There are imaginary regions described so richly that they seem real. The reader must be careful not to become obsessed with finding them and having it happen to him, like the alienated settlers who haunted El Dorado. In some cases, they simply do not exist.
This is what Ediciones Menguantes advocates, Imaginary Regions, which collects ten journeys in the footsteps of great writers, from García Márquez to William Faulkner. Journalists, chroniclers and photographers have traveled the world in search of Macondo, Wigata or Yoknapatofa, and what they have found can be read and seen in these pages, which are a mixture of guidebook and literary tribute.
The idea comes from Luis Fernandez and Bernardo Gutiérrez, two journalists interested in bringing both themes together. It was clear from the start that they couldn’t be fantastic places. “For example, Mordor from The Lord of the Rings cost us nothing,” they explain. “But some of them are rooted in reality, they arose from imagination, legends and conflicts of a particular territory. These imaginary regions interested us the most,” Gutiérrez tells elDiario.es.
They unfolded the map of the world and began to put them on top. “In order to raise the argument between reality and fiction, we realized that the idea must be justified, and we did it,” recalls Fernandez. “Trying to find traces of fiction in reality is real exploration and courage,” admits his partner. But they understood.
Macondo, the epicenter of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and Gabo’s work, coincides with several areas of the Caribbean; Juan Rulfo realized that Komala inspired by Tuscaquesco, a small town south of Jalisco; Santa Mariacreated by the Uruguayan Juan Carlos Onetti, mirrors parts of Montevideo and Rio de Plata; Ray reminiscent of Sicily in the books of Andrea Camilleri; in Region de Juan Bennet is located in Leon and in the vicinity of El Bierzo; and Yoknapatofa, from William Faulkner, inspired by the American Mississippi and Lafayette County. These are the most famous, but the duo wanted to open up to geographical and cultural diversity.
So they added Enrique Vila-Matas’ story about Babaqua, a territory that appears in an unfinished novel by an unknown Cuban-Portuguese author Maria Lima Mendez and is located in ghostly colonial Mozambique. They were also open to inclusion Malgudi, is present in the work of the Indian R.K. Narayan; village umofia, created by Chinua Achebe and located in northwestern Nigeria; and finally Salt Cities and Hudaybthe imaginary emirate of the novelist Abderrahman Munif, “a faithful reflection of any state in the Persian Gulf subject to the controversies of the oil business.”
“Imaginary regions are usually relatively unknown or provincial territories. They do not have a big epic, but they are places where the same tensions and dramas are experienced as in other scenarios, ”adds Elisa Reche, author of the Narayan chapter on India and director of the Murcian publication elDiario.es. In addition, he finds “an attempt to cross the physical and imaginary geography through the chronicle” highly original. Each chapter of Imaginary Regions is an adventure, and three of these travelers tell how they lived in the first person.
Macondo by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Bernardo Gutierrez chose Macondo out of passion. “I have always been fascinated by Gabo’s work, especially One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I have read five times,” he says. “Having a strong connection to Latin America since childhood, something led me to look for this Macondo in the Colombian Caribbean, which, being a city, is also a metaphor for the continent,” he adds.
Macondo first appeared in the short story Isabella Watching the Rain in Macondo (1955). It would later become a permanent setting for García Márquez in La Jojarasca (1955), The Funeral of Mama Grande (1962), La Gora (1962) and Cien Años de Soledad (1967). Gutiérrez made two trips inspired by the Nobel Prize in Literature winner who passed away in 2014. “They were mainly focused on the banana zone between Aracataca and Ciénaga, with incursions into Fundación, Seville, banana plantations and many short trips through the region. “, the bill.
He assures that for the inhabitants of this region, Macondo is real, “it exists in the minds and hearts of many people.” “There is a lot of documentation, interviews, readings behind the trips. However, without these two trips and talking with Gabo in Havana about Macondo, it would have been impossible to write about it,” he assures. He began by writing a chronicle about an imaginary area, but “being overly literal didn’t quite work.” That is why he switched to letters with fictional elements, but he warns that “all the stories that appear are told to me or I read them immediately.”
Comala Juan Rulfo
“The story of Comala is the story of a city that has lost paradise and is in a daze that comes with guilt,” says Luis Fernandez Zaurin at the beginning of his chapter on the region invented by Juan Rulfo. The Mexican writer of the generation of 52 placed two of his three narrative works in Comal: the collection of short stories “El Llano in the Lamas” (1953) and the novel “Pedro Paramo” (1955). “I knew that Comala had a connection with reality in Tuscaquesco because Juan Rulfo himself left it recorded in Los murmullos,” explains Fernandez.
“My first destination, already in the state of Jalisco, was Sayula, the city where Juan Rulfo was born. There I was able to meet the man who found Rulfo’s birth certificate in the church of that city, as well as Juan Rulfo’s niece, who told me about her uncle as a loving person and a bit of a liar who played ignorance with biographers and researchers”, he continues. He later moved to San Gabriel, where the author lived for several years and a place that many identify with Comala, although without objective evidence.
“Eventually, already in paramo, Tuscaquesco adapted perfectly to the description of Rulfo in the novel,” he says. It was a dull and tiny town where only old people and children lived, since half of the young population emigrated to the United States. “Along the unpaved streets, at dusk, between collapsed houses and rotten gates, a horse ran furiously, which, I don’t know why, I associated with Miguel Paramo’s horse. Having the old man reassure me that he personally knew Pedro Paramo gave me the complete feeling of being inside a romance,” describes Luis, who shares a sentiment similar to that of his Macondo partner Gabo.
Malgudi RK Narayan
Twelve years ago, Eliza Reche lived in Delhi for four years, where she worked as a correspondent for various newspapers. There he met Bernardo Gutiérrez, who suggested that he look for Malgudi R.C. Narayana in South India for the Imaginary Regions project. “And I did just that,” he says. “India is changing at times and it was difficult to find a small town in the southern provinces where Narayan had placed all his works since Swami and Friends published in 1934. Neither photographer Jaime Leon nor I found it, but we did find other landscapes. , customs, languages and people that appear in the Malecón Malgudi chapter,” he recalls.
“When I made the trip, I found a friendlier South India, with more wilderness and a more peaceful pace of life, in the same intensity that is seen throughout the country. It also deepened my perception of the inability to know the Asian subcontinent well. This is a country with an ancient culture, very complex in the eyes of a Westerner, with a huge variety of languages, customs and religions. It is an impossible hieroglyph and therefore even more fascinating,” Reche describes, so he started reading Narayan.
The journalist assures that the Indian author of the reference “possesses the versatility that is characteristic of great literary geniuses, who are able to tell with great depth and sensitivity about the desires or doubts of any person, while revealing in their works the features of Indian history and culture.” from within, without orientalist clichés.
He invites you to discover the literature of RK because it uses humor without idealizing its characters “who appear with their sufferings and small heroic deeds in the territory of deep India.” “He also reflects at length on the subjugation of Indian women in works such as Dark Room, or on subtle but forceful critiques of British colonization in almost all of his writings,” says Rech.
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