Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Un Señor Muy Viejo con Unas Alas Enormes

One of the things I enjoy most about SAIS is the high quality of the foreign language program. Every language class I attend is interesting, fun, and sometimes riveting. Today in Spanish class, our professor read out loud to us a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez titled, "Un Señor Muy Viejo con Unas Alas Enormes."


If you've never read anything by Marquez before, I really recommend this one - it gives credence to the argument that Spanish is the language of poetry and beauty. I was taken aback by how stunning the images evoked by the story could be:
"Le quedaban apenas unas hilachas descoloridas en el cráneo pelado y muy pocos dientes en la boca, y su lastimosa condición de bisabuelo ensopado lo había desprovisto de toda grandeza."
The story (which you can read in English and in Spanish - I recommend the Spanish version) uses Marquez's style of magical realism to tell the story of a family that finds what might be a fallen angel. The story recounts how the family, the local priest, the community and eventually greater forces react to the intrusion of such a strange creature. Afterwards our class had a discussion (in Spanish of course) about our different interpretations of the story.

I wrote (in my simple Spanish which I hope to make more complex this summer):
"La moraleja de la historia del Un Señor Muy Viejo con Unas Alas Enormes es triste. Me parece que Marquez implique que vivimos vidas aburridas y tristes. Cuando se ocurren eventos extraños, intentamos a ponerlos en nuestras miradas pequeñas. Como seres humanos, nosotros no podemos ser inspirados, solo somos avarices, miedosos y violentos. Cuando se ocurren eventos extraños, no los nos cambian y despues regresamos a nuestra vida aburrida."
A rough English translation:
"The moral of the story Un Señor Muy Viejo con Unas Alas Enormes is a sad one. To me, Marquez implies that we live a boring, sad life. When extraordinary events occur, we attempt to fit them into our narrow worldview. As human beings, we don't become inspired, but rather are greedy, fearful and violent. When strange events occur, they don't change us, and after they are over, we return to our boring, sad lives."
Sad interpretation, isn't it? What do you think the story means?