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El hombre que amaba a los perros (Andanzas)…

El hombre que amaba a los perros (Andanzas) (Spanish Edition) (urspr publ 2009; utgåvan 2009)

av Leonardo Padura (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4521943,110 (4.22)5
"A gripping novel about the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico City in 1940"--
Titel:El hombre que amaba a los perros (Andanzas) (Spanish Edition)
Författare:Leonardo Padura (Författare)
Info:Tusquets Editores S.A. (2009), Edition: First Edition, 576 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


The Man Who Loved Dogs av Leonardo Padura (2009)

  1. 10
    Mitt liv : försök till en självbiografi av Leon Trotsky (alvaropg)
    alvaropg: Leonardo hace referencia a la vida de Leon Trotsky justo después de la conclusión de la narración en la autobiografía del protagonista, o segundo protagonista, de la obra. Ofrece una visión completa del pensamiento de este personaje y da un mayor sentido a la obra de Leonardo.… (mer)
  2. 10
    Havana Fever av Leonardo Padura (BibliotecaUNED)
  3. 10
    Havana Blue av Leonardo Padura (BibliotecaUNED)
  4. 00
    Stalin: The First In-depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives av Edvard Radzinsky (russellhk65)

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I'm not much of an expert of Cuban literature, so I can't offer much contextual insight on where this fits into the island's broader literary traditions other than it's not very surprising to me that a Cuban author would find some interest in the theme of the downsides of socialism. While there are the expected resonances with other works like Orwell's 1984 or Koestler's Darkness at Noon, Padura's novel deliberately aims for broader, more literary heights: it's longer, it has more characters, and it takes place not only in Cuba but much of the rest of the world as well. Additionally, and this is where for me this book really hits its mark, is that it's based on a true story: the murder of Leon Trotsky in Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's Mexico, by Ramón Mercader, an assassin who was born in Spain, trained in the Soviet Union, posed as a Belgian, and who retired to Cuba. So this will be of interest not only to fans of history, but also of anti-totalitarian literature generally and the life of Trotsky particularly. Also dog lovers, as the title amply delivers what it promises.

Trotsky was and is an interesting guy. The Soviet Union had a "complicated" relationship with its resident Jews, at the same time allowing many to rise to positions of power by relaxing many of the harsh medieval restrictions of the czarist era, and also subjecting them to ethnic suspicions and harsh purges that could be nearly as bad. Trotsky played a prominent role in the success of the Bolsheviks over other Communist factions through fairly ruthless methods, only to find himself outmaneuvered in party politics by the much more ruthless Stalin, who subjected his former colleague to an impressively subtle and malicious regime of life-ruining until he finally had Trotsky put out of his misery with an ice pick to the skull. Trotsky is primarily of interest today to most people because after he got exiled from the USSR he wrote a bunch of essays claiming that communism in his former home would have turned out much better if he and not Stalin had been in charge.

This is to say the least a somewhat questionable thesis - essentially every Communist revolution in history has had a strange tendency to devolve into awful totalitarianism, almost as if people who claim that society can be reformed only by violence have difficulty turning that urge to kill off once they're in charge. Though Stalin was unquestionably the crueler and more brutal of the two, it's exceedingly unlikely that Trotsky, who didn't show much of a soft side when he held the whip during the Revolution, the Civil War, or the war with Poland, would have become the avatar of kindness if Stalin hadn't been in the big chair. John Maynard Keynes wrote a pretty brilliant takedown of one of Trotsky's attempts to attack the British Labour Party for being mushy wimps, and despite the persistence of some Trotskyite/Trotskyist/Trotskytarian True Believers into the modern day, there's no reason to think that the depressing bureaucratic viciousness of the real USSR would have been greatly different with him at the helm.

So it's initially somewhat surprising to see Trotsky treated sympathetically, although the context makes sense as a way of highlighting how what starts as a beautiful dream to some can go so terribly wrong for so many. The narrative is split into three parallel lines. One follows Trotsky's desperate hops from country to country as Stalin's noose tightens around his neck. Another follows Ramón Mercader, a Spaniard whose revolutionary convictions were forged during his country's Civil War and who is trained by the USSR to engage in a somewhat mystifyingly complicated assassination plot. And bridging those two is the frame story of Ivan Cardenas Maturell, a writer whose dreams have been mostly abandoned in the socialist wreckage of early 90s Cuba, until he meets a man who knows a surprising amount about both the plan to assassinate Trotsky and the life of the man sent to do it.

At first what stood out to me was the pacing, which was so slow as to seem maddening. The book spends a long, long time describing Trotsky and Mercader's every movement around the globe, while Maturell's frame narrative gets much less page time. And to be fair, I would rather read about Trotsky, or his assassin, than a failed novelist slowly starving to death in modern-day Cuba. But Maturell's narrative is the one that holds the book together. His viewpoint is the one of history, trying to find out the true story of what really happened, and why he lives in the decaying ruins of the world Trotsky had worked so hard to bring forth.

Padura's book does an excellent job of showing how damaging revolution can be. There's a number of good themes to ponder. One is the destructive factionalism that seems endemic to most radicals; Spanish anarchists battle communists just as fiercely as the fascists, while Russian Bolsheviks struggle to purge heretical co-ideologues with even more vigor than they do their capitalist enemies. Another theme is the destruction of the self, as committed revolutionaries like Mercador struggle to eliminate everything normal in their lives, even their spouses and children, to dedicate themselves more fully to a movement that doesn't care about them and will happily erase them from history should the need arise.

