Venezuela: A Month for Farewells – Part II

In the second part of the article about famous Venezuelan artists, who have passed away recently and their corresponding tributes, writer Adriano González León has demonstrated how much he has meant to the country. In March, the Central University’s Institute of Literary Research took its turn to pay homage to González León, one of the most important figures in Venezuela's modern literature, who died January 12, 2008. In what is considered as his most remarkable work, País portátil (The portable country) contextualizes the political crisis in Venezuela in the sixties and takes the voice of the main character to criticize the political conventions of the time and the decadence seen in the ideas of that generation.

Gonzalez was born in Valera in 1931 and before his death, his last work Viejo (Old) was highly praised, among others, by Gabriel García Marquez who said that Viejo was the novel “he would have wanted to write”. This writer was a reporter for the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional, a Literature professor in the Faculty of Arts (UCV), and was member and founder of the literary magazines Sardio, Letra Roja and El Techo de la Ballena. He also won the literary prize given by El Nacional for his short story El Lago (The Lake).

In certain interviews, González expressed his anxiety regarding the uncertainty of the current political situation.

To me, it is inconceivable that many partners among which we built an idea of Socialism can be so confused and have not learned the brutal lesson of […] the false construction of those republics based on socialism that became no less than countries terribly oppressed and humiliated.

The Venezuelan blogosphere and the publishing houses in Caracas also paid homage to this memorable writer through several notes, thoughts and special editions about the writer and his works. Most of them believe that one of the most important voices of the Venezuelan literature had passed on, and thus, wrote some lines as a way to say goodbye.

Papel en Blanco [es] said:

País Portátil es, sin lugar a dudas, su obra cumbre (…) Narra 12 horas en la vida y la memoria de Andrés Barazarte un joven que, al igual que Adriano, llegó a Caracas desde los Andes. Es un retrato vertiginoso y crudo de la realidad de una Caracas sumida en el fragor de la lucha guerrillera y la represión política.

País Portátil is, undoubtedly, his masterpiece. (…) It is about 12 hours in Andrés Barazarte’s memory, a young man that, just like Adriano, came to Caracas from the Andes. It’s a vertiginous and harsh portrait of a city, Caracas, burning in the fire of political repression and guerrillas.

Manuel Ferreira of Metal Literal [es], remarks about the importance of the writer:

Sin duda fue y será un personaje influyente y destacado en las letras hispanas, que incluso mereció elogios de grandes escritores como Gabriel García Márquez. Hoy su presencia se nos ha escapado, pero su obra y su aporte dejan su imagen en alto dentro del orbe literario.

No doubt, he was and will be an influential character, a remarkable person in Hispanic literature that deserved praises from great writers, like Gabriel García Márquez. Today his presence has left us, but his work and contribution leaves his mark on the literary circle.

To finish, a thought from the author is underlined by Jorge, in Letralia [es]:

Adriano González León se quejaba anteayer en esta entrevista [es] de que el venezolano medio es un ser superficial (…) y del enorme desbalance entre la cantidad de libros que salen a la calle respecto a lo que se lee. En realidad se quejaba de un montón de cosas: del llamado socialismo del siglo XXI, de la política editorial oficial, de las librerías que sólo venden best-sellers y autoayuda. Y lanza alguna frase memorable:

Hay mucho profesor que juega al divino papel de intelectual (algo que hace de la literatura un fastidio) y la literatura no puede ser un fastidio. La literatura es un entusiasmo grandioso del espíritu, algo que debe conmovernos, nos debe hacer reír o llevar a las lágrimas.

Éste, su país portátil, estará siempre en deuda con él, quizás sin saberlo

Adriano González León complained yesterday in this interview [es] about the average Venezuelan of being shallow (…) and the imbalance between the number of books that are in stock and those that are actually read. Actually he complained about a lot of things, the so-called socialism from the 21st century, the publishing houses’ policies, the book stores that sell only best-sellers and the self-help genre. And he provides this memorable thought:

There are a lot of teachers playing the role of an intellectual (something that makes literature annoying) literature can’t be annoying. Literature is the immense enthusiasm of the spirit, something that should move us, make us laugh or break into tears.

This, his portable country, will always be in debt with him, maybe without him being aware of it.

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