Isabel Allende Essay - Critical Essays

Isabel Allende Short Fiction Analysis

Isabel Allende’s literary career is notable in that it stands outside the shifting fashions of the Latin American literary scene. Since the 1960’s in Latin America the literary fashion has tended to favor intricate, self-conscious novels that test the reader’s interpretative powers. Flying in the face of this trend, however, Allende’s novels favor content over form, reality over novelistic devices. Though her fiction has been dismissed by some critics as simply an imitation of Gabriel García Márquez’s work, especially his so-called Magical Realist style, it is clear that Allende enjoys unparalleled popularity. Her novels and short stories have attracted an enormous readership in Spanish as well as languages such as English, French, and German. Allende tends to write plot-centered, reader-friendly fiction. Her stories often focus on love and sex as seen from a feminine perspective.

The Stories of Eva Luna

The short-story collection The Stories of Eva Luna is essentially a sequel to her novel Eva Luna (1987), published three years earlier; thus the narrator of The Stories of Eva Luna is the Eva Luna who appeared in the earlier novel, that is, a resourceful, bright young woman who, though born to poverty, rises to riches as a result of becoming a famous soap-opera writer. Two of the stories provide a direct link to Eva Luna the novel. “El huésped de la maestra,” for example, finishes a story that was left unresolved in the novel. The novel describes how Inés, the schoolmistress of Santa Agua, saw her son brutally murdered at the hands of a local man, who caught him stealing mangoes in the garden. Riad Halabí, by an ingenious plan, managed to force the murderer to leave town. In the short story, the reader learns that the murderer returns many years later to Santa Agua and is then killed by Inés in an act of revenge; much of the short story is taken up by a description of the ingenious way in which Halabí disposes of the body. Also related to the novel is the short story “De barro estamos hechos.” The novel introduces the reader to Rolf Carlé, a cameraman, who eventually becomes Eva’s companion. Here the reader sees firsthand his experience of the floods that ravaged the country and that caused a young girl called Azucena to die slowly and painfully, even while he was filming her. The short story focuses on how this experience has changed Rolf’s life. These two short stories can be seen as sequels to Allende’s long fiction and show continuity of theme and character.

There are twenty-three short stories in The Stories of Eva Luna and only two of them, as described above, use the same characters that the novels do. In other words, above all, they are new...

(The entire section is 1131 words.)