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The Lost Steps

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,953 Ratings  ·  148 Reviews
A composer, fleeing an empty existence in New York City, takes a journey with his mistress to one of the few remaining areas of the world not yet touched by civilization-the upper reaches of a great South American river. The Lost Steps describes his search, his adventures, and the remarkable decision he makes in a village that seems to be truly outside history.
Paperback, 296 pages
Published February 13th 2001 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published 1953)
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Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dusty by: Cesar Salgado
Shelves: read-in-2010
This book, considered by many to be Alejo Carpentier's masterpiece, certainly has its problems. The foremost of these is its unabashed machismo: The story follows a European man, a failed musician, who journeys into the South American jungle on an anthropological mission in what becomes a quest for his own recovered history -- his own authenticity. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly given the novel's 1953 date of publication, Carpentier invokes a trio of roundly-unlikeable females to exemplify hi ...more
Oct 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel, male, year-1950s, cuba
These were the days for the accumulation of humus, the rotting and decay of the fallen leaves, in keeping with the law decreeing that all generation shall take place in the neighborhood of excretion, that organs of generation shall be intertwined with those of urination, and that all that is born shall come into the world enveloped in mucus, serum, and blood--just as out of manure comes the purity of the asparagus and the green of mint. p. 229
This was my first exposure to Carpentier and I was im
Jul 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-suica, e3
Alejo Carpentier é considerado pelo crítico Harold Bloom como um dos 100 Génios da história da literatura.

Os Passos Perdidos é o diário da viagem de um músico, que sobe o rio Orinoco, com o objectivo de encontrar instrumentos musicais. Nessa missão, no interior da selva venezuelana, convive com povos primitivos e encontra as origens do Homem e da Música.

É um romance muito rico e complexo, que contrapõe a nossa civilização actual com a primitiva; a oposição entre a nossa forma de vida - que orig
Dec 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: music, cuban
A composer journeys to the South American jungle ostensibly to find some primitive but seminal musical instrument. He takes his mistress, not his wife. He finds the forest primeval, life shorn to its most elemental, and experiences something of a spiritual reawakening. He finds new love and the instrument in question and begins to compose again, finding his inspiration in the fundamental sounds of nature. Of course, he screws it all up.

The protagonist is unlikable and his chauvinism hearkens bac
Dec 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-translation
Carpentier is one of the most extraordinary writers I've ever encountered, the equal of Borges, Faulkner, or Lowry. His prose is savage and elegant, the worlds he creates as convincing as they are fantastic. He needs to be Big News, a Household Word, he should enjoy a reputation commensurate with his genius.
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ciężko mi się zaczynało czytać tę książkę. Przeczytałem ją wiele lat temu - jako nastolatem i wtedy byłem nią zachwycony. Nie pamiętałem niestety za bardzo dlaczego, więc wiedziony zasadą "książek, których nie warto przeczytać dwa razy, nie warto było czytać nawet raz" postanowiłem podejść od niej po raz drugi. I początek mnie zawiódł przegadaniem i egzaltacją. Pomyślałem sobie wtedy, że pewnie dla egzaltowanego dzieciaka to mogło być atrakcyjne, ale teraz już jestem na to za duży. Potem jednak ...more
The narrator's voice began to grate on me halfway through. That said, this novel is full of descriptive wizardry.
Eliana Rivero
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nada hay más hermoso que la danza de un macizo de bambúes en la brisa. Ninguna coreografía humana tiene la euritmia de una rama que se dibuja sobre el cielo. Llego a preguntarme a veces si las formas superiores de la emoción estética no consistirán, simplemente, en un supremo entendimiento de lo creado. Un día, los hombres descubrirán un alfabeto en los ojos de las calcedonias, en los pardos terciopelos de la falena, y entonces se sabrá con asombro que cada caracol manchado era, desde siempre,
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This novel was written in 1953 but is really timeless and not dated. It is included in the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die in 2008 edition.
Alejo Carpentier was born in Switzerland but grew up in Cuba and is identified as a Cuban author. He was also a musicologist. His writing is a fusion of literary and music themes. He is considered the first practitioner of magical realism, though is his work is more limited to that later developed by Gabriel García Márquez and was not difficult to re
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Advanced vocabulary overflows with existentialism and anthropological wisdom. Alejo Carpentier deserves accolades but every sentence was too heavy and lavish, to absorb as a narrative. His messages are highly worthy. However, the most fleeting thoughts I have ever seen were accepted as a novel! An educational resource might not need to entertain. Grandiose concepts can be built into enjoyable presentations but in storytelling, he failed. There were ceaseless, analogous segues in place of dialogu ...more
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Lost Steps is a work that makes you appreciate the journey; not only the manner in which Carpentier presents the journey of the protagonist from bustling metropolis to foundling jungle village, but also his intimate approach and truly unique style inevitably tangles the reader in a journey of his or her own.

