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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Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Friends take their presents back home and Don Marcial lives in his house alone as a bachelor. He forgets his own name, and before his christening exists in a world of touch alone.

When the doctor shakes his head to indicate that there is no hope, the dying man feels better at once. First published inthe same year as Jorge Luis Borges ‘s Ficciones and collected in War of Time”Journey Back to the Source” starts from an idea so simple and so universal that a six-year-old has uttered it, “What if we could live our lives backwards?

Journey Back to the Source by Alejo Carpentier PDF

When he leaves the seminary he enters a period of spiritual doubt and emotional crisis. The storyteller makes comprehensible and forces the reader back through the text the otherwise journeu death of the marquesa by water.

An old Negro sits in a garden where he watches an ancient house in the process of being demolished.

But in fact the composition of the story is a little more complex than this conceit would suggest. A door frame lets in the darkness. This was a group of stories all told in radically different styles, first published in English by Ti Gollancz in and translated from the original Spanish by the Bloomsbury Group diarist Frances Partridge. Though the new growth may be unrecognizable, seeds in clay and water do come up again.

Thus, gradually, delightedly, the reader realizes that he is moving carpeniter forward but backward in time.

The next day the workmen return, but the house they were to demolish is gone, the statue of Ceres carted off and sold. Journey Back to the Source Viaje al semilla was written inbut first published in in Havana, Cuba as part of the collection entitled The War of Time — Guerra del tye Learn more about citation styles Citation styles Encyclopedia.


He visits his father who is ill in bed. He thus supplements the other story we have just been told and returns us to our own forward time.

latin american magical realism: “Journey Back to the Source”

He is given extra pastries one day, then sees servants carrying a coffin into the house. Outside the house, before the old man acts, a rich, baroque, typically encrusted description establishes the simultaneity of decay and renewal. Then the natural world around him turns caepentier to its roots and origins, leaving a blank where his house once stood. He finally renounces the light, and all grows dark, warm, moist again. The infant Don Marciale has a close relationship with the household servant Melchor, with sohrce he shares secrets.

About Us Advertising Clients Contact. 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. Carpentier is not the first author to put time in reverse.

Don Marcial gradually recovers and aleoj the dying confession he has made to his priest. Modern Language Association http: His mistress gets out of bed, gets dressed, and leaves the house.

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: Critics dispute whether the conclusion represents a glorious return to nature or a dismal annihilation of the human race. For carpntier more extended example of its kind, see his novel, The Kingdom of this World El reino de este mundo. He is oppressed by the legal documentation involved in the sale of his house.

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Journey Back to the Source

Print this article Print all entries for this topic Cite this article. When Melchor is not there, his closest friends are the household dogs, with whom he shares his life. So they sit out the day. In the penultimate section of the abck this reversal of time accelerates very rapidly. The story is an amusing meditation on time and causality — but it is situated within a rational framework of normal temporality.


Although the story includes other Afro-Cubans, he is not among them. The furniture in his house grows taller. 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. 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.

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.

The ruined marquess trades bankruptcy for mourning, 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.

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.

He begins using baby-talk. The principal conceit of this tale is that it is a narrative in which time goes backwards. 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.

The house and its contents grow younger. A mumbling old black man roves the ruins of a dilapidated colonial mansion being demolished by workmen. Carpentier in Depth Spanish video documentary and interview with Carpentier Don Marcial only does moderately well in his college examinations, and then learns less and less at school. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.