructura y los papeles.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

3:58PM - Roberto Arlt – "Los siete locos": Pt. II

Aunque en general, no me gusto la primera mitad del libro por las razones que he dado, todavia hay aspectos que aprecio. Por ejemplo, es interesante la manera de que Arlt describe la transicion de un hombre, mas o menos normal, viviendo con su esposa que se involucra con un mundo “underground” que consiste de prostitutas, pimps, terrorismo y un plan de derrocar el gobierno. De hecho, el personaje del astrologo me parece muy intrigante – habla del ku-klux-klan, y otros secretos y como se vee, Erdosain esta involucrado con mucha gente misteriosa y peligrosa a traves del cuento. No obstante, me pregunto por que este libro esta considerado un clasico, amado por mucha gente? Mi conclusion va asi – durante la epoca en que escribio este libro, creo que no existio el postmodernismo ni el realismo magico, y por eso, Arlt era un ‘pionero’ por su descubrimiento de estas nuevas tecnicas. Una gran parte del libro esta contado entre la realidad y la fantasia. Hoy en dia, muchos libros latinoamericanos que emplean este estilo de realismo magico cuentan sus historias en un tiempo / espacio cambiante. Es decir, salta del pasado, presente, futuro o la realidad y la ilusion. Por lo demas, mientras leia este libro, pensaba en como su vida empezo con el robar de dinero de su compania y finalmente, lo lleva a un mundo de crimen. De una manera, este libro es un comentario social sobre el estado de Argentina y la alienacion durante ese tiempo; sobre la sitation politica y economica, como los lectores exploran el mundo de prostitutas, revolucionarios y mas. Ademas, prueba la teoria de Arlt que ni la religion ni la sociedad puedan ayudar a un hombre a encontrar su alma en la sociedad moderna. Despues de leer mi entrada, me doy cuenta de que parece una revista positiva, pero en realidad, no es asi. La verdad es que no me gusto este libro puesto que no disfruto libros cuando no puedo sentirme ninguna cosa para los protagonistas, o cuando el tema / la trama es demasiado ‘pesado’ (heavy?) sin un solo momento de alegria. Mientras leia el libro, me senti muy aburrido y cuando lo termine, me senti deprimido y infeliz, y para mi, es un signo de un libro malo.

3:15PM - Roberto Arlt - "los siete locos" Pt. I

Lo siento Jon, olvide a poner mi entrada de diario la semana pasada. Bueno.. mientras leia las primeras paginas de este libro, me sorprendio que era completamente distinto a la otra literatura que hemos visto en clase. Parece que libros como Eva Luna, Como agua para chocolate y la Alquimista son para lectores / un publico especificos. Por ejemplo, Eva Luna y Como agua son mas para mujeres (en mi opinion), puesto que tratan de protagonistas femininas que relatan las historias de sus vidas, o trata de amor y la cocina; especialmente en el caso de la cocina, es mas dificil a relacionarse a los hombres. Sin embargo, a mi, Los siete locos no tiene un grupo de lectores especifico. Quizas la gente que se preocupa con la politica, o tal vez los lectores pretenciosos. Ademas, el tono / el atmosfera de todo el libro es muy del color gris o negro. Es decir, es muy oscuro y Arlt nos presenta un mundo cinico y deprimente. Otra cosa de este libro – me parece interesante cuando el protagonista no es totalmente “bueno” En esta situacion, Erdosain es un poco loco, y ademas de esto, es un ladron. Por eso, es un reto a amar este personaje que ha creado Arlt. Aparte del robar, tambien visita a una prostituta cuando tiene una esposa. Cosas asi me hacen dificil a relacionarme a este protagonista.

Cosas que me gustan:
- Titulos de cada capitulo ya que es mas facil de entender
- [no puedo pensar de mas cosas!]

