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Deep Rivers (1958)

por José María Arguedas

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386950,567 (3.41)47
Edicio n por el centenario del nacimiento del gran escritor peruano e internacional, Jose Mari a Arguedas Altamirano. La obra va acompan ada de textos cri ticos y fotografi as.
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Mostrando 1-5 de 9 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
My edition of this book (which has the same ISBN as the edition I chose, but looks different and comes in at just under 250 pages) took me over 2 weeks to read. Over 2 weeks for fewer than 250 pages. Clearly, I did not love it.

From everything I have read (the intro, the afterword by Llosa, and the goodreads description), this novel is a semi-autobiographical account of Arguedas' childhood. Brought up by Indians, when he re-entered Latino society, he found he did not fit in. But he didn't fit into Indian culture either, being Latino and not native.

I know I have to be missing some (read: many, or maybe all?) cultural clues in this book. I struggled to know who was Indian and who was not—at the seminary school, the boys have a huge hierarchy (very Lord of the Flies-esque, another book I did not love). I could not understand how this hierarchy was determined. Wealth? Looks? Smarts? Plain old popularity? To me, this book was about a boy who had been brought up on the road, traveling with his father from town to town and not getting to stay anywhere for as long as he would like. And his father then leaves him at this seminary. And yes, he does not fit in, but that is because he has never needed to or had the opportunity to live amongst the same people for long, and his father does not visit nor write. He is all alone, trying to make friends (and he does, though it is hard and he is an outcast). He simple does not know how to function in a stable society.

The descriptions of the natural world--birds, bugs, landscape--were my favorite parts. I googled many of the trees and birds to see what they really look like. It made me laugh when one of the birds turned out to be a South American mockingbird. And yes, the description sounded like one!

Interestingly, the 1001 books summary sees this book more how I read it. The clueless non-Latin-American interpretation, perhaps.

Also, much of the language in this book reminded me of Calvino's Invisible Cities (which I did enjoy). I read both in translation, which strikes me as--odd. Something about the cadence of the writing. ( )
  Dreesie | May 1, 2016 |
What a lovely book this is. I thoroughly enjoyed Jose Maria Arguedas' "Deep Rivers" and marveled at the ability of translator Frances Horning Barraclough to create a rhythm that seemed really unique in a book that was considered tough to translate. Argeudas wrote in Spanish, but used the sentence constructions of Quecha, a language used in the Peruvian Andes.

The story centers on Ernesto, a white boy who was banished to the kitchens by his stepmother, so he lived among Peruvian Indians, learning not only Quecha but their manner of relating to the landscape so closely. (This was in fact Arguedas' own upbringing.) Ernesto is left at a boarding school in Abancay, where life proceeds as it might in a small Peruvian town.

Although there seems to be a sort of universality to stories about boys' boarding schools, no matter what the culture, this story was told in such a remarkable and interesting way. It felt like a primer on Peru's culture without feeling dry... just a great story wrapped up in a fascinating setting. ( )
  amerynth | Jan 17, 2016 |
This was a haunting and at times painful book to read. It is the story of Ernesto, a white Peruvian boy who was relegated to the kitchen by the relatives he was sent to live with and thus was raised by the Indian servants and came to speak their language, Quechua, and love their culture, especially their relationship to the natural world. When he got a little older, his father, a not-so-successful itinerant lawyer, took him with him as he traveled around the Andes seeking work.

As the story opens, the father is taking his son to see his estranged brother, known as the Old Man, in the ancient city of Cuzco. The Spanish colonial walls built on top of the remains of Inca stone buildings set the symbolic stage for the rest of the book, for Ernesto is caught between the two cultures. Later, father and son go to the town of Abancay, where the father hopes to stay but ultimately leaves his son at a Catholic boarding school. It is there that most of the novel takes place.

