Ariel Dorfman, a Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Literature at Duke, is the author of the play Death and the Maiden, which will be revived next year on Broadway, and numerous books, including, most recently, of the children’s story The Rabbits’ Rebellion (2020) and a novel, Cautivos (2020), about Cervantes’s life in a jail in Seville. (March 2020)
by Javier Cercas, translated from the Spanish by Frank Wynne
Spaniards in Mauthausen: Representations of a Nazi Concentration Camp, 1940–2015
by Sara J. Brenneis
On May 5, 2005, Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero journeyed to Mauthausen, a small Austrian town picturesquely situated on the Danube. A solemn task awaited him: commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp on the hill above the town where, over the course …
by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean
“At what precise moment had Perú fucked itself up?” (“En qué momento se había jodido el Perú?”) That is the question that Zavalita, the protagonist of Mario Vargas Llosa’s Conversation in the Cathedral (1969), asks himself at the beginning of the novel. By using the verb joderse, Vargas Llosa is …
A museum dedicated to memory and human rights was on nobody’s agenda when the Chilean people managed, after almost seventeen years of dictatorship, to restore democracy to their country in 1990. More urgent tasks awaited. A military government led by General Augusto Pinochet had ruled Chile since the democratically elected …
The most confrontational protesters want no return to a nation that is falsely unified, pretending we are all friends, a nation where some loot and exploit and lie and others suffer—the real looters, they assert, are the corporations, not those who steal from stores. They want no return to normality when “normality is the problem,” as one of the most popular slogans goes. These radicals, impatient and anarchic, do not appear to have a strategy that can achieve their utopian goals. But is my perspective distorted by the trauma of witnessing, nearly fifty years ago, how the peaceful Allende revolution was derailed by some of the Socialist president’s own most extreme supporters, who scared the middle classes with their wild rhetoric and actions, and gave ammunition to its most implacable adversaries?
Against the grain of the baroque, overwrought style that had seemed to define Latin American literature, each word of Juan Rulfo’s fiction emerges as if extracted from the soil, leaving readers to apprehend what is held back, to divine the vast unspoken world of extinction, the final silence that awaits us all. Without Rulfo’s groundbreaking work, which blended the regional realism and social critique then in vogue with high-modernist experimentation, it is hard to imagine that Gabriel García Márquez could have composed One Hundred Years of Solitude.
As a bishop in Argentina, Francis was opposed to the country’s military dictatorship of the 1970s and 1980s, but he maintained a public silence on the terrors of the regime. Later, there were claims that he had collaborated with the military junta. Although the justice system investigated and found no evidence against him, those charges resurfaced once Francis was anointed as pope. The Vatican fervently dismissed the accusations as “slander”—the very word that Francis just used to defend Bishop Barros from accusations of protecting a child-abusing priest.
In October 1849, 140 Irish immigrants perished when the St. John, the ship upon which they had sailed to “the New World, as Columbus and the Pilgrims did,” crashed on the shores of Massachusetts during a huge storm. We would probably not even remember their fate were it not that their demise was registered, and then narrated, by none other than Henry David Thoreau. This year, which marks the bicentennial of his birth, has focused, rightly, on a life dedicated to nature in its multiple and luminous forms, and his ground-breaking call to civil disobedience. And yet, it is worth also turning our attention to the calamity he witnessed such a long time ago and that nevertheless feels so sadly contemporary, so vividly relevant.