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Dead Stars

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  333 ratings  ·  35 reviews
This is the 1925 short story that gave birth to modern Philippine writing in English.
Unknown Binding, Short story
Published 1925

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The year is 1925. The Spaniards have ceded the Philippines to the Americans barely just two decades ago. The educational system has improved. There were no Indios, no Umalohokans, no Saguiguilids, only the old rich and the neo-cultivated minds of the Filipinos who has learned to read and write that thrives the country. But two decades is still a young year compared to the three centuries of Christianity and the many beliefs which the friars have embedded to Filipinos. The traditions of a Maria C ...more

Originally posted here.


The thing that struck me most about Dead Stars is that it was so exquisitely written. Florid? Perhaps. It was written by a Filipino at the turn of the century, at a period when we were adjusting to another language by way of conversations. To her credit, the author was "among the first generation of Filipinos trained in the American education system which used English as the medium of instruction."

That, and the bittersweet feeling that it left me in the end.


Of all the
Biena (The Library Mistress)
It's funny how we can all be Alfredo, Esperanza even Julia at one point in our lives. It's really crazy, this thing we all call 'love'. It can bring us pain, hope, happiness, it can even make us dream...

But maybe, we have to stop loving with eyes wide shut. Before it's too late, we have to wake up and face reality. Because this love may be classified as an abstract noun, it is all the more an emotion, and the greatest task bestowed upon us, lovers, is to be able to decipher if the feeling is rea
For the love month, my favorite book club picked this short story as book of the month. Published in 1925, Dead Stars is considered as the “short story that gave birth to modern Philippine writing in English.” The author, Paz Marquez Benitez, “was among the first generation of Filipinos trained in the American education system which used English as the medium of instruction.”

This particular fact can actually be gleaned in the first few pages of the story. Filled with deep, big, at times unnecess
Phoebe Andamo
I just learned that "Dead Stars" was the first feminist text in the Philippines.
As the readers would notice, it broke the notion of patriarchal system as the society sees men as rational type or in line with logic while women are the emotional kind.

The protagonist Alfredo was very vulnerable in love. He was trapped in deciding what his heart desires. But in the end, he found himself merely infatuated (view spoiler) after he deliberately made a decision (view spoiler)
*deep breath*

I didn't like Dead Stars.

The fancy words, the flowery expressions, they infuriated me. I cannot believe that a fellow Filipino wrote Dead Stars. Not because I did not think we are that talented (because we are), but because this short story was claimed to have given birth to modern Philippine writing and yet, it did nothing, nothing to make itself accessible to Filipinos that can barely read/speak the English language. Why? The rhetorical words composing such elaborate sentences str
"Dead Stars" is actually a short story written by Paz Marquez Benitez in 1925, which ushered in an era of Philippine writing in English.

The story is mainly about three people: Esperanza, Alfredo Salazar, and Julia Salas. Esperanza and Alfredo are engaged to be married, and during this period, Alfredo met Julia who he grew very fond of to the point where he almost "unwished" his inevitable marriage to Esperanza. It didn't quite end like most Filipino readers would expect today, though, which I'm
Reev Robledo
Benitez is a master poet. She throws in a thesaurus of adjectives into her prose and they fall perfectly on top of each other, allowing the narrative to flow forward...though I have to admit that some will find her style rather annoying. The exchanges were unnatural but I didn't care. :) The plot is believable. Fact that the author was able to tell the story from a man's perspective deserves praise.

That being said, I wish I could write like Ms. Benitez but with a little less fancy-schmancy synon
What a douchebag.
Okay, this story did not appeal to me at all. Every word that she writes is so confusing and jumbled up, and I ended up having to reread every. single. line. This gave me a headache with all the unnecessary metaphors and descriptions. Simplicity lady, simplicity! I didn't even understand why she had to put multiple chapters!
Alfredo is a doucebag, Esperanza is a jealous quiet person who won't say ANYTHING WHATSOEVER, and Julia is gullible, and naive, and led on by Alfredo.
Karl Marx S.T.
I just remember having read the short story and directed a play (of it) in my college days. I took my English classes seriously even though I'm on a medical course. :)
Maria Ella
A typical MMK story.
Original post from One More Page

I thought of writing a review for this short story that we discussed last weekend, but I was honestly a tad lazy to do it just yet. However, I was digging through some college files for some notes to do some work, and I found my work sheet from my English Literature class about Paz Marquez Benitez's short story. I thought I'd just post that one here, because it's sort of a review of the story from when I first read (and liked) it. :) Oh, please note that I wrote t
Jennifer Ayo
"Dead Stars" - where love is never expressed in polite conversation but felt and painfully missed.

