“Tuesday Siesta” and “One of These Days”
“Tuesday Siesta” and “One of These Days”
by Gabriel García Márquez
THE LITERARY WORKS
Two short stories set in the fictional town of Macondo, Colombia, in the 1950s; published in Mexico (as “La siesta del martes” and “Un día de estos”) in 1962, in English in 1968.
In “Tuesday Siesta” a mother travels to a village cemetery where her son has been buried after breaking into a home and being killed by the homeowner. In “One of These Day” a dentist takes revenge when he extracts a tooth from his village’s mayor.
Gabriel García Márquez, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, was born March 6, 1927, in Aracataca, a small town in the Caribbean coastal region of Colombia. His grandparents reared him and during this time he heard many of the stories from his grandmother that would later influence his writing. After abandoning law studies, García Márquez began to write articles for the newspaper Heraldo and to publish short stories. “Tuesday Siesta” and “One of These Days” are among the first stories published in the collection, Los funerales de la mamá grande (Big Mama’s Funeral, published as a set in No One Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories, 1968). They form part of the cycle of Ma-condo, a series of tales based in a fictional village modeled on Aracataca. Macondo serves as the setting not only for many of García Márquez’s short stories, but also for many of his novels beginning with his first one, Leafstorm (1955), and lasting through the release of his masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; also in Literature and Its Times). The two short stories focused on here describe a couple of unrelated incidents in Macondo in ways that refer subtly to an undeclared civil war between Liberals and Conservatives in Colombia known as La Violencia.
La Violencia—historical background
A dispute between two political parties (the Liberals and the Conservatives), the undeclared civil war known as La Violencia roughly spanned the decade 1948-58 in Colombia. Conflicts between the Liberal and Conservative parties in Colombian politics date back to the nineteenth century. Traditionally the Conservative part ies inColomb i anpolitic Church and the landed aristocracy while the Liberal Party has been more influenced by the middle classes. Membership in one party or the other has sometimes depended more on birth than convictions; for this reason, some members“born into” one party may have political beliefs that resemble those of the other party. Speaking of the strength of the Catholic Church in Colombia, rather than aligning it with one side or the other García Márquez once wrote:“the only difference between conservatives and liberals in Colombia is that the conservatives go to mass earlier” (Garcia Márquez in Williams and Guerrieri, p. 15).
Earlier in the twentieth century, before the breakout of the civil war known as La Violencia, Colombia experienced rapid and self-conscious modernization and industrialization under a series of Liberal governments. A mildly reformist president, Enrique Olaya Herrera (1930-34) instituted the Progressive Modern State, a Liberal party project. Herrera, a mildly reformist president, governed the National Concentration, a coalition of Liberals and Conservatives, one of whose most important legacies was an insistence on the development of highways connecting Colombian towns. Historically the different regions of Colombia had been severely isolated from each other because of geographic phenomenon. Three Andean mountain ranges and two major rivers separate the regions—the Magdalena River, which flows to the Caribbean Sea, and the Cauca River, which empties into the Pacific Ocean. Its early network of highways distinguished Colombia from other Latin American countries, as did the extensive air transportation system that it built as early as the 1920s. These systems helped break down the regional isolation. The railroad system, however, was not extensively developed until much later and did not connect all the major centers. The two large cities Bogotá and Medellin remained unconnected from railway transportation until 1960.
During his leadership, Alfonso López Pumarejo (1934-38) created La Revolución en Marcha (“Revolution on the March”), which promoted land reform and modernization within Colombia. Under the succeeding Liberal government of Eduardo Santos (1938-42), there followed a period known as the“Great Pause,” a name ascribed to his tenure because it was less progressive than earlier Liberal governments. Problems associated with World War II and corruption within the Liberal Party marred the next presidency, that of López Pumarejo (1942-45), which led to the Conservative Mariano Ospina Perez’s winning the election for president in 1946.
