I the Supreme

Overview

Latin America has seen, time and again, the rise of dictators, Supreme Leaders possessed of the dream of absolute power, who sought to impose their mad visions of Perfect Order on their own peoples. Latin American writers, in turn, have responded with fictional portraits of such figures, and no novel of this genre is as universally esteemed as Augusto Roa Bastos's I the Supreme, a book that draws on and reimagines the career of the man who was "elected" Supreme Dictator for Life...

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Overview

Latin America has seen, time and again, the rise of dictators, Supreme Leaders possessed of the dream of absolute power, who sought to impose their mad visions of Perfect Order on their own peoples. Latin American writers, in turn, have responded with fictional portraits of such figures, and no novel of this genre is as universally esteemed as Augusto Roa Bastos's I the Supreme, a book that draws on and reimagines the career of the man who was "elected" Supreme Dictator for Life in Paraguay in 1814.

By turns grotesque, comic, and strangely moving, I the Supreme is a profound meditation on the uses and abuses of power — over men, over events, over language itself.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Editorial Reviews

Commonweal
“The most magnificent work, most magnificently translated, to come from Spanish into English in almost a quarter of a century . . . Sort of a political As I Lay Dying by way of Tristram Shandy. Every textual fold is pleated by sumptuous wordplay; arcane, absurd, and (mostly) accurate annotation and quotation; as well as fact so much stranger than fiction that nobody knows what evil lurks in the mind of what possible man.”
New Statesman
“ I the Supreme was first published in Spanish in 1974. It is a shame that we have had to wait for so long for its publication in English, for its breadth of vision and ambition make it important in any language.”
New Republican
“Now that a superb English translation of this dauntingly complex work is at last available, readers in this country will be in a position to see for themselves why Latin American critics have been moved to invoke the names of Joyce and Musil, Cervantes and Rabelais to describe the breadth and ambition of I the Supreme.”
The New York Times
“These passages reverberate with a fierce surrealism—peopled with dwarves, women warriors and clairvoyant animals; studded with Borgesian images of mirrors and labyrinths, mystical eggs and blankets made of batskin, and embroidered with subsidiary tales about madness, death, and humiliation . . . A prodigious meditation not only on history and power, but also on the nature of language itself.”
The Los Angeles Times
“A text of a verbal density that recalls the later James Joyce, a web of intertextual reference never seen in modern Spanish outside of Borges, Roa Bastos' novel has challenged and fascinated thousands of readers around the world . . . A highly serious yet comic novel.”
Washington Post Book World
“Augusto Roa Bastos is himself a supreme find, maybe the most complex and brilliant Latin American novelist of all . . . What a glory of echoing voices this Paraguayan portmanteau is, more Joycean than Cortazar's Hopscotch, every bit as volcanic and visionary as Lezama Lima's Paradiso or Osman Lins's Avalovara . . . I the Supreme is a work of graceful, voluminous genius, an Everest of fiction.”
The New York Times Book Review
“A richly textured, brilliant book—an impressive portrait, not only of El Supremo, but of a whole colonial society in the throes of learning how to swim, or how best to drown, in the seas of national independence . . . I the Supreme is one of the milestones of the Latin American novel.”
Paul West
Augusto Roa Bastos is himself a supreme find, maybe the most complex and brilliant Latin American novelist of all….What a glory of echoing voices this Paraguayan portmanteau is, more Joycean than Cortázar's Hopscotch, every bit as volcanic and visionary as Lezama Lima's Paradiso or Osman Lins's Avalovara….I The Supreme is a work of graceful, voluminous genius, an Everest of fiction.
Washington Post Book World
Ronald Christ
The most magnificent work, most magnificently translated, to come from Spanish into English in almost a quarter of a century….Sort of a political As I Lay Dying by way of Tristram Shandy. Every textual fold is pleated by sumptuous wordplay; arcane, absurd, and (mostly) accurate annotation and quotation; as well as fact so much stranger than fiction that nobody knows what evil lurks in the mind of what possible man.
Commonweal
John Updike
An elaborate and erudite opus saturated in the verbal bravura of classic modernism.
New Yorker
Carlos Fuentes
A richly textured, brilliant book—an impressive portrait, not only of El Supremo, but of a whole colonial society in the throes of learning how to swim, or how best to drown, in the seas of national independence….I The Supreme is one of the milestones of the Latin American novel.
New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564782472
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2000
  • Series: Latin American Literature Ser.
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 701,295
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Augusto Roa Bastos (1917-2005) is considered one of Parguay's greatest novelists. He is best known for his novel I the Supreme,
but he wrotes many books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. He spent much of his life outside of his home country, both as a foreign correspondent and in exile for his opposition to the ruling governments of his country.

Helen Lane was the preeminent translator of French, Spanish,
Portuguese, and Italian fiction. Among the long list of authors she translated are Augusto Roa Bastos, Jorge Amado, Luisa Valenzuela, Mario
Vargas Llosa, Marguerite Duras, Nélinda Piñon, and Curzio Malaparte.

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