Stories of Life and Death
Over one hundred vignettes in Stories of Life and Death create haunting images of the author's favorite subjects: women in love, children coping with tragedy, eccentrics, the emotions of compassion, bitterness, envy and longing.Meet Mercedita Saro, the shy, perfectly-groomed beggar-child of the local drunk, whom Jimenez loves, protects, and treats with sweets, forbidden by her father. And Max, "the blue child," a West Indian boy traveling on the same ship as Jimenez to live with relatives in South America, who covered his black face with white powder "to look whiter to my brothers." See a woman in love, "white tender, bray, submissive, delicate." and the tiny ray of sun awakening a baby, which "has opened in his eyes a magic and flowery garden that holds him bewitched." Feel sadness at the death of a village girl, empathy for the mother of a sailor lost at sea, and compassion for an angry man who gets drunk for the first time.The author creates an impressionistic landscape with subtle nuances of light and shadow, leaving tantalizing ambiguities to be resolved only in the eye of the beholder.As might be assumed from the title bestowed on this work, Jimenez's prose and poetical observations of the world around him, previously encountered in Platero and I, take on a somewhat darker more transcendent hue in this further collection. Gone is the unifying theme of itinerant man and donkey, and the physical boundaries of time and space. Here Jimenez allows his poetic vision to sweep far and wide, distilling and concentrating his art into thumbnail sketches of such disparate characters among many are a beggar-girl, a grape-harvester, an elderly canary and even the moon itself. Prefaced by a scholarly introduction from the translator, this is a fine and sensitive translation which captures gloriously the sheer lyrical beauty of Jimenez's writing. British Bulletin of Publications
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