Terra Nostra

Terra Nostra

4.09 (761 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Paperback

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One of the great masterpieces of modern Latin American fiction, Terra Nostra is concerned with nothing less than the history of Spain and of South America, with the Indian Gods and with Christianity, with the birth, the passion, and the death of civilizations. Fuentes skillfully blends a wide range of literary forms, stories within stories, Mexican and Spanish myth, and famous literary characters in this novel that is both a historical epic and an apocalyptic vision of modern times. Terra Nostra is that most ambitious and rare of creations--a total work of art. First published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (1976), most recent paperback by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (1983).show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 896 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 34mm | 518g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 0140172920
  • 9780140172928

Review quote

"Terra Nostra is the spreading out of the novel, the exploration of its possibilities, the voyage to the edge of what only a novelist can see and say."show more

Review Text

History and the dream interpenetrate in this outsized novel which summons into fevered, hallucinatory existence the Spain that conquered the author's native Mexico. It is like a movie by Bunuel unreeling marvels, cruelties, compulsions - a Buneul, who had been given unlimited funds by some mad mogul. Fuentes' labyrinth starts in Paris in 1999, when the Seine is boiling, the Louvre has turned to crystal and the Eiffel Tower to sand. Flagellants parade the streets. On a bridge a man meets a woman with tattooed lips; he falls into the river; the story shifts back to Spain on the eve of the New World's discovery, it is a Spain of blood, torture, religious and sexual obsessions, ruled by El Senor, who hates life (God's greatest sin was the creation of man) and has immured himself in a necropolis. His mother consorts with the cadaver of her husband. Three bastard sons of El Senor's father by different mothers appear and reappear: they are identical, down to their six-toed feet and the red crosses that stain their backs. One is a pilgrim who ventures to the Mexico of human sacrifice, as cruel as Mother Spain. The second is Don Juan, mistaken by nuns for their husband, Christ. The third is an idiot wedded to a flatulent dwarf. A peasant girl, Celestina, reappears as a witch and then as a procuress. Suddenly the scene shifts to the future: Mexico under bombardment by North American Phantoms; then full circle back to a dying Paris. At the end the narrator has an interesting form of sexual intercourse with himself, spawning future generations. History is circular and the past, present and future happen simultaneously. The fusion of myth and reality that occupied Fuentes in A Change of Skin (1967) is carried to obsessive length. Brilliant passages and exciting adventures occur among arid wastes of metaphysical speculation. The prose is incantatory but ultimately exhausting. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

761 ratings
4.09 out of 5 stars
5 46% (350)
4 29% (220)
3 16% (125)
2 6% (44)
1 3% (22)
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