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Biography of Juan Rulfo | The Mexican Narrator is one of the key figures of Spanish literature from the 10th century

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Despite the brevity of his work, the Mexican Narrator is one of the key figures of Spanish literature from the 10th century
A novel and a book of short stories were enough to Juan Rulfo to occupy a place of privilege in the Latin American letters. Creator of a distinctive rural universe, the Narrator reflected in their narratives not only the peculiarities of Mexican idiosyncrasy, but also the profound drama of the human condition. Burning plain (1953) gathers fifteen stories that reflect a closed and violent world where traditional customs moves to link up with the more ancient myths of the West: the search for the father, the expulsion from paradise, the original fault, the first couple, life, death. Pedro Páramo (1955) is the same themes of his stories, but he moved to the field of novel surrounding them with a grim and poetic atmosphere. This book is also a prodigious formal architecture that fragmented the linear character of the story.

Juan Rulfo
The mythical town of Comala is the setting for the novel and some stories of Juan Rulfo. Its landscape is always identical, a vast plain where it never rains, valleys scorched, distant mountains and villages inhabited by solitary people. And it is not difficult to recognize in this description the features of Sayula in the State of Jalisco, where on May 16, 1918 was born the child who would later become famous in the world of letters. His full name was Juan Nepomuceno Carlos Pérez Rulfo Vizcaíno.
Juan Rulfo divided his childhood between his native village and San Gabriel (so the current city Venustiano Carranza was called), where he first studied and could watch some episodes of the cristero rebellion, violent uprising which, to the cry of "Long live Christ the King!" and the complicit silence of the ecclesiastical authorities, opposed the laws promulgated by the President streets to prohibit public cult demonstrations and to subordinate the Church to the State.
Rulfo lived in San Gabriel until age ten, in the company of her grandmother, to enter then in an orphanage where he stayed for four years more. You can affirm, without fear to incur in error, that the rebellion of the cristeros was determinant in the wake of his literary vocation, since the priest of the village, with the desire to preserve the parish library, entrusted it to the grandmother of the child. Rulfo thus had at their fingertips, when he had served only eight years, all those books that did not take long to fill their leisure time.
At age 16 he tried to enter the University of Guadalajara, but could not do it because the students maintained, at the time, endless strike that lasted over a year and a half. In Guadalajara he published his first texts, which appeared in the magazine Pan, directed by Juan José Arreola. Soon after settled in Mexico City, city, with some intervals, was to become in their place of residence and where, on January 7, 1986, you would be surprised the death.
Already in the capital, he attempted to again enter the University, encouraged by his family to follow the footsteps of his grandfather, but failed in the exams for admission to the Faculty of law and was forced to work. He then entered the Ministry of the Interior as an agent of immigration; You should track down foreigners living outside the law. He played first duties in the capital to work then in Tampico and Guadalajara and later, for two or three years, explore vast areas of the country, contacting so popular, distinctive dialects, the behavior and the nature of different regions and population groups.

Juan Rulfo with his son Juan Francisco (c. 1953)
This life traveling, this contact with multiple Mexican reality, was instrumental in the development of his literary work. Later, and always in the same Ministry of the Interior, he was transferred to the migration file. Rulfo earned life in very different works: was employed in a company that made rubber tire and also some private, both national and foreign companies. At the same time, he directed and coordinated various works to the Editorial Department of the Instituto Nacional Indigenista and was also literary Advisor to the Mexican Center of writers, institution that, in the beginning, had been granted a scholarship.
The work of Juan Rulfo, despite only consist of two books, earned him a general recognition around the world of Spanish-speaking, recognition that materialized in awards such as the national of letters (1970) and the Prince of Asturias of Spain (1983); It was translated into many languages. In 1953 he appeared the first of them, del llano in llamas, which included seventeen stories (some of which are located in the mythical Comala), which are real masterpieces of short production.
When, in 1955, Pedro Páramo, the only novel written by Juan Rulfo, the event marks the end of a slow process that has been the writer for years and that brings the richness and diversity of their literary formation. A formation that has deliberately assimilated diverse foreign literatures, from the modern Scandinavian authors, including Halldór Laxness and Knut Hamsun, until Russian or American productions. Simply approaching the novel's structure more poetic than logic, which has been termed confused by some critics, to understand the patient hard work of the author, the thorough work that its drafting was and that required it to redo many paragraphs, discarded pages and pages already written.
Since 1955, the year of the emergence of Pedro Páramo, Rulfo announced, several times and in different periods, which was preparing a book of tales of imminent publication, days without forest, and another novel entitled the mountain range, which was intended to be a non-existent region of Mexico's history since the 16th century to the present day. But the author did not publish any book. In a 1976 interview, Rulfo confessed that the projected novel had ended in the trash. From time to time, some of his texts appeared in the pages of periodicals devoted to literature. Thus, in September 1959, the Mexican literature magazine published with the title of a piece of night a fragment of a story of urban theme; much later, in March 1976, the magazine ever! It included two unpublished texts of Rulfo: a narration, dispossession, and the poem the secret formula.

