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La muerte de Artemio Cruz (Spanish Edition)
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2000
Personajes : artemio cruz, catalina, Lorenzo, Teresa, Gloria, Gerardo, Gamaliel, padre Paez, Lilia, Laura, Lunero, Gonzalo , Regina, Locacion: México Año: diferentes fechas
La historia de Artemio es la historia de la ambición por sobre todas las cosas, el deseo desmedido de poder, la corrupción, la degeneración moral, dejar de creer en el amor y en las personas para empezar a creer en lo que se puede comprar y tener, en lo que se puede manejar, dominar, subyugar..... Esta obra esta escrita de diferentes maneras, en primera persona, en segunda persona, y narrador omnisciente, estados de conciencia y semiconciencia caracterizan la trama y los diálogos se sitúan como la vida misma dentro de la cabeza de Artemio, donde las fechas y los recuerdos van tomando su curso, para hacernos entender esa maraña de cosas que se tejen y destejen en su cabeza, para empezar a poner orden a esos pensamientos desordenados, que giran y giran y buscan tal vez el perdón y la comprensión de las mujeres, Catalina que nunca lo amo, Regina que lo amo con el alma, Lilia y Laura que solo querían su dinero, El destino, que lo hace verse viejo y sin herederos, su hijo completando su vida, muriendo la muerte que le tocaba morir a el en la guerra y que tuvo que ser muerta por su hijo en otra guerra al otro lado del mar que sabe a cerveza y huele a melón, que hay detrás del mar? Islas , ... Artemio, muere Artemio, no quiero verme viejo,. Por eso los controlo, por eso las uso, por eso me burlo de ellas, que me odian........ Es también una obra sobre el poder en México y la forma en que se maneja..... Excelente. LUIS MENDEZ
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2001
As an intersection of two major themes - the illusion of independence pictured in a faint bourgeois environment (Las Buenas Conciencias, 1959) and the nightmare of transculturation in contemporary life (La Región Más Transparente, 1958), La Muerte De Artemio Cruz (1962) rebuilds mexican history on the ruins of individual and social consciousness. The protagonist (the "yo" instance) is led to seek the truth in his own past, while the voice of memory ("tú") recalls the origins of a betrayed revolution ("él", the stream of historical action) and gives the dying man the last chance to imagine how things might have been from another point of view: the wish of community, a future raised by plural needs and dreams - "nosotros". From the epigraphs to the end of the novel, death and memory join forces to restore that manifold identity, stifled by Artemio's overwhelming projects. The physical death of Artemio corresponds to the rebirth of mexican history as a social body made of facts but also of feelings and emotions, concealed under the rough mask of authority. Throughout the text the feminine figures accomplish this mission as well, reflecting, like mirrors (so often mentioned in this book), the reality Artemio wants to deny. Four women - Regina, Catalina, Lilia y Laura - symbolize different periods of Artemio's life strongly attached to main revolutionary commotions (from the beginnings to their later political and economic metamorphose). In each one of them, financial ascent and physical/moral degradation are but one painful and irreversible process. All these symbolic elements converge to the final scenes: the fulfillment of collective destiny in the death of his son Lorenzo; the recognition of social fountainhead through the analogous images of Artemio's mother, Isabel Cruz, and the mythical representation of La Chingada. At the end, the two most important moments of Artemio's life stick together: his birth and his death. All the lapse between these extremes is a synesthetic confluence of multiple perceptions, where past and future switch sides, creating what Jacques le Goff called "the ontological rule of historicity": the rescue of memory as freedom.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 1999
Artemio Cruz, on his deathbead, passes through the events of his life in this Fuentes masterpiece. The novel is narrated in the first, second and third person, symbolic of the character's ego, id and superego. Cruz explores the deaths that spared him. His lack of courage and personal sacrafice, ironically, bring Cruz to fortune and fame. He leaves battle only to be heralded as a war hero. He escapes execution. Through deception, Artemio Curz earns permission to marry the sister of the man killed in his place. The language of the novel is rich and varied. The reader enters into the morphine-induced train of consciousness of Cruz, finds deathbed observations laced with old memories and jumps through the life of Cruz. La Muerte de Artemio Cruz is a novel of self--judgement. Before dying, Cruz examines the value of his existance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2014
Caveat: This review is specific to my current, idiosyncratic reading needs. Specifically, I need not to have my depression exacerbated. Short version: if you are ill and trying not to focus on your physical being, and would be disturbed by the graphic depiction of the physical decomposition and mental fragmentation of a dying protagonist who is sociopathic, power-consumed, hateful and in no imaginable way sympathetic, don't read this book. Longer version follows.

