Original language: gallego
Original title: Arrayans
Translation: Luisa Castro
Year of publication: 1991
Valuation: Highly recommended

(Note: I have read this book in the original Galician, so I cannot comment on the translation).

Méndez Ferrín is a popular figure and great reference in Galician literature who, in fact, held the presidency of the Royal Galician Academy, so the level of expectation regarding his work is quite high. Let’s see.

It is Arrayans It is a collection of ten short stories belonging to a mature period of the author, when he was already a little over half a century old and had completed a large part of his career. We can then presuppose – and get it right – a mature and elaborate, consistent and well-crafted style, where his influences can be clearly observed.

The Arraians of the title refer to the name of A Raia, a border region between Spain and Portugal, in the province of Ourense, where the author is from and where the stories that concern us here take place, perhaps the only thing they have in common between they. The time in which they have a place ranges between a couple of centuries ago and the post-civil war, in the first half of the 20th century.

If any of you are a follower of Galician literature, you will probably have echoed some common traits – not so much as to call it your own style – that several Galician narrators share, and specifically several of their works. I am referring to a kind of Galician magical realism where reality and fantasy, real and dream world, prosaism and superstition come together, endowed with its own rules and internal coherence, and which is nourished by a very own deep-rooted mythological world that draws on the Galician folklore.

Méndez Ferrín could not be less and, in this collection of stories, a transparent patina of fantasy can be seen that surrounds them and infects them to a greater or lesser extent, thus becoming – for my taste – the strong point of the book: that being and not being, that tightrope, the thin line that separates the concrete and abstract worlds.

The author can boast of being skilled in the art of narration: the style varies in each story, from the epistolary form to the internal soliloquy, passing through narrations oscillating between first and third person, by omniscient narrator or by secondary character of the story. work, all of this, as I said before, with great coherence and without being forced at any time, adding, on the contrary, great variety to the reading.

The themes always border on the world of dreams: from reincarnation to witchcraft (a theme that is the protagonist of several stories), loneliness, and, above all, war and revenge/resentment (as an indissoluble unit). It is in violence where the magical garments are torn and the most brutal human being appears, without veils behind which to hide his primitive savagery.

This is, in short, a compilation of highly recommended stories, in a fairly brief set, and which I am sure will please almost any reader profile who chooses to read them.

Source: https://unlibroaldia.blogspot.com/2024/05/xose-luis-mendez-ferrin-arraianos.html

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