Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Final Blog

Overall, I found Spanish 365 to be an interesting and useful class. After reading the wide range of texts, I have gained new knowledge of Spanish literature and appreciate it much more. As I had never used a blog before I was quite hesitant at first, but I soon realized that it helped with my understanding of the studied texts and was to my advantage. Group discussions in class further developed my understanding of the pieces and exposed me to different thoughts and opinions of others.

I appreciate the wide range of pieces presented to us by Jon; not only the type (such as poems, short stories and novels) but various regions, periods and themes were portrayed throughout the literature. Cumanda was a great novel to choose to examine interracial/ cultural relationships and since it is highly recognized in Ecuador. Neruda was one of my favorites since it was in poetic form, easy to understand and played heavily on descriptions. Mama Blanca was extremely boring, but it was good to see a different style of writing and observe what the introduction of modernization brought to the family. On the other hand, Piedra Callada was action filled and destructive, while the loss of modernization went together with devastation.

I definitely liked Cien Años de Soledad the most out of all the literary pieces. Even though the character list was numerous and hard to keep up with, themes presented were very intriguing. Family, solitude and incest were shown in a very creative and unique manner and the magic realism of the book kept my interest. Moreover, I liked how this was a more contemporary piece in comparison to the others which were more difficult to understand.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cien Años de Soledad: Entry 4

I found Cien Años de Soledad to be a very interesting and well thought out novel. It was very intriguing from start to finish and in my opinion the ending was a perfect one as it made a full circle or connection to the beginning. It started off with the incestuous relationship between Ursula and Jose Arcadio while ending with the incestuous relationship between Aureliano and Amaranta Úrsula, resulting in a deformed child and the end of the Buendia family. This almost seemed inevitable as in the beginning Ursula and Jose Arcadio were worried that their child would bear signs of deformity. Also, incestuous relationships continued for the whole novel and the whole Buendia family (and Macondo) experienced a progressive destruction. It also seems that connections between the past and the present are seen throughout the book. For example, Meme enters a convent in the same town her mother came from.

As continuously stated in class, there seems to be a continued struggle to keep memories alive throughout the book and in the last section we continue to see this. Even though Jose Arcadio Segundo struggled to keep the massacre of the innocent plantation workers alive, their deaths were completely unacknowledged by the town, and instead forgotten and no trace of the banana plantation remained. Moreover, the destruction of Aureliano Segundo and Petra Cotes’ animals further showed the loss of the past. All in all, the eradiation of memory is predestined in this novel even though many characters try to conserve it by living in the past.

I definitely think this is a good book to end the course and would recommend it to others.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cien Años de Soledad: Entry 3

As the story develops, time continues to pass by quickly and marriages, births and deaths continue to occur frequently.

I definitely like Ursula’s character in the novel because I feel she has strength which many others do not possess. For example, she has been blind since the birth of her son and she has not let this interfere with her life, enabling it to go unnoticed by using scents, shadows and her memory to guide her. Also, throughout all this time, she appears to be more together than most of the family members as she is still able to keep the house in order and take care of others while appearing rather mentally composed.

Solitude seems to constantly come up often as the family members suffer from this in their own way. Amaranta closes herself off from others as she foresees her own death and leads a solitary life while Colonel Aureliano Buendia realizes his solitude will watching the circus passing by the house. Not only do the characters suffer individually, but also as a collective group; for example, it says “solo despues de la muerte de Amaranta, cuando la familia volvio a encerrarse por un tiempo en la luto….” On the positive, Aureliano Segundo was able to cure his solitude by caring for his daughter and having a role in her life.

Not only is there a continued destruction of the family, but of the town, which demise is inevitable.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

100 Años de Soledad Continued

As I continue to read this book, it gets more and more interesting and every page is packed with new events. What is a bit frustrating is that more and more characters get introduced and intertwined with the Buendia family. Not only is the amount of characters hard to follow, but the names of characters (for example the children of Arcadio) overlap with the initial characters of the novel. I don’t really understand why everyone has such similar names and the fact that the “sons” of Colonel Aureliano Buendia’s military expedition are all named Aureliano doesn’t really help.

