In The Campaign, a witty and enthralling saga of revolutionary South America, Carlos Fuentes explores the period of profound upheaval he calls" the romantic time." His hero, Baltasar Bustos, the son of a wealthy landowner, kidnaps the baby of a prominent judge, replacing it with the black baby of a prostitute. When he catches sight of the baby's mother, though, he falls instantly in love with her ...
In The Campaign, a witty and enthralling saga of revolutionary South America, Carlos Fuentes explores the period of profound upheaval he calls" the romantic time." His hero, Baltasar Bustos, the son of a wealthy landowner, kidnaps the baby of a prominent judge, replacing it with the black baby of a prostitute. When he catches sight of the baby's mother, though, he falls instantly in love with her and sets off on an anguished journey to repent his act and win her love.
Mexico's leading author follows up his stylistically experimental novel Christopher Unborn with this straightforward historical tale exploring the revolutionary fever that swept through 19th-century Latin America. After the Napoleonic invasion of Spain, the Hispanic colonies of the New World are thrown into turmoil. Fuentes's hero, Baltasar Bustos, callow idealistic son of an Argentine rancher who is seduced by the ideas of the French writer Rousseau and sickened by the racial inequality around him, becomes a guerrilla fighter in various Latin American rebellions. In an extravagant gesture, he kidnaps the newborn child of Ofelia Salamanca, wife of the presiding judge of the Argentine vice-royalty in Buenos Aires, and substitutes a black child in its place. That night a fire sweeps through Ofelia's apartments, killing the black infant. Filled with remorse, Bustos falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful Ofelia; their paths throughout war-torn Latin America cross frequently. His adventures bring him in contact with rebellious Indians, revolutionary clerics, local warlords and members of the entrenched white aristocracy. Fuentes's skill in fleshing out imaginary and real characters--General Jose de San Martin makes an appearance--yields lively and entertaining reading. The lovers are reunited--though not just as Bustos might have wished--in this novel about the ``romantic time'' in Latin American history, the first of a trilogy. (Oct.)
``On the night of May 24, 1810, my friend Baltasar Bustos entered the bedroom of the Marquise de Cabra . . . and kidnapped her newborn child. In its place, he put a black baby, the child of a prostitute who had just been publicly flogged.'' So begins Fuentes's short but complex new novel of ideas, which describes Bustos's passionate search for the Marquise, with whom he has fallen in love, and for justice throughout Spain's American colonies. Along the way, the chubby, intellectual Bustos fights against Spain, falls in with a guerrilla band, kills a man simply because he is an Indian, returns to the luxurious creole life, and finally flees to Mexico in search of the rebel priest Quintana. He learns that justice and liberty are not so easily reconciled, that he cannot impose the ideals he has learned in books on life's harsh realities. As Quintana tells him, ``Put all your ideas on one side of the balance, then put everything that negates them on the other, and then you'll be closer to the truth.'' Fuentes does not set himself up as a seer, able to deliver the truth, but as only a clear, cool commentator on human history. Highly recommended for collections of serious literature. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/91.-- Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''
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.