FL 380: An Archaeology of the "Boom":
Modern Latin American Prose Fiction
Reading Guide to Carpentier #3
The Lost Steps
- 189 "to found a city" to found v. to find
- 189 Enoch ???
- 190 Santa Mónica de los Venados
a. Santa Mónica was mother to St. Augustine, author of The Confessions
- 191 Ironic twist: Adelantado = ???
- 193 The Indians' opinion about white men...
- 195 "Gold...is for those who go back there"
a. Back there v. Sta. Mónica de los Venados
- 196 The story of Noah and the inception of religion in Sta. Mónica
- 197 Fray Pedro: savior of souls and planter of onions: Irony?
- 197-198 The narrator and the sun: a return to innocence?
- 198 The narrator's "great decision"
- 199 Rosario and the narrator: "a new scale of values" to
- 201 "I began to muse on the clouds of dust..."
a. What do you make of this?
- 202 The instruments: a link to "back there"
- 203 The Lands of the Bird
- 205 The Garden of Eden before the Fall...
a. What did the "Fall" consist in?
- 207 The townmeeting: Property of. . .
- 208 The advent of the Law...
a. Why is he disturbed by this?
- 210 "Lost in the jungle": Ironic twist: La vorágine,
One of the most famous regionalist (telluric) novels, ends like this: "y
se los tragó la selva" (and the jungle devoured them) to convey
the fact that its characters end up "lost in the jungle".
- 211 "But I knew that I must not think too much." ???
- 213 Confessions of an opium smoker?
- 214 A diagnostic: he had not written music as a result of his own insecurity.
- 217 "I the musician..."
- 2l7 Prometheus Unbound
- 2l8 "I suddenly found myself annoyed..." ???
a. Rainer Maria Rilke
- 221 "I knew that I should be suspicious of anything..." ???
a. What does this artistic credo smacks of?
- 221-222 "a disagreeable shock"
- 222 An encounter with the Church: "my present state of sin"
- 223 The narrator comments on the Church
- 223 "I had to confess to myself that my scoffing, defiant laughter..."
a. Is the narrator coming out clean on this one?
b. A promise: "But the days of deception were over, no more lies."
- 224 "If I decided to lie..."
a. Is this an authentic "catch 22"?
- 224 "To flee this dilemma...I tried to concentrate on my score."
- 224 "I felt shackled, diminished, foolish..."
- 225 "A work of art is meant for others...It was foolish, absurd,
a. Is this not a great alibi to return "back there"?
- 225-226 "Like lightning, my surprise turned to jealous indignation..."
a. Insecurities revisited
- 226 Rosario's views on marriage: Is she the unimaginative, docile,
and maternal creature that the narrator has fancied?
- 226 "And yet I felt humiliated...because now it was I who wanted
her to marry me...who wanted to play a part in the edifying picture, listening
to Fray Pedro perform the marriage ceremony before the assembled Indians."
a. What can we conclude from all this?
- 230 Nicasio's repugnant deed: "The disgust and indignation I felt
at the outrage was unspeakable..."
- 231 "But something in me resisted...There are acts that throw
up walls, markers, limits in a man's existence..."
a. So much for "unspeakable indignation".
b. Is this the same man that cheated on his mistress right by her sick
- 232 The plans!
- 233 "I noticed that the pilot was watching... So I ran into the
center of the square, waving Rosario's shawl."
- 233 "I had become the hero of a novel, which included the hypothesis
that I had been tortured... a modern version of Dr. Livingstone."
a. A mass-media hero!
- 233-234 The seeming incongruities between time and space.
- 234 "the alcohol suddenly produced a lucid intoxication that filled
me with forgotten desires."
- 234 "Within me another stirred who was also I..."
a. The döppelganger
- 235 "But I admitted to myself that what I lacked there could be
summed up in two words: paper, ink."
a. Do you buy this?
- 236 "I drank the rest of the contents of the aluminum flask. And
suddenly I made my decision..."
- 236 "I realized that my adaptation to this life might have been..."
a. Do you buy this?
- 237 "Perhaps some young man, somewhere was waiting for my message."
- 237 "I held out to her, in proof, the notes of the Threnody."
a. "To hold out to": Does he give her the notes or not?
- 239 "My wife had left the theater for a new role: that of wife."
- 240 "But what irritated me the most was that the newspaper...had
taken the line that I was an exemplary person."
a. What do you make of this?
- 241 "And those who were prepared to greet me as a hero did not
know that that they would be applauding a liar. For everything about that
flight, then coming in for a landing, was a lie."
- 242-243 "It was at this moment that I accepted the considerable
sum offered by the newspaper that had arranged my rescue for the exclusive
rights to a pack of lies -fifty pages of them. (. . .) What I would sell
was a tall story to which I had been putting the finishing touches during
the trip. (. . .) I had in my suitcase a famous novel by a South American
writer, giving the names of animals, trees, native legends, long-forgotten
events, everything needed to lend a ring of authenticity to my narration."
a. Is what we are reading "a pack of lies" as well?
b. A famous novel: Rómulo Gallegos' Canaima.
c. Metafiction: "a famous novel by a South American writer"!!!
d. Sartrean authenticity v. "a ring of authenticity to my narration"
- 244 "I watched Ruth under the chandeliers..."
- 247 "I realized that I had better forestall the rage..."
- 247 "I laid the blame on her theatrical ambitions..." !!!
- 248 "for the coup de grace. . . I brought Rosario out of her hiding
- 248 "I was taking a perverse delight in further disconcerting
- 259 "I read the daily horoscope in the paper" !!!
- 259 Mouche returns: "She was to blame for everything that was
happening to me. But at the same time there came that familiar weakness
in my legs and loins... a weakness of the will."
- 260 "She did not reproach me for what I done to her..."
- 261 "the liquor maliciously managed to undermine my firm intentions...I
gave in with a lack of protest caused in large measure by several weeks
of abstinence. (. . .) I was sad, angry with myself..."
- 267 "I was the master of my steps, and I would set them where
a. Is this The Lost Steps or The Missing Steps ?
- 271 A new version of his return "back there": "I was
being kidnapped by a woman mysteriously aware..."?!?!?
- 27l "I told myself that the discovery...One day I had made the
unforgivable mistake of turning back.."
a. A sobering conclusion and a sound moral.
- 272 "Besides, what I was interested in now was the Threnody..."
- 275 Sta. Mónica de los Venados according to Yannes: "Stupid
- 276 "The truth, the crushing truth, -now I realized it-..."
- 277 "New worlds had to be lived before they could be analyzed"
a. A good recipe for active readers of literature (= new worlds).
- 278 The loneliness of the artist: "But none of this was for me..."
and his/her duty to "anticipate the song and the from of others who
will follow them..."
- 278 Sisyphus' vacation is over.