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Juan Rulfo Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

The Plain in Flames / The Burning Plain (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Golden Cockerel & Other Writings (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Penguin Book of Latin American Short Stories(1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Oxford Book of Latin American Short Stories(1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bordering Fires: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Mexican and Chicana and Chicano Literature(2006)Description / Buy at Amazon

Juan Rulfo was a popular literary fiction author from Mexico who is best known for his novel “Pedro Paramo.” The author was born in the small community of Apulco in 1918 in Jalisco in central Mexico.

During the latter part of the eighteenth century, his ancestors came from northern Spain and made their home in Nueva Galicia where Maria Vizcaino Arias his mother, and Juan Nepomuceno Perez his father were born.
Since Mexico was in a lot of turmoil in 1918 due to the Francisco I Revolution, the family moved to San Gabriel soon after Juan was born. It was in San Gabriel that he went to elementary school and where he lived until he was ten.
Juan Rulfo’s family used to tell all manner of stories about crimes, wars, and ghosts, which he used to enjoy so much.

At that very young age, he learned from the best about the art of storytelling that he would then use as inspiration for his later stories, most of which are set in San Gabriel.

Following the death of his mother of a heart attack in 1927, Rulfo and his two brothers were sent to live with their grandmother in Guadalajara.

There Rulfo was sent to the Luis Silva School until he was sent to some kind of correctional school in Guadalajara known as the Orfanatorio Silva.

But before he left San Gabriel, he had begun developing an interest in reading since the priest of the small town had left his private library with his grandmother and he loved reading the books in it every chance he got.
When he was done with his secondary education, he enrolled at the University of Guadalajara but because of a strike, he moved to the national university in Mexico City.

He initially got his college expenses paid by an uncle but soon had to find work when he pulled out. It was a difficult time and he felt directionless and even quit studying law after he failed the qualifying examination.
While he had always wanted to study law and follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, the dream slowly faded and he quit college, as he lost all interest in the law.
In 1935, he worked with the Department of Interior in Mexico City, working as an immigration agent.

By the time he was working for the government, Juan Rulfo had decided that he would become an author and read all manner of European fiction.

Some of the authors he loved writing during this time include Haupmann, Sillanpaa, Ian Mail, Bjorson, and the early works of Hamsun.

It was while he was working in Mexico City as an immigration officer that he met Efren Hernandez the novelist and short story writer who encouraged him to start writing.

His first effort at writing was a novel he eventually destroyed titled “El Hijo del Desaliento.” Even though he deemed it mediocre, it was ultimately published as “Un pedazo de noche” in “Revista mexicana de literatura” in 1959.
It was about this time that he began associating with Antonio Alatorre the critic and Juan Jose Arreola the fabulist, all from Guadalajara. Together, they were the publishers of “Pan,” the first-rate periodical which was very popular for a time.
In 1952, he got a fellowship from Centro Mexico de Escritores, where he finally completed writing “The Burning Plain,” which “Fondo de Cultura Economica” published in 1953.
It was while he was doing his fellowship that he began writing “Pedro Paramo,” which he would ultimately publish in 1955.

“Pedro Paramo” is a novel that tells the story of Juan Preciado, a young man who promises to find his father on his mother’s dying bed.

Juan has no independent memories of Pedro Paramo his father, as his mother had left her loveless and abusive marriage shortly after he was born. She had then raised her kid all by herself in the city while his father lived on an ancestral ranch.
After he buried his mother, he set off for his father’s ranch in Comala and found it a nightmarish and eerie town full of ghosts.

It is a veritable graveyard where all manner of the dead are reliving their intolerable memories. Most of these memories revolve around the corrupt local boss Pedro Paramo, who made the city into Hell on Earth.
It is a dreamlike and surreal experience and Juan feels as if he is living in a bad disturbing dream.

At some point, Juan was walking the deserted houses and streets of the city when suddenly everything filled up with water and he felt as if he was drowning.
Compared to “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, it is something of a ghost story and a social allegory filled with double meanings and symbols.

“The Burning Plain” is a collection of stories about characters hunted by soil that is no more and an unremitting sun.

They also have to deal with the last bits of food left, a mountain of jagged rock that they have to scale, outlaws, false religions, rebellious soldiers, government armies, and steaming blood of revenge.
Given the conditions, the people have become cold-blooded and indifferent.

Rulfo makes use of his pen to craft a story that slowly moves his readers from indifference about the characters to acceptance of how they became who they are.
Out in the arid plains, he tells a story that shows the human heart and its primal savagery.

It is a story set in a dark and brooding place and Rulfo’s writing sets fire to the brutality of it and provides a sumptuous feast for anyone who appreciates a great work of literature.
While these are different stories, they all have a common theme explored in different ways with fascinating characters and examples.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Juan Rulfo

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