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Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma

Review
Author(s): George R. McMurray
Review by: George R. McMurray
Source: Books Abroad, Vol. 41, No. 4 (Autumn, 1967), p. 452
Published by: Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40121881
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452 BOOKS ABROAD

competing for top honors on the local literary


scene, we find Marta Lynch. In 1962 her novel
La aljombra roja became a best seller. Her new
effort shows a development of novelistic techniques as well as a more mature thematic orientation, blending several possible levels of interpretation into an organic total. It is narrated by
a country boy, Benjamin Diaz, a curious mixture of picaresque anti-hero and a Parsifal-like
archetypal figure, set up as a symbolic counter-

part to the social decay that permeates postPeronist Argentina. Drafted into the army and
stationed in Buenos Aires, he plays the dual
role of an observer of national events (he even

guards the presidential palace) and of an

instrument (he carries a loaded rifle) used by


the people whose power, ambition, and selfishness drag the country from one political and
economic crisis to another. But he finds little

else in his dealings with the other segments of


society, as he crosses the path of workers and
merchants, servant girls and soldiers, ladies and
prostitutes. When he returns to his homestead
with Tullio, the cynical parasite from his bar-

racks days, he discovers that, instead of re-

flecting a "free and noble spirit" of nature, the

inhabitants of the land carry out a Darwinian

struggle sui generis, brutalized by a hostile soil.

excitement. But the value of the book lies in


its descriptions of life in Africa, as detailed as in

the writings of his idol, Baroja. The publishers


claim to find in it symbolism and universality,
as the search of frustrated mankind for a way
of life. Maybe so.
Willis Knapp Jones
Miami University

^ Tomas Mojarro. Malafortuna. Mexico.

Mortiz. 1966. 187 pages.


After publishing a collection of short stories
and a novel classified under the broad heading
of "realismo costumbrista," Mojarro turns
abruptly to allegorical fantasy in his second
novelistic endeavor. The narrator-engineer arrives at Malafortuna, a community located in
a desert region somewhere far to the south of
the "altiplano" (probably Mexico City), where
he has been sent to inspect Airbase V. His arrival marks the beginning of an absurd night-

mare depicting the decadent, stagnant at-

mosphere - perhaps purgatory or hell - from


which a gallery of frustrated, ill-fated characters strive to escape. When several of them, including the narrator, are finally given the
opportunity to leave, they feel strangely com-

pelled to remain in Malafortuna. "Quede-

Benjamin then realizes that he no longer fits


into Argentine society on any level; it has become too contaminated with evil, lust, and
greed. Only he is different, only he represents
the redeemer, the innocent fool. The others all

monos," he proposed. "Regresemos. Creo que


fue alii donde pase mi niiiez. Volvamos."
The symbolic treatment of modern man's
alienation and inability to achieve existential

sense this and try to use him for their purposes.

philosophically by the somber, suggestive style,

But Benjamin, in killing The Mother at the


end of the novel, establishes symbolically not
only his doom but that of Argentina.
H. Ernest Lewald

University of Tennessee

^ Eugenio Matus. Encuentro en T anger.


Santiago de Chile. Zig-Zag. 1966. 231
pages.

Professor Matus, born in 1929 and author of a


study of Baroja's technique of novel-writing,

several anthologies, and an earlier novel,

Mientras amanece (1960), wrote the present


book while teaching Spanish in Peking. Like
Ricardo Larena, its protagonist-narrator, he
earned a doctorate in Madrid.

The novel commences like a thriller. Larena


arrives in Tangiers, dogged by a shadow and
watched by others, as he searches for the mysterious Dr. Uribe Arteaga. But after he meets

Nicolas, a Spanish artist, and Harry from

freedom is enhanced both artistically and

which captures an aura of mystery and timelessness emanating from a vast, desolate landscape.

Born in 1932 in Jalapa, Zacatecas, Mojarro


has been living in the Mexican capital since
1957. The variety of themes treated successfully in his prose fiction to date makes one
curious and optimistic about this young writer's
future literary production.

George R. McMurray
Colorado State University

^ Juan Tovar. Los misterios del reino.


Xalapa, Mex. Universidad Veracruzana.

1966. 189 pages.


The six short stories and one long cuento,
which comprise the contents of this Mexican
literary prize winner, show that Juan Tovar
has been able to sustain the pace he first effect-

ed in a previous volume, H ombre en la oscuri-

dad. The author penetrates immediately into


his protagonist's mind and narrates the story

North America, the suspense ends. Finally,


after he has found Uribe and is employed to

from that point of view. Moreover, his range is

of Algeria, there is some attempt to recreate

stories about a priest's dilemmas in the confes-

drive a truckload of "medicine" to the border

wide: he changes easily and quickly from

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