- 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)
The Plain in Flames (Joe R. and Teresa Lozana Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture (Paperback)) Paperback – 1 Sep 2012
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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)
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Top Customer Reviews
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."
Overall, though, I would very strongly recommend this to other readers.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.