Other Alleged Supremos
sábado, 3 de mayo de 2014
Yo el Supremo [I the Supreme] Group Read
2014 Caravana de recuerdos Ibero-American readalong selections piling up almost as quickly as I can schedule them these days (hey, I'm nothing if not consistent!), it's time to announce May's candidate for a short attention span-induced disaster in the form of Paraguayan Augusto Roa Bastos' 1974 Yo el Supremo [I the Supreme in the translation put out by the Dalkey Archive Press]. So why might you want to consider joining us for this famously thorny title centered on the figure of José Gaspar de Francia, the "Supreme Dictator" of Paraguay from 1816-1840? 1) Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier lauded it as an "obra maestra" or masterpiece. 2) Reviewer Paul West, writing for the Washington Post Book World, called it "more Joycean than Cortázar's Hopscotch, every bit as volcanic and visionary as Lezama Lima's Paradiso or Osman Lins' Avolavara." 3) And for those of you who haven't yet been turned off by this cavalcade of names you hardly ever hear about in the twee, Ivy Compton-Burnett reading parts of the book blogosphere, noted critic Ignacio Echevarría included the novel on his list of the essential books in Spanish-language literature since the 1950s, claiming that Yo el Supremo was "una auténtica cumbre literaria" ["a true literary high water mark"] and an "obra maestra insuperada" ["unsurpassed masterpiece"] of the Latin American dictator novel for what fellow critic Ángel Rama described as its heady mixture of "historia, novela, confesión, ensayo sociológico, filosofía moral, biografía novelada, panfleto revolucionario, poema en prosa, debate sobre los límites de la literatura y cuestionamiento del sistema verbal" ["history, novel, confession, sociological essay, moral philosophy, revolutionary pamphlet, poem in prose, debate on the limits of literature and questioning of the verbal system"] (68 in Ignacio Echevarría's book). 4) "Questioning of the verbal system"? Whatever! Still, Stu of Winstonsdad's Blog confirms that Roa Bastos' work is complex and "is told in many forms of literary devices...creating almost a collage effect" and Sarah of what we have here is a failure to communicate adds that it's "a bizarrely great piece of writing." OK, nuff said. Discussion of Yo el Supremo and/or I the Supreme will take place at participating blogs somewhere around May 29th thru 31st--and probably a day or two later here in Caravanalandia.