Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Mirror of Lida Sal by Miguel Angel Asturias

"The Mirror of Lida Sal," by Miguel Angel Asturias, is a noteworthy piece of 20th century fiction by a giant of Guatemalan literature. Subtitled "Tales Based on Mayan Myths and Guatemalan Legends," this volume has been translated into English by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert. Miguel Angel Asturias (1899–1974) is one of the notable literary figures in Latin America who in the 1920s contrived both to explore and to define Latin literature within the mainstream of Western history. He managed to be poetic, political and mythological at the same time, and with a degree of synthesis rarely achieved then or since. In this book, Asturias draws upon Central American history and culture to create several fascinating short pieces. His style (as I read it through Alter-Gilbert's translation) is psychedelic and florid; Asturias mixes realistic and fantastic elements throughout the book. The result is comparable to a prose version of the paintings of Spanish artist Salvador Dali.
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