Bestiary, by Juan José Arreola
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Juan José Arreola is one of the greatest Latin-American writers of the XX Century, one of the first to dare to abandon realism. This is how Professor George D Schade introduces Juan José Arreola and Bestiary, his "Book of Fabled Beasts": Arreola jabs at complacency and ruthlessly exposes pompous and hypocritical attitudes. He takes a depressing view of most human relationships, and in a large number of his stories and satires he chips away at love and its illusions… Whatever the subject of his satire, Arreola most often achieves his effects by a deliberate jumbling of phantasy and reality, a mingling of the logical and the absurd, a blend of imaginative frivolity and Orwellian grimness. (…) One of the most ingratiating and delightful parts of Arreola's collected works is his "Bestiary," consisting of twenty-six brief sketches. Here Arreola harkens back to that form which was so fashionable in medieval times with moralists and allegorizers, where certain virtues or characteristics were popularly attributed to certain beasts, real or imaginary. All of Arreola's beasts are real, their humanlike foibles and defects uncomfortably real too. Though Arreola's general outlook and some of the details in his bestiary will probably horrify the overly sentimental, still there are lyrical and poetic touches to offset to some degree the refined savagery of his satire.