Critical Evaluation

BLACK VALLEY—in the original, VALLE NEGRO—is subtitled “A Romance of the Argentine.” The romantic elements of the novel are readily apparent. A story of a primitive way of life and elemental emotions, the action has been staged against a background of wild natural beauty. Hugo Wast’s settings are real, as are his people and the way of life he presents. Lacking certain of the didactic elements found in STONE DESERT, this work reveals to excellent advantage the novelist of character and the painter of landscapes. The plot, although episodic in form, is well ordered, and the story moves forward with increasing emotional and dramatic interest as the writer unfolds the dual theme presented through the ill-fated love of Flavia and Don Pablo and the relationship of spoiled, weak Gracian and strong, devoted Mirra. The style is vigorous, precise, and pure.

It is a fertile work that embodies Wast’s basic writing techniques—the use of a clear style, sustained suspense, melodrama, deep interest, and spontaneous sprouting of the story. Wast used Argentine geography in all of his backgrounds and spent most of his life in Santa Fe Province, in Argentina’s Far West. BLACK VALLEY is thus laced with local color, life-style, and personality. Even the title reflects the novel’s tone, for this wind-whipped, isolated valley has weird beauty such as hidden caves, wild beasts, wild flowers, and a misty, Nordic beauty. The...

(The entire section is 506 words.)