News from the Empire

Fernando Del Paso, Author, Alfonso Gonzalez, Translator, Stella T. Clark, Translator , trans. from the Spanish by Alfonso González and Stella T. Clark. Dalkey Archive $18.95 (704p) ISBN 978-1-56478-533-6

Operatic and beautiful, del Paso’s lush cautionary tale of empire building chronicles the brief and disastrous reign of Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria and Marie Charlotte (Carlota) of Belgium, emperor and empress of Mexico from 1863 to 1867. Seeking to redefine herself, Carlota embraces her new role as empress while Max flounders. They are usurpers, and while Benito Juarez, rightful ruler of the republic, abandons the capital to them, the seat of power stays with him as he watches from the periphery and refuses to acknowledge European rule. Desperate, spiraling into madness and wary of impending disaster, Carlota sails to Europe and begs the European monarchies for help that will never arrive. Outliving everyone, Carlota, elderly and insane, still in love with both her lost husband and her lost empire, is left to lament of Mexico, “I am mother to them all because, Maximilian, I am their history and I am mad.” This moving and engaging epic about the twilight of European monarchy and the struggles of the people they imposed themselves on may be considered a Mexican War and Peace . (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
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