sábado, 3 de mayo de 2014

Yo el Supremo [I the Supreme] Group Read

With the # of my own postponed or otherwise incomplete 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.

Other Alleged Supremos

10 comentarios:

  1. I'd love to, really, but my hands are full.

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    1. While I would have loved to have your company for this one, Miguel, I can relate and I'm looking forward to hearing all about your Lusophone African writers. The Roa Bastos novel is a blast so far, though, so I'm glad that it's the only novel that I'm really reading at the moment. Tons of fun!

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  2. I too am so overcommitted for the month otherwise I would join in. It sounds like very engaging book.


    I laughed at your point number 3.

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    1. Brian, I think you might like the novel based on its interrogation of the historical background to the story and its effusive wordplay. However, I understand the overcommitted thing. Glad point #3 provided a laugh--nothing like a little unnecessary needling to spice up an otherwise pedestrian blog post, eh? :D

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  3. Not started yet - just a wee Hilary Mantel novel to get through.(Bring Up The Bodies) But then I'm with you all the way.

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    1. Séamus, Roa Bastos' novel is a ton of fun so far. The Supremo character might be even more perverted by language than Mark E. Smith of the Fall!

      Since it looks like you and I are the only two people who'll be reading the novel, though, let me know if you want to push back the posting date a week or so. Not a problem either way, but I'll be glad to have your company on this one when the time comes.

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    2. I should be fine with the date as it stands Richard. If I fall behind I'll let you know.

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  4. I might try to read all those four books mentioned (Hopscotch, Paradiso, Avolavara, I The Supreme) this year. I have them all. Struggled with Paradiso before; sometimes look at Avolavara, but never seriously considered actually reading it). Will try to read I Supreme, or start, this month - but reading a lot currently.

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    1. I thought you'd given up on Paradiso (i.e. Lezama Lima's and not Dante's) in disgust, Obooki, so I'm kind of glad to hear you're reconsidering it again (I bought a copy two or three years ago and have been watching it collect dust ever since). The Cortázar and the Roa Bastos are big favorites (the latter so far at least), but I don't think I'd even heard of Avolavara until quite recently. Am now intrigued by the company it's mentioned in. Your sidebar seems even more chock full of goodies than usual at the moment, so I can see you're reading a lot; still, I think I the Supreme would be a worthy addition if you can find the time.

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