The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution by Mariano Azuela, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution

The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution

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by Mariano Azuela, Frederick H. (Translator) Fornoff

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Hailed as the greatest novel of the Mexican Revolution, The Underdogs recounts the story of an illiterate but charismatic Indian peasant farmer’s part in the rebellion against Porfirio Díaz, and his subsequent loss of belief in the cause when the revolutionary alliance becomes factionalized. Azuela’s masterpiece is a timeless, authentic


Hailed as the greatest novel of the Mexican Revolution, The Underdogs recounts the story of an illiterate but charismatic Indian peasant farmer’s part in the rebellion against Porfirio Díaz, and his subsequent loss of belief in the cause when the revolutionary alliance becomes factionalized. Azuela’s masterpiece is a timeless, authentic portrayal of peasant life, revolutionary zeal, and political disillusionment.

Author Biography: Beth E. Jörgensen is an associate professor of Spanish at the University of Rochester. She is the author of The Writings of Elena Poniatowska: Engaging Dialogues, and articles on Poniatowska, Margo Glantz, and Benita Galeana.
Ilán Stavans is a professor of Spanish at Amherst College and the author of On Borrowed Words: A Memoir of Language and The Hispanic Condition, as well as the editor of The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories. He has been a National Book Critics Circle Award nominee and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
First published in 1915, Azuela's groundbreaking novel about a Mexican peasant who becomes a revolutionary leader is now being issued in a revised translation with a set of illuminating footnotes (notes and revisions by Beth E. Jurgensen). Demetrio Macias is the protagonist who joins the rebels in their efforts to overthrow Mexico's corrupt dictator, Porfirio Diaz, and Macias's brash approach to military tactics speeds his rise through the ranks. His background is articulated by journalist Luis Cervantes, who abandons the government to aid the rebels as he provides background on Macias in the early chapters. While the new general's forces engage in a series of hit-and-run battles with Federal troops, Azuela adds two romantic subplots, one about a difficult young woman named Pintada, who bonds with one of the other generals in the company; the other involves Camilla, a peasant girl who expresses her ardor for Cervantes early on, but ends up falling for Macias. The battle scenes are stirring, if somewhat underdeveloped, and Azuela highlights the conflict with a cameo appearance by Pancho Villa as the tide begins to turn against the rebels. Overall, the story is too incomplete to be labeled a classic by modern standards. What makes the book memorable is its portrayal of Macias as an archetype of Mexico's national character, as the peasant expresses his ongoing love for the process and pageantry of the revolution. The translation feels awkward, but Jurgensen's footnotes and the introduction (by Ilan Stavans) add colorful details and definitions while filling in some narrative and historical gaps. (Sept.)
Nima Nabipour
"First in this country, the Underdogs should always have a special place, for it describes the aspirations of a native people. At the college level, Fornosx's text offers plenty of material for the Historian and the Professor of Internatonal Literature. But the book can also be enjoyed at a simpler level. It is essentially a compelling tale of human conflicts, grippingly told." -- Studies In Short Fiction
From the Publisher
“Mariano Azuela, more than any other novelist of the Mexican Revolution, lifts the heavy stone of history to see what there is underneath it.”—Carlos Fuentes

Product Details

University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date:
Pittsburgh Editions of Latin American Literature Series
Product dimensions:
6.16(w) x 9.27(h) x 0.46(d)

Read an Excerpt


"That's no animal, I tell you! . . . Listen to Palomo barking! It must be a human being.”

The woman stared into the darkness of the sierra.

"What if they're Federals?," said a man who sat squatting and eating, a coarse earthenware plate in his right hand, three folded tortillas in the other.

The woman made no answer; all her senses were directed outside the hut.

The beat of horses' hoofs rang in the quarry nearby. Palomo barked again, louder and more angrily.

"Well, Demetrio, I think you had better hide, all the same."

Stolidly, the man finished eating; he reached for a water jug and gulped down the water in it. Then he stood up.

"Your rifle is under the mat," she whispered.

A tallow candle illumined the small room. In one corner stood a plow, a yoke, a goad, and other agricultural implements. An old adobe mold hung by ropes from the roof and served as a bed; on it a child slept, covered with rags.

Demetrio buckled his cartridge belt about his waist and picked up his rifle. Tall and well built, with a sanguine, beardless face, he wore shirt and trousers of white cloth, a broad-brimmed straw hat, and leather sandals.

