The Underdogs Hardcover – Nov 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
If Los de abajo , long considered one of the masterpieces of revolutionary literature in Mexico, has not received wide recognition north of the border, it is not for lack of trying. This is its fourth translation into English. Azuela himself described the book as "a series of sketches and scenes of the constitutionalist revolution," at the center of which is Demetrio Macias, an Indian farmer who, following a petty fight with the local boss, became a bandit--which in 1913-1916 was basically the same thing as a revolutionary. His heroism must be read in the context of fellow rebels, like Luis Cervantes, the sometime journalist who spouts heroic claptrap between bouts of cowardice and avarice, or the brutal and crude Margarito. Unlike Azuela, who was a medical officer with Pancho Villa's forces, Macias does not know for whom or what he is fighting and is eventually trapped. Fornoff has wisely avoided translating the quickly outmoded Spanish slang into equally transient English; rather, he leaves Azuela's spare, lucid prose to tell its own story of the tyranny of revolution. This volume in the Pittsburgh Editions of Latin American Literature also includes scholarly essays by Carlos Fuentes, Seymour Menton and Jorge Ruffinelli.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Azuela was one of several well-known Latin American writers, among them Martin Luis Guzman, Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes, and Rafael Munoz, who worked in the genre known as the "novel of the Mexican Revolution." Although Azuela (1873-1952) wrote Los de Abajo ( The Underdogs ) in 1915, it didn't begin to have a following until almost a decade later. Azuela received the Prize in Letters from the Mexican National Society for the Arts and Sciences in 1940 and remained Mexico's foremost novelist until his death. The novel chronicles the conflict between the revolutionaries and the federales (government troops), focusing on war and its effect on the people. This translation, accompanied by critical essays, is the first volume in a series that promises to introduce authoritative new English editions of classic works. Recommended for libraries that purchase Latin American literature.
- Peggie Partello, Keene State Coll., N.H.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
But first, some background. In 1810, when Fr. Hidalgo issued his immortal 'Grito del Dolores' that launched Mexico's War of Independence from Spain, the average Mexican was better off than most Americans. The American Revolution, then the French Revolution, ignited the fires of freedom throughout the Americas. Mexico was one of the first to raise the proud banner of freedom.
Conservatives fought back, as they did in the 13 Colonies, and turned Mexico into a savage battleground. In the United States, successful Revolutionaries exiled defeated "United Empire Loyalists" to Canada, the Caribbean and England; in Mexico, in one form or another, both factions fought for a century. More than half of Mexico, what is now the US Southwest and California, was lost. The continuous war, plus an invasion by France, plundered Mexico of its wealth. In 1876, Porfirio Diaz imposed order; by 1910, after 34 years of the increasingly brutal Porfiriato despotism, the "underdogs" were ready to explode.
In one form or another, Revolution lasted until 1929. Peace finally came to Mexico when the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution (PRI) organized a national government and held power until the year 2000, when the presidency was won by Vincente Fox Queseda of the National Action Party (PAN).
Los de Abajo, printed in 1915 as a serial in an El Paso newspaper, was the first novel of the Revolution of 1910. It is still the finest description of the mood of people who made the revolution; a blunt description of the sheer joy of total destruction by people who had been crushed until all hope was lost.Read more ›
The main character, Demetrio Macias, and his band of revolutionaries at once attract and repulse you until, at the novel's end, the reader understands how bitterly disillusioned Azuela had become with the likes of the generals and foot soldiers who turned their noble cause into a pretext for their own personal gain. Thus, the revolution implodes upon the idealists who gave her birth and, in the end, the generals and foot soldiers of the revolution become comsumed by the same base impulses that once fueled their enemies.
The dialogue, of which there is plenty, burns through the storyline like a prairie fire, so real, so vibrant, and so poetic is it. The narrative draws the reader along seamlessly, and the numerous descriptions of nature dazzle his mind's eye like an apocalyptic vision.
In my opinion, a good novel engages me in the lives of its characters. Demetrio, Manteca, Luis Cervantes, Camilla, War Paint, et al. remain vivdly in my mind as victims of injustice, heroes of liberty, and perpetrators of pointless mayhem.
I fell so much in love with Azuela's style and his masterful use of imagery that I ordered the Spanish language version Los de Abajo! I can't wait to read this novel in the original Spanish.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Underdogs is a story about a farmer named Demetrio Macias in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. The story follows Macias from the beginning of his involvement in the revolution... Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2004 by Jeanette Jacquez
In my review, I will mainly be focusing on the writer's style. Personally, I did not like the book that much and the author's style of writing did not help me to enjoy it. Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2002 by S. Poe
This novel's style is very minimalist; it is often critisized as having no plot and flat characters. Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2001 by AD
I read this in my sophomore year in high school and i thought it was a major waste of time. I didn't enjoy reading about a man who becomes a general in a rebel army then soon... Read morePublished on June 11 2000
When I first started reading this book I thought it was really boring, but when I was finished I was glad I read it. Read morePublished on Dec 23 1999
The book shows how a revolutionary ideal is brought about by injustice. It brings to the forefront the fact that if one is hungry there is nothing left to lose. Read morePublished on Dec 14 1999 by Jose N. H. Galvan
I was assigned to read this book for a Mexican Literature class, and I was expecting it to be just another boring history novel. Read morePublished on Oct. 18 1999
This book is excellent. It depicts the revolution in a very unique way. Azuela truly had a great talent. Azuela produces questions as to the reasoning for the revolution. Read morePublished on June 9 1999
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