The topic of incest seems to come up a lot in this book; for example, Aureliano Jose having a liking for his own aunt. Maybe this is trying to show how we have a tendency to want what we can’t have, but on the other hand, incest is not natural or normal. So, I’m not really sure why this seems to be such a dominate theme in the novel.

Furthermore, the novel just continues to get more outrageous, with more incest, bestiality, the two brothers sharing the same girl and it just seems to continue.

I am very intrigued by 100 years of solitude because I really don’t know what’s going to happen next and the suspense is what makes this a good book in my opinion. With the new found connection that links Maconda with the outside, I am really curious to see what will result of it.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Beginning of Cien Años de Soledad

So far I am quite enjoying Cien Años de Soledad by Garcia Marquez. I am finding it both easy and hard in that the word usage and style of writing is more contemporary and easy to read than Cumandá or Mama Blanca, yet characters are harder to follow. There are quite a few characters in this novel and Marquez refers to a lot, such as aunts, grandparents and acquaintances that I find myself having to read carefully.

From the start, I found the book to be pretty intriguing; the gypsies, the magic and the town of Macondo all demonstrated Marquez’s creativity and imagination. Moreover, the book seems pretty eventful and interesting to read. I like in the very beginning how Macondo and the gypsies are being described because the isolation and magic of the town and transformation by the gypsies seem very mystical and supernatural. For example, “todavia no tenemos un muerto” and the gypsies provided “un millar de invenciones.”

The intrigue of the novel also came with the slow development and disruption of the town, such as the missing son and the first death in the town.

A few themes or topics that have come up thus far include incest, lust/sexuality, and power of the gypsies.

Although not very far in the novel, I’m looking forward to continuing and discussing it in class to better analyze it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Course Thus Far

In general, up until this point, I have thoroughly enjoyed the course material and differences in literary pieces that we have studied. I liked how Cumanda focused on the difference between the distinct indigenous culture of Cumanda’s family with that of Carlos'. Mama Blanca was a good contrast, although not as exciting, in that it enabled us to learn more about family life and interaction within the hacienda.

Moreover, I also found it interesting how Mama Blanca revealed destruction with the progression to modernization, while Piedra Callada was the opposite which really emphasized their differences.

My favourite piece would be Veinte Poemas by Neruda since the style of writing and chronological format of the poems appealed to me greatly. Piedra Callada was another piece I liked a lot because it was action packed and full of drama and the character of Eufrasia was quite extreme. The one reading I was not fond of would be Las Hortensias because the story was just too bizarre, weird and a bit creepy for my liking. I didn’t like how the story revolved around dolls which feed Horacio’s and Maria’s imagination and obsession.

I have never read Cien Años de Soledad so I am looking forward to starting the book and learning more about it!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"Piedra Callada" by Martha Brunet

“Piedra Callada” by Martha Brunet was an eventful, attention-grabbing yet violent story which mainly revolved around the conflict between Eufrasia and Bernabe.

In my opinion, Eufrasia’s violence was rooted in her love for her daughter, Esperanza, and how she wanted better for her child’s life. She was opposed to their marriage from the start, threatening her that she would no longer have a mother if she married this beast. As the story continues and conflict and violence grows stronger between the mother and Bernabe, she says “Claro que otra como la Esperanza no va’hallar.” This makes me feel that all her violence is coming from the hurt inside of what has become of her daughter and how she deserved a husband that could offer her more in life. Furthermore, I think this story is a good example of “Mother knows best” since if Esperanza never married Bernabe, this mess would have never occurred between the two families.

In the beginning, I felt somewhat sorry for Esperanza because she whole-heartedly loved Bernabe and wanted to marry him, but her mother was completely opposed to her wishes. “Ambicion de madre que tal vez queria un hombre con mayores posibilidades para marido de la muchacha…” (36). It’s interesting how different in personality and physical appearance the mother and her son in law are; Bernabe is described as a “bestia…con un nez enorme…y una frente estrecha” and often answers with a grunt (40), while Eufrasia is seen as cold and firm. As the story develops, I begin to sympathize with the children; they become victim to the violence and furious behavior of the family and have Bernabe as a father, and after all, in the end, they are left without a mother or father.