One of the reasons for the failure of López Pumarejo’s second term is the drop in industrialists’ support of his presidency: in his second term, they joined the landowners to resist the labor movements organizing among the lower classes. Ospina Pérez was able to take over power from the Liberals as the first Conservative Party president in 16 years because of the Liberal Party’s internal divisions. The shift in power caused an increase in political violence, mainly in the rural regions. Although Ospina Pérez was a Conservative, the majority of the political officials in the rural areas were Liberals and the shift to a Conservative government provoked violence between the existing Liberal pockets and the incoming Conservatives. Many of the Conservatives were upper-class landowners with ties to the Catholic Church and they received favorable treatment from the new Conservative government. In contrast, the outgoing Liberals were tied to the rural masses and dedicated to social and economic reforms that would favor them. Conservative politicians in the rural areas, under the government’s protection, resorted to violence in an attempt to stamp out Liberal strongholds. Rural guerrillas began to work independently, fighting against the local government and soldiers. Many villagers, with no recourse for justice, were caught between the rural guerrillas, the government soldiers, and the local political strongmen, or caudillos.
La Violencia—the death-filled decade
On April 9, 1948, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, the populist candidate representing the Liberal Party, was assassinated in Bogotá, Colombia. Along with the following popular uprising, this event in Bogotá, known as the Bogotazo, marks what most sources identify as the beginning of a ten-year period known as La Violencia. During the Bogotazo riot, around 2,000 people were killed and much of downtown Bogotá was destroyed. (The duration is in some dispute—some historians date La Violencia from 1946, adding that the civil war did not die out entirely until the 1980s.) It is believed that roughly between 200,000 and 300,000 people died in La Violencia, during which most of the violence centered in the rural areas of the country.
Toward the end of López Pumarejo’s Liberal government (1942-45) and at the beginning of Ospina Perez’s Conservative government (1946-50), rural violence escalated. Civilians, including the minority of rural Conservatives, had less and less say in the governing of the country and they lashed out by violently attacking Liberals across the countryside. Although the National Police supported the Liberal party, rural police officers took the Conservatives’ side and aided in much of the violence committed against the Liberals—which extended to burning the houses of Liberal supporters. During Laureano Gomez’s Conservative presidency (1950-53), the divisions and violence among rural sectors became more of an issue of support for or resistance against the president himself, mainly due to his increasing repression in an attempt to contain the violence.
Toward the end of La Violencia, the Conservative government of Laureano Gómez (1950-53) suffered a coup d’état by Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, who governed as dictator of Colombia from 1953 until his forced resignation in 1957. Although at first the Rojas Pinilla government did not appear to be dictatorial, it soon became evident that it was. (It was to be the only military dictatorship in Colombia in the twentieth century.) Though the dictator took steps to extinguish La Violencia, his government itself was riddled with brutality and corruption. One example of the increasing brutality of the dictator was the ‘Bullring Massacre’ of February 5, 1956, in which supporters of the dictator killed fans point blank simply because they failed to cheer for the president. In effect, the dictator had passed a law that made it illegal to speak negatively about him. As a result, during his dictatorship freedom of the press was hampered by government censorship. Its censorship extended as well to novelist and short story writers of the period, including García Márquez. Rojas Pinilla’s top officials asked the dictator to surrender, after which they governed until peace agreements were signed and a new government took control in 1958. One of the major events that led to Rojas Pinilla’s resignation and temporary time of exile in Spain was the growing discontent from both Liberals and Conservatives over the increased violence perpetuated by his government. When he ordered the arrest of Guillermo León Valencia, a Conservative leader who had been supporting the talks between Liberals and Con’ servatives attempting to establish what was later to be the National Front system, riots broke out. Eventually this led to the general disapproval of his dictatorship by the Church and the military. The new National Front government brought La Violencia to its unofficial end.
