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I, the Supreme

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  439 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Latin America has seen, time and again, the rise of dictators, Supreme Leaders possessed of the dream of absolute power, who sought to impose their mad visions of Perfect Order on their own peoples. Latin American writers, in turn, have responded with fictional portraits of such figures, and no novel of this genre is as universally esteemed as Augusto Roa Bastos's I the Su ...more
Paperback, 433 pages
Published June 1st 2000 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1974)
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Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
--I the Supreme

Guaraní Words Used in the Novel
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Have you ever, browsing at a village bookshop, picked up a book and thumbing through it discover things like variations between single and double columns and footnotes and little chapter-ish headings like "(In the private notebook)" and "(On a loose sheaf)" and "(Perpetual circular)" and "(Compiler's note)" and but you can't remember quite if you've heard of the book before and if so on what list it had appeared but then you decide to not take it home only to learn shortly thereafter that you ha ...more
Francisco H. González
Este año se cumplen 100 años del nacimiento del escritor paraguayo Augusto Roa Bastos (1917-2005). No se me ocurre mejor homenaje -si acaso hay otro mejor- que rendirle, que leer su obra.

Augusto Roa Bastos exiliado casi perpetuo -cuatro décadas estuvo fuera de Paraguay- escribió en 1973, Yo el Supremo, perteneciente a ese género de literatura con dictadores de por medio que inauguró El señor Presidente (1946) y al que siguieron El recurso del método (1974) o El otoño del Patriarca (1975).

Oliver Twist & Shout

En otra reseña de esta web se compara a Yo, El Supremo con el Zama de Di Benedetto. No me parece una relación del todo inapropiada si consideramos que ambas tienen el punto de contacto de la colonización española, aunque, en ambos casos, de una forma bastante tangencial, pues se concentran más en al sociedad americana antes que en realizar crítica alguna del período colonial. Yo añadiría que mientras Zama, por su estilo empobrecedor es Beckett, Yo, El Supremo es Joyce por su ambición maximalista
May 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Someone recovering from book-noncommittalness, you, George Bush
How to get inside the mind of a dictator:

"Do you know what distinguishes daytime handwriting from nighttime? In a nocturnal hand there is obstinacy with indulgence. The proximity of sleep files the angles smooth. The spirals sprawl out more. The resistance from left to right, weaker. Delirium, intimate friend of the nocturnal hand. The curves sway less. The sperm of the ink dries more slowly. The movements are divergent. The strokes droop more. They tend to distend..."

"Those with prodigious memo
Jun 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: crazy people
Shelves: paraguay
I'm reading this Paraguayan historical novel a second time and enjoying (and understanding) it much more, though it's still incredibly dense and mind-boggling. Helen Lane, the translator, should have won some sort of award for faithfully capturing the spirit of the Perpetual Dictator's rambling, insulting, witty, and pretentious wordplay and neologisms.

Nov 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: stopped-reading
I'm paraguayan. I'm happy that someone from my country is at least slightly famous (we have pretty low standards). That been said, I hate this book. I don't know about the english version but in spanish it is without a doubt the most boring book I've ever had the misfortune of pickung up. And I tried to finish it several times but I couldn't get past the first chapter. I'm sorry Augusto.
Ricardo Loup
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superlativa, magnífica, extraordinaria. Una de las más grandes creaciones artísticas del mundo. Que Roa Bastos, un paraguayo, sea su creador, es el equivalente a que los frescos de la Capilla Sixtina hubieran sido pintados en la bóveda del templo de La Encarnación. No hay palabras suficientes que puedan describir la majestuosidad de este libro maravilloso. Pero quizás, la mejor definición de él sea la que el propio Supremo dicta a su amanuense: "Escribir no significa poner lo real en palabras, ...more
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Out of all the "Dictator Novels" I've read, this is by far the best. The Supreme is such a complex character, and I guess you have to be really invested in latin-american history and political divisions to understand the depths of this book.

The Supreme never seems a caricature, or an evil blood thirsty maniac (two common character types for this genre); he comes off as a simplistic, nationalistic, and authoritarian ruler who is convinced he's the best option for his country - and, in contrast to
Maritza Buendia
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Me parece algo difícil resumir y hasta redactar una breve y coherente reseña de una obra tan compleja, quizá sea una tarea más apta para conocedores de la historia paraguaya. He aquí mi intento: Yo el Supremo, más que una novela es un compendio denso de compleja estructura lingüística que hace difícil entender el significado de la novela sin tener conocimiento de la historia de Paraguay. Sin embargo, es una experiencia muy gratificante para el lector que se ve expuesto a un personaje tan importa ...more
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, first-rate
magisterial. paragraphs triggered by sovereign decrees expand into manias splintering riotously off into the sounding nights of the rio. uninvited voices set the chambers of the supreme head echoing, awakening it into a world of petty libel and insidious comment. walking the insomniac galleries of his palace he pours surplus speech into the gaping spaces for patino, his palimpsest machine, to gather it in print. in the ensuing text we hear the increasing stampede of his mumblings, hallucinations ...more
Julio César
Es un clásico de la literatura latinoamericana. Lo sentí bastante atado a su época, con innovaciones literarias importantes como los múltiples tipos textuales, la inserción de cartas, panfletos, proclamas.
La historia del dictador Francia no me pareció tan loca, siendo de este continente, como le podría parecer a un europeo. Medio larga.
Leonard Pierce
Dec 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A stunning piece of Latin American postmodernism, the kaleidoscopic story of Paraguay's first unquestioned dictator.
Lucas Rentero
Jun 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
En los mismos pagos de Zama pero unas décadas después.
Jun 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I, The Supreme by Augusto Roa Bastos is a complex, technically accomplished, creative and stylistically unique book, a classic example of the dictator novel genre that explores the nature of authoritarianism and tyranny; the mindset and self-justifications of authoritarian leaders, the way they convince themselves that they are ultimately righteous and acting in the best interests of the people and the nation; the way dictatorial power inherently distorts the perspective of a leader by allowing ...more
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wstawione

