Complete summary of Alejo Carpentier’s The Lost Steps. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Lost Steps. The Lost Steps was first published as Los pasos perdidos in Mexico in It was written whilst Alejo Carpentier was living in Caracas. The Lost Steps, by Alejo Carpentier. I discovered this book on the office charity table and picked it up for a dollar. I had only heard of Carpentier.
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Return to Book Page. The Lost Steps by Alejo Carpentier. A composer, fleeing an empty existence in New York City, takes a journey with his mistress to one of the few remaining areas of the world not yet touched by civilization-the upper reaches of a great South American river.
The Occasional Review: The Lost Steps, by Alejo Carpentier
The Lost Steps describes his search, his adventures, and the remarkable decision he makes in a village slejo appears to be truly outside history. Paperbackpages. To see what your friends thought tne this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Lost Stepsplease sign up. See 1 question about The Lost Steps…. Lists with This Book. The Lost Steps is a colourful allegoric tale of an attempted escape from the routine existence on the treadmill of modern civilization.
The main hero sees himself as Sisyphus futilely rolling the huge boulder of his fruitless responsibilities from day to day and he desperately wishes to flee this fate… …I asked myself whether, in bygone days, men had longed for bygone days as I, this summer morning, longed for certain ways of life that man had lost forever. So at the first possibility he embarks on The Lost Steps is a colourful allegoric tale of an attempted escape from the routine existence on the treadmill of modern civilization.
And he boldly travels through the symbioses of cultures, concoction of customs, beliefs and superstitions… And there are many parallels with Homer ‘s Odyssey: But dates were still losing figures. In headlong flight the years emptied, ran backward, were erased, restoring calendars, moons, changing centuries numbered in three figures to those of single numbers.
The gleam of the Grail has disappeared, the nails have fallen from the Cross, the moneychangers have returned to the temple, the Star of Bethlehem has faded, and it is the year 0, when the Angel of the Annunciation returned to heaven.
This journey through space is also a journey through time — the protagonist travels as if he goes through the epochs until he arrives to the fountainhead of humankind, pristine garden of Genesis.
This book, considered by many to be Alejo Carpentier’s masterpiece, certainly has its problems. The foremost of these is its unabashed machismo: The story follows a European man, a failed musician, who journeys into the South American jungle xteps an anthropological mission tseps what becomes a quest for his own recovered history — his own authenticity.
Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly given the novel’s date of publication, Carpentier invokes a trio of roundly-unlikeable females to exemplify hi This book, considered by many to be Alejo Carpentier’s masterpiece, certainly has its problems. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly given the novel’s date of publication, Carpentier invokes a trio of roundly-unlikeable females to exemplify his narrator’s journey.
The more women he penetrates, the deeper he penetrates his own, unique self. The French mistress character, Mouche, who represents more than anyone else the decadence of post-war European society, is treated particularly unfairly. When she is sick with malaria?
Doesn’t she understand she’s too decadently European to be of service any longer to our brave, self-exploring protagonist?
Carpentier masterfully concocts the world of the South American jungle, absolutely magical in comparison to the undisclosed European city from which his character commences his quest, and — this is what impressed me most — the narrator’s longing for self-realization and for a return to simplicity is immensely carpehtier.
Nevermind the fact that he’s a bona-fide sack of shit. Oct 20, Jimmy rated it it was amazing Shelves: These were the days for the accumulation of humus, the rotting and decay of the fallen leaves, in keeping with the law decreeing that all generation shall take place in the neighborhood of excretion, that organs of generation shall be intertwined with those of urination, and that all that is born shall come into the world enveloped in mucus, serum, and blood–just as out of manure comes the purity of the asparagus and the green of mint.
He writes a dense sentence, almost wild in its serpentine way, easy to get carpentied in. It feels a bit like you’re in a jungle and the words are vines climbing up your leg. This became especially effective in chapter four, when our protagonist actually enters the jungle One felt the presence of rampant fauna, of the primeval slime, of the green fermentation beneath the dark waters, which gave off a sour reek like a mud alejoo vinegar and carrion, over whose oily surface moved insects made to walk on the water: At times, when I was really tuned in to what he was saying, it was like crawling into the dense undergrowth and feeling completely at home.
But other times, when my attention was flagging after a long day, I could hardly concentrate on the complex workings of what he was saying. I had to read sentences over and over, as if grasping for a downed limb. Because here, amidst the multitude that surrounded me and rushed madly and submissively, I saw many faces and few destinies. And this was because, behind these faces, every deep desire, stsps act of revolt, every impulse was hobbled by fear.
Fear of rebuke, of time, of the news of the collectivity that multiplied its forms of slavery. There was fear of one’s own body, of the sanctions and pointing fingers of publicity; there was carpnetier of the womb that opens to the seed, fear of the fruits and of the water; fear of the calendar, fear of the law, fear of slogans, fear of mistakes, fear of the sealed envelope, fear of what might happen.
