To Carlos Fuentes

photo credit: Pierre-Philippe Marcou

Dear Señor Fuentes,

I read 3 obituaries about you since your passing this May.

They all mentioned your elegance, your role in Latin American literature, your political life, your humanitarian values, your family.

There was something missing though.

None mentioned Christopher Unborn (Cristobal Nonato).

It was the first of your novels that I read. I read it as an undergraduate student and it introduced me to a new way of reading, a complex world with layered meanings, and cultural references (to be honest, some I understood, some I didn’t).

It taught me to read, to reread, and then to reread again.  It made me a more humble reader; it made me a stronger reader.

Why is its absence in those obituaries so surprising to me?

I think I subconsciously read every one of your other books as a sort of extension of that first one.

I think I searched for every character you created in your other novels for signs of those early ones.

credit: Wikimedia Commons

 “‘Because I am happy,’ my father bellowed. ‘I am happy!’ he shouted even louder, turning to face the Pacific Ocean.  ‘I am possessed of the most intimate, reactionary happiness!’ Ocean, origin of the gods!”  Fuentes, Christopher Unborn 

Porque yo estoy contento, gritó mi padre, yo estoy contento, gritó más fuerte volteando a mirar las incansables olas del océano Pacífico, ¡ yo estoy poseído de la más íntima alegría reaccionaria! ¡ Océano origen de los dioses!  Fuentes, Cristobal Nonato

(click the above text to read The NY Times obituary on Carlos Fuentes)

34 thoughts on “To Carlos Fuentes

  1. Now I want to read Christopher Unborn…thanks to this post. The journalists aren’t interested in digging deep and sifting layers. You have learned to do so. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

  2. I was so happy that you wrote about Cristobal Nonato and Carlos Fuentes, specially adressing him directly…
    It was lovely and a tribute to this great writer
    Thank you
    Francoise

  3. Excellent commentary and tribute to an amazingly insightful and gifted man. he was posessed of so many layers, yet not so much complex as multi-dimensional perhaps, in my opinion. I really enjoyed your thoughts and presentation. Thank you.

  4. Hi Letizia, how beautiful is this tribute to Carlos Fuentes. Like the other commentators here, I am compelled by the power of your post to explore his work further. Thank you.

    • Thank you, I’ve been touched by everyone’s kind words. Fuentes’s book meant a lot to me. It’s not the easiest read because it has so many culturally-specific references, which is why, I think, most readers start with his other novels. Whatever book one starts with though, I think he’s worth exploring!

  5. Ooo, I shall have to read the copy of Terra Nostra that I have somewhere now, mau=inly because i am to tight to buy Christopher Unborn, that’ll be on my christmas list though.

  6. Curious, in the translation it’s missing the bit about ‘tireless waves.’ What a strange thing for the translator to leave out.

    I’m ambivalent about Carlos Fuentes: after reading Terra Nostra and A Change of Skin, I recognize the talent with words, but I also find the novels rather hollow, with very little feeling in them.

    • You’re right, I double checked my English translation, but there was no mention of it, how odd!

      I didn’t love Terra Nostra as much as Christopher Unborn and haven’t read A Change of Skin so perhaps you may connect more with his other novels. One can love an author and not love all his works. Or perhaps Fuentes is not for you, which is very possible, of course!

      Thanks for visiting my blog and for the interesting comment.

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