Journey Back to the Source: Alejo Carpentier: Viaje a la semilla (; Journey Back to the Source), for instance, set in 19th-century Cuba, is told in reverse. The Cuban novelist who invented the phrase “lo real maravilloso americano,” Alejo Carpentier considered “Journey Back to the Source” (“Viaje a la semilla”) to . Journey Back to the Source Analysis and Quiz According to Carpentier, language is an artificial, alienating construct, almost like structured.

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The ruined marquess trades bankruptcy for jourrney, mourning for romance, romance for spiritual crisis, spiritual crises for toy grenadiers, the groom, and the only true perspective on a house—the one from the floor. Then the natural world around him turns back to its roots and origins, leaving a blank where his house once stood.

Journey Back to the Source

Unlike Carpentier’s later work, where the “marvelous” accrues from the juxtaposition of different realities, this story depends on a magician and an explicitly literary trick. Like Laurence Sterne in Tristram Shandy, whose hero tells his story from the moment of his conception, or Machado de Assis in Epitaph for a Small Winner, whose hero begins his story just after his death, Carpentier starts from a conceit—a smart, clever, ingenious idea.

He feels under the weather after celebrating his minority with friends. He is oppressed by the legal documentation involved in the sale of his house. So they sit out the day. As he “slips towards life,” everything else in the house rushes still faster and farther back: With its search for illusory origins, its loving descriptions of colonial luxury, its contrast between past and present, its typical rather than individual protagonist, and its account of the material decline of an effete aristocracy, the story adumbrates much of Carpentier’s later writing.

Print this article Print all entries for this topic Cite this article. He has taken a mistress following a period of mourning after the death of his wife. In Spanish the title of the story, “Viaje a la semilla,” literally means “journey” or “voyage” to the “seed,” which is feminine.

Journey Back to the Source by Alejo Carpentier PDF

A mumbling old black man roves the ruins of a dilapidated colonial mansion being demolished by workmen. Carpentier at Wikipedia Background, biography, magical realism, major works, literary style, further reading. This antithesis is too simple, since the fiction enacts an exuberant, uniquely human contemplation of the dismal reality, always and forever impending, of the annihilation of our last trace.


Critics dispute whether the conclusion represents a glorious return to nature or a dismal annihilation of the human race. Nor does the story propose as Carpentier’s later work does that the man’s magic is real in his world though not in ours: Relatives and friends gather to mark her passing. When he leaves the seminary he enters a period of spiritual doubt and emotional crisis.

Journey Back to the Source by Alejo Carpentier PDF |

His mistress gets out of bed, gets dressed, and leaves the house. Earlier, along with his male friends, he has visited a dance hall. In a reversal of time, the house is re-assembled, and the man enters the house where Don Marcial, its owner, is lying on his death bed. Once he has reset time’s direction and lit the lamps, the Afro-Cuban sorcerer and his magical reality vanish into the text. Learn how your comment data is processed. The storyteller makes comprehensible and forces the reader back through the text the otherwise indecipherable death of the marquesa by water.

Don Marcial only does moderately carpentidr in his college examinations, and then learns less and less at school. He thus supplements the other story we have just been told and returns us to our own forward time.

Carpentier is not the first author to put time in reverse. Don Marcial and the Marquesa get to know each other in the early days of their marriage. For a more extended example of its kind, see his novel, The Kingdom of this World El reino de este mundo.

Once the house is reassembled, in the room where the marquess lies the tall candles grow longer and longer until a nun puts them out with a light. The next day the workmen carpentirr, but the house they were to demolish is gone, the statue of Ceres carted off and sold. Though the new growth may be unrecognizable, seeds in clay and water do come up again. An old Negro sits in a garden where he watches an ancient house in the process of being demolished.

Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Retrieved December 26, from Encyclopedia. He visits his father bafk is ill in bed.

While accounts of the story emphasize its portentous allegory, the tale itself, the reader’s journey, is ironic, witty, and fun. The furniture in his house grows taller. Walls have sloughed their paper like snakes shed their old skins; capitals lie fallen against their natural propensities, yet the vines recognize their affinity with the acanthus of fallen columns and twine round them.


The infant Don Marciale has a close relationship with the household servant Melchor, with whom he shares secrets. Outside the house, before the old man acts, a rich, baroque, typically encrusted description establishes the simultaneity of decay and renewal. With one or two minor exceptions, Carpentier delivers this chronological illusion very successfully. Since “seed” in English denotes semen, which is masculine, spurting out to join the egg, it cannot sorce used to describe the trip back up the vaginal canal to our source.

Journey Back to the Source (Viaje a la Semilla) by Alejo Carpentier, |

This was a group of stories all told in radically different styles, first published in English by Victor Gollancz in and translated from the original Spanish by the Bloomsbury Group diarist Frances Partridge. He forgets his own name, and before his christening exists in a world of touch alone. They move back into the city from their country estate and get married. But in fact the composition of the story is a little more complex than this conceit would suggest. The story is an amusing meditation on time and causality — but it is situated within a rational framework of normal temporality.

In the penultimate section of the story this reversal of time accelerates very rapidly. When Melchor is not there, his closest friends are the household dogs, with whom he shares his life. When the doctor shakes his head to indicate that there is no hope, the dying man feels better at once.

Your email address will not be published. A door frame lets in the darkness. They get dressed bsck in old clothes from the attic and hold a musical party where he flirts with a young girl.

Wells and observes that film runs its action backwards or forwards with equal ease. Friends take their presents back home and Don Marcial lives in his house alone as a bachelor.