Cosas que no me gustan:
- los personajes (en terminos de las personalidades)
- el vocabulario (a veces es dificil de seguir, especialmente con el uso del ‘argentine slang’ y el vosotros)
- no existe un momento de alegria (todo trata de la locura / los suenos del protagonista y por eso, es dificil de motivarme a leerlo)
- a veces, demasiada descripcion, de las escenas o de los personajes – lo hace muy aburrido el libro

Monday, March 5, 2007

12:03AM - Cien anos de soledad

He leido solo uno de los cuentos de Gabriel Garcia Marquez – “Cronica de una muerte anunciada”, y por eso no estoy muy familiar con el genero de realismo magico. Aunque no he leido este libro, se que es muy popular y quizas la obra que destaca mas cuando se piensa de la literatura espanola, especialmente en el genero de realismo magico. En general, encontre el libro muy dificil de leer y seguir. Hay muchos personajes, y a veces tuve que volver a la primera pagina a ver el arbol de la familia (family tree?) para recordar quien era quien. Sin embargo, es interesante la inclusion de los gitanos – me parecia un poco extrano, especialmente porque en los dias de ese periodo, los gitanos, probablemente eran vistos como muy misteriosos y al exterior de la sociedad. Ademas, al principio, no sabia que pensar de los personajes principales. Por ejemplo, Jose Arcadio Buendia es muy extrano y esta interesado en la ciencia y en el aprender de todas las cosas que pasan en el mundo. No obstante, al mismo tiempo, abandono a su familia, especificamente a su mujer para lograr sus metas intelectuales. Lo encontre triste cuando algunas de sus aventuras fracasaron despues de que uso los objetos importantes de su mujer. Disfrute los usos de realismo magico tambien. Por ejemplo, despues de que Jose Arcadio mata a Prudencio Aguilar, constantamente el y su esposa empiezan a verlo en lugares en su casa. Me parecia de agregar un aspecto grotesco y fantasico, con la aparicion del fantasma. Y no se porque, sino no esperaba partes asi; tal vez pensaba que este libro seria mas de un estilo hermoso y fluido, de una manera. No puedo explicarlo. Sin embargo, es una trama interesante – de una parte, es la historia del nacimiento y crecimiento de un pequeno pueblo, y por el otro lado, es la historia de la familia Buendia a traves de las generaciones. En el ultimo lugar, existe tambien la trama politica y nacional en el libro – las secciones que cubren las cuestiones en el gobierno, etc.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

3:20PM - Reflections on SPA 490

When I first decided to take this class, I had no idea what to expect from a course entitled “Bad Latinamerican Literature”. Nonetheless, I’m happy to say that I’ve learnt a lot about literature in general, about expectations from readers and authors, and the role of stereotypes as well. I guess when I think of just the term “bad literature”, I think of trashy romance novels or obviously crappy books like something in the goosebumps series, etc. However, as I’ve also said in a few of my other blogs, I normally think of books more like entertaining vs. boring, rather than good vs. bad. For instance, in the first book that we read, “Eva Luna”, there were seemingly numerous reasons to explain its ‘badness’. However, for me, its biggest fault was that it couldn’t capture my attention for a second, and I found myself overwhelmed by the unrealistic tragedy in her life. Nonetheless, I was a bit embarassed to say I more or less enjoyed the next two books we read. I would definitely agree that neither “The Alchemist” nor “como agua para chocolate” would ever be classified as classics, but I thought they each had their own charms. But I guess that’s why this course is called “Bad latinamerican literature” and not “boring latinamerican literature”. Anyways, I think it’s kind of strange that a course like this could be taught at all since, when you really think about it, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are relative concepts considering everything is in the eye of the beholder and no one can necessarily be convinced of anything. It’s kind of strange because I don’t think you can convince somebody that a book is good or bad, but you can only gives reasons or proof to try to make them see its flaws. Concerning themes, I can’t really remember if there were that many similar themes. In “como agua..”, Esquivel definitely uses all the stereotypes of latinamerican literature, especially within the genre of magical realism, and the stereotypes of the woman who is only concerned with marriage and cooking. And in “the Alchemist”, the dominant message of “follow your dreams” is not like the one in the other two books, and in this way, I’m not sure if there are necessarily similar themes or common aspects that make all of these books ‘bad’. In my opinion, it seems like this course offers various examples of bad literature, and each one has different ways of being bad. Regarding feedback about the blogs, I enjoy being able to read the book and then having time to reflect on the plot, the characters, or the themes, and then put it down in writing, in my own space. Because I don’t like to talk in class, I think these blogs are an excellent way for people to express their opinions fully without judgment.

