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Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma

Author(s): George R. McMurray
Review by: George R. McMurray
Source: Books Abroad, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Winter, 1968), p. 84
Published by: Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40122102
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Carlos Martinez Moreno. La otra mitad.

Mexico. Mortiz. 1966. 343 pases.

After a comparatively late start, this Uruguayan writer seems to have reached his peak as a
productive novelist. On the heels of his successful Con las primer as luces comes a work
that again is focused on the amalgamation of
past and present. Within this structure - a favorite one of Martinez Moreno - the novel

shuns development as far as plot and chronology are concerned. The narrator, one Mario
Possenti, professor at the University of Montevideo, dwells in the consciousness of his memory, incessantly recreating the past in order
to create new insights into his relationship
with his mistress Cora, the nature of their
experiences, and the essence of their beings.
The novel revolves around a fixed point:
the tragic moment in which Cora's husband
kills her and commits suicide. Martinez Mo-

reno has plotted the triangle Mario-CoraCarlos against the notorious axis Delmira
Agustini-Enrique Reyes that led to the murder
of the celebrated Uruguayan poet by her husband, and his suicide, in 1914. With the intro-

duction of Delmira Agustini's shadow and

her intensely erotic poetry ("Eros, have you

never pitied the statues?"), a new dimension
is added to the novel, namely eroticism as a
way of life, be it on a social, physical, cerebral, or surrealistic level.
The novel ends with the words "loneliness,
night, void, time, isolation, and death," the
key words for an awesome minor chord. More
than a "recherche du temps perdu," La otra
mitad constitutes the desperate effort of a
human being to retain and examine his identity through the enigmatic relationship of love

in its multiple forms. Martinez Moreno's

somewhat Faulkner-like style is singularly

successful in capturing the cyclic search of his

H. Ernest Lewald

University of Tennessee

Navarrete has divided his work into 194

sections, utilizing with success nouveau roman techniques such as temporal and spatial
dislocations, repetition of scenes in ambiguous,
kaleidoscopic patterns, and blending of reality
and dreams. Although slow and difficult reading, the novel is redeemed by its limpid, poetic
style which molds symbolic images from spon-

taneous, unsophisticated language. The vapid

dialogue of anonymous characters accentuates the principal theme: the alienation of an
uprooted individual who sheds his authentic
self when confronted by dehumanizing forces
imposed from without. Moreover, while the
dramatic historic process (evoked by visions
of vast human migrations) lays the groundwork for one of modern man's basic dilemmas,
God's sporadic appearance in the form of a
mere bystander in no way counteracts the
corrosive forces of environment.

Aqui, alia is a heavy, depressing story, but

its artistic attributes, philosophical implications, and skillfully manipulated avant-garde
techniques demonstrate rigorous discipline
and unquestionable literary talent.
George R. McMurray
Colorado State University

Federico Peltzer. La noche. Buenos Aires.

Emece. 1966. 153 pages.

This Argentine prose-writer has given us an
unusual novel; unusual because its form consists entirely of a dialogue between a man and

a woman, of which only the woman's words

are recorded. Peltzer's experimentation ac-

complishes two structural objectives here: one,

he emphasizes the hermetic aspect of our deal-

ings with others; and two, he focuses on the

dominant theme in the novel, namely the
search for one's identity. In this respect the
title of the work alludes to Michelangelo's
Florentine sculpture representing a woman
wearily taking of? her mask.
While the theme of alienation or lack of

Raul Navarrete. Aqui, alia, en esos lugares.

Mexico. Siglo XXI. 1966. 245 pages.
In his first novel, a young Mexican writer
(b. 1942) relates in desultory fashion the life

communication has been forced upon the modern writer by the conditions of mass society,
from Boston to Buenos Aires, and is not given

any additional dimensions in this work, the

of a bemused individual as he roams the streets

psychological portrayal of the protagonist Mara

constitutes a fascinating study of the modern

of Mexico City. A series of flashbacks depicts

the protagonist's childhood in a pueblo, his

the demands of her social and her inner self.

unhappy youth spent separated from his

mother in the home of harshly unsympathetic

relatives, and finally his present state of mind,
that of a disoriented stranger thrust into the

midst of a teeming metropolis where he is

doomed to relive his past loneliness.

Latin American woman who is torn between

She goes out of her domestic routine to have a

brief relationship with a painter. But Mara is

no Emma Bovary. She is a mature woman

who mistrusts sentimentality and fully accepts

her role as mother, wife, and member of the
upper middle class of Buenos Aires. Her bour-

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