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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts and the black revolution
(1968)

Notes and discussion: Miguel Angel Asturias on literature,   pp. 352-355 PDF (2.6 MB)


Page 354

landscape, more nature than man.
Man is a miniscule element lost in
the great folds of nature, in the
pampas, in the Andes, in the giant
rivers and immense lakes. The
character in the Latin American novel
does not dominate nature, it is not
like the character in the European
novel who has already dominated it.
The idiom, reflecting the thousand and
one ways of speaking Spanish in
America, has not only enriched the
language but has also changed
Castillian syntax. Through the
influence of migratory currents the
speech habits of the Africans, the
Italians, the French and the English
have enriched our culture. In the
Latin American idiom the word
has acquired its own peculiar value
in accord with the traditions of
the indigenous languages. For the
Indian the word is a musical
element; and in our novel the
situations differ from the situations
in the European novel because
they are almost always a living
document. It is not a gratuitous
novel but responds to a profound
sentiment of the author, almost
like a mandate which the author
has received.
On the other hand, the Latin
American novel, written by men
who originate from all the latitudes
and climes and all races and mixtures
and from every social class, offers
an infinite gamut of sentiments,
beliefs, ways of behaviour, of thinking
and living of the Latin American man,
all this creates in our novel situations
which Europeans often do not
understand; nevertheless the human
message comes through; at this
moment the Latin American novel
occupies a place which at one time the
North American novel occupied.
JMF
What is the meaning of the myth in
modern literature? It is said that
you are the poet of indigenous
onomatopeyas. Do you feel Spanish in
any way?
MAA
As far as my own work is concerned
there are already elements which
distinguish it: the mythology or that
which relates it to the onamatopeyas.
Other Latin American writers show
this characteristic. With me it springs
from my Maya origins, from my
studies at the Sorbonne under such
distinguished professors as Georges
Renaud and Paul Rivet. I respond
to an animist necessity to express
myself on the basis of that grand
synthesis which is the myth. As
regards onomatopeyas, the indigenes
generally multiplied syllables to
reinforce their thoughts. Augmentatives
were spawned augmenting syllables.
They sought with their language
to imitate the sounds in nature, the
singing of the birds. Without
intending it, as a product of my
subconscious, these onomatopeyic
forms come to me when I write and
give a certain character to my way of
expressing myself. With regard to
the myth, these are not dead beliefs
which I try to revive but beliefs
existing today among the Guatemalan
indigenes. I use these myths
therefore and this expressive
onomatopoesis, not with any deliberate
intention but as part of my way
of being.
JMF
After receiving the Lenin Peace
prize do you believe that peace
can be achieved through violence?
MAA
The Lenin Peace Prize was awarded
354


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