Rulfo in his Studio (c. 1954)
But this little literary production has served as the inspiration and basis for a considerable flowering of film productions, adaptations of stories and texts by Rulfo which began, in 1955, with the film directed by Alfredo B. Crevenna, Talpa, whose screenplay is an adaptation of Edmundo Báez of the homonymous short story by the writer. They followed the dispossession, directed by Antonio Reynoso (1960); Wound pigeon, which, with argument rulfiano, directed by the legendary Mexican Director Emilio Fernández Indian; The Golden Cockerel (1964), directed by Roberto Gavaldón, whose script about an original idea of the author was drafted by Carlos Fuentes and Gabriel García Márquez. In 1972, Alberto Isaac directed and adapted to film two tales of El llano in llamas and 1976 world premiere is La Media Luna, film directed by José Bolaños who is the second film version of the novel Pedro Páramo.
So many were journalistic reactions and the obituaries that were published after the death of Rulfo that with them was a book entitled the murmurs, journalistic anthology about the death of Juan Rulfo. Posthumously collected articles that the author had published in 1981 in the magazine Proceso.

Chronology of Juan Rulfo

1918Born in Sayula in the State of Jalisco.
1923His father, a former landowner, is killed.
1927Death of his mother. Juan Rulfo and his brothers remain in the custody of the maternal grandmother, and then go to an orphanage.
1934A long strike of students prevents you from entering the University of Guadalajara. He published his first texts. He settled in the city of Mexico, where it tries to unsuccessfully to enter the Faculty of law.
1936-46He works in the Ministry of the Interior as an immigration agent.
1947He married Clara Aparicio.
1953He published the collection of short stories El llano in llamas.
1955Public the novel Pedro Páramo.
1962He joined the Indian Institute of Mexico, institution that would work until his death.
1970Receives the national prize for letters.
1983He won the Prince of Asturias Award.
1986Died in the city of Mexico.

Works by Juan Rulfo


There is a peculiar lineage of creators, a group of writers who have been able to put up a universe itself, characteristic, closed, inventing fabulous places, cities serving repeated landscape for stories that spring from their experiences, their world and their imagination in contemporary Latin American literature. Paradigmatic is, in this respect, the case of Macondo, the framework that the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez rose so the Buendia trenzaran their learning of solitude; and the Santa Maria of the Uruguayan Juan Carlos Onetti can not forget it.
Located in a recognizable geography and at the same time anonymous, both places populate the diffuse border that separates reality from fantasy, a place that is, also, the infernal one of Juan Rulfo, another example of personal universe, raised by the writer to accommodate their particular creatures. Macondo, Santamaria and Comala, places consistent, recognizable by their traits peculiar and so different, as they are their respective authors, have something in common: are the mirror which reflected characteristics and environments that the writer knows well.

Juan Rulfo
When appeared plain in flames, some critics were to Rulfo, hurriedly, as a regionalist writer more. However, only it took wait two years, with the emergence of Pedro Páramo, realize his mistake. The ghostly world of the novel, the rupture of the borders between life and death, a writer who had overcome the realistic and traditional channels of previous novels and inaugurated the new narrative Mexican, exhausted already the grain of the so-called novel of the revolution showed.
And that, leaving aside some texts for cinema (which were included in the edition of his complete works in 1977), the production of Juan Rulfo boils down to these two books, which are however one of the most unique collections of Latin American narrative. Thematically, both works have a regionalist junction, but do not incur a local picturesque, they reinstated in its essence the marginal and hard life of the province. On the other hand, he shows an original assimilation of the techniques of modern European and North American narrative.

Burning plain

Seventeen stories that comprise the collection El llano in llamas, 1953, focuses on the misery and loneliness Jalisco field and, through a Masterful re-creation of peasant speech, revive in his stories the relations between men and these and the Earth. The narrations of the llano in llamas revolve all, indeed, around the life of Mexican peasants; they are short stories of extraordinary and fruitful concision, in whose scenes of intense drama beats the poetic breath of the author reflected in images of brilliant sensitivity and a style that re-elaborates and recreates the Mexican popular speech.
But, despite this last feature, which could have become to Rulfo a regionalist or costumbrista writer, the persistence of their core issues, the obsessive presence of loneliness and violence, confrontation with death, love and heartbreak, the secret inner workings of life and men or the puzzles that populate the streets of Comala is a brilliant parable of the human which transcends the framework of literary nationalism and demonstrate, again, that there are no borders for the creation.

