‘Pedro Páramo’ by Juan Rulfo – Eerie Folks in a Mexican Town

 

‘Pedro Páramo’ by Juan Rulfo (1955) – 124 pages                   Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden

A dying mother sends her son on a quest to find his father in a town called Comala. After his mother dies, the son heads out to this town, and the townspeople treat him kindly. However he soon discovers that many of these same people who greet him are, surprise, already dead.

What happens with these corpses that have been dead for a long time is that when the damp reaches them they begin to stir. They wake up.”

This novella is filled with the sounds of the rustling and murmuring of dead people.

As the son stays, he finds out all about his father, Pedro Páramo. Pedro owned nearly all the land that surrounds the town. He was a ruthless tyrant who subjugates all the men in town to his brutal rule and subjects many of the women in town to his desires. The only son that he actually claims as his own, Miguel, is spoiled and even worse than he is.

We also hear from the last wife of Pedro Páramo who is in the cemetery.

A woman’s voice? You thought it was me? It must be that woman who talks to herself. The one in the large tomb. Dona Susanita. She’s buried close to us. The damp must have got to her and she’s moving about in her sleep.”

Who is she?”

Pedro Páramo’s last wife. Some say she was crazy. Some say not. The truth is she talked to herself even when she was alive.”

The novella ‘Pedro Páramo’ was at first met with a cool critical reception and sold only two thousand copies during its first four years. However over the years it has gained stature as a classic. Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges have both championed this little novella with Garcia Marquez claiming he “could recite the whole book, forwards and backwards”. Now ‘Pedro Páramo’ has been translated into more than thirty different languages and the English version has sold over a million copies.

I found this to be a haunting Mexican tale but somewhat confusing in places.

Sometimes they say the dead speak to us but they usually don’t mean it this literally.

 

Grade:   A-

 

4 responses to this post.

  1. You’re continuing to be a bad influence, Tony! I read about this one recently on Madame Bibi lophile’s blog and liked the sound of it. Now I’m convinced!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. I wrote about this one at mine (at a bit of length I think, back when I was able to do that). I loved it – I think it was my book of the year that year. Well written, atmospheric and with an awful lot of depth in a short space. Glad to see it getting some more attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi Max,
      I spent many years reading a lot of South American literature, and I thought I had covered most of the high points. However Mexico is not in South America so I missed Juan Rulfo. 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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