Malinche Spanish Version: Novela by Laura Esquivel

mayo 10, 2010

MALINCHE is Laura Esquivel’s extraordinary retelling of the passionate and tragic love between the conquistador Cortez and the Indian woman Malinalli, his interpreter during his conquest of the Aztecs.

Cortez was from a wealthy aristocratic family in Spain, but so short he was judged unfit for the military. Faced with the prospect of becoming a court attendant or a priest, he decided to find his fortune in the New World. Arriving in Hispañola, he was sent upon an exploration mission to Mexico, but took it upon himself to conquer rather than explore.

Malinalli was born into the family of a tribe eventually conquered by the warrior Aztec tribe. While young, her grandmother imparted to her that their founding forefather god, Quetzalcoatl, had abandoned them but was destined to return with the rising sun and save her tribe from their present captivity.

Malinalli meets Cortez and, like many, including the Aztec King Montezuma, suspects that he is the returning forefather god of their tribe, Quetzalcoatl. She assumes that her task is to welcome Cortez/Quetzalcoatl and help him destroy the Aztec empire and free her people.

The two fall passionately in love, but Malinalli gradually comes to realize that Cortez’s thirst for conquest is all too human. He is willing to destroy anyone for gold and power.

Throughout Mexican history, Malinalli has been reviled for her betrayal of the Indian people. But recent historical research has shown that her role was much more complex. She was the mediator between two cultures, Hispanic and Native American; and two languages, Spanish and Nahauatl. Like the Africans who would follow in the post-conquest New World, she was also a slave, trying to rebel against the barbarous culture of her masters –in her case, the Aztecs. Her loyalty was to her own people, whom she was trying to set free.

What Esquivel has done here, is challenge the traditional mythology through a very character-driven portrait of the Adam and Eve of mestizo culture, Cortez and Malinalli, with the backdrop of the fall of the Aztec Empire, and (in a less obvious sense) of the pure-blood Spanish Empire. Told with the lyricism of the Nahuatl song tradition and pictorial language, she gives us a creation myth of the new world hybrid culture and an extraordinary love story.

Cuando Malinalli conoce a Hernán Cortés, asume que se trata del propio Dios Quetzalcóatl que regresa a liberar a su pueblo. Los dos se enamoran apasionadamente, pero este amor pronto es destruido por la desmedida sed de conquista, poder y riqueza de Cortés.

A lo largo de la historia de México Malinalli/Malinche ha sido conocida por su traición al pueblo indio. Pero recientes investigaciones históricas han demostrado que Malinalli fue la mediadora entre dos culturas, la hispánica y la indígena; y entre dos lenguas, el español y el náhuatl.

Lo que Esquivel ha hecho en esta novela es desafiar la mitología tradicional mediante un retrato muy temperamental del Adán y la Eva de la cultura mestiza, Cortés y Malinalli, con la caída del imperio azteca como telón de fondo. Contada con el lirismo de la tradición cantarina y pictórica del náhuatl, Laura Esquivel nos brinda un mito fundacional de la cultura híbrida del Nuevo Mundo y una extraordinaria historia de amor.

About the Author

Laura Esquivel was born in Mexico City in 1950. Her first novel, Like Water for Chocolate, has sold more than four and a half million copies around the world and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year. She currently lives in Mexico.

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