EDUARDO GALEANO THE BOOK OF EMBRACES PDF

Translated by Cedric Belfrage with Mark Schafer. New York: W. One of the many interesting things about Eduardo Galeano's latest work, "The Book of Embraces," is the way it moves beyond the stuffy confines of genre. A caricaturist as well as a writer, Mr. Galeano has confected an ingenious blend of image and text that moves from autobiographical vignettes to philosophical musings, from reporting to storytelling. Of the almost separate passages that make up this volume, a large number are accompanied by illustrative emblems: a silver goblet that contains a skull-faced miniature gentleman and his lady in 19th-century garb, a typewriter fractured by a biplane, two children carrying a mirror in which death is pictured as a skeleton playing a guitar, a horn with a cockroach crawling out of it.

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Translated by Cedric Belfrage with Mark Schafer. New York: W. One of the many interesting things about Eduardo Galeano's latest work, "The Book of Embraces," is the way it moves beyond the stuffy confines of genre. A caricaturist as well as a writer, Mr. Galeano has confected an ingenious blend of image and text that moves from autobiographical vignettes to philosophical musings, from reporting to storytelling. Of the almost separate passages that make up this volume, a large number are accompanied by illustrative emblems: a silver goblet that contains a skull-faced miniature gentleman and his lady in 19th-century garb, a typewriter fractured by a biplane, two children carrying a mirror in which death is pictured as a skeleton playing a guitar, a horn with a cockroach crawling out of it.

Far from being merely decorative, these images derive their power from specific contexts. The broken typewriter, for instance, appears with a lyric passage near the end of the book, called "The Air and the Wind," in which Mr. Galeano writes: "Sometimes I recognize myself in others. I recognize myself in those who will endure, friends who will shelter me, beautiful holy fools of justice and flying creatures of beauty and other bums and vagrants who walk the earth and will continue walking, just as the stars will continue in the night and the waves in the sea.

Then, when I recognize myself in them, I am the air, coming to know myself as part of the wind. Born in Uruguay in , Mr. Galeano worked as a journalist and caricaturist until his left-wing political views brought him into conflict with his Government. In , he fled to Argentina, where he helped found the journal Crisis with a friend, Fico Vogelius, who is fondly memorialized in "The Book of Embraces. He was not able to return to Uruguay, where he now lives, until This factual skeleton of the author's life is given flesh and blood in his strangely beautiful book, in which poetry, fiction, autobiography, history, fantasy and political commentary mingle and reinforce one another in unexpected ways.

Galeano's unusual technique derives, in part, from his masterwork, "Memory of Fire," which appeared in this country between and in three volumes beautifully translated by Cedric Belfrage, who died while at work on "The Book of Embraces. Yet "Memory of Fire" was an impersonal book compared with "The Book of Embraces," which in many ways retells the same history within the context of an autobiographical narrative.

The new book, for instance, records a number of loves and personal losses. I would tell her to get out if I could. But there is a woman stuck in my throat. Like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose influence is palpable here, Mr.

Galeano adores absurdities and idiosyncrasies of any kind. There is, for example, the wonderful tale of the man who loved to tell funny stories. People came from everywhere to hear him, and "wherever he was. When he told stories people would come from all around to laugh and the house would be packed.

At the funerals, they had to upend the coffin so everybody could fit -- and thus the dead man stood up to listen with due respect to all that was being so gracefully said. Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet, is present here too, as a friend to Mr. Galeano but, more important, as an influence, as seen in passages like this, from an entry entitled "Callings": "The moon calls to the sea and the sea calls to the humble stream, which flows on and on from wherever it springs in search of the sea, no matter how far away it may lie, and growing as it flows, the stream rushes on until no mountain can hold back its surge.

Like every book by Mr. Galeano, this one is most centrally a call for justice. He sides with the oppressed: street people, prisoners of conscience, Indians, workers. He admires all the obvious heroes of the left, like Augusto Cesar Sandino and Salvador Allende Gossens, but he adds to these an array of unexpected, unsung heroes -- people who resisted oppression in their own small ways. Read naively, Mr. Galeano could easily be seen as a knee-jerk leftist.

But he retains an edge of ironic detachment that gives his fierce judgments credibility. Galeano is relentless in his condemnation of raw capitalism, which he sees as a "system of isolation" in which "your neighbor is neither your brother nor your lover. Your neighbor is a competitor, an enemy, an obstacle to clear or an object to use.

Thus "The Book of Embraces" is, finally, an argument for communal values, values like those practiced by some of the indigenous peoples of the New World before the conquistadors took over. It belongs to the earliest days and the first people, but it also belongs to the times ahead and anticipates a new New World. Galeano's invocation of the European "discovery" of the New World, which had such tragic consequences for the original inhabitants of the Americas, is timely.

As the quincentenary of Columbus's voyage nears, this book forces us once again to recall that millions of people already lived here in , yet the landscape was pristine. In years, we have very nearly destroyed the hemisphere, and nothing short of a rediscovery of communal values will save it.

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The Book of Embraces

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