As these stories are rather surreal by NATURE (no pun intended), they can be quite hard to follow: *especially for a non-native speaker*. The introductory letter helped me understand from what stance to tackle the reading; I knew it wasn’t going to be a chronological tale about society comings and goings, or what have you. It’s always dangerous to read too much about something before you yourself go and actually read it, as it can taint your ‘pure’ perception of the thing; however, the letter is far too personal and brief to pose a problem there.
Throughout the leyendas I read, I consistently felt a sense of comparison, between past and present (not so much future). A sense of nostalgia. Attention is consistently paid to what passed and how it lingers in the present tense; what changes and/or repercussions that ensue as a consequence. “Como se cuenta en las historias que ahora nadie cree…esta ciudad fue construida sobre ciudades…” (13), and essentially from there, the less chronological, more visual/sensory story commences. Asturias refers to different places and their respective anecdotal faces to assert where Guatemala stands in his eyes. I feel like the way in which he weaves between nearly-impossible-to-follow run-on sentences in the visual-sensory department and the clearer narrative parts comments on that past-present dichotomy.
Obviously lo natural plays an immense role. Constant references to things like gold, silver, foliage, specific animals, the trees and the jungle, the moon, the sun and stars infer an attribution of godliness to nature. And from that point, a connection between that godly nature and the original indigenous state of living in old-time Guatemala. I like it. I sympathize with his viewpoints and appreciate the lackadaisical yet very pointed and direct air the natural passages have to them. If his stories were made into moving pictures, it would be impossible to capture the pigment and luster of the foliage and skies by night with any camera… More suitable to animation, I think.
At times I was confused about who (or what) was the subject of a sentence. In “Ahora que me acuerdo”, Asturias refers to a Nosotros to whom I couldn’t pin an identity! Either way, in this story Asturias takes the godliness to a next level by creating a Nature chant sobre la germinacion, nature’s health (as I took it). However, I may have misinterpreted some parts and here any commentaries would be helpful! The repetition of “y bailaban, cantando” creates a rhythm in the text: it provokes feeling of chant, ceremony, prayer, celebration, all things I might associate with spirituality or religion. Clear biblical references show up in the selection of the sheep (lobo) as a subject and in the “Leyenda del Cadejo”, where it kind-of inverses the view. Madre Elvira de San Francisco is the point of view from which the reader begins the story; we start from inside a classically religious locale, a monastery, and feel how the spirit of what is outside enters into her interior world (first few pages). I loved how Asturias changed his direction in Cadejo; it really contrasts but does agree with the previous stories.