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The Plain in Flames (Joe R. and Teresa Lozana Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture (Paperback)) Paperback – 1 Sep 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 122 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; Tra edition (1 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292743858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292743854
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 367,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

You can read Rulfo's slight but dense body of work in a couple of days, but that represents only a first step into territories that are yet to be definitively mapped. Their exploration is one of the more remarkable journeys in literature.--Chris Power"The Guardian" (08/27/2013)


Customer Reviews

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By jacr100 VINE VOICE on 29 July 2013
Format: Paperback
Juan Rulfo wrote only two works, both classics of Mexican literature: the haunting and unforgettable Pedro Paramo, and this collection of short stories, translated here as The Plain in Flames. For anyone who is an enthusiast of the short story form, this is a huge treat. Rulfo was very much a perfectionist and his mesmerizing style is all the more powerful for his ability to reduce a story to its essence: always sparse on dialogue, he lets characters talk through what they don't say (as Susan Sontag said, he is "a man of many silences"). His descriptions of the harsh Mexican landscape, and a harsher Mexican life under grinding poverty, are always original, evocative and carefully restrained.

Some of the short stories here are among the best I've read: they are, as the translator states in the foreword, "astonishing examples of artistic distillation". Three in particular are exceptional: the almost impossibly concise and tragic "It's Because We're So Poor"; the twistingly inevitable "Tell Them Not to Kill Me!" (which surely influenced Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold) and the surreal and memorable "Luvina" - whose eponymous town feels in many ways like the otherwordly setting of Comala in Pedro Paramo.

A couple of stories among the 17 are notably weaker ("Paso del Norte" and "The Day of the Collapse") but the overall collection is as strong as any I can recall from a single author. If only, if only Rulfo had written a little more in his lifetime. I leave it to Marquez, whose influence by Rulfo was significant, to echo my thoughts:

"Juan Rulfo didn't write more than 300 pages, but they are almost as many, and, I believe, as durable as those we're acquainted with from Sophocles."
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HIghly memorable short stories, set in Mexico in the first half of the 20th century, often in lawless times (as in the title story, The Plain in Flames). Terse (not a word wasted), surprising, altogether convincing, the standard of the writing here is exceptionally high. One or two short stories don't benefit from being translated into slightly unconvincing colloquial style, and the two short stories added (according to the translator) only to later editions of the collection seem a little weaker than the others.

Overall, though, I would very strongly recommend this to other readers.
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Very interesting. The prose is hard and spare, like Hemingway on a good day.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x97deaccc) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97e0072c) out of 5 stars The highest form of the short story, and since they're short, even people that don't like to read might go for them 26 Nov. 2013
By JackOfMostTrades - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Many people know of Juan Rulfo through his short novel Pedro Paramo, which is required reading at some colleges. But I have found the stories in The Plain in Flames as interesting and devastating, and a lot easier to interpret than his quasi-magical realism novel. A few, in fact, could and should be ranked with the greatest short stories, and are, in their way parables, not only of the damaging affects of the move of the rural population to the cities in Mexico, but to life itself.In addition, if you read Spanish, these stories are terrific to get a sense of latin american literature and language. They are simple to read, albeit not so simple to interpret. My favorite is 'The dogs are barking' and if this story doesn't get to the root of your soul, you probably don't have one. I'd urge any short story anthologist to include one of these stories in a survey of the great short stories--as is usually the purview of Checkov, Babal, Hemingway, etc. They deserve to be
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9896a81c) out of 5 stars A mostly excellent translation of a literary masterpiece. 27 April 2015
By Dallas Fawson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I would like to begin by saying that Juan Rulfo, unlike some other Spanish language writers such as Borges, is very difficult to translate- though his work is universal in scope, his language is filled with "mexicanisms" and other elements of syntax that do not perfectly cross over to English. Luckily I am able to read Spanish, and this collection of stories ("El llano en llamas" in the original Spanish) is quite possibly my favorite of any short story collection.
All of this considered, Ilan Stavans has done an excellent job transmitting the stories to English readers. Though George Schade did a competent translation years ago, Juan Rulfo augmented the collection over the years with two additional short stories, which do not appear in George Schade's rendition. Even so, this translation has a few issues which I would love to see corrected in later editions.
First and foremost, the story "Paso del Norte" is hard to read in this translation. The original Spanish includes dialect intended to reflect the speech of Mexican countryside workers. George Schade, in his aforementioned translation, was smart to not attempt to transmit this dialect to English (because how could you possibly translate a dialect?) Unfortunately, in Stavan's translation, he has portrayed the characters with stereotypical US "hillbilly" dialect. (For example, when the poor son of the story is talking to his rich father, Stavan's translation has him saying things such as "..you don't even smell 'em because you live good," or, later on, the father saying "Why'dja get married?") I believe that this aspect of the translation should be reconsidered.
Another more minor issue involves not translating certain words. I fully understand that certain words simply do not have English equivalents and should remain in Spanish, such as the names of certain plants or landscapes. However, there are a few times throughout these stories where Stavans leaves a common, universal word in Spanish. For example, in the stories "Talpa" and "Macario," he leaves the word "scapulary" in the original Spanish (escapulario).
In spite of these minor flaws, Stavans has done a very serviceable translation of these haunting short stories, and I encourage fans of short stories to read it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98d5a948) out of 5 stars Shockingly powerful 16 April 2013
By Steven Becker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of those "omg" reads. If you've never read this author, brace yourself for a shocking discovery. This is literature that will blow you away. The translators are clearly brilliant. Wow. These are stories, and writing, to savor.
HASH(0x98d5a9cc) out of 5 stars is also very good. For Pedro Paramo 10 Sept. 2015
By Raymond M Pollard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Juan Rulfo's one and only novel. The other one he supposedly burned. His short stories, The Burning Plain, is also very good. For Pedro Paramo, you will need to be very attentive to the plot and the development of the characters and the quick narrative shift. One of the masters of magical realism.
HASH(0x98d5a750) out of 5 stars Wonderful short stories 2 Mar. 2015
By Desert Denizen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderful short stories.
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