Pedro Paramo

Juan Rulfo, Author, Margaret Sayers Peden, Translator, Susan Sontag, Foreword by
Juan Rulfo, Author, Margaret Sayers Peden, Translator, Susan Sontag, Foreword by Northwestern University Press $37.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8101-1021-2
Reviewed on: 06/01/1992
Release date: 06/01/1992
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First published in Mexico in 1955, Rulfo's ( The Burning Plain and Other Stories ) only novelpk is a modern classic. The opening of this brief yet complex work is deceptively simple: Juan Preciado has promised his dying mother that he will visit Comala, her hometown, and search for his father, Pedro Paramo. His mother's words lead Juan to expect a ``beautiful view of a green plain,'' but instead he finds a ghost town and learns that Pedro is already dead. Commingling past and present, obliterating the boundary between life and death (spirits walk the earth and corpses converse in their graves), the story depicts this small town ``at the very mouth of hell'' and Pedro, a man whom one local resident describes as ``living bile.'' An autocratic and amoral patron, Pedro resorted to deception, thievery and murder to get what he wanted. Yet the thing he wanted most--the love of Susana San Juan--remained forever out of reach as Susana, desolated by the loss of her first husband, retreated into madness and then into death. Peden's lucid translation does justice to a tale that is firmly rooted in its own culture yet so fundamentally human in its focus that it speaks across cultural borders. (Sept.)
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