Dusty's Reviews > Jardín: Novela Lírica

Jardín by Dulce María Loynaz
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's review
May 20, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2011

What if Tarzan had been an orphaned aristocratic Cuban woman? That's not exactly the story Dulce María Loynaz spins in El Jardín, but it's awful close. Bárbara (the orphaned aristocratic Cuban woman) lives in an old, white colonial mansion that has been in her family for generations. Behind it stretches a colossal garden. As a child she was abandoned in the house by her parents (her father is never present; her mother goes mad after the death of Bárbara's younger brother). Raised by an old black nanny (Laura) and sometimes visited by two shadowy uncles, Bárbara lives an enclosed life in the house and the wilderness out the back door. Until she is whisked away by a European sailor who stumbles into her garden and falls in love with her backward "primitiveness"...

El Jardín may be the best (eco)feminist book nobody reads. Near as I can tell it's only been published twice (in a first edition and, later, when Loynaz won a prestigious Spanish award for lifelong literary achievement) and it hasn't ever been translated into English. In the "Prelude", the author confesses she wasn't quite sure what to do with the book -- she subtitles it "Lyrical Novel" because its sparse plot and loosely-defined characters aren't what one typically finds in any other kind of "Novel" -- and the fact that Loynaz is principally known for her poetry seems to have reconciled the book to obscurity. This is a shame. I didn't care for the long third section in which Bárbara literally unearths and reads love letters received by one of her female ancestors (So many letters! All so corny!) but I can't think of another woman-written book of the early twentieth century that is this brave, this experimental.

Of course, now I have to reread...
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Reading Progress

May 20, 2010 – Shelved
December 26, 2010 – Started Reading
December 26, 2010 –
page 22
December 30, 2010 –
page 56
December 30, 2010 –
page 101
January 2, 2011 –
page 202
January 3, 2011 – Shelved as: read-in-2011
January 3, 2011 – Finished Reading

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