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Some people achieve greatness, and some people assiduously avoid it and have great novels thrust upon them. This one was inflicted on me by my book club, which chose it, presumably, to honor the recently-deceased Fuentes (who unquestionably *deserves* to be honored). I chose to read the Spanish edition, just because I could and would have felt guilty about doing otherwise, so your mileage may vary, linguistically speaking, if the English translation is especially good or bad, but I think my opinion would be language-invariant over all editions. I'm sure it'd be equally unremittingly depressing rendered into any form of human communication. (Don't get me wrong; it's a powerful, superlatively-well-written, historically- and politically-illuminating novel. Don't read it if you're already dysphoric, though.)

Understand that this isn't going to be incisive literary analysis (fat chance of that; sooner will I press a Mack truck than succeed in deconstructing Fuente's narrative technique). I'm really more interested in the politics of power and brutality and oppression.

Mikhail Bakunin said that, the day after the revolution, the revolutionary ought to be executed. With the caveat that I don't personally believe in executing anyone, ever, I think that Artemio Cruz makes a pretty good case for Bakunin's assertion. Cruz starts out at the very bottom of the social hierarchy, conceivably with a measure of good intentions in participating in the revolution -- though also an obvious propensity for violence. (He kills his uncle and rapes the woman who's to become the love of his life.) He's more a Mexican Charles Foster Kane, though, than he is the sort of privileged-from-birth man-fratboy sociopathic narcissist that, say, certain right-wing American politicians seem to be.  (He's definitely sociopathic, just not born to the manner.) But he decays spiritually through the flashbacks, if you can put them into any kind of order (as he does physically, in the present) and becomes a monster (though, from my personal perspective, anyone willing to participate in extremities of violence in the first place, no matter what the pretext, doesn't exactly start out from a place of spiritual purity; even revolutionary wars don't enchant me). If Cruz's early life is supposed to redeem him, it doesn't work for me, though his older persona becomes something even more appalling. Winston Churchill, quoting some French general whose name eludes me, is himself famously quoted as having said that young men who aren't liberal have no hearts, and that older men who haven't become conservative have no brains. I remember once declaring to some of my students campaigning for a candidate who shall go nameless that, "as the brainless addressing the heartless," I "really didn't like their politics." Why this occurs to me is that I think Fuentes is playing on the perceived ineluctability of this transmogrification from idealist to monster, and it bothers me, because although it may be common, I don't think itis ineluctable. Also, it fails adequately to indict the silver-spoon, cradle-to-grave sociopaths and megalomaniacs, though I'm sure Fuentes has no use for them, either.

I have some sympathy for Cruz, mostly because he's dying painfully, and it's excruciating to be asked to partake of that experience vicariously when your own health isn't good, and few of us are immune from health issues. There is kind of a "stereo-optical" effect. Could Fuentes have achieved the same effect without plunging us full-bore into moribundity and putrescence? No, I don't think so.

Would I have been more interested in trying to empathize with a character who had exhibited or retained some measure of youthful idealism (and had, consequently, much less (toxic) effect on the world)? Yes, but persistent idealists (e.g., M.L. King, Jr.) are the ones who do actually end up being assassinated, rather than the revolutionaries ripe to become oppressors in their own right, and such a tome wouldn't have been particularly revelatory of the realities of any sort of history or politics.

