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  • "La Charca" The Pond

    1 posts, 1 voices, 702 views, started Dec 30, 2008

    Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2008


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      The Pond [La Charca]
      Puerto Rico’s classic 19th century novel: a moving chronicle about love, greed, murder and heroism.
      by Manuel Zeno-Gandia

      Before the turn of the century, while the rich in Madrid, Paris and Rome capped their sumptuous dinners with sips of Puerto Rico’s exquisite black cafĂ©, the anemic men, women and children who harvested the precious crop lived in squalid huts and rarely saw a scrap of meat. Brutalized by grinding poverty, theirs was the harsh world of Manuel Zeno-Gandia’s La Charca, published in 1894, and widely acknowledged as the first major novel to emerge from Puerto Rico.  

      In the colloquial Spanish of Puerto Rico’s hill country, una charca is a stagnant pond, a body of brackish water. Puerto Rico’s Spanish colonial society, says Zeno-Gandia, was an immense charca of human beings, oppressed by poverty, ignorance and disease. His bitter melodrama offers stark contrasts: the beautiful Puerto Rican countryside, a veritable Garden of Eden; yet within that “regal panorama” starved, diseased human beings clung desperately to life.


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