To sum it all up:

Alfredo likes Julia but he doesn’t want to give up Esperanza. Generally, “Dead Stars” only delve on fantasies. Alfredo fantasized about Julia but when faced with reality, his feelings were not grounded. At the end of the story, when he sees Julia again, he then realized his true feelings—that he was not in love with Julia. All these years he put Julia in a pedestal, only to realize
Giselle Aranilla
Anyone who has read Dead Stars may see it as a typical love story with conflicts, but still ended in the proper way. But as I reread it, I took interest on its importance as a foundation of Philippine short stories. First thing that captured my mind is the colorful background on the life of the author. Being one of the students who learned under American Education, Paz had this advantage among other writers who writes using the Filipino Language. By that fact I have discovered that the short sto ...more
We had to read Dead Stars for a writing class in college. I started reading it with the full notion that this was the first short story written by a Filipino (a woman in fact) in English. Quick trivia: Paz Marquez Benitez was among the first freshman class of UP.
I'm biased to favor how the story was told because I've always liked good prose. The long, unhandy words can sound too elitist, but the author has proper control over the language and set the tone of the story accordingly. Dead Stars is
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Justine Danielle
It was a short story, but it took me a while to finish it as the excess usage of flowery words kind of bored me to death. Reading the information about this story—who wrote it, when was it published—gave me an answer as to how distant it felt for me: it was written long before my parents were born, when my grandparents were mere toddlers. Lterature has changed so greatly since then, but I don't think that's the main point. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I expected too much from a story t ...more
Deanne Dumo
Oh yes, nostalgia. Reading Dead Stars brings back my first memories of UP Diliman. It was the first Dulaang UP play I have seen in my freshman year.

This is one of my favorite short stories, apart from Akutagawa's In a Grove. I love the metaphors and the idyllic prose of Dead Stars. I love how Julia was succinctly written and how she had transitioned into a dead star in the eyes of Alfredo in their subsequent meeting. Or was it just pixie dusts in the lenses of his telescope of eyes during the f
♡Ann  Matalines♡
i really like the story. There's just so many figurative phrases that takes time to process (well, it sucks for me). Its between two different types woman (at that time)
((The intensity of my emotions is really striking, I am even in all caps.))
Joshua Glenn
Okay, this is by far the best Filipino classic short story I've read so far. It's about infidelity and much of the prime we hear in today's teleseryes.
Benz Melancio
i want to read this!
My favorite author..
Zal Dy
Jan 26, 2015 Zal Dy added it
Very confusing all throughout the story. I had no idea who the characters were and the relation they had to each other. The descriptions were very annoying, I mean does it really take a whole paragraph just to describe how the village looks like? Though I am impressed on how well she wrote in English, this story was just confusing.
This is not something I would want to read. The story line could use some improving but the fact that she wrote this in English (which isn't even her first language) is very impressive. I believe she wrote it in a slightly confusing way but still managed to get her point across but it required multiple re-reads...
Krizia Anna
It was okay. It was short and simple. It was nicely written but not engaging. I did not feel any sympathy for the main character. I did feel sorry for Esparanza even if it was implied that she was the one picked by Alfredo. I also think Julita was over-dramatic not to get married.
This story is super exaggerated and uses so many big words when instead it could have been boiled down into a simple short(er) story that directly implies the message. I didn't like reading about the way Alfredo felt about Julia or Espe-MAKE UP YOUR MIND ALFREDO.
A glimpse of an era where social pressures strangle the possibilities of youth and love. Highly reminiscent of The Age of Innocence.

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Born in 1894 in Lucena City, Quezon, Marquez - Benítez authored the first Filipino modern English-language short story, Dead Stars, published in the Philippine Herald in 1925. Born into the prominent Marquez family of Quezon province, she was among the first generation of Filipinos trained in the American education system which used English as the medium of instruction. She graduated high school i ...more
More about Paz Marquez Benitez...

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“So all these years—since when?—he had been seeing the light of dead stars, long extinguished, yet seemingly still in their appointed places in the heavens.” 11 likes
“Why would men so mismanage their lives? Greed, he thought, was what ruined so many. Greed--the desire to crowd into a moment all the enjoyment it will hold, to squeeze from the hour all the emotion it will yield. Men commit themselves when but half-meaning to do so, sacrificing possible future fullness of ecstasy to the craving for immediate excitement. Greed--mortgaging the future--forcing the hand of Time, or of Fate.” 9 likes
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