PRESIDENTS IN THE PRE-LA VIOLENCIA AND LA-VIOLENCIA ERAS
1934-38: Alfonso López Pumarejo (Liberal)
1938-42; Eduardo Santos (Liberal)
1442-45: Alfonso López Pumarejo (Liberal)
1945-46: Alberto Lleras Camargo (Liberal)
1946-50: Mariano Ospina Pérez (Conservative)
1950-53: Laureano Gómez (Conservative)
1953-57: Gustavo Rojas Pinilla (military dictatorship)
There followed a period of joint control, with the reins of government alternating between the Liberal and Conservative parties. This joint arrangement, provided for by the National Front agreements, would last until 1974, including the following successive governments:
- Liberal: Alberto Lleras Camargo (1958-62)
- Conservative: Guillermo León Valenica (1962-66)
- Liberal: Carlos Lleras Restrepo (1966-70)
- Conservative: Misael Pastrana Borrero (1970-74)
Economic situation in Columbia during La Violencia
In the years leading up to La Violencia, living conditions in Colombia reached an alarming low for well over half the population, who farmed barely enough to subsist. In 1938, 81 percent of the buildings in Colombia were without electricity, water, and plumbing (Bejarano Ávila, pp. 153-54). In the 1940s and ‘50s, well over half of the population was marginalized from the economy, living in poverty in isolated, rural regions, where villagers were very vulnerable to the ongoing violence of the period. They could not rely on local government to protect them since the local officials were often themselves tied to the violence. The plight of the lower classes persisted while the upper classes enjoyed a steady increase in their income. This highlights a situation in Colombia that is common in many Latin American countries: the gap between the rich and the poor has historically been very wide, the upper classes sharing first-world conveniences at the same time that the remaining inhabitants live in third-world conditions. Colombia’s lower classes, in dire need of social and economic changes, were ignored by many administrations, such as Rojas Pinilla’s. Later, during the succession of Liberal and Conservative governments, those in control did not tend to the lower classes either. Much of the money was directed toward those who were already wealthy—top military officials, church leaders, local officials—rather than those who sorely needed it—the rural masses who were forced to subsist on what few resources they could gather.
Many scholars are still trying to define the events surrounding La Violencia in terms of their impact on Colombian government and society. Certainly La Violencia played a key role in shaping the national consciousness, comparable only to one other episode in Columbia’s history—its earlier War of a Thousand Days (1899-1903). During this earlier war, tensions between the authoritarian state and a Liberal opposition mounted until the Liberals revolted against the rigid presidency of Manuel Antonio Sanclemente. Both La Violencia and the earlier War of a Thousand Days forced Colombians to contemplate the kind of government their country had traditionally implemented and the type of government they would have in the future.
Attempts to define La Violencia in the years following the civil war show that it left the nation with many questions about what exactly occurred and why. There was agreement about one facet of it, however—the final 1950s government of Rojas Pinilla ushered in, above all else, a period of political repression. Like the literary censorship, this political repression left a lasting impact on the generation of García Márquez.
Hand-in-hand with the repression came developments that bolstered the strength of the opposition. In 1949 Mario Laserna founded the Universidad de los Andes, an institution modeled after the American private university. This marked the turning point in the rejection of the colonial dudad letrada,(“lettered city”), the old model in which writing and power intermixed to create a ruling aristocracy surrounded by an elite group of intellectuals (churchmen, educators, and professionals). Instead of espousing the conservative traditions of the old educational institutions, this new university began a tradition of more technologically friendly education geared toward modernization.
The period of the National Front that followed La Violencia further stimulated the growth of the opposition. The 1960s saw an upsurge of leftist guerrilla movements such as the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia]) and the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional [National Liberation Army]). In the early 1970s, the first groups professing adherence to the communist tenets of Leon Trotsky began to attract attention. García Márquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude was a nationally celebrated event in 1967, selling copies as quickly as they were published, founded the leftist magazine Alternative in 1974. For this brief interlude in a mostly rigid history, the government tolerated dissent but the days of toleration were numbered. As the 1970s progressed, internal problems weakened the National Front, leading to increasingly authoritarian and exclusionary practices.
La Violencia affected García Márquez personally, forcing him to leave Bogotá, and the chaos that followed the assassination of Eliécer Gaitán (1948), to seek refuge in Cartagena, Colombia. Before returning to Bogotá, he moved to Barran-quilla, which brought him into contact with a group of intellectuals and writers (the Barran-quilla Group), who would influence his later work. García Márquez remained here for a time, studying and working as a reporter. He returned to Bogotá in 1954, traveled to Paris the following year as a correspondent for the newspaper El Espectador, then found himself unemployed when the Colombian government closed it down. During the ensuing three years, García Márquez remained in Paris and worked on the manuscripts for in Evil Hour and No One Writes to the Colonel. He also wrote many of the stories that would appear in Big Mama’s Funeral. Although outside Colombia, he produced stories haunted by the social, historical, and political realities of his country. Unlike other writers who covered La Violencia in documentary-style narrative that meticulously described the brute violence and misery, García Márquez alluded to the civil war through understatement.
