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Doña Bárbara

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,980 ratings  ·  297 reviews
Doña Bárbara, en la que la llanura venezolana es el personaje central, es la obra de mayor éxito de Rómulo Gallegos. En ella dramatiza el conflicto entre civilización y barbarie que a su parecer definía el ser de Venezuela y su realidad. El final feliz simboliza un futuro esperanzador para el país.
Paperback, 474 pages
Published January 2005 by Cátedra (first published August 11th 1929)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  3,980 ratings  ·  297 reviews

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This review is bilingual. First you can find the English version and at the end of that one, you will find the Spanish version.

This is my favorite Latin American book!!!

Maybe since I am from Costa Rica, I should pick as my favorite Latin American book, something from my own country. This book is by an author from Venezuela. And indeed I like a lot of books written by authors from my country. However, to choose a single book for my "Favorites" virtual shelf, when it's down to pick just one bo
Book Concierge
3.5*** (rounded up)

This classic of South American literature was first published in 1929 and virtually forgotten by US readers. It first came to my attention through Public Broadcasting System’s Great American Read program in 2019.

It is an epic tale of two cousins who are fighting for control of a vast estate / ranch in Venezuela. Doña Barbara is beautiful and powerful. At her core she hates men for the way she was used and abused as a young girl. She has earned a reputation as a witch and is w
Harry Rutherford
An interesting fact about Rómulo Gallegos: he was the first democratically elected president of Venezuela, in 1948 (although only for a few months before losing power to a coup d’état). He was a writer before he was a politician; Doña Bárbara was published in 1929. It is, of course, my book from Venezuela for the Read The World challenge.

I didn’t choose it because the author was president of Venezuela. I was more attracted by the fact that it has been made into a movie twice and a telenovela thr
Donald Powell
The author's prose (and its translation) is very deep, meaningful and heartfelt. This book is a revelation of the human condition given great challenges with nature, evil, abuse and love. It is a very moving story, moving quickly, but with grace and insight. ...more
Marce Matamoros
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Though I never read it in high school, Dona Barbara is a staple lecture across Latin American schools all over, and maybe this fact kept me away from it for a long time, as normally the readings assigned as part of a scholar program tend to be boring. I couldn;t be more wrong with it.

Short, but with an amazing narrative pace, the book tells us the story of Don Barbara, a cruel and vindictive woman who is know as the "cacica" (chief) of the Arauca, in the venezuelan "llanos", due to her ferocity
Oct 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: South American novel seekers
Recommended to Jeff by: PBS's Great American Read
I suspect many (most?) folks who read this book or added it to their To Read shelf in late 2018 did so because of PBS's show The Great American Read.

I had to read the English translation by Chicago University Press, from 1931. As such, much of the colloquial speech was lost on me. Then again, some sections were nicely lyrical, which i assume came thru nicely from the original Spanish. Overall, a somewhat unnerving experience.

The novel could also be titled Santos Luzardo. He's really the main ch
I decided to read this book because it was one of the few on the PBS Great American Read list that I had never heard of. I am so glad that I did! I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt that I had been transported to the llano (prairie) in Venezuela, roping cattle, riding horses, and hunting alligators! I don't always appreciate a lot of description of the setting, but in this case, it definitely enhanced the reading experience. The language was beautiful!

I was a little surprised that so much of the bo
2.5 raised to a 3. Plot is hard to summarize, but broadly, this is set in the 1930s and concerns a man, Santos Luzardo, trying to recover his ranch land on the plains of Venezuela most of which has been swallowed up by a witch-like woman, Doña Barbara, and her evil henchmen while Santos has been away and dependent on an unscrupulous overseer. We are given a good deal of the local color. This is a seminal work in Latin American literature, with the beginnings of "magic realism", developed more fu ...more
This was good; I would probably recommend to those interested in LatAm fiction with some caveats.

The good:
- all the descriptions of the llanos were great. I fucking love the llanos! In that respect I am def this book's target audience.
- the melodrama was very entertaining
- lots of dialogue
- all the description of daily life and seasonal activities reminded me of "Little House on the Prarie."
- I also really liked all the parts about llano customs and superstitions. I fucking love the llanos!! Did
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shelly L
Don't fence me in. This is about taming the flaming will of a woman, and whether ranching is best done with the brutality and cunning of the open range, or with laws and fences and civilized ideas. I learned brutal and interesting things from many a lavish description. For example, if you say you are bushed, you are making a gelding reference! You might mean you’re tired, but you’ll also be implying a certain gendered powerlessness. A gelded bull not only lays in the bush all day, he’s made lazy ...more
Alberto Ambard
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Doña barbara is a historical novel that describes the Venezuelan society prior to its modernization.

