Three Voices in the Wake of an Earthquake

Luis Solis
2020 University of Bucharest Review. Literary and Cultural Studies Series  
Like practically every single country, Mexico has had its fair share of pain and trauma. Bloodshed and utter devastation are rife in Mexico's modern history. To civil wars and —in recent years— drug-related violence, one has to add the destruction and horror caused by earthquakes. The seism that devastated Mexico City on the 19th of September was the most destructive and painful in living memory. As an uncanny coincidence, also on the 19th of September, but in 2017, another earthquake hit the
more » ... pital. Perhaps not surprisingly, Mexican novelists and poets have written profusely about their country's long history of seismic destruction. Poet and journalist Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera —who ushered Mexican letters into Modernism— chronicled the earthquake of the 2nd of November 1894. For his part, Juan Rulfo — arguably Mexico's most important fiction writer of the twentieth century— penned the "The Day of the Earthquake", included in his collection of short stories The Plain in Flames, published in 1953. Rulfo uses a natural disaster and its toll as a metaphor for the unbridgeable gap between the political elites and the dispossessed. Finally, José Emilio Pacheco published a series of poems on the 1985 earthquake, the aftermath of which was felt not only in terms of human suffering, but also as a watershed event that ultimately resulted in social and political upheaval. An idiosyncratic brand of humour, trenchant criticism, and a sense of the ineffable before the enormity of utter devastation are some of the ways three of Mexico's best poets and writers have found to cope with catastrophe and trauma.
doi:10.31178/ubr.9.2.4 fatcat:3vboqmchzfadbjb2tozue2xmum