The novel of La Violencia
More than 100 Colombian novels can be considered products of La Violencia. They deal with assassinations, death, injustices, and other violent crimes in an explicit, direct style that conveys realistic descriptions of the violence of the Colombian civil war. One of the Liberal novels that describes the violence during this time period in a documentary style is Pedro Gómez Corena’s EL 9 de abril (1951; The 9th of April). It explicitly narrates the violent events following the 1948 assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, known as the Bogotazo. Many such blatantly violent, Liberal novels confused or held little appeal for readers who were either uninformed about the political events or uninterested in them. Moreover, the content of the Liberally slanted novels was not what the Conservative upper class wanted to read. They were generally ignored or censored by the Conservative establishment. Other novels of the period took distinctly Conservative positions. Also written in slanted documentary style, these novels served as a form of propaganda for the government. Alonso Hilarión Sánchez, for example, defends the Conservatives in Las balas de ley (1953; The Bullets of the Law), which features a narrator-protagonist who describes the violence perpetrated by the Liberals during the 1930s and ‘40s. Actually, since the 1840s, when the first brief fictionalized political pamphlets were published as novels, aesthetic value in Colombia has largely been determined by the politics of those in power.
In contrast to the realism, as well as the propaganda, Garcia Márquez’s stories refer to La Violencia indirectly through various techniques, including symbolic allusions and understatement. His stories were the first though not the only ones to treat La Violencia in this subtle and indirect manner. Four other novels that tended to follow the same path of insinuation include: Manuel Zapata Olivella’s La calle 10 (1960; 10th Street), García Márquez’s own La mala hora (1962; In Evil Hour, 1979), Mejía Vallejo’s El día señalado (1963; The Assigned Day), and Alvarez Gardeazábal’s Cóndores no entierran todos los días (1972; Condors Don’t Bury Everyday). In El día señalado, for example, Mejía Vallejo stimulates reader involvement through the structure of his novel and its changes in point of view. The novel tells of a town overtaken by La Violencia as government soldiers pursue rural guerrillas and relates a personal story of violence; worthy of blame for the mayhem is not party politics but acts of human irrationality. The reader of La mala hora encounters virtually no physical violence; rather, the power in this novel is wielded by language. The town’s secrets are revealed through written documents that are so powerful as to strike terror into the villagers.
Unlike much of the fiction of the period, the four novels named above work indirectly, inviting the reader to reflect upon and accept or reject the many interpretations of La Violencia. Censorship promoted this indirect approach to the issues raised by La Violencia. García Márquez’s own In Evil Hour became subject to censorship, constituting an example of the handicaps under which writers labored. The novel was originally published in 1962 but a proofreader and an editor made two major changes that caused García Márquez to reject the edition and publish the novel in Mexico in 1966 as he had originally written it. The changes made, concerning the words “masturbate” and “condom,” reflect the conservative atmosphere of Colombia in the 1960s as well as the level of censorship with which Colombian writers had to deal (McNerney, p. 120).
In “Tuesday Siesta” a mother travels by train to a village where her son has been buried after breaking into a house and being killed by Rebecca, the house’s owner. The woman travels with her daughter—whose name, like her own, is never revealed. We do learn, however, that the daughter is still a child and that the murdered son was named Carlos Centeno Ayala. Aside from Rebecca’s and Carlos’s names, the only other name given is the man’s who owns the gun used by Rebecca to kill Carlos, Aureliano Buendia, a character who will reappear in One Hundred Years of Solitude.
The third-person narrative begins by describing the train ride, including the unbearable heat and humidity to which the mother and daughter are subjected. It is evident from the beginning that they are a family of modest means:“They were both in severe and poor mourning clothes” (García Márquez,“Tuesday Siesta,” p. 65). There is an air of resignation and serenity about the mother. She instructs the daughter on the necessity of guarding her dignity. The mother asks the daughter to put on her shoes and comb her hair, then gives her some firm directions:“If you feel like doing anything, do it now,” said the woman.“Later, don’t take a drink anywhere even if you’re dying of thirst. Above all, no crying” (“Tuesday Siesta,” pp. 66-67).