2:49PM - Reflections on SPA 365

So, we’re supposed to write a blog entry reflecting on the readings of this course, common themes and / or ideas, and perhaps other things I’ll think of while I’m writing this. First off, I can honestly say I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the literature we’ve had the opportunity to read. Starting off with Cumanda, I found it quite entertaining and interesting. It reminded me more of the 364 class, in terms of colonial literature, but at the same time, it was really poetic. I found “Las Memorias de Mama Blanca” pretty funny at times, although of all the works we’ve read, it was probably my least favourite (not to say I didn’t like it, but I just liked all the other ones a bit more). I remember the first day of class, Jon said that the theme of “family” was one of the most fundamental in all the works. This is pretty clear in all the readings – in Cumanda, there are also the racial issues with the white man etc, and it demonstrates a strong type of patriarchy and gender stereotypes as well. Most of the things we’ve read focus on dysfunctional familial relationships – such as in the case of Cumanda, or the very clear case of Mama Blanca, where the family situation is almost surreal in that they are so isolated and deprived from the outside world. I found “Las hortensias” the most intriguing of all our readings. It was extremely creepy and made me think about a lot of different things. For one, I understand (not personally), but I do get the fetish and infatuation with dolls that Horacio experiences. The only thing that I found kind of strange was that he fashioned the doll exactly after his own wife, and together they used it as a type of foreplay, which was already weird in itself. However, it’s strange to me that he would include his wife in his fetish, and that if he did, you’d think he’d want a doll fairly different from her, since it’s normally an exotic and ‘new’ experience, instead of a flipped version into the already familiar. I also like how the literature we’ve read explores different types of relationships within various kinds of family. For example, there are love relationsihps like Cumanda and Carlos, an imaginary one between Horacio and Hortensia, the family of Mama Blanca, and in “Piedra Callada”, we see the fall out of a mother-daughter relationship, and then later, a case of mental mind games of power between the mother and son-in-law. Well, that’s all that I can think of for now, but I look forward to more interesting works of literature!

Monday, February 12, 2007

5:18PM - "Como agua para chocolate"

Me sorprendio cuando vi “Como agua para chocolate” en el silabus para este curso de mala literatura latinoamericana. Por que? En primer lugar, recuerdo que lo lei durante mi escuela secundaria y vimos la pelicula en una clase de espanol. Por eso, pensaba que debia ser un libro muy famoso y respetado. Aunque, segun esta clase, no es asi. Como dijo Jon en la clase pasada, es interesante que en el primer capitulo (los primeros 24 paginas), ya se introduce todos los personajes (mas o menos) y la trama (incluyendo los temas y los obstaculos). A causa de este formato, no hay mucha sorpresa puesto que los lectores saben que el cuestion es que Tita quiere casarse con Pedro, pero ya que es la hija mas joven, debe tener cuidado a su madre. Ademas, mi queja principal es que Esquivel escribe este libro siguiendo todos los estereotipos de la literatura latinoamericana, como el realismo magico o la famosa “pasion” de mujeres hispanicas. Por ejemplo, la novela comienza con Tita en la cocina – hay una familia de mujeres, y nadie se educa y en cambio, la protagonista le importa solo el matrimonio y la cocina. Y de esta manera, este cuento es muy tradicional en las expectativas de mujeres y de la cultura hispanica. Sin embargo, este libro no es tan malo; me gustaba inicialmente la incorporacion de recetas de comida tradicional, mezclada con historias de familia y de amor. A mi, es una idea mas o menos original. No obstante, me parecio que a veces, los incidentes en el libro son un poco recocidos. No se como describirlo exactamente, pero cuando lo leia, me parecia que era un poco melodramatico, como una telenovela, especialmente con la inclusion de un triangulo de amor entre Pedro y las dos hermanas. En terminos del estilo de escritura, opino que es simple – en el vocabulario y de las ideas fundamentales. Para terminar este blog, quiero citar una frase en el primer capitulo que me hizo sentir verguenza ajena debido a su ‘cheesiness’ – “En ese momento comprendio perfectamente lo que debe sentir la masa de un bunuelo al entrar en contacto con el aceite hirviendo”. Para mi, es una metafora innecesaria y muestra la falta de creatividad, puesto que es demasiado obvia la relacion entre la comida y el amor que pierde su efecto.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

