Revisitations in Modern and Contemporary Creative Media
Steven Boldy Fading Echoes of the Revolution in Carlos Fuentes’s Cristóbal Nonato
Cristóbal Nonato, published in 1987, is narrated from the womb by Cristóbal himself, due to be born on the 500th anniversary of the Discovery of America in the then distant 1992. His great-uncle Homero Fagoaga faces the reality of Mexico as the domain of historical amnesia and as under real cultural threat from her English-speaking Northern neighbour. The memory of Francisco Madero, father of the Mexican Revolution, and that of the liberal hero Melchor Ocampo are all but erased from public memory in their translated street names Mel O’Field Road and Frank Wood Avenue. Cristóbal adds ‘y además, quién se acuerda ya de ellos, están muer- tos, dicen mis papis tubí, verdaderamente muertos, Ángel, porque ya nadie los recuerda, nadie recuerda quiénes eran o qué hubo detrás de los nombres’ (103).1 His father Ángel, conceived on the day of the 1968 student massacre when the dream of the Revolution was emblematically shattered, attended not a school dedicated to the Heroes of the Revolution, but the Escuela de los Héroes del 82, commemorating the financial crisis of 1982 and the emphatically unheroic speculators who brought the country to its knees. Though it was written as an exorcism of the horrors threatening Mexico, Carlos Fuentes (1928–2012) has recognized that his novel turned out rather to be a chilling prophecy. Mexico City is no longer that evoked in the founding 1958 novel La región más transparente. Seen from the wings...
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