One issue I have is that the translation can be a bit overwrought, and I have no idea if that's in the original or in Anna Kushner's rendition:

"He thought that having believed and fought for the greatest utopia ever conceived of required a necessary dose of sacrifice. He, Ramon Mercader, had been one of those dragged along by the subterranean rivers of that battle, and it wasn't worth evading responsibility or trying to blame his faults on deception and manipulation; he was one of the rotten fruits cultivated in even the best of harvests, and while it was true that others had opened the doors, he had gladly crossed the threshold of hell, convinced that a life in the shadows was necessary for a world of light."

Right: once you open the door for fruit, they float the river down to another door in front of a shadowy hellscape, especially if it's rotten. Makes sense to me!

On a fairer note, the novel overall is a good if slightly long look at how individual people dealt with Communism. I prefer Francis Spufford's Red Plenty overall for more on how it worked in practice, but this would be worth it for the Trotsky sections alone, whose thoughts were best summed up by Keynes:

"Trotsky's book must confirm us in our conviction of the uselessness, the empty-headedness of Force at the present stage of human affairs. Force would settle nothing – no more in the Class War than in the Wars of Nations or in the Wars of Religion. An understanding of the historical process, to which Trotsky is so fond of appealing, declares not for, but against, Force at this juncture of things. We lack more than usual a coherent scheme of progress, a tangible ideal. All the political parties alike have their origins in past ideas and not in new ideas – and none more conspicuously so than the Marxists. It is not necessary to debate the subtleties of what justifies a man in promoting his gospel by force; for no one has a gospel. The next move is with the head, and fists must wait." ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
Leonardo Padura hat ein Stück Zeitgeschichte geschaffen: In drei Handlungssträngen verwebt er die Geschichte vom Exil Leo Trotzkis, den Werdegang von dessen Mörder Ramón Mercader und das Leben eines kubanischen Schriftstellers, der, vom historischen Stoff des Trotzki-Attentats gebannt, ein historisches Epos erschafft.

Paduras vielschichtiger Roman ist gut recherchiert und gleicht manchmal eher einer historischen Monographie denn einem fiktiven Roman, wenngleich er selbst betont, dass sein Werk nicht als Geschichtsbuch missverstanden werden soll. Vor allem jener Handlungsstrang, bei dem Leo Trotzkis Arbeit im Exil im Vordergrung steht, driftet ins essayistische ab und erfordert einiges Vorwissen des Lesers. Nichtsdestotrotz bleibt Paduros Buch leicht lesbar.

Der Autor prangert das stalinistische System an und enttarnt den Missbrauch einer großen Utopie aufgrund individueller Machtbesessenheit. Individuen werden zu desillusionierten Schachfiguren der stalinistischen Perversion des Sozialismus.

Abseits des durchaus politischen Inhalts glänzt Paduras Roman durch Beschreibungen vom Spanien der Bürgerkriegszeit, vom Europa der Zwischenkriegszeit, von Trotzkis mexikanischem Exil, von der Sowjetunion der späten 1960er und dem Havanna der Spezialperiode in den 1990ern. ( )
  schmechi | Jan 7, 2021 |
A very dense book, full of history, obsession and intrigue. I would classify it as a book that is a cross between a spy thriller and historical fiction. Mostly, though, it is about the corruption of utopia, and the resounding effect it has had on millions of lives. ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
En 2004, a la muerte de su mujer, Iván, aspirante a escritor y ahora responsable de un paupérrimo gabinete veterinario de La Habana, vuelve los ojos hacia un episodio de su vida, ocurrido en 1977, cuando conoció a un enigmático hombre que paseaba por la playa en compañía de dos hermosos galgos rusos. Tras varios encuentros, «el hombre que amaba a los perros» comenzó a hacerlo depositario de unas singulares confidencias que van centrándose en la figura del asesino de Trotski, Ramón Mercader. Gracias a esas confidencias, Iván puede reconstruir las trayectorias vitales de Liev Davídovich Bronstein, también llamado Trotski, y de Ramón Mercader, también conocido como Jacques Mornard, y cómo se convierten en víctima y verdugo de uno de los crímenes más reveladores del siglo xx. Desde el destierro impuesto por Stalin a Trotski en 1929, y desde la infancia de Mercader en la Barcelona burguesa, sus amores y peripecias durante la Guerra Civil, o más adelante en Moscú y París, las vidas de ambos se entrelazan hasta confluir en México. Ambas historias completan su sentido cuando sobre ellas proyecta Iván sus avatares vitales e intelectuales en la Cuba contemporánea y su destructiva relación con el hombre que amaba a los perros.
  MaEugenia | Jul 29, 2020 |
Novelón abraiante e absolutamente recomendable. ( )
  Salaminos | May 5, 2020 |
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"Esto sucedió cuando sólo los muertos sonreían alegres por haber hallado al fin su reposo ..." Anna Ajmátova. Requiem

"La vida .... es más ancha que la historia" Gregorio Marañon. Historia de un resentimiento
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Treinta años después, todavía, para Lucía
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Londres, 22 de agosto, 1940 (TASS).- La radio londinense comunicado hoy: "En un hospital de la Ciudad de México, murió León Trotsky de resultas de una fractura de cráneo producida en un atentado perpetrado el día anterior por una persona de su entorno más inmediato".
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