8:47PM - "Las Hortensias"

Okay, I’m going to write this blog in english because this story is complex enough! So, where should I start? I have to admit, the second I read that the protagonist was a grown man, and I saw the word “muneca”, I knew something perverse was likely to occur. And I was not mistaken. It’s true that the plotline, which goes something like – a man has a doll created in the likeness of his wife, Maria, constructs pornographic scenes with dolls, becomes infatuated and in love with the doll, cheats on the doll with another doll, and eventually goes crazy. [Forgive me if that plot summary’s wrong, I read it pretty quickly]. Anyhow, as disturbing as the premise was, I definitely found myself intrigued; it was a pretty original plot. Furthermore, due to the style in which Hernandez writes, the story seemed more gothic and fascinating for the reader, rather than repulsive and disturbing. Another thing I found interesting was how this fetish of dolls evolved within the story. The first few pages, Horacio is so consumed with his showcases with the dolls, and I was extremely shocked to find that his wife was a big part of the whole thing. If anything, I figured she wouldn’t know about his sick obsession – but instead, she is just as close with the doll as he is. Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t realize that his is a passionate love for the doll, since she originally thinks he loves it like a daughter. (That was another disturbing aspect). However, like I was saying about the evolution of this obsession of Horacio’s, it’s interesting how he begins pondering spiritual aspects like, “Maybe there’s a spirit inside the doll which has brought it to life?” And by exploring his psyche a bit more in depth, I didn’t find him to be as crazy as I would have. It was definitely strange how he created a doll to look exactly like his wife, (in case she were ever not there), and he ended up falling in love with the replacement and remembering his wife only as an accessory for the doll. This story reminded me a lot of Pygmalion, with the only difference being that the doll was fashioned after an already existing woman. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the story – it was completely unlike anything I’ve ever read, and I found it eerie and creepy in a most positive and captivating sense.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

10:36PM - "Las Memorias de Mama Blanca" - Parte II

Regardless of some very detailed descriptions, I would have to say I enjoyed “Las memorias de Mama Blanca”. After reading the first half, I was quite amused with some of the anecdotes, like the one with Violeta being punished. My only complaint would probably have been that the other sisters, (the ones other than the protagonist and Violeta), were sort of faceless; they were basically talked about as a whole group rather than individuals with different personalities. Besides that, it was interesting to see the father have a much bigger role in the latter half of the novel. In the first, it seemed like he was a type of “all-seeing figure”, who was more or less completely absent and uninvolved in the lives of his entire family – sort of like a God type, as Jon mentioned in class. However, in the second part, I was surprised to see his authoritarian role really start to be put into play. The way he treated Vicente Cochoco, or Daniel really reminded me of a king talking down to his lowly staff. The issue of social class was a very significant theme in the book as well. The protagonist even referred to herself and her sisters as “las ninitas de la Casa Grande” for example, and when they moved, she even alluded to ‘paradise lost’. Furthermore, the way the father talked about personal hygene made me think of an OCD, crazy rich person, and also served to show exactly how socially isolated this family was. However, the chapter which described how they all felt having to move to another town sort of annoyed me. I found it a little too “poor little rich girl” if you will. The way she was describing their new life in contrast to their old, (only one servant now, etc), I was surprised she didn’t throw in any complaints about how the upkeep of the castle wasn’t up to par or that her diamond shoes were hurting her feet. Besides these minor complaints, the chapter in which I felt all the characters were the most relatable was the one about Aurora. In the earlier part of the book, the mother represented vanity and priority in appearances in the worst sense of the words, but seeing that their family went through such a devastating death really showed that they weren’t just another secluded, wealthy family.