quotes: "wearing the same old frock coats with new sweat added to old" 4
"author's right on time, imposing the measure of motion and emotion on future men"14
"amorous anarchy"19
"how hard it
May 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
I read this book for the OEA Book Club, and really did not enjoy the book. But the discussion we had at the Book Club was among the best. Stewart (who chose the book) in particular had a very nice interpretation of the book -- one which bordered on the question of "What is Art?" -- which gave me an enhanced appreciation for the book. All the same, I still didn't enjoy the process of reading this book. One take-away lesson is that a book can be about a great topic with a great message, and still ...more
John Caviglia
Memorial stars....

Knocked my socks off in the 70's. Am considering a rereading, given my recent interest in Amazonia.
Alejo Carpentier

نظری به خصوصیات فرمال رد گم

آثار داستانی کارپانتیه بسیار متنوع است، تا جایی که هیچ دو اثر داستانیاش را نمیتوان در یک دسته گذاشت؛ «رد گم» روایتی ادیبانه است دربارهی زمان، فرهنگ و مسائل اجتماع امروز، «تعقیب» داستانی بلند با محتوای سیاسی و انسانشناسی است که تصویرسازیهای بسیار قویِ سینمایی و فرم سونات موسیقی دارد، «قرن روشناییها» (در ایران به نامهای «انفجار در کلیسای جامع» و «قرن روشنفکری» شناخته میشود) نخستین اثر متعارفی رهآلیسم جادویی است و به نگرشهای درونگرایانه و برونگرایانه و تقابلهای این نگرش
Ana Guardia
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, recommended
Más que una historia, parece un estudio de personaje. Tenemos al protagonista, en su vida diaria, de repente siendo arrojado a una misión para la cual no considera tener energías, ni ganas. Sin embargo, a medida que va avanzando la trama, este va descubriéndose a sí mismo, a través de las peligrosas situaciones que debe enfrentar.

El toque de la novela es, sin duda, la capacidad del autor y su manejo del lenguaje. Hasta el mínimo trozo del texto está bien trabajado, adecuado a una lírica muy herm
Virginia Young
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
The Lost Steps is a beautifully crafted book filled with religious and classical symbolism that reaffirms the statement, "Focus on the journey, not the destination," said by Greg Anderson. It is full of vivid descriptions about Latin American land and lifestyle and deals with the struggle of a lost protagonist in searching for his identity and home. The book is very artistic and well-written. However, I did not enjoy this book. I think from a writer's point of view, this is a masterpiece. Howeve ...more
Jul 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in Spanish. The lost steps is a very good book. At the beginning this book is a little bit confusing. But, after 20 pages the story began to take meaning. A listen about this book in a latinoamerica literature class and I began to read it because the music story. But, after read more I realized that it book has more that music. It has a short life story around 6 month. that maybe it time is a complete life. It book is really "Magic Realism". I enjoy a lot the part went Rosario ...more
Andrea Siso
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Update: March 2013
Though I read this a year ago, this second time gave me the chance to savor Carpentier's language in its original form. Though my opinion of the novel essentially remained the same, I feel that I was able to gain further appreciation for it as a truly valuable work in the Latin American canon.

Carpentier's vivid, detailed descriptions of the natural world in the "lost steps" that delve into edenic Latin America overshadow the lack of development in the protagonist's secondary wo
Sarah Stiefvater
Los Pasos Perdidos, while clearly an important work – as evidenced by almost every review on this page – was very difficult for me to get through. While I appreciate Carpentier's extraordinary talent as an author, I can't say I enjoyed the novel. Descriptions that, in my opinion, could have been made in a paragraph or two were drawn out over pages and pages, and I often found myself losing focus before reaching the end of a passage. I also found fault with virtually all of Carpentier's character ...more
Nora Perlman
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
I personally did not enjoy The Lost Steps. For me, it was a very hard book to follow and fully understand. Carpentier's unique writing style is something to be respected, however, I wouldn't say I have a preference for it. His writing is filled with incessant descriptions of the Venezuelan landscape and culture that I truly believe didn't help me in understanding any important theme within the work. I did enjoy the protagonists search for identity which I was able to relate to. I also liked the ...more
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder if most people here have read this book in English. I only know the Spanish original, and its style, while beautiful in its own way, is extremely dense, with the additional problem that modern editions skip most of the original paragraph breaks, which makes its reading even more exhausting. It's a mammothly conceived work; I'm pretty sure it's not meant to be an easy summer reading. One may object that its points could have been made with half of the words, half of the average sentence ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The language is poetic with lots of historical, literary and musical allusions (no wonder, the author was a Cuban teacher of music and cultural history). The principal narrator here is a guy married to a stage actress who accepts a commission to go to a jungle somewhere in South America and get a primitive musical instrument. He goes there with his mistress, and ditches the mistress later for an exotic jungle woman. Lots of introspective musings about the modern and primitive life, with the narr ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nunca había batallado tanto para darle una puntuación a un libro, no merece tres estrellas, no merece cuatro, no merece cinco, no merece dos, no sé que se merece!!! Para empezar es un libro escrito muy barroco y por esto con palabras muy difíciles que tenía que estar consultando el diccionario muy seguido, por otro lado el tema, su viaje al pasado donde encuentra el nacimiento de la música:
"Ante la terquedad de la Muerte, que se niega a soltar su presa, la Palabra, de pronto, se ablanda y desco
Is it possible to have an authentic experience of a foreign culture? Carpentier answers this question in the negative, and I am beginning to think he might be right. It's especially true of vacation sites these days, which increasingly resemble Disneyfied recreations of foreign cultures. But Carpentier suggests that even total immersion into a foreign culture doesn't make you a native -- you can't leave home even if you try.