Juan Rulfo in the chapel of Tlalmanalco
In one of the stories, titled man, intertwine different timelines, in way that a man who had harassed forth to give death and also end with his family, then becomes a being pursued and talking to an invisible Avenger, is simultaneously seen as victim and executioner. There in the narrative tone of nightmare because, as in those dreams in which we try to run without success, the man flees but fails to escape never. Always he is forced to go back as if the horizon were you closed, as though it doesn't exist beyond and the world would be a closed place, where guilt takes on the weight of an inescapable fate. Like him, Rulfo characters never released it and his anguish is launching the long monologues in which the reader is doomed to adopt the role of confidant, confessor, collecting the last words of the condemned. In Talpa, other narratives included in the llano in llamas, a pair of Adulterers leaves dying husband while they make love, and the figure of the dead lodged is then constantly among them. Cold violence present in many of the stories gives strength and vigor to the narration, which sometimes has a touch of cruelty (man, del llano in llamas) and other acid sarcasm (the day of the collapse, Anacleto Morones).
Pedro Páramo
Published in 1955, Pedro Páramo recreates, in space fictional Comala, misery and loneliness of the peasant world of the author's childhood, where the moral and physical degradation drag people to hopelessness and disorientation. The narrator and protagonist, Juan Preciado, realize how custom-made from his dying mother was in search of his father, chief Pedro Páramo, who does not know, and that has led to Comala to destruction by his turbulent passion by Susana San Juan.
"I came to Comala because they told me that lived here my father, a Pedro Páramo. My mother told me. And I promised him that he would come to see him as soon as she died." So begins the work, marked, at the same time, simplicity and spectrality of language. Mexican critic Carlos Monsiváis de Rulfo said: "an axis of the world rulfiano is religiosity. "But the key idea is not there but here forever". Already on the front page warns that the place responds to a ghostly logic: "across a side street I saw a lady wrapped in her shawl that disappeared as if it did not".
Meeting with a village deserted and full of ghosts fills you with dread, and introduces him in an unreal world. By the mouth of the dead you know the events that occurred in Comala in life of Pedro Páramo, chieftain who in a historical context that spans from the Government of Porfirio Díaz until the Obregón, took to limit abuse of authority. Become a new Dante at the gates of hell-Comala and driven, as the author of the comedy, by a Beatriz adopted the appearances of a mulero, Juan Preciado discovers that burning Valley where all the inhabitants are children of Paramo, where all are dead and life is just a memory.

Poster of the movie Pedro Páramo (1967),
based on the work of Rulfo
The story of Pedro Páramo goes revealing through whispers and entrevisiones of the ghosts of the people, who despite being dead and grudge to Pedro Páramo, even they are afraid. "This town full of echoes (...) When you walk you can feel that they are treading on you the steps. "You hear squeaking, laughter." But the spooky reality of Comala is not immediately perceived by the Narrator; only slowly, very slowly, Juan Preciado warns that it is surrounded by corpses and dies, then, in turn, overwhelmed by the unbearable weight of the past.
The great innovation of Pedro Páramo lies in its complex textual construction. The narrative time becomes fragmented, oblivious to all logical continuity, and is represented by the memory and the intimate design of each individual, technique that does not appear in other Latin American writers up to the 1960s. Juan Rulfo becomes so, despite his brief literary production, one of the first Latin American writers with clear awareness of renewal of the novel, inspired by his own tradition and figures as Proust, Joyce and Faulkner.
As in a magna Symphony, where the themes and melodies are interspersed and ride directed by an unyielding will of orchestration, the text dispenses separations by chapters and launches into a construction that includes short excerpts, monologues or dialogues, voices of the people whose origin the reader must guess, to describe what Jean Franco has described as "a search for paradise which ends in the hell of Comala". The novel is built on the boundary between the real and the fantastic, and in this ambiguity in which borders are now cleared both the historical-social consequences of the Mexican Revolution, represented by violence, hatred, widespread revenge and the abandonment of the land and the footprint of an indigenous substrate are projected.
Each of the characters in the narrative, cacique Pedro Páramo, killer and thief, Susana, father Renteria, Fulgor Sedano and many others, are iconic figures whose traits, dark and unsettling intensity, have already passed to the history of universal literature; Although, as already said is, the main novel, as other narrations of Rulfo's protagonist, is the framework where the action takes place, the universe of Comala where are born and die the cravings and heartburn of its inhabitants, mythical "place on hot coals" which becomes unforgettable metaphor for a world of loneliness and oppression, cruel and tender passionate or interested.
The enigmatic story of Pedro Páramo and his prose, full of dark symbolism have generated, of course, an enormous amount of interpretations and have been paid so that scholars look for hidden meanings, metaphors, launching a fruitful task of elucidation; the criticism has tilted on its pages, and no doubt continue to do so for a long time, for questioning in hopes of bringing to light an unambiguous meaning. However, the own Juan Rulfo said of her: "actually is the story of a town that is dying on its own. Nothing kills him. Not no one kills him", an interpretation that seems too simplistic to those bent on a patient research work, forget any novel is, in fact, the work of his readers and, therefore, in its pages you can find all the universes.
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
Biographies of historical figures and personalities

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