Isaac Goldberg

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 266

Whether "El Indio" may properly be called a novel is beside the question; as a matter of definition it is rather a miniature epic. A proud Indian youth is crippled by the cupidity of the white man, equally lustful for gold and for women. The compatriot who discovers him mutilated at the bottom of a gully wins away his sweetheart. A war of sorcerers is waged when the father of the cripple seeks vengeance upon the successful rival. The actors in this drama meet their various deaths by animal ferocity, pestilence, or the rigors of the elements; only the cripple survives. This plot, however, is but the nucleus for the evocation of a conquered race, and the nostalgia that it portrays gives way at last to the promises of education and economic justice.

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By this same token a certain unobtrusive allegory inheres in the tale. No person is named; it is as if the identity of the characters, important as they are to themselves and to one another, is merged into the history and the fate of the collectivity….

López y Fuentes has, intuitively, and in generous proportions, both sight and vision. His description of the Indian rite of the "volador," and his account of the huntsman's death at the tusks of the wild peccaries are remarkable for their simple power. From a Hispanic-American culture not at its best in the longer forms of fiction comes now this excellent work that may well be studied by our own writers.

Isaac Goldberg, "A Miniature Epic," in The Saturday Review of Literature, Vol. XV, No. 8, February 27, 1937, p. 10.

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