This isn't a perfect book - the characters tend to be a little stiffly d
Roberto Almeida
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meu primeiro Carpentier, então vou com calma. O livro tem mesmo algumas passagens brilhantes. A que descreve a revolução na capital, ainda no início do livro, é maravilhosa. Mas o texto envelheceu mal. O narrador é o machão explorador intelectual verborrágico, cansativo em vários momentos. As mulheres, ele trata como objeto. Os indígenas, salvo rara exceção exotizante, ele trata com desdém. O livro poderia se chamar hoje Viagem ao Orinoco na companhia de um eurocêntrico chato e genial. Entre o C ...more
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Narra el viaje -- o la Odisea -- del personaje principal desde los Estados Unidos a un lugar en latinoamérica donde nació y se crió y de allí a las honduras de la selva. Busca instrumentos musicales primitivos encomendados por un museo. En su viaje, hace profundas reflexiones sobre la cultura y el modo de vivir contrastando el mundo "civilizado" con el supuesto "salvaje" de latinoamérica donde todo es mas primitivo quizás, pero también mas auténtico. Las descripciones de la selva y La Gran Saban ...more
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most extraordinary books I've ever read. I read it thirty or forty years ago and I've never forgotten it. Reminded of it today seeing the film Embrace of the Serpent, set in that same mysterious inhospitable all engulfing world - the Amazon jungle. Shall go back and read it again (of course I still have my old fingered Penguin with a Max Ernst 'jungle ' on the cover.)
Feb 04, 2009 rated it did not like it
I thought this book was disgusting and horribly written. It frustrates me that some authors feel in order to convey a point, they need to be vulgar and inappropriate. It was a vain attempt to be artistic and different that was immensely disappointing.
May 24, 2013 rated it liked it
About halfway through this novel I came to the conclusion that the narrator (the main character) is one of those people you would have met in New York City during the 1980's and would have regaled you with their adventures into the primitive wilderness sometime during the 1960's and of which they've been spending the past 4-5 years re-acclimating themselves to 'The Modern World' for whatever excuse.

Ok, that is a very specific generalization I'm making, but it fits the stereotype of all those hip
Andrés Cabrera
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alejo Carpentier ha sabido sorprenderme: me ha deleitado con una historia que, aún hoy, no deja de ser escuchada en los laberintos de mi cabeza. Su música persiste, y me tiene pensando desde hace un par de días...capaz por un buen tiempo. ¿Qué hace que una vida anodina, disfrazada de rutina, termine por desembocar en una búsqueda del sí mismo más autóctono? Con muchos problemas (no deja de ser algo peligrosa la visión del protagonista, "civilizado"-en sus palabras-, que retorna a su pasado más a ...more
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this book 2 29 Dec 17, 2011 11:58AM  
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Cuban novelist, essayist, and musicologist who greatly influenced Latin American literature during its "boom" period.

Perhaps Cuba's most important intellectual figure of the twentieth century, Alejo Carpentier (1904-1980) was a novelist, a classically trained pianist and musicologist, a producer of avant-garde radio programming, and an influential theorist of politics and literature. Best known f
More about Alejo Carpentier...

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“The truth was much more beautiful.” 12 likes
“Un día, los hombres descubrirán un alfabeto en los ojos de las calcedonias, en los pardos terciopelos de la falena, y entonces se sabrá con asombro que cada caracol manchado era, desde siempre, un poema.” 10 likes
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