Upon arriving at the village, the mother must go to the parish house to retrieve the key to enter the cemetery where her son is buried. When they arrive, the priest is napping but the mother insists on speaking with him. His sister awakens him and he finally greets the mother and daughter. He is evidently surprised and not a little intrigued when he finds that they are the family of Carlos Centeno Ayala, the boy killed the previous week. When the priest questions the mother about her upbringing of Carlos, she answers: “I told him never to steal anything that anyone needed to eat, and he minded me. On the other hand, before, when he used to box, he used to spend three days in bed, exhausted from being punched” (“Tuesday Siesta,” p. 71). Although boxers did not make large amounts of money, the sport was one of the few avenues of upward mobility open to the lower classes in Colombia. Carlos would have boxed to earn what money he could to fight off his family’s poverty. The mother’s answers illustrate the set of morals that families such as this tended to live by, taking only from those who can afford it and never taking from those, like themselves, who must fight to survive. No such set of morals governs the actions of the rural power mongers. The mother defends her son’s apparent choice to earn a living this way as more dignified than having to physically suffer and be humiliated. (The mother’s words also highlight a pervasive aspect of Colombian society at the time of the collection’s publication: much of the population lived in extreme poverty and saw themselves forced to break upper-class rules to be able to survive.) The last words of the story reinforce the self-sufficient attitude that the mother taught her son and that she practices herself; by this time a crowd, who knows her to be the mother of a thief, has formed around the parish house:“She took the girl by the hand and went into the street” (“Tuesday Siesta,” p. 72). The personification of human dignity, the mother continues on to the cemetery despite the disapproving onlookers.
“One of These Days” features village dentist, Aurelio Escovar. The third person narrative describes Aurelio’s morning routine, which is interrupted by the arrival of the mayor. Aurelio’s son informs his father of the mayor’s arrival, but the dentist refuses to see the mayor, telling his son to say that the dentist is not in. The son relays the mayor’s answer:“He says if you don’t take out his tooth, he’ll shoot you” (Garcia Márquez,“One of These Days,” p. 74). At this, the dentist presents himself and agrees to extract the mayor’s infected tooth, informing the patient that he will not be able to perform the procedure with anesthesia. As the wisdom tooth is being pulled, with the mayor on the verge of tears, the dentist says cryptically:“Now you’ll pay for our twenty dead men” (“One of These Days,” p. 75).
After recovering from the extraction, the mayor exits as the dentist asks where to send the bill:“To you or the town?” to which the mayor replies“It’s the same thing” (“One of These Days,” p. 76).
Evidence of La Violencia in the short stories
The violence of the Colombian civil war was mostly carried out in the countryside. As suggested in“Tuesday Siesta,” the inhabitants of the village were so victimized by violence that they stood ready at a moment’s notice to retaliate. Rebecca reacts swiftly to the sound of an intruder. When Carlos attempts to enter her house, she retrieves a revolver—referring to it as Colonel Aureliano Buendia’s—and shoots in the direction of the door.“Then she heard a little metallic bump on the cement porch, and a very low voice, pleasant but terribly exhausted: ‘Ah, Mother.’ The man they found dead in front of the house in the morning, his nose blown to bits” (“Tuesday Siesta,” p. 70). From the larger context of La Violencia comes Rebecca’s quick uses of the revolver, and the vivid description of the victim’s body brings to mind other such killings of the era. Other consequences of La Violencia are apparent in the short story: the locked door of the village parish house and the reluctance of the priest’s sister to open the door to strangers; the emptiness of the car on the train that must travel through rural areas that were particularly dangerous during the time period; and the differences between the conservative priest as representative of the Catholic Church and the upper classes and the woman and child as representative of the Cath olic Church at times, had to profess allegiance to one party or another to survive.