4:59PM - El Alquimista: Parte dos

Despues de algunas clases de analizar “el alquimista”, me siento avergonzada que me gusto este libro al principio. Sin embargo, acabe de terminarlo y ahora veo todas las razones por la que esta considerado mala literatura. En terminos de vocabulario y temas principales (el significativo de seguir los suenos), como ya ha sido mencionado, es un libro muy sencillo. No obstante, el estilo de escritura de Coelho me confunde un poco; conceptos vagos, por ejemplo “el lenguaje del universo” o “el alma del mundo” – cosas asi, no se exactamente que quiere aprendernos Coelho. Y la mayoria del tiempo, estos conceptos tratan estar profundos y el autor los repite tantas veces que aun si fueran, es dificil de ignorar el “lameness” flagrante. Aparte de estos problemas, habia otras cosas que me molestaron. Por ejemplo, recuerdo que me preguntaba que paso a la chica al principio de la novela. Se que Fatima, la nueva chica en el desierto, remplazo a la otra chica, y no se por que, pero esperaba que el autor la mencionaria otra vez. Tambien, encontre que la primera mitad del libro era mas interesante – quise que volvieran los ovejas. Ademas, el final del libro me sorprendio un poco. Algunas paginas antes del fin, cuando Santiago se daba cuenta de que “el tesoro era en su corazon”, y yo pensaba que no existe el oro, porque parecia que la moraleja del cuento era que la felicidad viene del alma, pero en realidad, todavia el tesoro era una cosa materialista.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

11:59PM - "Las Memorias de Mama Blanca"

No se exactamente que decir sobre “Las memorias de Mama Blanca”. En general, diria que me gusto, en terminos de interes y cosas asi. Me gustaba el estilo de la escritura de Parra – en que parecia como anecdotas y cuentos de familia. Ademas, describio su ambiente de infancia con mucho detalle, y de esa manera, senti que pude relacionarme con todos los personajes. La manera de que describia los cuentos o incidentes con sus hermanas (por ejemplo, cuando lucha con Violeta y posteriormente, su mama la castiga por una hora entera), me parece muy realista, pero al mismo tiempo, muy loco, y para los lectores, ofrece un gran tipo de diversion.
En mi opinion, la personaje de Blanca Nieves es muy agradable, cercana y realista. Recuerdo que cuando leia las primera paginas, cuando describia su mama y la situacion con los rizados y el pelo liso, me senti muy triste para ella, puesto que su madre estaba tan preocupada con la importancia de la belleza, y con la vanidad y afectaba su nineza. Hm.. que mas? En general, creo que los primeros capitulos de este libro eran divertidos a leer, puesto que ofrecia anecdotas humoristicas con relaciones intimas, entre las hermanas. Por lo demas, pienso que los personajes son realistos y agradables, y que las conversiones (especialmente entre las hermanas) eran muy comicas. Por otro lado, si tuve que comparar - el estilo de la escritura es completamente distinto a Cumanda. En Cumanda, Mera usaba poesia, y el genero era un poco como una obra de teatro, pero en este libro, es simplemente como una narracion de cuentos familiares. Me parece que ambos tienen sus propios encantos, y estoy alegre que me gustan los dos libros!

