Juan Rulfo (1917-1986)
An unexpected treat. A complete delight. I ordered a used copy of Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo. It arrived last week. I read it. How wonderful! What a great read! It’s said that Garcia Marquez read this 1955 novel so many times that he had memorized much of it. Its influence on the Macondo of One Hundred Years of Solitude is patent. And as Susan Sonntag points out in her introduction (the Grove Press paperback), with the opening sentences of this book, “we know we are in the hands of a master storyteller. These sentences, of a bewitching concision and directness that pull the reader into the book, have a burnished, already-told quality, like the beginning of a fairy tale.” She’s right (this should not be a surprise). The book, all 124 pages of it, is a treasure. I recommend it heartily.
Rulfo was born May 16, 1917, in Sayula, Jalisco, Mexico. He studied law, was in a seminary briefly, and wrote in the 30s but nothing was published. He was married, had children, and worked as an immigration agent in Mexico and as a tire salesman. He spent his evenings reading. A first collection of stories, El llano en llamas (The Burning Plain and Other Stories) came out in 1953, when Rulfo was in his 40s.. Pedro Paramo was released in 1955. Rulfo was acknowledged as a “voice of unprecedented originality and authority in Mexian literature.” But he never published another book. Rulfo’s publisher said in the 1960's that a new novel, La Cordillera, would be forthcoming, but in the mid-80s Rulfo said he had destroyed it. He died on January 7, 1986.