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"Doña Bárbara": Un Cuento de Hadas
André S. Michalski
Vol. 85, No. 5 (Oct., 1970), pp. 1015-1022
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1261542
Page Count: 8
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Despite the often praised realism of Rómulo Gallegos' major novel, some of its episodes are not very plausible, due not so much to an overriding allegorical symbolism as to still another narrative plane that has generally been neglected by criticism, that of folk mythology. Doña Bárbara is a legendary character introduced in a ritual style reminiscent of fairy tales. The entire novel is a retelling of a fairy tale, with Doña Bárbara as the evil sorceress, Marisela as the Sleeping Beauty, and Luzardo as Prince Charming. Doña Bárbara is called the "devourer of men," an epithet that equates her with the flat grassland over which she reigns and identifies her as a type of nymph or siren who entices and destroys men. Inspired by both the European and American Indian legends, Gallegos endowed her with traits of European witches, as well as those typical of Indian shamans, especially "nagualism". Thus, events hard to believe on the psychological plane of the narrative, such as the swift change in the character of the protagonist, appear logical on the mythical level, which is as important to the understanding of the novel as those of psychological realism and allegory.
PMLA © 1970 Modern Language Association