Sunday, January 10, 2010

My interpretation

In Leyendas de Guatemala, Miguel Angel Asturias combines nature with human traits, personality, and myth. It is more than simply personifying nature; mythical creatures and people exist within nature. In these stories, nature breathes and is brought alive by the many characters and creatures introduced to us.

The fluidity between human and nature reflects the stream of consciousness style of narration. At times, I found this style to be confusing and difficult to follow. The thoughts that begin one story continually transform so that by the end of the story we are either in a completely new place with new characters or we are brought back to the original characters, reminding us of where we started off.

In Leyendas de la Tatuana, there is an example of how the author connects nature with humans. Humans speak with nature and one understands and works with the other. Asturias writes that the Maestro Almendro "[sabe] el vocabulario de la obsidiana - piedra que habla - y leer los jeroglificos de las constelaciones" (41). Maestro Almendro (a tree or a sacerdote?) has a strong connection with nature. He knows the language of the obsidian stone or the stones many uses and he reads the stars as if the were written by humans (like jeroglificos) or as if they could teach him something. The focus on nature and humans reminds of that these leyendas are based on myths from the maya culture, a culture that had to speak the language of nature and understand it in order to survive.

In the introduction by Paul Valery, he speaks of a translation saying that "la traducción de su trabajo es deleitable, por lo tanto, excelente". What he means when he speaks of a translation - as we spoke about in class - is not entirely clear. He could have read the Leyendas in another language but to me, the translation is from an oral story to a written story. The maya culture depended (although not completely) on storytelling in order to pass on their history to younger generations. The way the stories are narrated follow a stream of thought integrating as Valery says "historias-sueños-poemas". So to me, the translation is from oral history to a modern legends in a postmodern form. From something tangible in ones own mind or in the words of another to words, history, fact, dream-like poetry onto paper. What I like is that even though history and imagination are combined on paper, nothing is final. Not time or meaning. Everything is left open to interpretation.


Pooneh Ardakani said...

I agree with you on the important role that nature plays in the stories. I think that nature is the salient object of each short-story and it's thus captivating to see how Asturias connects humans to nature. In the story that we discussed in class the roots of man are not very distinguishable from the roots of nature that are being described. This for me reinforced the importance of nature as a whole in the Guatemalan culture.

J. Hills said...

I really like your interpretation of the introductory letter by Paul Valery. I did not think about the significance of the translation being interpreted originally form oral accounts. I don’t know exactly how stories were told in the Mayan culture but perhaps Asturias follows the Mayan tradition of storytelling. To me Asturias writes in a similar manner as someone would describe things orally. You can almost imagine someone sitting in front of you recounting the legends as you read them. a.lawn.uh. from the class said “These legends are quite incredible in the sense that I felt as though I was sitting in circle, listening to them being told and passed on amongst people.” I couldn’t agree more. I felt like I was sitting around a fire listening to someone tell stories (I think somebody else in the class said this as well). Great interpretation!

fatemah.a said...

Hola Tessa,
Primero quería responder a tu pregunta. Pienso que los mitos en la cultura maya, y en muchas otras culturas, vienen de la necesidad humana de explicar las cosas y entender las rasgas de todo, o casi todo, que existe.
Lo que dices sobre la confusión en las leyendas y el hecho de que comienza en un lugar y termina en otra, en mi opinión, es relacionado con el “sueno” y que nada es seguro, sino muchos elementos son relativos. Y también puede ser para mostrar que el lugar no importa; lo que es importante es lo que pasa y el simbolismo en las leyendas.

reka said...

I agree with your thought on how the cuentos appear to be a stream of consciousness style of narration! This totally makes it a little difficult to follow and understand what is happening. Sometimes I completely forgot how the story even started by the time I got to the end. :s Anyways, great entry.

Hudson404 said...

It really is interesting how the Leyendas can be passed down by generations. I found it a little difficult to understand which I assume could be caused for the most part from the difficulty in translation from Mayan culture. A change in the context and delivery of the massage as they are passed down.