Teresa de la Parra’s Memorias

I just wanted to comment on some of the things I have been enjoying about Las memorias de Mamá Blanca.   Even though I don’t often read biographies or autobiographies, I find it interesting when authors are able to include autobiographical elements of their own life experiences into their writing, as Teresa de la Parra has done here.  I also like the “manuscript” setting that de la Parra has used to frame the story.  I find that the complicated relationship between the narrator, the editor and de la Parra herself (basing the story on her own life growing up on a Venezuelan sugar plantation with her sisters) through 3 different time periods is very interesting, although I have to admit to finding it quite confusing sometimes as well, especially at first, even though the initial “Advertencia” does a good job of explaining it.  It made me think of one of the most memorable books I have read, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, which also uses the trope of the “found manuscript” although in a different way.

I also like her descriptive writing style.  For example, she writes lines rich with imagery and metaphor like “Como bandada de mariposas perseguidas, las frases originales han dejado sobre las paginas sus pintadas alas: las alas de la vida” (p. 74)  Reading that line in an English book might sound overly flowery and silly to my taste, but reading it in Spanish in this novel, it at least makes the book more interesting to read for me, although I have to confess that the way she writes has me reaching for the dictionary quite a bit.  These features have made the novel more interesting and enjoyable for me, since the plot and characters haven’t been that captivating to me and it has not been my favourite book.  Still, these are the things I have enjoyed about it.

Published in: on February 4, 2007 at 11:59 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I agree with your coments about some parts being confusing however I also agree that some of the stylistic writing did create interest while reading it. There were times I really felt Teresa de la Parra was giving us insight into her own family and for me sometimes I wondered which was fact and which was fiction. It wasn’t the easiest read for me but I’m glad that I made the effort.

  2. I agree with you, it was a very beautiful and well-written book, though I think the prolific descriptions and poetic language, led to the difficulty and confusion– in myself as well. Once I managed to wrap my head around sentence I realized how well stated it was and how poetic it sounded, but it definitley took a bit of work to get through some paragraphs for me, mainly the ones with the most description of setting etc.

  3. I wouldn’t say that this has been my favorite book either. Still, I found it charming mostly because of the little asides/digressions from the narrator which, to me, seem like the most autobiographical moments in the novel.

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