The Old Gringo: A Novel

The Old Gringo: A Novel

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by Carlos Fuentes
     
 

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In The Old Gringo, Carlos Fuentes brings the Mexico of 1916 uncannily to life. This novel is wise book, full of toughness and humanity and is without question one of the finest works of modern Latin American fiction.

One of Fuentes's greatest works, the novel tells the story of Ambrose Bierce, the American writer, soldier, and journalist, and of his

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Overview

In The Old Gringo, Carlos Fuentes brings the Mexico of 1916 uncannily to life. This novel is wise book, full of toughness and humanity and is without question one of the finest works of modern Latin American fiction.

One of Fuentes's greatest works, the novel tells the story of Ambrose Bierce, the American writer, soldier, and journalist, and of his last mysterious days in Mexico living among Pancho Villa's soldiers, particularly his encounter with General Tomas Arroyo. In the end, the incompatibility of the two countries (or, paradoxically, their intimacy) claims both men, in a novel that is, most of all, about the tragic history of two cultures in conflict.

Editorial Reviews

Earl Shorris
The genius of ''The Old Gringo'' is the choice of a character as rich as Ambrose Bierce, who is at the center of a famous mystery....The novel has the magical form invented by the Mexican novelist Juan Rulfo and carried on by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Mr. Fuentes and others. In this form, roles change, characters exist and speak in more than one frame of time on the same page, dream and reality are interchangeable, inconsistencies abound and lead to revelations....The only serious flaw for me is that the book may be too concise; I wished for details to more fully realize the characters, to limit them less by their symbolic roles. Perhaps that would have obscured the depth of the novel; I don't know; the book is a siege of echoes, it goes by in a moment, and that is enough. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fuentes, Mexico's leading novelist (author of Terra Nostra), invents here a lyrical and philosophical tale about the times of Pancho Villa and the Revolution in Mexico. The old gringo of the title is Ambrose Bierce, the Ameican journalist and writer who disappeared in the Mexican dust. Bierce went to Mexico to die, Fuentes speculates, because he could not bear to reflect on the pain and sacrifices his sanctimonious moral rectitude had caused his family. He joins the troops of the young revolutionary Tomas Arroyo, one of Villa's generals, who, as a ``child of misfortune'' (``bastard'' in the servant quarters) was trapped in the hacienda and is now trapped by the revolution. Both the old gringo and the young revolutionary fall in love with Harriet Winslow, an American who had come to Mexico as teacher for the children on a hacienda which no longer exists, having been burned by the revolutionaries. Fuentes examines the borders between men and women, dreams and reality, Mexico and the U.S. (``a scar'' rather than a border). Doomed never to understand each other, the two men inevitably die as they cross the frontier of their differences: the old gringo killed by Arroyo (whom he provoked by burning the papers of the history of Mexico) and Arroyo, in his turn, shot by Villa for overstepping his boundaries of power. In this fine short novel, Fuentes remains, as usual, wisely suspicious of both American politics and those of the Revolution. The problem here is that the author's posturing, his dramatic flourishes, never let us forget that this is all fakean invention, a meditation. November
Library Journal
Clues scattered through this brief but intense novel gradually reveal the identity of the title character, an aging American writer who disappeared in revolutionary Mexico in 1913. Fuentes has made clever fictional use of an actual literary mystery, but his more remarkable achievement here is the portrait of the writer as a father figure to an American governess and to a general in Pancho Villa's army, each of whom has been betrayed by a real father. The tempestuous intimacy between governess and general and the complex relationship each has with the old gringo reflect the links and contradictions between Mexican and American cultures. This is a novel to be savored; it deserves more than a single reading. L.M. Lewis, Social Science Dept., Eastern Kentucky Univ., Richmond

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466840140
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
05/14/2013
Series:
FSG Classics
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
727,120
File size:
324 KB

Meet the Author

Carlos Fuentes (1928-2012) was one of the most influential and celebrated voices in Latin American literature. He was the author of 24 novels, including The Death of Artemio Cruz, The Old Gringo and Terra Nostra, and also wrote numerous plays, short stories, and essays. He received the 1987 Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's highest literary honor.

Fuentes was born in Panama City, the son of Mexican parents, and moved to Mexico as a teenager. He served as an ambassador to England and France, and taught at universities including Harvard, Princeton, Brown and Columbia. He died in Mexico City in 2012.


Carlos Fuentes (1928-2012) was one of the most influential and celebrated voices in Latin American literature. He was the author of 24 novels, including Aura, The Death of Artemio Cruz, The Old Gringo and Terra Nostra, and also wrote numerous plays, short stories, and essays. He received the 1987 Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world's highest literary honor.
Fuentes was born in Panama City, the son of Mexican parents, and moved to Mexico as a teenager. He served as an ambassador to England and France, and taught at universities including Harvard, Princeton, Brown and Columbia. He died in Mexico City in 2012.

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Old Gringo 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
The Old Gringo The Old Gringo is a biographical novel about the alleged disappearance of Ambrose Bierce in Mexico during the revolution. Bierce travels to Mexico because he wants to be killed--and to be a good-looking corpse. Despite these simple desires, Bierce ends up in a dangerous triangle with a General of the Revolution and an American woman. This is a very difficult book to review because it is so deeply symbolic. I think the main idea is that life is like a dream--a dream in which people are prisoners of their pasts. Because of the dream-like quality of the prose, the book is heavy reading; it's not for everybody. However, those who appreciate symbolic and tragic literature will certainly enjoy The Old Gringo.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago