Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The End or perhaps the beginning

It has been a very interesting course, with a different approach to literature. At first I was waiting for more background information, as a way to provide a context but then quickly realized that this class was approaching literature from a different perspective. That perspective for me, was to read beyond the words on the page and instead to think of things like the concepts of family, the dynamics of relationships, pushing beyond what we would consider a normal behaviour, examining motivations, questioning reality and being open to different ways of living life.

Once I stepped away from my own framework of expectation, I found ways to go beyond the written word. There were affirmations of my beliefs about human nature, some surprises and some thoughtful discussions challenging me to look from a different point of view.

I think literature in and of it self, helps you to understand the world beyond your imagination while at the same time teaching you to appreciate and value what is around you. Literature also has a way of grounding oneself within their beliefs and ideas thereby offering the means to define themselves within the context of their reality.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cien Anos - Part 4

My curiousity was peaked from Friday's class wondering what would be revealed by the end of the book. I wasn't sure what to expect but I did find the ending interesting. It is as though all the pieces of the book finally come together. However at the same time there is the idea of fate within the novel. That is, Melquiades had written the history 100 years ahead of time and it seemed that the events were already predetermined in the lives of the characters. That could suggest that Melquiades was a 'fortune teller of sorts' or maybe it simply means that history has a way of repeating itself and Marquez cleverly supports that idea through the constant repetition of names, relationships and the passion of love between individuals. For example, the passion between Aureliano and Amaranta Ursula reminds me of the intense relationship between Aureliano Jose and Amaranta.

Perhaps the idea of fate means that we are inextricably linked to our past, our family and that we cannot change what is inevitable. And by the time we reach the end of our lives, we finally get it but by that time, it is too late to change it.

The last line which reads "porque las estirpes condenadas a cien anos de soledad no tenian una segunda oportunidad sobre la tierra" reminds us again that we only get to go around once and we should make the most of the time while we are here.

I think I appreciate more now the idea of magical realism. Even though the book is filled with many bizarre and magical moments, the thread of reality constantly permeates the book which is much like life. We introduce moments in our own thinking of fantasy and dreams, sometimes as an escape from our reality or a way to diffuse the intensity of life.

All in all, my first thoughts of the book have certainly changed in that I have a greater appreciation for what I think Marquez was wanting to say. Or perhaps it is that I was able to connect with the book on many different levels.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cien Anos - Part 3

I certainly found the third part of Cien Anos very interesting to read. It has taken on a life of its own as I read it. The part that caught my attention was the chapter on Ursula as she looked back over her years and coming to the realization that she was losing her vision. However, she cleverly kept that information from the family. She used her sense of hearing to pay attention to voices. She used her sense of smell. In the darkness of a room for instance, she could thread a needle. She discovered that people had rhythms and patterns to their lives and used that ability to find Fernanda's ring when no one else could.

But the biggest changes came from her solitude of being blind. Through the solitude she saw truths of the family that she had never seen before. She realized for instance, that Colonel Aureliano Buendia had not lost his love for the family because of war but because he never loved anyone including Remedios. He was a man incapable of love.

The passage of time makes a difference in people's lives. It's as though the things one feels such as passion, outrage, or the need to control simply fade with intensity. They are replaced by wisdom, a clearer understanding of people and the unusual gift of letting most of it go and focusing on what really matters in the end.

For me it feels that Gabriel Marquez explored that process as he wrote the novel. He explored the passion and drive of youth with all its invincibility and adventure and as time progressed, people changed and the passion and drive were replaced by guilt, sadness, acceptance and the ever ending struggle to remember how it was.

There is a saying...."I wish I knew then what I know know" about sums it up.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cien Anos - Part 2

After reading the second part of Cien Anos I'm still not sure what I actually think about this book. I will say that it certainly challenges me personally on many levels and I guess that makes it a thoughtful book. Not thoughtful in the sense of increasing my self awareness but in defining what my views are.

The elements I like are the inquisitiveness of the unknown. That is being open to figure out and explain the magic of inventions. I like the speed of the novel. It feels like so much happens in one or two pages that you have to keep focused on what you are reading.

Some of the imagery is definitely different. For instance, when Jose Arcadio is shot (or kills himself), the description of blood trickling from his body, onto the street, moving towards the Buendia house, under and around the furniture to where Ursula was standing. And to fake his death and perhaps create another legend, Colonel Aureliano Buendia, has the doctor draw a circle on his body so that when he shoots himself, the bullet passes through without touching any vital organs.

I think the circular motif of names and seemingly repetition of personality traits adds another dimension to the book.

One thing I noticed through this passage was the word 'solitary'. It certainly keeps the title of the book alive. And how 'solitary' is created always seems to be of a character's own choosing. For instance, Colonel Aureliano Buendia has a 10 foot circle drawn around him so that no one can get close.

On the flip side, the theme of incest continually interwoven throughout the book is not a part of the book I enjoy. It appears so casually within the pages of the book but for me, incest is anything but casual. I have been wondering whether there is really another message that the author is trying to say.

I guess, with any novels or writings, we examine it from our own perspective but perhaps at the same time, there maybe a part of us that wants to understand the author's point of view and what it is that he wants to say. That's true at least for me.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Cien Años de Soledad: Parte uno

Cien Años de Soledad es desde luego un cuento muy diferente que los cuentos hemos leído hasta ahora. Al principio era difícil para mí entender los personajes porque tienen los mismos nombres. Pero cuando leí otra vez, era más fácil para distinguir la diferencia entre ellos. También la relación entre los personajes es muy complicada. Por ejemplo, Arcadio, quien es el hijo de José Arcadio y Pilar Ternera, es como un hermano de Aureliano y Amaranta pero los dos son su tío y tía respectivamente. Los dinámicos entre ellos crean un aspecto muy diferente. Y entonces hay el personaje de Úrsula quien aparece jugar un papel importante en el cuento y desde luego añade una perspectiva muy interesante.

El elemento de mágico y fantasía era diferente para mí al principio porque me gusta leer los libros que representan la vida real. Una vez cambié mi enfoque leer este libro, yo descubrí que este cuento es muy agradable y al mismo tiempo tiene elementos que expresar la vida que experimentamos. Esto es, las relaciones cambiando, los dinámicos entre los padres, los hermanos, el deseo seguir el amor y la oportunidad para descubrir y explorar las cosas que son diferente y nueva.

Pienso que el resto del cuento será muy agradable. Es como la vida real sino un elemento de mágico y fantasía.

Monday, February 19, 2007

First Half Musings

This course is certainly proving to be interesting for me in a couple of ways. One has been reading literature from different times, in a different language and different cultures and the other is having an opportunity to 'hear' other people. I guess that is why I have enjoyed the blogs. In our busy lives, it is not often that you are able to sit down with different individuals and find out how they 'see' or interpret things.

What I have appreciated about the literature has been the constant reminder that there is more to our world than what is around us. There are relationships of every kind in every place in the world and the common thread that we all share is the ability to have relationships. Relationships are varied. Some are with families, some are with lovers, some are within communities and some are with an individual’s own thoughts and emotions.

For me, I have responded to the theme of relationships and dynamics that result from the interaction. Each character has revealed something of their perceptions, their hopes, their disappointments and how they see their world. One of the gifts of literature is that there are no masks. That is to say, we can take the time to see beyond what is written and understand. We as individuals can wear a mask when we personally interact with others but in literature that mask comes off and we can see within each character.

Cumanda once again reminded me that we all share common needs and desires and feel the same pain or joy. Las Memorias de Mama Blanca took me back to some funny moments in my own life when I was a child. Piedra Callada and Las Hortensias were like one of those twisted movies that sometimes I like to watch.

Overall, I have found the readings interesting. For me personally, my own growth in reading and comprehending Spanish (sometimes without using a dictionary at all) has been a joy and very rewarding.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Piedra Callada

Piedra Callada es un cuento muy diferente pero al mismo tiempo muy interesante. El cuento de Las Memorias de Mamá Blanca nos presentó uno aspecto de una familia. Una familia que tuvo la interacción con cada miembro de la familia en alguna manera. Pero en Pierda Callada vemos una interacción muy diferente. Un relacion hostil. Encuentro interesante que aunque hay muchas personas en este cuento, ingeniosamente la autor enfoca nuestra atención sobre la madre Eufrasia y el hombre Bernabé. Estos personajes llegan a ser más de gente en un cuento. Ellos llegan a ser la gente real. Brunet escribe en más detalle la apariencia de Eufrasia y Bernabé. Eufrasia era una ¨vieja alta, huesuda, con al perfil corvina¨. Para mí veo una mujer con un temperamento severo y casi sin una capacidad por amor. ¿Y porqué no? Le dio a Esperanza una paliza para quitarle la idea de casarse Bernabé.

Bernabé era un hombre que tiene ¨los hombros horizontales y unos enormes pies cuyas puntas se volteaban hacia fuera, colgantes los brazos y todo él anudado de fuertes músculos¨. Me recuerdo de un simio. ¿Y porqué no? Contestó con un gruñido ininteligible.

Es fácil entonces formarse una opinión usando las características físicas de una persona. Eso es decir, creemos que sabemos lo que ellos piensan y como harán los decisiones porque hacemos los decisiones basado en la apariencia exterior. ¿Verdad?

La madre dio a Esperanza una paliza y le dijo a Esperanza cuando se casó a Bernabé que Esperanza no tendría una madre. Éstos son crueles palabras. Pero ¿qué era su motivación? ¿Tuvo miedo de ser sola? ¿Tal vez estaba celosa de la feliz de Esperanza porque ella tuvo ninguno? Hay muchas preguntas que podríamos preguntar.

Cuando entendemos los deseos, motivaciones e influencias de gente, es más fácil mirar más allá de la apariencia exterior. Eso es algo yo me recuerda diario.