Reviews - What do customers think about Matadero, El - Cautiva, La (Spanish Edition)?
Great short story, long and cliched poem Dec 4, 2007
This book contains the two major works by Argentine writer Esteban Echeverria (1805 - 1851). La Cautiva is a long poem about a white woman held captive by hostile indians (then called pampa indians, but they were really mapuche) in the Argentine pampas. She is saved by an Argentinian warrior named Brian (!). The poem is cliched and it shows how Echeverria's upbringing in Buenos Aires and Europe gave him little connection and understanding with the culture of the rest of the country. El Matadero is considered to be Argentina's first short story. Written in the late 1840s, but never published during the author's lifetime, it is a very powerful story from the let-go, even if it is a polemical tirade against the government of Juan Manuel de Rosas. It also shows an ugly side of contempt toward the lower classes (who favoured Rosas), even calling them, without irony, the "horribly ugly proletarian classes of the River Plate". The story begins in the Buenos Aires slaugterhouse, where after a long flood, cattle are being brought from the countryside for the slaughter. A young upper class unitarian (a member of the polical party who opposed the Rosas government) rides by, and because he does not wear the obligatory federal symbols, he is attacked and eventually killed by the workers in the slaughterhouse. One has to point out that it is not historically accurate to equate only the federal party with political violence: after all, it was the execution by the unitarians of Manuel Dorrego and the terror it unleashed on the outskirts of Buenos Aires what started the civil war. Political objections aside, this short story is terse, well written and very powerful.