Among the great corpses of our age are Lenin, Mao Zedong and Stalin. Mao, at least, is still on view for the masses to see, some two decades after his demise. But no corpse engendered as much intrigue as that of Eva Peron. Elevated to near sainthood in Argentina after her death in 1952, her perfectly preserved corpse was seized by the Argentine Army following the ouster of her husband in 1955. By then, her corpse was the equivalent of a sacred relic, and while army officials wanted to keep it out of the hands of Peronists, they were loath to destroy the corpse for fear of the wrath that might follow. Tomas Eloy Martinez has reassembled the story of the corpse of Eve Peron in Santa Evita
, and in the process, produced a riveting, rich book that not only tells the tale of one of the more bizarre sagas in the history of South American politics, but that also gets to the heart of the age-old human impulse to create myths and tell stories.
--This text refers to the
From Publishers Weekly
Where fiction ends and fact begins is one of the intriguing puzzles of this perverse and enigmatic but highly readable "novel" about the afterlife of Eva Peron, the small-time actress who turned her marriage to an Argentine dictator into a mythical career as the soul of that erratic and unhappy nation. Martinez (The Peron Novel, 1988) casts himself as a sort of investigative journalist digging out the strange tale of Evita's corpse; but what he does with the material is far from journalistic, embracing instead a sense of mournful comedy. There seems little doubt that, under General Peron's orders, Evita's body (she died of a particularly painful and malignant cancer in her early 30s, at the height of her hysterical adulation by Argentina's "shirtless ones") was beautifully embalmed by a skillful Spanish embalmer. He seems also to have made several copies of his masterwork; most of the action of the novel revolves around the attempts by Colonel Moori Koenig of Military Intelligence to identify the real corpse, then to dispose of it in such a way that Peronistas, who see it as a symbol of all they cherished about the eventually discredited regime, can't make symbolic use of it. In the process, he and his men become obsessed by the body's magically hypnotic qualities, and their lives are unalterably changed. It is all a long way from the easy sentimentality of the Broadway musical, but further evidence of the extraordinary grip that remarkable yet banal woman still seems to exert over the Argentine imagination. No American reader can expect fully to share that degree of involvement with the subject, but this is nonetheless a captivating study of how magic and politics sometimes surrealistically merge. 75,000 first printing; simultaneous Spanish version by Vintage Espanol.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.