Demetrio Aguilera Malta Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to his novels, Demetrio Aguilera Malta (ah-gee-LAYR-ah MAWL-tah) wrote, in collaboration with Joaquín Gallegos Lara and Enrique Gil Gilbert, Los que se van (1930; those who leave). He also published several dramas of importance: España leal (pb. 1938; loyalist Spain), Lázaro (pb. 1941), Sangre azul (with Willis Knapp Jones, pb. 1948; Blue Blood, 1948), No bastan los átomos (pb. 1955; atoms are not enough), Dientes blancos (pb. 1955; White Teeth, 1963), El tigre (pb. 1956; the tiger), Honorarios (pb. 1957; honorariums), Fantoche (pb. 1970), Infierno negro (1967; Black Hell, 1977), and Muerte, S.A. (pb. 1970; Murder, Inc.). His poetry is collected in Primavera interior (1927; spring interior) and El libro de los mangleros (1929; the book of the mangleros), and his nonfiction works include La revolución española a través de los estampas de Antonio Edén (1938; the Spanish revolution through the engravings of Anthony Eden) and Los generales de Bolívar (1965: Bolívar’s generals).


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Demetrio Aguilera Malta has been hailed as the initiator of Magical Realism in Latin America. This innovative literary tendency constitutes a new way of perceiving the reality of the New World by searching for the collective consciousness of the Latin American countries, probing their history, legends, and psychology. Stylistically, Magical Realism departs from fiction’s traditional linear structure, chronological ordering of events, and logic in order to juxtapose past and present; intermix history, legend, and psychology; and integrate multiple elements of time, space, and reality on the samenarrative level.

The introduction and development of this new literary tendency reflects Aguilera Malta’s dedication to fostering new ideological and aesthetic trends in Latin America. Although he perfected the sophisticated narrative techniques of the vanguard, he looked to the familiar landscapes of his childhood in Ecuador and to the traditions of its people for the expression of his strong sense of social obligation.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Angulo, María-Elena. “Two Ecuadorian Novels of Realismo Maravilloso of the 1970’s: Demetrio Aguilera Malta’s Siete lunas y siete serpientes, Alicia Yanez Cossio’s Bruna, soroche y los tios.” In Magic Realism: Social Context and Discourse. New York: Garland, 1995. Chapter discussing Aguilera Malta’s novel is part of an analysis of five modern Latin American novels that focuses on how the authors use Magical Realism to illuminate problems of class, gender, and race within Latin American society.

Brushwood, John S. “The Year of Don Goyo.” In The Spanish American Novel: A Twentieth Century Survey. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1975. Brushwood, who translated Aguilera Malta’s novel Don Goyo, analyzes that book and places it within the larger context of other works by Latin American novelists.

Diez, Luis A. “The Apocalyptic Tropics of Aguilera Malta.” Latin American Literary Review 10, no. 20 (Spring/Summer, 1982). Provides a brief introduction to Aguilera Malta’s work before focusing on Seven Serpents and Seven Moons, discussing what Diez calls “the magic apocalypse” of that novel.

Rabassa, Clementine Christos. Demetrio Aguilera-Malta and Social Justice: The Tertiary Phase of Epic Tradition in Latin American Literature. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1980. Places Aguilera Malta within the epic tradition, examining the roles of such natural elements as topography, vegetation, and animal life in his fiction. Discusses justice in the epic tradition and Aguilera Malta’s works, focusing particularly on divine retribution and poetic justice.

Siemens, William L. “The Antichrist-Figure in Three Latin American Novels.” In The Power of Myth in Literature and Film, edited by Victor Carrabino. Tallahassee: University Presses of Florida, 1980. Compares Aguilera Malta’s treatment of the Antichrist in Seven Serpents and Seven Moons with the treatments of Antichrist figures in Gabriel García Márquez’s Cien años de soledad (1967; One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1970) and Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s Tres tristes tigres (1967, 1990; Three Trapped Tigers, 1971).

Wishnia, Kenneth J. A. Twentieth-Century Ecuadorian Narrative: New Readings in the Context of the Americas. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1999. Examines works by several Ecuadoran writers, including Aguilera Malta. Chapter 2 discusses what Wishnia describes as the “demythication of history” in Don Goyo; chapter 4 compares Aguilera Malta’s play El tigre with Eugene O’Neill’s play The Emperor Jones (pr. 1920) to delineate the playwrights’ different assumptions about surviving in a mythological jungle.