Although the usual pranks and even some terrible cruelties take place at the school -- most horribly the opaquely described repeated rapes of a mentally unstable woman called "the Idiot" -- most of Ernesto's time there is spent inside his own unhappy and lonely head. The most moving and lyrical parts describe his connection to nature, not just animals and plants but the mountains and rocks and rivers, all of which in Quechua culture have much greater significance than in white culture, and are often even personified. Aruguedas, whose early life was similar to Ernesto's, frequently uses Quechua words and Quechua songs to illustrate Ernesto's deep love of the culture and its conflict with the powers that be. Ernesto is also drawn to the myths and spirits and music of the Indian culture and endows a top he receives as a gift with the powers of communication.

I found it a little difficult to keep track of who the various schoolboys were, but I think this was intentional, as they are really more symbols of different aspects of white and mestizo upbringings than fully developed characters. Although there is not much of a plot, a couple of things of significance happen, including an uprising by local woman because the distribution of salt has been halted; feeling himself connected more to these women than to the society inside his school, Ernesto runs after them, drawing the ire of the powerful but condescending priest, the Rector, who runs the school. (Later, however, in the wake of another trouble that strikes the area, the Rector will try to protect Ernesto.) Following the uprising, the troops come to town, and that gives Arguedas the opportunity to further contrast people from the coastal regions with those from the highlands, and to further show the conflicts between the descendants of the colonialists and the indigenous populations.

Mostly, as I said, this book is about Ernesto, and the tragedy of his alienation from both worlds which leads to his living so much in his own dreams and odd ideas.

"I wanted to see Salvinia, Alcira, and Antero. And then to become a falcon and soar over the towns where I had once been happy; to descend to the levels of the rooftops, following the streams that bring water to the settlements, hovering for a moment over the familiar trees and stones that mark the boundary of the tilled fields and, later, calling down from the depths of the sky." p. 161

Because Ernesto is the center of the book, and because he is so unhappy and feels so out of place, this was in places a difficult book to read. The ending of the book is ambiguous, and not a little shocking.

Arguedas, who was also raised by Indian servants in a home in which his white stepmother despised him, became an ethnologist and ultimately killed himself. My edition had an interesting afterword by fellow Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa.
5 vote rebeccanyc | Dec 8, 2013 |
Deep Rivers is not an easy novel. It was not novel that ever intended to be translated and certainly was not written for an international audience. The introduction states that the author saw himself as "talking not only about the Andean peoples, but for and to them." And while this novel was written in Spanish, Arguedas deliberately constructed sentences according to the rules of Quecha syntax.

Arguedas was an anthropologist, as well as a writer and poet. He drew heavily on his childhood experiences and anthropology training in writing Deep Rivers. Thus, it reads more like non-fiction, somewhat dryly depicting a chronological series of events with no apparent narrative arc. The beauty of the story is found in the cumulative effect of his descriptions of the world as seen through the eyes of young boy who is lost in the white man's world, yet does not belong in the Quecha world in which he was raised. ( )
  ELiz_M | Apr 6, 2013 |
Book about the differences between 'lo indio y lo espanol' in Peru. This contradiction is embodied in the main character of the book; Ernesto. English introduction by William Rowe, who used to be a Lecturer in Spanish-American Literature at Kings College, London.
  LASC | Dec 18, 2012 |
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» Adicionar outros autores (19 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Arguedas, José Maríaautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Barraclough, Frances HorningTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Murra, John V.Introduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Sabarte Belacortu, MarioleinTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Vargas Llosa, MarioPosfácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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Jose Maria Arguedas is one of the few Latin American authors who have loved and described their rural natural surroundings, and he ranks among the greatest writers of any place and any time. (Translator's Note)
"You may be surprised if I confess to you that I am the handiwork of my stepmother. (Introduction)
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Edicio n por el centenario del nacimiento del gran escritor peruano e internacional, Jose Mari a Arguedas Altamirano. La obra va acompan ada de textos cri ticos y fotografi as.

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