The post story itself was exciting, but as you probably know by now, plot alone doesn’t do it for me. So what else interested me? To me, he lies carpentiwr in between the unreliable narrator and the reliable one. You can see his pitfalls miles before they come, and perhaps he can too, but he is so good at convincing himself and you, piling illusion atop illusion. But these aren’t crazy illusions, they are common ones, about civilization, nature, modernity vs. What I really found attractive about him was that he was so At times he seemed normal, not like a typical ‘crazy’ unreliable narrator with unpredictable moodswings.
He is actually quite consistent and sane, but open to being changed by the world, and always struggling to reach a place of well-being, though often in vain. He can be despicable at times, and selfish and unfair, and though he doesn’t see these aspects in himself, I think the author intended for them to be apparent to the reader.
I don’t think Carpentier was painting the narrator to be an example to be followed above slejo, but rather as an example of the futility of our condition in the world–how we can’t go back to a simpler state, and how we cannot stay here either in the alejoo of the ‘galley master’.
The thought invariably struck me that ste;s only difference between my previous birthday and this one was the extra candle on the cake, which tasted carpentief the last one But to evade this, in the world that was my lot, was as impossible as trying to revive today certain epics of heroes or saints. These I found highly entertaining and often insightful, and always perfectly phrased. I wouldn’t have enjoyed the direct thr as much as the one provided here, with all kost views and vistas of his mind.
Overhead, into the thinning mist, rose the peaks of the city: View all 6 comments. Dec 23, Tony rated it liked it Shelves: A composer journeys to the Lsot American jungle ostensibly to find some primitive but seminal musical instrument. He takes his mistress, not his wife. He finds the forest primeval, life shorn to its most elemental, and experiences something of a spiritual reawakening. He finds new love and the instrument in question and begins to compose again, finding his inspiration in the fundamental sounds of nature.
Of course, he screws it all up.
The Lost Steps
The protagonist is unlikable and his chauvinism hearkens bac A composer journeys to the South American jungle ostensibly to find some primitive but seminal musical instrument. The protagonist is unlikable and his chauvinism hearkens back to the s which, appropriately, is when this book was written. The minor characters are never allowed to bloom. That said, the idea of this novel is brilliant and the writing absolutely sparkles.
Carpentier writes of Death: It was everywhere, diligent, looking after all the details, making the necessary arrangements, placing the mourners, lighting the candles, taking pains to see that the whole town should find place in the vast rooms with deep window seats and broad doorways, the better to contemplate its work.
On a platform covered with old, mildewed velvets stood the coffin, still ringing with hammer blows, studded with heavy, silver-headed nails, just come from the Carpenter, who never erred in his measurements of a corpse, for his photographic memory preserved the dimensions of all the town’s living inhabitants.
And this, of the jungle: Above a soil that exhales an age-old moisture, above water that divides the earth, above vegetation shrouded in mist, the dawn slips in with the grayness of rain, in a vague clarity that never seems to forecast a clear day Nevertheless, dawn in the jungle always renews the intimate, the atavic rejoicing, carried in the blood stream, of ancestors who, for thousands of years, saw in each dawn the end of their nocturnal fears, the retreat of the roars, the scattering of the shadows, the confounding of the ghosts, the confining of evil within its bounds.
Carpentier is one of the most extraordinary writers I’ve ever encountered, the equal of Borges, Faulkner, or Lowry. His prose is savage and elegant, the worlds he creates as convincing as they are fantastic. He needs to be Big News, a Household Word, he should enjoy a reputation commensurate with his genius. O passado e o presente que se embrulham entre si. Somos nada ou todo?
Los pasos perdidos es un libro complejo, lleno de matices. No todo resulta blanco o negro, ni bueno o malo. Por esto, el viaje a la selva le da libertad, conciencia y creatividad.
Hay equilibrio entre los indios y su espacio, y esto confiere tranquilidad y sosiego. Todo se entrelaza para darle comienzo al origen, al ser del hombre y a su encuentro consigo mismo. El final es desesperanzador, tiene wteps toque de tristeza. No obstante, es ideal. Es algo que da identidad a lo latinoamericano.
Dec 24, Kristel rated it really liked it Shelves: This novel was written in but is really timeless and not dated. Alejo Carpentier was born in Switzerland but grew up in Cuba and is identified as a Cuban author.
He was also a musicologist. His writing is a fusion of literary and music themes. What makes his writing difficult for me was the music.
Music is present in his work, lyrical use of colloquial dialects, literary rhythms such as alliteration and assonance and the theme of music within the world of the narrative drums, footsteps, etc.