The Death of Artemio Cruz [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Carlos Fuentes
eBook Category: Mainstream
eBook Description: The novel opens with Cruz on his deathbed, and plunges us into his thoughts as he segues from the past to his increasingly disoriented present. Drawn as a tragic figure, Cruz fights bravely during the Mexican Revolution but in the process loses his idealism--and the only woman who ever loved him. He marries the daughter of a hacienda owner and, in the opportunistic, postwar climate, he uses her family connections and money to amass an ever-larger fortune. Cocky, audacious, corrupt, Cruz, on another level, represents the paradoxes of recent Mexican history. This novel, with its freewheeling experimental prose and psychological exploration, anticipates many of the author's later themes.
eBook Publisher: RosettaBooks/Rosetta
Fictionwise Release Date: April 2005
The Death of Artemio Cruz
Carlos Fuentes is one of Latin America's most distinguished novelists and a one-man international cultural and political force. Few Latin American writers have such an intimate knowledge of Americans or see the American/Latin American cultural dynamic with the great depth of vision that Fuentes possesses. He is intimately in touch with both the gringo and Latino souls and he speaks with a particularly international voice. Again and again, Fuentes has shown himself to be a pioneer of the "magical realism" style that has captivated readers and critics on both sides of the Rio Grande.
The novel opens with Cruz on his deathbed, and plunges us into his thoughts as he segues from the past to his increasingly disoriented present. Drawn as a tragic figure, Cruz fights bravely during the Mexican Revolution but in the process loses his idealism—and the only woman who ever loved him. He marries the daughter of a hacienda owner and, in the opportunistic, postwar climate, he uses her family connections and money to amass an ever-larger fortune. Cocky, audacious, corrupt, Cruz, on another level, represents the paradoxes of recent Mexican history. This novel, with its freewheeling experimental prose and psychological exploration, anticipates many of the author's later themes.
In 1984, Mr. Fuentes was honored with the National Prize in Literature, Mexico's highest literary award. In 1988 King Juan Carlos of Spain presented him with the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious award bestowed on a Spanish-language writer. In 1992, President Francois Mitterand presented him with the Legion of Honor, France's highest distinction.
RosettaBooks is proud to publish this novel by of the most celebrated Latin American writers.
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I wake up… The touch of that cold object against my penis wakes me up. I didn't know I could urinate without being aware of it. I keep my eyes shut. I can't even make out the nearest voices. If I opened my eyes, would I be able to hear them?… But my eyelids are so heavy: two pieces of lead, coins on my tongue, hammers in my ears, a… a something like tarnished silver in my breath. It all tastes metallic. Or mineral. I urinate without knowing I'm doing it. I remember with a shock that I've been unconscious—maybe I ate and drank without knowing it. Because it was just getting light when I reached out my hand and accidentally knocked the telephone on the floor. Then I just lay there, face down on the bed, with my arms hanging, the veins in my wrist tingling. Now I'm waking up, but I don't want to open my eyes. Even so, I see something shining near my face. Something that turns into a flood of black lights and blue circles behind my closed lids. I tighten my face muscles, I open my right eye, and I see it reflected in the squares of glass sewn onto a woman's handbag. That's what I am. That's what I am. That old man whose features are fragmented by the uneven squares of glass. I am that eye. I am that eye. I am that eye furrowed by accumulated rage, an old, forgotten, but always renewed rage. I am that puffy green eye set between those eyelids. Eyelids. Eyelids. Oily eyelids. I am that nose. That nose. That nose. Broken. With wide nostrils. I am those cheekbones. Cheekbones. Where my white beard starts. Starts. Grimace. Grimace. Grimace. I am that grimace that has nothing to do with old age or pain. Grimace. My teeth discolored by tobacco. Tobacco. Tobacco. My bre-bre-breathing fogs the squares of glass, and someone removes the handbag from the night table.
"Look, Doctor, he's just faking…"
"Even now in the hour of his death he has to trick us!"
I don't want to talk. My mouth is stuffed with old pennies, with that taste. But I open my eyes a little more, and between my eyelashes I can make out the two women, the doctor who smells of aseptic things: his sweaty hands, stinking of alcohol, are now tapping my chest under my shirt. I try to push that hand away.
"Easy now, Mr. Cruz, easy…"
No. I am not going to open my mouth, or that wrinkled line with no lips reflected in the glass. I'll keep my arms stretched out on top of the sheets. The covers reach my stomach. My stomach… ah… And my legs stay spread, with that cold gadget between my thighs. And my chest stays asleep, with the same dull tingling that I feel… that… I felt when I would sit in one position for a long time in the movies. Bad circulation, that's all it is. Nothing more. Nothing more. Nothing serious. Nothing more serious than that. I have to think about my body. Thinking about your body wears you out. Your own body. Your body, whole. It wears you out. Better not to think. There it is. I do think about this flight of nerves and scales, of cells and scattered globules. My body, on which the doctor taps his fingers. Fear. I'm afraid of thinking about my own body. And my face? Teresa removed the handbag that reflected it. I'm trying to remember it in the reflection. It was a face broken by asymmetrical pieces of glass, with one eye very close to an ear and far away from the other eye, with the grimace spread out on three encircling mirrors. Sweat is pouring down my forehead. I close my eyes again, and I ask, ask that my face and body be given back to me. I ask, but I feel that hand caressing me, and I would like to get away from its touch, but I don't have the strength.
I don't see her. I don't see Catalina. I see farther off. Teresa is sitting in the armchair. She has an open newspaper in her hands. My newspaper. It's Teresa, but she has her face hidden behind the open pages.
"Open the window."
"No, no. You might catch cold and make everything worse."
"Forget it, Mama. Can't you see he's fooling around?"
Ah. I smell that incense. Ah. The murmuring at the door. Here he comes with that smell of incense, with his black cassock, and with the hyssop out in front, a farewell so harsh it's really a threat. Ha, they fell into the trap.
Copyright © 1962 by Carlos Fuentes