As the novel opens, Artemio Cruz, the all-powerful newspaper magnate and land baron, lies confined to his bed and, in dreamlike flashes, recalls the pivotal episodes of his life. Carlos Fuentes manipulates the ensuing kaleidoscope of images with dazzling inventiveness, layering memory upon memory, from Cruz's heroic campaigns during the Mexican Revolution, through his relentless climb from poverty to wealth, to his uneasy death. Perhaps Fuentes's masterpiece, The Death of Artemio Cruz is a haunting voyage into the soul of modern Mexico.
First translated into English more than a quarter-century ago, Fuentes's acclaimed novel about modern Mexico has since gone through nearly 30 printings. Despite its popularity, the original English version often was unclear, obscuring Fuentes's language and intent. MacAdam's meticulous new rendering gives the English-reading public a fresh slant on the fictional Cruz, a newspaper owner and land baron. The novel opens with Cruz on his deathbed, and plunges us into his thoughts as he segues from the past to his increasingly disoriented present. Drawn as a tragic figure, Cruz fights bravely during the Mexican Revolution but in the process loses his idealism--and the only woman who ever loved him. He marries the daughter of a hacienda owner and, in the opportunistic, postwar climate, he uses her family connections and money to amass an ever-larger fortune. Cocky, audacious, corrupt, Cruz, on another level, represents the paradoxes of recent Mexican history. Written before Fuentes's masterpieces A Change of Skin and Terra Nostra, this novel, with its freewheeling experimental prose and psychological exploration, anticipates many of the author's later themes.