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The Plain in Flames (Joe R. and Teresa Lozana Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture) Paperback – September 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This new translation of a 1953 collection of stories (plus two not previously published in English) from the acclaimed Mexican writer draws readers in with its gritty realism. Each story is told in the first person by characters such as priests and guerilla soldiers, living in the deeply religious and violent countryside of revolutionary Mexico. Rulfo's characters are imperfect, jaded, and often withhold their confidences until the end of their tales, giving the story the air of a confessional. The harsh and beautiful landscape of the Mexican countryside is personified, with stories taking places in towns like Corazón de Maria, translated as the heart of Mary, though in the war-torn country, God is decidedly absent, leaving characters with quiet resignation or haunted despair. The drama spans from the personal, such as in "Talpa," in which a man drags his dying brother on a long pilgrimage to the Virgen de Talpa with the intention of stealing his wife, to the epic, as in the title story, in which a rebel soldier recounts his five revolutionary years fighting Mexican troops under the command of Pedro Zamora. What is remarkable about these sketches is that the characters are rendered with deep honesty; their faults are highlighted, celebrated in a way that is reminiscent of Chekhov's peasants. Yet there is tenderness to their portrayal that seems to say: these are what real people are in their entirety. This brand of honesty is striking, and stimulating. (Sept.)

Review

"You can read Rulfo's slight but dense body of work in a couple of days, but that represents only a first step into territories that are yet to be definitively mapped. Their exploration is one of the more remarkable journeys in literature." (Chris Power The Guardian 2013-08-27)

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Product Details

  • Series: Joe R. and Teresa Lozana Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture
  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; Tra edition (September 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292743858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292743854
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Many people know of Juan Rulfo through his short novel Pedro Paramo, which is required reading at some colleges. But I have found the stories in The Plain in Flames as interesting and devastating, and a lot easier to interpret than his quasi-magical realism novel. A few, in fact, could and should be ranked with the greatest short stories, and are, in their way parables, not only of the damaging affects of the move of the rural population to the cities in Mexico, but to life itself.In addition, if you read Spanish, these stories are terrific to get a sense of latin american literature and language. They are simple to read, albeit not so simple to interpret. My favorite is 'The dogs are barking' and if this story doesn't get to the root of your soul, you probably don't have one. I'd urge any short story anthologist to include one of these stories in a survey of the great short stories--as is usually the purview of Checkov, Babal, Hemingway, etc. They deserve to be
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dallas Fawson on April 27, 2015
Format: Paperback
I would like to begin by saying that Juan Rulfo, unlike some other Spanish language writers such as Borges, is very difficult to translate- though his work is universal in scope, his language is filled with "mexicanisms" and other elements of syntax that do not perfectly cross over to English. Luckily I am able to read Spanish, and this collection of stories ("El llano en llamas" in the original Spanish) is quite possibly my favorite of any short story collection.
All of this considered, Ilan Stavans has done an excellent job transmitting the stories to English readers. Though George Schade did a competent translation years ago, Juan Rulfo augmented the collection over the years with two additional short stories, which do not appear in George Schade's rendition. Even so, this translation has a few issues which I would love to see corrected in later editions.
First and foremost, the story "Paso del Norte" is hard to read in this translation. The original Spanish includes dialect intended to reflect the speech of Mexican countryside workers. George Schade, in his aforementioned translation, was smart to not attempt to transmit this dialect to English (because how could you possibly translate a dialect?) Unfortunately, in Stavan's translation, he has portrayed the characters with stereotypical US "hillbilly" dialect. (For example, when the poor son of the story is talking to his rich father, Stavan's translation has him saying things such as "..you don't even smell 'em because you live good," or, later on, the father saying "Why'dja get married?") I believe that this aspect of the translation should be reconsidered.
Another more minor issue involves not translating certain words.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven Becker on April 16, 2013
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This is one of those "omg" reads. If you've never read this author, brace yourself for a shocking discovery. This is literature that will blow you away. The translators are clearly brilliant. Wow. These are stories, and writing, to savor.
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Wonderful short stories.
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By Eileen Sherlock on January 6, 2015
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book was in good shape
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