In“One of These Days” the traces of La Violencia are less evident but still fundamental to the short story. Just as the woman and her child in“Tuesday Siesta” represent the working classes, Aurelio Escovar, the village dentist, represents the common people in this story. The mayor, like the priest in the former story, represents the upper class. He is the type of official who benefited from the favoritism practiced by governments such as that of Rojas Pinilla, which condoned violence and corruption among Conservative politicians. Such a mayor would have been appointed by Rojas’s government instead of being elected to office. One of the most revealing yet subtle lines of the story is:“Now you’ll pay for our twenty dead men” (“One of These Days,” p. 75). Certainly the line makes sense in light of the fact that the majority of the violent acts of the civil war occurred in the rural areas of Colombia under authoritarian governments like the one controlled by the mayor. The pain inflicted by the tooth extraction performed without anesthesia and the sight of the mayor humbled in the dentist’s chair are the only small revenges that the dentist can effect against a violence that has victimized his fellow villagers. The corruption of the ruling classes is also evident in the mayor’s final response to the dentist that the bill can be mailed to him or the town because they are one and the same. The mayor controls the town; its money is his money. One other subtle reference to the political situation lies in the observation that “While the dentist washed his hands, he saw the crumbling ceiling and a dusty spider web with spider’s eggs and dead insects” (“One of These Days,” p. 75). The decay of his home is juxtaposed with the mayor’s flaunting of the town’s money. The allusion to the home’s decay illustrates the wide gap between rich and poor in Colombia during La Violencia. The mayor, of the upper class, assumes a devil-may-care attitude with the town’s money, which he is quite ready to spend freely, while the dentist labors to maintain his poor working conditions.
Sources and literary context
The historical inspiration for the two short stories,“Tuesday Siesta” and “One of These Days” is La Violencia. The characters are not based on real-life people but are representative of the conflict between the working and upper classes in Colombia in the 1950s. Growing up in his grandparents’ home, García Márquez heard tall tales that influenced the atmosphere he would create in his Macondo cycle, his novels involving Macondo—a fictional town based on his birthplace Aracataca. The cycle culminates with One Hundred Years of Solitude. Some of the characters sketched in “Tuesday Siesta” and “One of These Days” are ones that he would further develop in the cycle.
As noted, García Márquez’s fiction stands out for the subtlety of its references to La Violencia in a time when other Colombian writers treated the civil war more explicitly. Again García Márquez belonged to the Group of Barranquilla (named after the coastal town where it was formed) in the 1940s and 1950s. Among other goals, the group aimed to modernize Colombian culture and to this end paid rapt attention to works by modernist European and American writers such as Franz Kafka and William Faulkner (both of whom are also covered in Literature and Its Times).
García Márquez’s writing style was greatly influenced by his readings of Ernest Hemingway (see, for example, The Sun Also Rises , also in Literature and Its Times), as well as his involvement in journalism. Other literary influences in-” elude the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, and certain classic Greek writers. García Márquez’s fictional world of Macondo can be compared to William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.
García Márquez’s stories belong to the literary era known as the “Boom”—the 1960s, during which the Latin American novel won international recognition. Other members of the Boom include the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa and the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes (both of whom are also covered in Literature and Its Times).
“Tuesday Siesta” and “One of These Days” helped initiate the second phase of Garcia Márquez’s writing. The first phase, pre-magic realism (1947-54), includes early short stories that were not published in a volume. The second phase, characterized by the cycle of Macondo and (in some of the other stories) magic realism (1955-67), begins with Leajstorm (1955), continues with stories such as those in Big Mama’s Funeral (1962), and ends with One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967). The last phase, considered post-Macondo and post magic realism (1968-present), consists of later novels and short stories that have left the magical realist strategy behind.
In Colombia, García Márquez’s first short stories were virtually ignored until the extremely successful publication of his most important novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1967. In Mexico, Carlos Fuentes recognized his talent from reading the short stories before One Hundred Years of Solitude was published. Likewise, Imanuel Carballo refers to García Márquez before the publication of this novel. Later Seymour Mentón, one of the most important Latin American short-story critics, would declare that the early collection of stories was worthy of the future Nobel Prize that García Márquez would win (Mentón, p. 559).
Similarly his popularity in the English-speaking world grew immensely after the 1970 translation of One Hundred Years oj Solitude. Garcia Márquez’s No One Writes to the Colonel generated mixed reviews. Some critics were disappointed by the lack of action:“a reader of fiction is not desirous of a vivid documentary on the lives of faceless little people. He wants something to happen, and not merely more of the same, going on and on” (Dooley, p. 550). Other reviewers disagreed. They applauded the subtlety of prose, singling this out as one of the collection’s most ‘’endearing qualities. That this subtlety of prose achieved its desired effect is evident in the following summation of the work:“There are no spare parts in No One Writes to the Colonel. Everything is done with ‘a minimum of words.’… Clarity, precision, understatement, a deceptive simplicity, seduce where rhetoric never could” (Harss and Dohmann, pp. 320, 322-24).
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