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Pedro Páramo (Five Star) Paperback – 24 Feb 2000

4.1 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail; New Ed edition (24 Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852427264
  • ISBN-13: 978-9681104269
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 298,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Pedro Paramo is not only one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century world literature but one of the most influential of the century's books; indeed it would be hard to overestimate its impact on literature in Spanish (Susan Sontag)

I like to think that Rulfo's moment in the English-speaking world has finally arrived. His novel's conception is of a simplicity and profundity worthy of Greek tragedy, though another way of conveying its unique effect might be to say that it is Wuthering Heights located in Mexico and written by Kafka (Guardian)

This brilliant Mexican novel, written in 1955, describes a man's search for his unknown father with the haunting clarity and strange logic of a recurrent nightmare (Esquire)

Book Description

A Latin American essential, now a Serpent's Tail Classic

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
Author Juan Rulfo's extraordinarily powerful novel, "Pedro Paramo," captures the essence of life in rural Mexico during the last years of the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th, like no other work of fiction. Here, in a mere 124 pages, the author vividly portrays the radical social and economic changes which spurred the dramatic migration of the campesinos from ranchos and villages to the urban slums, where they could no longer live off the land, nor find work. Ghost towns mark the places where many had once flourished. I first read this masterpiece in English while living in Guadalajara, Mexico, over 25 years ago. I was absolutely captivated by the haunting story and by the fascinating characters. I reread the book a few years later, in Spanish, and was able to appreciate, first-hand, the authors skillful, nuanced use of language. After a series of surrealistic dreams, which turned my thoughts southward, I picked up another copy and began to read once more of the dry, deserted streets of Comala and the man who doomed the town and its inhabitants. I am amazed that the novel remains as fresh, magical and poignant as it did the first time around. I think Juan Rulfo's masterpiece takes on depth and texture with each reading. And it certainly proves true the maxim, "Good/great things come in small packages."
Pedro Paramo, the son of failing landowners, was consumed with love for Susana San Juan. This intense passion lasted a lifetime. Eventually, Pedro's aging father and family died, and Susana moved away. Alone and lonely, he assumed control of the estate and unscrupulously did whatever he had to, fair and foul, to amass a fortune and build his empire.
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Format: Paperback
I think that the word 'haunting' is an overused cliche when it comes to describing books, but it could have been invented for 'Pedro Paramo'. The story initially follows Juan Preciado, who has been sent by his dying mother to see the father he has never met: Pedro Paramo. Preciado journeys to Comala, the town where his father lived. When he arrives there he finds a village of the damned, full of dead souls unable to find peace. Through his interactions with these spirits, he learns of his father's monstrous past, and how his actions have led to the townspeople being repeatedly refused absolution by priests and bishops, resulting in their purgatorial state.
The book requires a lot of concentration. The narration slips between present and past events, and narrators frequently interchange, so that it can be hard to follow whose story you are currently reading. Despite its length (100+ pages) I wouldn't describe it as an easy read. However, this structure is one of the strengths of the writing, because it adds a very ghostly, surreal air to the narrative, and as a reader I felt like I was drifting through the events in Comala, becoming one of the spirits haunting the town. The spirit of damnation pervades the book, and it is relentlessly grim. Again, this purgatorial feeling enhances, not diminishes, the narrative, in my opinion, creating one of the most atmospheric books I have read. The reader is invited to look down on a vision of hell, full of characters who you feel have earned their damnation. Because of all this, it is not what I would describe as a particularly fun read, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend 'Pedro Paramo' as a beautiful and haunting piece of literature.
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Format: Paperback
Published in 1955, "Pedro Páramo" has become an established classic of twentieth-century Latin American literature, and was reputedly a big influence on the like of Gabriel García Márquez, who could apparently recite large chunks of it from memory - yet this is its first accurate and unabridged English translation. Perhaps this is because of the book's initial impenetrability: it's certainly no easy read, and I must confess that I came close to giving up after forty pages or so. However, persevere and the reasons for its classic status do become clearer.
The book's narrator, a young man by the name of Juan Preciado, travels to the Mexican village of Comala in fulfilment of a deathbed promise to his mother to seek out his father Pedro Páramo, the local landowner. On arrival in Comala, he discovers it to be quite literally a ghost town: one by one, he encounters doomed characters from the town's past, who gradually reveal Comala's (and his father's) macabre tale. For Pedro Páramo - unscrupulous philanderer, murderer and double-dealer though he was - is himself a tragic figure.
The ghosts of Comala flit by Juan in a dreamlike, hypnotic progression: the suicide Eduviges Dyada; a pair of incestuous lovers; disillusioned priest Father Rentería... and by the end of the book, Juan Preciado himself has become a ghostly, disembodied presence. The novel often seems to follow dream logic rather than any recognisable linear narrative: this ultimately becomes one of the book's great strengths, but it is initially disorientating.
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