Zanim zacznę recenzować samą książkę, powinienem najpierw przedstawić moją ewolucję "miłości" do Paragwaju.

Wszystko zaczęło się w 1998 roku podczas Mistrzostw Świata w Piłce Nożnej we Francji. Były to moje pierwsze, które oglądałem z zacięciem w telewizji, a ponieważ z "natury" byłem bramkarzem, obserwowałem właśnie tych zawodników na boisku. I tak poznałem swojego guru na wiele lat - paragwajski bramkarz, José Luis Chilavert. I ci, którzy mnie znają, wiedzą, że muszę za
Sebastian Porta
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
In Paraguay there are two historical figures that arouse the most heated discussions: Francisco Solano Lopez, President of Paraguay during the Paraguayan War (1864 - 1870), the deadliest and bloodiest war in Latin America’s history; the other figure is Dr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, ideologist and political leader of the Independence Revolution (1811) that freed Paraguay from the yoke of United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, the Empire of Brazil and the Spanish crown and became the “Su ...more
¡Al fin!

Vaya que me costó trabajo acabarla. Y es que este libro tiene la cualidad de ser una de las grandes novelas latinoamericanas del XX y ser tremendamente soporífera al mismo tiempo. La tipografía es pequeñísima, las páginas son muchas y las digresiones demasiado abundantes. Entiendo que Roa Bastos hizo un despliegue impresionante de talento y erudición en este libro, pero la verdad es que se hace largo, largo, largo...

No me arrepiento de haberla leído (de hecho, muchos capítulos me parecie
Ana Esteban
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: españa-latinoam
Una prosa maravillosa, aunque algunos pasajes un poco arduos
Juan Zalcman
Que dificil es continuar leyendo este libro... trato de entender la valoracion que hacen otros y no puedo. finalmente termino de leer un libro que no recomiendo a aquellos blandos de paciencia y constancia para afrontar un reto semejante.
Pablo Flores
“Yo el Supremo” es un tour de force: es la contención y encauzamiento de la marea de los pensamientos del Dictador Supremo del Paraguay en forma de texto, que a veces, es cierto, desborda y embarra sus márgenes. Escribe al dictado el secretario del dictador, Patiño; a veces escribe el propio Supremo; otras el figurado “recopilador” (que firma como el autor) incluye pequeñas o extensas notas, cartas, fragmentos de otros, que narran lo mismo desde otro punto de vista, aclarando (generalmente) las ...more
May 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I heard about this book I promised to read it. The comments I recieved were all along the lines of "the last strongman novel from a LatAm Boom author". Having read The President, The Death of Artemio Cruz, The Feast of the Goat among others, I expected a great book. However, I found that Roa Bastos took a little too much from Artemio Cruz for Rodríguez de Francia, with never-ending monologues that go nowhere for the first part of the novel. The second half is much more interesting, though; ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a first person account of dictator for life de Francia, the first in a long line of dictators in Paraguay. It shows his cynical manipulation of power and language, so questions the idea of dictatorial authority in general.
The dictator is self-justifying, a little paranoid and becomes increasingly deranged as the narrative progresses, but because it is mainly his telling of the story this is not obviously a polemic. The structure becomes more fragmentary and less rational as a mirror
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
A difficult but rich read. Roa Bastos' ambivalent assessment of El Supremo, and the multiple voice construct of a dictator nuances brilliantly. A dictator - spartan (unlike other South American dicators) - and with vision - but perhaps brutal in execution. Requires more than a read to truly understand the richly nuanced, and translated work
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
denso... libro difícil... leánlo
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Seminarski Radovi sociologija
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Augusto Roa Bastos was a noted Paraguayan novelist and short story writer, and one of the most important Latin American writers of the 20th century. As a teenager he fought in the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia, and he later worked as a journalist, screenwriter and professor. He is best known for his complex novel Yo el Supremo (I, the Supreme) and for his reception of the Premio Miguel de ...more
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“To write does not mean to convert the real into words but to make the power of the word real.” 18 likes
“It is not by believing but by doubting that one can attain to the truth, which is ever changing form and condition.” 18 likes
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