11:18PM - "The Alchemist"

Despues de leer la primera mitad de “The Alchemist” de Paulo Coelho, no estoy segura de la razon por la que esta considerado un malo libro. Distinto a la novela de Allende, personalmente, este libro me gusto. En mi opinion, los personajes eran encantadores, especialmente Santiago. Estaba interesada en su vida, su viaje como un pastor y un trabajador en la tienda de cristales. Ademas, cuando hablaba de la chica que amaba, me interesaba y continuaba a leer para descubrir el resultado de la relacion posible entre los dos. Aunque un ‘gancho’ para el lector no es necesariamente uno de los criterios de buena literatura, a mi puede ser muy significativo, puesto que aun si no se ama un libro, puede ofrecer un tipo de diversion. En general, creo que habia mas cosas positivas que negatives en el libro, pero si tuve que decir, a veces lo encontre un poco cursi. Por ejemplo, las descripciones del viaje como el tesoro que no es solamente un tesoro fisico pero uno dentro del alma eran muy cojas. Y por lo demas, la manera de que Coelho escribe / trata de escribir en una manera ‘filosofica’, (que vemos en los refranes del re, por ejemplo),
pero en realidad, son demasiado simples. Finalmente, no creo que el libro esta ‘bien escrito’, en terminos de vocabulario o conceptos dificiles, pero al mismo tiempo, en eso tiene el encanto de la novela. Esta escrito a traves de los ojos de un chico, con un sencillez agradable.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

6:17PM - "Eva Luna": La segunda mitad

Que puedo decir sobre este libro, aparte de que estaba muy alegre que lo he terminado! Si no tuve que leerlo para una clase, probablamente nunca lo terminaria. La segunda mitad de la novela era quizas un poco menos aburrida. Opino que al principio, habia tantos detalles y tanta tragedia por la parte de Eva. Con respecto a la personalidad de Eva, me frusto y me molesto su personaje y su pasividad mientras todavia continuaba su papel de observadora en su vida, en vez de ser activa y a cargo de su futuro y destino. Como ya han mencionado otros alumnos, era muy inquietante la situacion con el amor / Rolf / los primos, y mostro la falta de caracter de Eva.

Ademas, me intereso la discusion sobre si el libro tuvo un final feliz o triste, y que a veces, un autor puede dar finales alternativas para ofrecer dos puntos de vista al lector. Puede ser un buen libro si el lector elige el final? Porque de esta manera, el lector puede elegir la vda imaginaria de todos los personajes en la novela. Sin embargo, en la misma manera, es posible tener cierre, sin un final concreto y decidido?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

9:23PM - Cumanda: Pt. II

Well, after many many Spanish pages, I finally finished Mera’s “Cumanda”. I’m actually surprised that I liked it quite a bit, and it was extremely entertaining. In fact, it really played out like a dramatic tragedy / telenovela in some senses. There were the ill-fated lovers from different races and cultures, the forced marriages, the attempts at escaping, and even a brother-sister incest twist. In retrospect, I probably should have seen the ‘Cumanda is really Carlos’s sister’ scenario, but it still shocked me a bit. It was a little disturbing how Carlos didn’t seem really bothered or disturbed, but I guess that was the norm back in the day. Some things I noticed included the stark contrast between the ‘blancos’ and the ‘indios’, in terms of the white peoples’ welcoming attitude, versus the barbarity and inhumane traditions of the indios. In one of the earlier chapters, during the fiesta, we see how the indios treat Carlos (i.e. trying to poison him). However, when Cumanda is among Carlos’ father and the other white people, we can clearly see that they treat her as their own family, and are willing to protect her by any means necessary. Continuing on with the idea that Carlos is like a professor of sorts to Cumanda, I noticed it again on page 190 when Cumanda says that Carlos will teach her how to be a christian. I also found it strange that Cumanda so willingly gave up her own culture / religion to convert to that of Carlos’s. However, seeing how her original tribe was portrayed throughout the book, I don’t blame her. Although so many things happened that continually changed the plot, I wasn’t surprised at the majority of them. The only surprise to me was that Cumanda actually did die before anyone really had an opportunity to save her. I also expected Carlos to either die at the same time, like perhaps killing himself when he saw her dead body, or that Cumanda’s people would have killed him earlier. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, especially with all the drama and plot twists.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