Gallegos uses very symbolic characters and actions in his description of a chaotic country ruled by few. Santos Luzardo returns to the plains of Venezuela to recover land that has been taken by the main character: Doña Barbara, a woman full of resentment representing the barbarie.
Luzardo proposes a division of the properties with fencing. He is the civilization coming from the city to change thing
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love Westerns and this book was no exception. I knew it would be good because Larry McMurtry (author of Lonesome Dove, the most awesome Western ever) wrote the intro. Authored by the past president of Venezuela, the book takes place during the late 1800s on the wild plains of Venezuela. The writing was gorgeous, the villain was female and the environment was so romanticized, I wished that I lived in that (harsh) environment. :)
Alicia Herrington
This year for one of my personal reading challenges I'm trying something I'm calling's "The Great American-Read-Through". For it I'm trying to read (or reread as the case may be) through as much of The Great American Read list as I can. I'm doing this because I want to understand why the books on the list are so beloved, even the ones I personally dislike (50 shades, Flowers in the Attic, Twilight, Left Behind, etc.) I'm starting at #100 and working backwards to #1. By the end of this year I'd l ...more
Bonnie Ridley
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful work, first published in 1923. The reference in the new forward as being "...a Madame Bovary of the llano" prompted me to re-read Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Personally, I could not make the same comparison between the characters. The setting of Doña Bárbara is the vast, untamed plains of Venezuela. ...more
Lisa Parker
Oct 25, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There is a decent story here, especially if you know about the author and what he was trying to do with this book. BUT that story is buried so deep in a jumble of words due to a horrible translation job, I can not ever recommend it.
Maybe, if you read Spanish, the original versions would be ok.
Sep 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dont-own
A beautiful story of a series of families and people who are living their lives and dealing with each other and doing a lot of backstabbing. Noticeably translated, but not in a bad way. It would be a good read for anyone who liked Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I will say that it dragged in parts and didn’t build suspense until the last quarter of the book.
Lola Andrews
I spent some of my high school years living in Venezuela (4, to be exact), and this was, at the time, a mandatory reading (along with other Rómulo Gallegos titles, such as La Trepadora and Canaima). Rómulo Gallegos, who was also at one point the president of the country (in fact, the first president to be selected by direct, secret and universal voting in Venezuela) has one topic which all his novels directly or indirectly talk about, which is the fight between savagery and education. Education ...more
When I looked at the PBS list of favorite 100 books, I did not recognize this author or, I've been spending my summer in South American magic realism...sorta. Had to abandon 100 YEARS for now, but had a great time with Zafon, and I discovered this gem.

This is an epic battle between two characters...cousins...a man and a woman...the past and the future...good and evil. Santos returns to the plains of Venezuela to reclaim his birthright and try out his modern ideas of ranching and livin
Diana Clemente
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it was kind of weird the end of the story, but in the end it is real, the descriptions and the resignation is something real that happens to us everyday, just like the endless land of this story.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the greatest testimony to Rómulo Gallegos is the very rich literary prize named after him in honor of his work and influence. The prize has been awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez, Roberto Bolaño and other masterful authors whose powerful books are said to be the cornerstones of magical realism and South American literature.

Sadly, we seldom hear Gallegos' 1929 novel "Doña Barbara" mentioned in the same company as the well-known books that have received the Gallegos pri
All things return whence they came.

This book is such an unconventionally traditional book, with some rather modern adornations packed within savage, primitive setting. All of the characters represent through their behaviour, emotions and deeds some characteristic of this praerie they occupy: Doña Barbara represents pagan and barbarastic ways still practiced in the Amazonian area, but not without a note of emotions that just need to be stirred up and that stir up her environment; Santos Luzardo r
Jo Reason
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-the-world
The novel by the venezuelan writer Romulo Gallegos describes life in the plains of venezuela, in the arauca region, huge expanses of land, very few towns or people, lots of cattle and anarchy.

Originally published in 1929 this book is divided into 3 parts, each of which has short chapters which I enjoy, but there were a lot of very long sentences.

The first part is an introduction of the characters, it is very confusing as I wasn’t always able to tell the secondary characters apart. as I moved o
Melodramatic and lots of fun; I can see why it made for a good tv series. And I can sort of see why it's regarded as a forerunner of South American magical realism, though actually its references to legends and the supernatural are quite interesting; Doña Barbara seems to deploy the idea of magic, and build herself as a legend, for strategic (though perhaps ultimately self-defeating) ends.
My enjoyment was tempered by the fact that the novel struck me certainly early on (and still so, but less so
Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the Venezuelan novel that introduced magical realism to literature. The author went on to become President of Venezuela. Since Venezuela is one more of those tropical nations colonized by the Spanish, it shares many political and economic characteristics with the Philippines. The political corruption, land distribution methods, Inquisition era Catholicism combined with traditional beliefs, and subsistence farming read very much like life in the Philippines. The story was interesting and ...more
(view spoiler)

Read for a couple of 2019 reading challenges, this book was on the 2018 Great Ame
This is Venezuelzan cattle rancher tale written in 1929. The Basqueros family has fought the Luzardos to gain a hold on the land of Altamira. Now Dona Barabara (using her reputation for ruthlessness and superstitions of witchery) now rules but Santos returns from law school to regain his lost lands. He has to look out for the assassin Melquiades (the 'Wizard') and meets alcoholic Basqueros and his daughter (by Barabara) Mariesla and starts a relationship of sorts but finds himself against Barbar ...more
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translations
I predict this will not win the NPR contest for America's favorite novel. I can't imagine how it even made the top 100. As a glimpse into the lives of the Venezuelan cowboys of long ago, it's interesting, but the people are frustratingly inaccessible, and it hasn't even been available in translation for that long. We've been watching Yellowstone, the Kevin Costner tv series about trying to keep a family ranch together in the face of developers, native tribes, feuding children, and estate taxes. ...more
Valerie Purvis
Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I chose this book because it was on the Great American Read list. Doña Bárbara is a novel by Venezuelan author Rómulo Gallegos, first published in 1929. This regionalist novel deals with the confrontation between civilization and the barbaric aspects of the rural environment and its inhabitants. The style of writing was unusual and dithered along with lengthy descriptions of either the landscape or the character's thoughts. The heroine, Dona Barbara, is a powerful despicable woman, and the hero ...more
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Novelista, docente y político venezolano. Se le ha considerado como el novelista venezolano más relevante del siglo XX y uno de los más grandes literatos latinoamericanos de todos los tiempos. Algunas de sus novelas han pasado a convertirse en clásicos de la literatura hispanoamericana.

Ejerce el cargo de Presidente de Venezuela en 1948 por escasos nueve meses, convirtiéndose en el primer mandatari

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