From to he worked as a reporter in Paris. On 15 August he learned of the uprising of political prisoners in the jail at Rawson, Chubut Province. Panorama was the only publication in Buenos Aires that reported the correct story of the affair in Rawson, which differed significantly from the official version of the de facto Argentine government. On 22 August he was fired at the behest of the government, whereupon he went to Rawson and the neighboring city of Trelew where he reported the Massacre of Trelew in his book The Passion According to Trelew. The book was banned by the Argentine dictatorship. He taught at the University of Maryland.
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Yes, it is about the life-story of her corpse. The embalmed body of Evita had an eventful journey for 22 years as she had in her real life journey of 33 years. She was a political figure for six years as the wife of Peron but her corpse had influenced Argentine politics for over two decades and created a bizarre history, becoming part of the Argentine mythology.
Evita died in but her body was kept waiting for three years for the construction of a monument, which was never built. In the military overthrew Peron and hid the body for ninteen years. It was brought back from a cemetry in Milan for proper burial in Recoleta cemetry in Buenos Aires in The military dictatorship tried to hide the embalmed body to prevent it from becoming a rallying point against the regime.
Col Moori Koenig from the military intelligence service is given the responsibility. He moves it from one hiding place to another in Buenos Aires city. But he and his colleagues involved in this venture, as well as their families meet with one disaster after another.
He, as well his accomplices, who hated Evita when she was with Peron , are hipnotised by the body and become obsessed with it. They get emotionally attached to the corpse and reach a stage when they cannot live without the body. The Spanish embalmer Dr Ara, who is contracted to embalm the body of Evita is also obesessed with the body in another sense. He considers the embalmed corpse as his master piece of art and is more possessive of it than the family of Evita.
He makes some extra copies of the wax body to mislead others. This was the first challenge for col Koenig to identify the correct one.
The miltary dictatorship forbade any public reference to Peron or Evita. At the same time, fanatic supporters of Evita, calling themselves as the Commando of Vengence, manage to track down the hiding points and put flowers and candles next to the coffin, despite the extraordinary security cordon.
Finally the body is sent out of the country to a cemetry in Milan, while copies of the body are sent to other European cities to mislead those trying to track it. He weaves facts and fiction in and out and one does not know what is real and what is imagined. Martinez has added more mystery by his story-telling. Sometimes it reads like the compilation of his own real efforts to uncover the secrets of disappearance of the body.
Besides the corpse story, the author has also brought out excerpts from the life of Evita based on interviews with her butler, hair dresser and others associated with her closely.
But one is not sure whether these were factual or fictional. The author, like many other Argentine and Latin American writers, was forced to exile in He lives in USA.
Does the story of the afterlife of Evita sound like the incarnation belief in India? No wonder there are thousands of Argentines who are followers of Indian Gurus and spiritualism. I do not get surprised when some of them tell me seriously that perhaps their last incarnation was in India! Tomas Eloy Martinez has revived my interest in Argentine literature. My experience with the other Argentine authors is mixed. Or to put it more candidly, I got confused after reading some of the works of Borges, Julio Cortazar and Luisa Valenzuela and could not finish some of them.
The only thing that means anything are facts, and a novel, after all, is a fact. And on the contrary, to what extent is a novel a tangible, solid fact, capable of being argued with, contradicted, analyzed? To what extent can these two states coexist? That, I thought, is where written language falls short. They become "something else"—but what relation does this "something else" hold to its original model?
Crítica literaria y otros escritos
Tomás Eloy Martínez