8:28PM - SPAN 490: #2: "Eva Luna"

I’m not sure how everyone else felt about this book, but I personally hated Isabel Allende’s “Eva Luna” – at least the first five chapters of it. How this book could ever be considered good is beyond me; I would say it’s boring at best. It’s a bit difficult for me to pinpoint the exact reasons why, but in the most simplistic of terms, I struggled through reading basically every page. I found it incredibly difficult to stay focused and attentive, and perhaps it was due to my rushing of reading the novel, but I found myself skipping several sentences at a time, and having to go back and read them again. From the beginning of the novel, I found myself wondering why Allende was giving these lengthy stories and anecdotes. For example, in the first chapter, up until the part where she describes how she was conceived, I thought those several pages were unnecessary and even useless. Furthermore, perhaps I was personally having trouble focusing on the novel itself, but I often felt confused with the introduction of several characters, followed by lengthy annecdotes. Besides these character problems, I also felt like, at times, Allende was trying to do too much, like including too many issues like: politics, religion, war, etc. Although there was apparently continuous, non-stop action, at the same time, I felt like nothing was going on, and I questioned whether the majority of the pages were necessary at all. Furthermore, I personally find it hard to enjoy books where I feel no connection or sympathy, or anything for the protagonist, or any other character for that matter. After five chapters, I don’t feel like I know Eva Luna, nor do I care about what she’s going through. On that note, I also dislike stories which appear as “sob stories”, when it seems like the narrator is just trying to get some sort of sympathy from the reader. Normally books that cover several issues and themes are characterized as multi-dimensional, but at the same time, it can end up as a bunch of clutter with simply too much happening. Perhaps the rest of the book is better, but at this point, I’m just stunned that this is the same author who wrote “House of the spirits”, which was anything but boring and unentertaining.

5:28PM - Span365: Blog #2: "Cumandá"

Acabé de terminar leyendo los primeros diez capítulos de Cumandá de Juan León Mera, y me gustó mucho. También, me sorprendió el estílo de la escritura, en que había varios tipos de narración – como un documento histórico, un poema, una obra de teatro. Al principio, en el primer capítulo, el autor describe la selva como un descubrimiento geográfico – con mucho detalle en una manera poética y como un tipo de paraíso con la descripción de los árboles y además, la relación espiritual entre el ánimo y la naturaleza. Además, me pareció semejante a la obra de Cortés donde describe un pueblo nuevo y los rasgos de los indios que viven allí. También, la manera de que escribe de los indios no me sorprendió; como la mayoría de autores de este período los describe como bárbaros y salvajes, incultos, y más tarde en el libro, como gente astuta (visto en la situación del venono), mientras los españoles son inocentes y ‘puros’.
En los capítulos sobre la familia Tongana y la hija, Cumandá, me pareció un poco similar a la obra de teatro de Shakespeare, “Romeo y Julieta”, en que hay dos familias de enemigos y los amados deben perdurar la tragedia. Aunque, en este caso específico, es una cuestión de raza, sociedad y cultura, puesto que Carlos es de la clase social alta española y Cumandá es una india. Hay también semejanzas entre esta situación y la historia de “Pocahontas”. Una otra cosa que me pareció extraña era cómo Cumandá llamaba a Carlos “hermano blanco” o simplemente “blanco”, puesto que muestra claramente la importancia de raza en la relación entre los dos. Al mismo tiempo, él la refería como una india o una salvaje. Por lo demás, también me pareció extraño que ella llamaba a Carlos “hermano”. A mí, enfatiza el significativo del aspecto de la familia – en vez de referir a Carlos como “esposo”, escoge un término de familia, quizás es una diferencia de cultura o sociedad, que los indios quieren unirse como una familia. Pero, de esta manera, demuestra la idea de incesto. Sin embargo, claramente crea un problema entre la familia Tongana, especialmente ya que el padre odia la raza blanca, y por eso, se ve el tema de patriarcado. Es el papel del hermano a matar al hombre que amenaza la situación ideal de la familia.

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