With slow, measured step, he left the room, vanishing into the impenetrable darkness of the night.

Palomo, excited to the point of fury, had jumped over the corral fence. Suddenly a shot rang out. The dog moaned, then barked no more.

Men on horseback rode up, shouting and swearing. Two of them dismounted, while the other hung back to watch the horses.

"Hey, there, woman, we want food! Eggs, milk, beans, anything you'vegot! We're starving!"

"Damned sierra! It would take the Devil himself not to lose his way!"

"Sergeant, even the Devil would go astray if he were as drunk as you are."

One of them wore chevrons on his shoulders, the other red stripes on his sleeves.

"Whose place is this, old woman? . . . What the . . . Isn't anybody home?"

"What about that light and that child there? Look here, woman, we want to eat, and damn quick, too! Are you coming out, or are we going to make you?"

"You swine! You've gone and killed my dog! What harm did he ever do you? What did you have against him, poor little Palomo!"

The woman reentered the house, dragging the dog behind her, very white and fat, with lifeless eyes and limp body.

"Look at those cheeks, Sergeant! Don't get riled, light of my life: I swear I'll turn your home into a dovecote, see? But by God!"

"Don't look so haughty, dear, Banish all fear Look at me lovingly Light of my eyes."

The officer finished singing in his tipsy voice.

"Tell me what they call this ranch, woman?" the sergeant asked.

"Lima," the woman replied curtly, carrying wood to the fire and fanning the coals.

"So we're in Lima, eh, the famous Demetrio Macases country, eh? . . . Do you hear that, Lieutenant? We're in Lima."

"Lima? What the hell do I care? If I'm bound for hell, Sergeant, I might as well go there now . . . now that I have such a good mount. Look at the cheeks on that darling, look at them! There's a pair of ripe red apples for a fellow to bite into!"

"I'll wager you know that bandit, lady. . . . I was in the pen with him at Escobedo."

"Bring me a bottle of tequila, Sergeant; I've decided to spend the night with this little brunette. . . . What's that? The colonel? . . . Why talk about the colonel now? He can go straight to hell. And if he doesn't like it, it's all right with me. Come on, Sergeant, tell the corporal outside to unsaddle the horses and feed them. I'll stay here. Listen, my girl, you let the sergeant fry the eggs and warm up the tortillas; you come here to me. See this wallet full of nice new bills? They're all for you, darling. Sure, I want you to have them. Imagine! I'm drunk, see, a little, and that's why I'm kind of hoarse. . . . I left half my gullet down Guadalajara way, and I've been spitting the other half out all the way up here. Oh, well, who cares? But I want you to have that money. Hey, Sergeant, where's my bottle? Darling, you're awfully far away. Come closer and pour yourself a drink. You won't, eh? Afraid of your . . . er . . . husband . . . or whatever he is? Well, if he's skulking in some hole, you tell him to come out. What the hell do I care? I'm not scared of rats, see!"

Suddenly a white shadow loomed on the dark threshold.

Copyright 2002 by Mariano Azuela; Translated by E. Munguia, Jr., revised by Beth E. Jorgensen; Introduction by Ilan Stavans

What People are saying about this

Ana Castillo
The Underdogs is considered by many to be the most important novel about the revolution. A classic, it has supplied the world's readers with their basic image of the Mexican novel.

Meet the Author

Mariano Azuela (1873—1952) studied medicine in Guadalajara and served during the revolution as a doctor with the forces of Pancho Villa, which gave him firsthand exposure to the events and characters that appear in The Underdogs. Sergio Waisman is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Award and is an assistant professor of Spanish at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Carlos Fuentes is the author of more than twenty books and the recipient of many awards, including Mexico's National Prize in Literature, the Cervantes Prize, and the inaugural Latin Civilization Award. He lives in Mexico City and London.

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The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a short story that tells very little about the Mexican Revolution. A farmer with about ten other men get mad and take on the Federal troops. The farmer becomes a leader after he takes on more battles and more men sign on with him. Through out the book he wonders what he is fighting for.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book has a good thing goin for it but many key parts of it are missing and are ungood. the charictors seemed very in to depth but still ungood. the crazy twist at the end is amazing but ungood. the overall key points of the are very far and inbetween but yet they are ungood where they are.