FL 380: An Archaeology of the "Boom": Modern Latin American Prose Fiction

    Reading Guide to Carpentier #3

    The Lost Steps

  1. 189 "to found a city" to found v. to find
  2. 189 Enoch ???
  3. 190 Santa Mónica de los Venados
    a. Santa Mónica was mother to St. Augustine, author of The Confessions
  4. 191 Ironic twist: Adelantado = ???
  5. 193 The Indians' opinion about white men...
  6. 195 "Gold...is for those who go back there"
    a. Back there v. Sta. Mónica de los Venados
  7. 196 The story of Noah and the inception of religion in Sta. Mónica
  8. 197 Fray Pedro: savior of souls and planter of onions: Irony?
  9. 197-198 The narrator and the sun: a return to innocence?
  10. 198 The narrator's "great decision"
  11. 199 Rosario and the narrator: "a new scale of values" to love her?
  12. 201 "I began to muse on the clouds of dust..."
    a. What do you make of this?
  13. 202 The instruments: a link to "back there"
  14. 203 The Lands of the Bird
  15. 205 The Garden of Eden before the Fall...
    a. What did the "Fall" consist in?
  16. 207 The townmeeting: Property of. . .
  17. 208 The advent of the Law...
    a. Why is he disturbed by this?
  18. 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".
  19. 211 "But I knew that I must not think too much." ???
  20. 213 Confessions of an opium smoker?
  21. 214 A diagnostic: he had not written music as a result of his own insecurity.
  22. 217 "I the musician..."
  23. 2l7 Prometheus Unbound
  24. 2l8 "I suddenly found myself annoyed..." ???
    a. Rainer Maria Rilke
  25. 221 "I knew that I should be suspicious of anything..." ???
    a. What does this artistic credo smacks of?
  26. 221-222 "a disagreeable shock"
  27. 222 An encounter with the Church: "my present state of sin"
  28. 223 The narrator comments on the Church
  29. 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."
  30. 224 "If I decided to lie..."
    a. Is this an authentic "catch 22"?
  31. 224 "To flee this dilemma...I tried to concentrate on my score."
  32. 224 "I felt shackled, diminished, foolish..."
  33. 225 "A work of art is meant for others...It was foolish, absurd, laughable."
    a. Is this not a great alibi to return "back there"?
  34. 225-226 "Like lightning, my surprise turned to jealous indignation..."
    a. Insecurities revisited
  35. 226 Rosario's views on marriage: Is she the unimaginative, docile, and maternal creature that the narrator has fancied?
  36. 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?
  37. 230 Nicasio's repugnant deed: "The disgust and indignation I felt at the outrage was unspeakable..."
  38. 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 bed?
  39. 232 The plans!
  40. 233 "I noticed that the pilot was watching... So I ran into the center of the square, waving Rosario's shawl."
  41. 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!
  42. 233-234 The seeming incongruities between time and space.
  43. 234 "the alcohol suddenly produced a lucid intoxication that filled me with forgotten desires."
  44. 234 "Within me another stirred who was also I..."
    a. The döppelganger
  45. 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?
  46. 236 "I drank the rest of the contents of the aluminum flask. And suddenly I made my decision..."
  47. 236 "I realized that my adaptation to this life might have been..."
    a. Do you buy this?
  48. 237 "Perhaps some young man, somewhere was waiting for my message."
  49. 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?
  50. 239 "My wife had left the theater for a new role: that of wife."
  51. 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?
  52. 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."
    a. Everything?!?!?
  53. 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"
  54. 244 "I watched Ruth under the chandeliers..."
  55. 247 "I realized that I had better forestall the rage..."
  56. 247 "I laid the blame on her theatrical ambitions..." !!!
  57. 248 "for the coup de grace. . . I brought Rosario out of her hiding place."
  58. 248 "I was taking a perverse delight in further disconcerting my wife..."
  59. 259 "I read the daily horoscope in the paper" !!!
  60. 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."
  61. 260 "She did not reproach me for what I done to her..."
  62. 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..."
  63. 267 "I was the master of my steps, and I would set them where I chose."
    a. Is this The Lost Steps or The Missing Steps ?
  64. 271 A new version of his return "back there": "I was being kidnapped by a woman mysteriously aware..."?!?!?
  65. 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.
  66. 272 "Besides, what I was interested in now was the Threnody..."
  67. 275 Sta. Mónica de los Venados according to Yannes: "Stupid people...imbeciles!"
  68. 276 "The truth, the crushing truth, -now I realized it-..."
  69. 277 "New worlds had to be lived before they could be analyzed"
    a. A good recipe for active readers of literature (= new worlds).
  70. 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..."
  71. 278 Sisyphus' vacation is over.