The Plain in Flames

Overview

Juan Rulfo is one of the most important writers of twentieth-century Mexico, though he wrote only two books—the novel Pedro Páramo (1955) and the short story collection El llano en llamas (1953). First translated into English in 1967 as The Burning Plain, these starkly realistic stories create a psychologically acute portrait of poverty and dignity in the countryside at a time when Mexico was undergoing rapid industrialization following the upheavals of the Revolution. According to Ilan Stavans, the stories' ...

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Overview

Juan Rulfo is one of the most important writers of twentieth-century Mexico, though he wrote only two books—the novel Pedro Páramo (1955) and the short story collection El llano en llamas (1953). First translated into English in 1967 as The Burning Plain, these starkly realistic stories create a psychologically acute portrait of poverty and dignity in the countryside at a time when Mexico was undergoing rapid industrialization following the upheavals of the Revolution. According to Ilan Stavans, the stories' "depth seems almost inexhaustible: with a few strokes, Rulfo creates a complex human landscape defined by desolation. These stories are lessons in morality. . . . They are also astonishing examples of artistic distillation."

To introduce a new generation of readers to Rulfo's unsurpassable literary talents, this new translation repositions the collection as a classic of world literature. Working from the definitive Spanish edition of El llano en llamas established by the Fundación Juan Rulfo, Ilan Stavans and co-translator Harold Augenbram present fresh translations of the original fifteen stories, as well as two more stories that have not appeared in English before—"The Legacy of Matilde Arcángel" and "The Day of the Collapse." The translators have artfully preserved the author's "peasantisms," in appreciation of the distinctive voices of his characters. Such careful, elegiac rendering of the stories perfectly suits Rulfo's Mexico, in which people on the edge of despair nonetheless retain a sense of self, of integrity that will not be taken away.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This new translation of a 1953 collection of stories (plus two not previously published in English) from the acclaimed Mexican writer draws readers in with its gritty realism. Each story is told in the first person by characters such as priests and guerilla soldiers, living in the deeply religious and violent countryside of revolutionary Mexico. Rulfo's characters are imperfect, jaded, and often withhold their confidences until the end of their tales, giving the story the air of a confessional. The harsh and beautiful landscape of the Mexican countryside is personified, with stories taking places in towns like Corazón de Maria, translated as the heart of Mary, though in the war-torn country, God is decidedly absent, leaving characters with quiet resignation or haunted despair. The drama spans from the personal, such as in "Talpa," in which a man drags his dying brother on a long pilgrimage to the Virgen de Talpa with the intention of stealing his wife, to the epic, as in the title story, in which a rebel soldier recounts his five revolutionary years fighting Mexican troops under the command of Pedro Zamora. What is remarkable about these sketches is that the characters are rendered with deep honesty; their faults are highlighted, celebrated in a way that is reminiscent of Chekhov's peasants. Yet there is tenderness to their portrayal that seems to say: these are what real people are in their entirety. This brand of honesty is striking, and stimulating. (Sept.)
The Guardian - Chris Power
You can read Rulfo's slight but dense body of work in a couple of days, but that represents only a first step into territories that are yet to be definitively mapped. Their exploration is one of the more remarkable journeys in literature.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292725836
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2012
  • Pages: 140
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

One of today’s preeminent essayists, cultural critics, and translators, Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. His books include The Hispanic Condition; On Borrowed Words; Spanglish; Love and Language; and Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years. He is the editor of The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories; The Poetry of Pablo Neruda; the three-volume set of Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories; Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing; The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature; and The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry.

A prominent writer, editor, and translator, Harold Augenbraum is the Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. He has published six books on Latino literature.

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Table of Contents

Introduction by Ilan Stavans

They Have Given Us the Land
Comadre Hill
It's Because We're So Poor
The Man
At Dawn
Talpa
Macario
The Plain in Flames
Tell Them Not to Kill Me!
Luvina
The Night They Left Him Alone
Paso del Norte
Remember
You Don't Hear Dogs Barking
The Day of the Collapse
The Legacy of Matilde Arcángel
Anacleto Morones

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