I admire Fuentes. I think he's a kindred spirit, politically and ideologically. But he merely reaffirms my worst perceptions of the world as a place where "feeble conviction" is almost invariably overborne by toxic "passionate intensity," even in the history of one life. It's deeply depressing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2013
Muestra como se institucionalizaron la corrupción y la injusticia en México desde la revolución, a través de la biografía de Artemio Cruz (n. 1889, m. 1960) que, en su lecho de muerte, recuerda episodios de su vida. Hombre alto (1,85 m.), fuerte y buenmozo (ojos verdes, pelo crespo) en su juventud, es una mezcla de gran audacia y egoismo materialista, siempre buscando la mejor manera de salvar el pellejo y enriquecerse. Como teniente carrancista en 1915, huye las balas villistas y abandona un soldado suyo herido, pero (por un malentendido) es aplaudido como heroe; luego de la guerra, recurre a mentiras y chantaje para obligar al viejo hacendado reaccionario Gamaliel a darle su hija en matrimonio y control de sus tierras; entonces manipula y defrauda a los campesinos; electo diputado, traiciona al presidente de la República para alinearse con otro más fuerte; llega a ser dueño de un poderoso periódico que hace y destruye carreras políticas, fulmina contra los "comunistas" y apoya la venta de las riquezas patrias a los norteamericanos ­ siempre que le paguen la comisión elevada que exige. Ya viejo y feo, compra la compañia de una joven para vacaciones, y más viejo actúa como rey, "el momia de Coyoacán", para ofrecer en su enorme casa una cena y baile costosísimo para ostentar su poder. Ha amado y perdido a tres mujeres: ­ Regina, que viola violentamente durante la revolución pero que llega a quererlo y luego es muerta por los enemigos; su esposa Catalina, que lo repudia, por haber humillado a su papá (don Gamaliel), y Laura, mujer inteligente y madura, separada (o divorciada?), que Cruz pierde porque teme romper abiertamente con su esposa. También quiere a su hijo Lorenzo, que, creyendo imitar al padre que supone revolucionario heróico, a los 17 años va a luchar por la República en España y muere en la fuga hacia Francia. Sólo en la experiencia de Lorenzo en España, y en las últimas páginas donde vemos la niñez de Cruz ­ y aprendemos que es hijo bastardo de otro hacendado y de una sirvienta mulata, ­ nos apartamos del punto de vista de AC.

Los cambios de tiempo, la fragmentación de la narrativa y la falta de indicación clara de quién está hablando hacen muchas veces difícil la lectura. Las descripciones de objetos y acción son realmente impresionantes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2000
Personajes : artemio cruz, catalina, Lorenzo, Teresa, Gloria, Gerardo, Gamaliel, padre Paez, Lilia, Laura, Lunero, Gonzalo , Regina, Locacion: México Año: diferentes fechas
La historia de Artemio es la historia de la ambición por sobre todas las cosas, el deseo desmedido de poder, la corrupción, la degeneración moral, dejar de creer en el amor y en las personas para empezar a creer en lo que se puede comprar y tener, en lo que se puede manejar, dominar, subyugar..... Esta obra esta escrita de diferentes maneras, en primera persona, en segunda persona, y narrador omnisciente, estados de conciencia y semiconciencia caracterizan la trama y los diálogos se sitúan como la vida misma dentro de la cabeza de Artemio, donde las fechas y los recuerdos van tomando su curso, para hacernos entender esa maraña de cosas que se tejen y destejen en su cabeza, para empezar a poner orden a esos pensamientos desordenados, que giran y giran y buscan tal vez el perdón y la comprensión de las mujeres, Catalina que nunca lo amo, Regina que lo amo con el alma, Lilia y Laura que solo querían su dinero, El destino, que lo hace verse viejo y sin herederos, su hijo completando su vida, muriendo la muerte que le tocaba morir a el en la guerra y que tuvo que ser muerta por su hijo en otra guerra al otro lado del mar que sabe a cerveza y huele a melón, que hay detrás del mar? Islas , ... Artemio, muere Artemio, no quiero verme viejo,. Por eso los controlo, por eso las uso, por eso me burlo de ellas, que me odian........ Es también una obra sobre el poder en México y la forma en que se maneja..... Excelente. LUIS MENDEZ
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2012
"Mexican novelist Fuentes narrates the events of Artemio Cruz's life on his death bed in various voices. One reviewer wrote that before dying Cruz examines the value of his existence." This is as reviewed in "The New Essential Guide to Spanish Reading" which is published by America Reads Spanish: a campaign aimed to increase the use and reading of the Spanish language through the thousands of libraries, schools and book stores in the US.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2014
El primer libro que leo del señor Fuentes y quizas el ultimo. Una obra compleja, sin necesidad de serlo. Con continuos cambios de perspectivas, del narrador a Artemio, al hijo de este, a la hija, a la esposa, al narrador de nuevo...
Al leerlo necesite hacer pausas y regresar varias hojas para saber quien hablaba y de que hablaba! Una decepcion. Uno de los pocos libros que no logro concluir, y que no pienso hacerlo nunca.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2013
Como siempre Fuentes tratando los temas relativos a su México con un magnífico tratamiento del lenguaje.Puede uno imaginarse parte de la historia mexicana a través e esta novela.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2014
La obra en sí es de 5 estrellas. Una de mis obras favoritas de la literatura latinoamericana. El problema es la versión digital: contiene bastantes errores de ortografía que hacen difícil la lectura y distraen bastante al lector. En lo particular, tuve que comprar el libro en papel.
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