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Santa Evita Paperback – July 29, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 Audio Cassette edition.

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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 29, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679768149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679768142
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Seeing that "the only thing that can be done with reality is to invent it again," Tomás Eloy Martínez brilliantly transposes Evita's postmortem journey into an outrageous postmodern fictional montage wherein the author, represented as a fictitious character and narrator in the novel, spins a web of biography, history and myth into a effervescently farcical and sombrely perverse narrative, mellifluously illuminating the woman who "ceased to be what she said and what she did to become what people say she said and what people say she did." The end-result is a gripping tale which sheds new light upon details that biographers and historians commonly leave behind, seeking to unfold "the unexplained blank spaces" of her domain while tracking the political, mythical, historical body of desires which Evita's cadaver, the body of the nation, incorporates. And quite marvellously, in the interim, the textuality of Santa Evita undrapes the roots of the complex set of relations which provide an understanding of the corpus of discursive regularities that extend the representation of Argentina to Evita's embalmed cadaver as the novel bares and reconstructs the miracles, desires, secrets, and mysteries including the fragments and revelations which triggered the narrative flow, as "little by little Evita began to turn into a story that, before it ended, kindled another." Simply put, a literary work of art.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Martín E. Gaing on March 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Really a fantastic book, in which the novel is mixed with historical facts which not only captivates you in the way as it is written, but also introduces some light to certain facts that took place after Evita's death, specifically, the outregious destination given to Evita's body which were never publicly revealed.
For me, an Argentine citizien born in Buenos Aires some years (not many) after Evita's death, who in some way or in the other has been always captivated by Evita's personality, although did not share some of her political aspirations and procedures, was somehow tired of hearing huge and enormous amount of histories in relation to Evita's body, with this book I was illustrated in some portion of the history of my country which was secret and maintained undisclosed from the public for many years after Evita's death.
To those who may consider that some parts of this book appears more a fiction than a historical fact, well, believe it or not, it was a "real" portion of our past history and not "fiction" or "myth".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. Anderson on August 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book was so powerful. It drew me in, kept me glued, and haunted me for WEEKS after I put it down. Based on facts, but fictionalized, SANTA EVITA is a combination of biography, mystery, and history. And it's all very very fascinating. The drama and intrigue surrounding Evita's corpse equals no other. And by the time Eloy Martinez is finished weaving his story - you close the book wondering what was real, what wasn't, and what parts of the story you can believe! Wonderful example of the magico realismo (magic realism) the Argentines are known for!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By HardyBoy64 VINE VOICE on October 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
T. Eloy Martínez offers a truly special portrayal of Argentina's

first lady, Eva Perón. The story of her wandering cadaver is haunting, tragic and at times quite hilarious, and always mind-blowing. I recommend this novel. (I'm not sure the English translation is decent, so if you can, read it in Spanish). It's a great example of the poststructuralist novel of the 20th century.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "sologub" on September 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
This novel is sure to spawn 10,000 dissertations in comparative literature. It is an extremely self-conscious work --- in fact, this gets to be too much at times. If you're into Deconstruction, then Santa Evita will thrill you. If you're looking for a straightforward narrative, then it will mystify you --- it's the literary equivalent of a jigsaw puzzle. Since my knowledge of the whole Evita phenomenon and the sociopolitical scene the novel engages is superficial, much of this work went over my head. I expect that it is laced with clever political puns that I missed. Fortunately, Martinez's gift for felicitous phrasing shines through even in translation.
In my opinion, the desires projected onto Evita's body (both political and personal) do make for interesting reading, but Martinez's many digressions on memory and the reconstruction of "reality" shamelessly hammer in a theme that's become far too trendy these days. Relatedly, his obstinate insistence that the truth only exists in versions can be heavy-handed at times, especially if you compare it to the subtle and brilliant way that someone like Lev Tolstoy (or even Andrei Makine) treats the same theme. In spite of these factors, Santa Evita is a good novel, with some truly excellent passages here and there. It seems almost heretical not to love it, but I have to admit I didn't. Sorry, but that's my version of the truth.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific historical novel, effortlessly weaving through fact and fiction. I had trouble putting it down. It is an interesting commentary on our obsession with celebrities and the question of what is truth, what is myth? Can we ever really know the truth about those we consider "legends?"
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