News from the Empire
One of the acknowledged masterpieces of Mexican literature, Fernando del Paso's News from the Empire is a powerful and encyclopedic novel of the tragic lives of Maximilian and his wife, Carlota, the short-lived Emperor and Empress of Mexico. Simultaneously intimate and panoramic, the narrative flows from Carlota's fevered memories of her husband's ill-fated empire to the multiple and conflicting accounts of a broad cast of characters who bore witness to the events that first placed the hapless couple on their puppet thrones, and then as swiftly removed them. Stretching from the troubled final years of Maximilian's life to the early days of the twentieth century, News from the Empire depicts a world of both political and narrative turbulence, and is as much a history of the advent of modernity as a eulogy for the corrupt royal houses of Europe. This startling and fevered work of "historiography" is a tour de force.
Nb of pages 880 p.
Publication Date 01 April 2009
Nb of pages 880
List Price $18.95
I am Marie Charlotte of Belgium, Empress of Mexico and of America. I am Marie Charlotte Amélie, cousin of the Queen of England, Grand Magister of the Cross of Saint Charles, and Vicereine of the Lombard-Veneto Provinces, which Austria’s clemency and mercy has subsumed under the two-headed eagle of the House of Habsburg. I am Marie Charlotte Amélie Victoria, daughter of Leopold, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and King of Belgium, known as “The Nestor of Europe,” and who would take me onto his lap, caress my chestnut tresses, and call me the little sylph of the Castle of Laeken. I am Marie Charlotte Amélie Victoria Clementine, daughter of Louise Marie of Orleans, the saintly queen with the blue eyes and the Bourbon nose who died of consumption and of the sorrow caused by the exile and death of Louis Philippe, my grandfather, who, as the King of France, showered me with chestnuts and covered my face with kisses in the Tuileries Gardens. I am Marie Charlotte Amélie Victoria Clementine Leopoldine, niece of Prince Joinville and cousin of the Count of Paris; I am sister of the Duke of Brabant, who became King of Belgium and colonized the Congo, and of the Count of Flanders in whose arms I learned to dance, at the age of ten, under the shade of flowering hawthorns. I am Charlotte Amélie, wife of Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, Archduke of Austria, Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, Count of Habsburg, Prince of Lorraine, Emperor of Mexico and King of the World, who was born in the Imperial Palace of Schönbrunn, and who was the first descendant of the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella to cross the ocean and tread on American soil; who built a white palace for me with a view of the sea on the shores of the Adriatic; who later took me to Mexico to live in a gray castle with a view of the valley and the snowcapped volcanoes and who, on a June morning, many years ago, was executed in the city of Querétaro. I am Charlotte Amélie, Regent of Anáhuac, Queen of Nicaragua, Baroness of Matto Grosso, and Princess of Chichén Itzá. I am Charlotte Amélie of Belgium, Empress of Mexico and America. I am eighty-six years old and for sixty years now I’ve quenched my lunatic thirst with water from Roman fountains.
News from the Empire is not a traditional historical novel and its sprawling structure won't appeal to all. But del Paso invests a rare poignancy into this retelling. His postmodern take, the lavish descriptions of clothes and settings, the blending of the real with the imaginary, and the interweaving of viewpoints all add to the book's complexity and the reader's enjoyment.
[News from the Empire is] a brilliant piece of creative writing that is now universally acknowledged as the leading example of the Spanish American new historical novel of the 1980s. -Robin W. Fiddian
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Genres : Fiction : Historical Fiction
Genres : Fiction : Latin America
Countries : Mexico